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Posts Tagged ‘development board’

ReSpeaker WiFi IoT Board is Designed for Voice Interaction (Crowdfunding)

August 24th, 2016 No comments

More and more devices are supporting voice interaction nowadays from your smartphone to devices like Amazon Echo, but so far, I had not seen development boards specifically designed for that purpose, and that’s exactly what Seeed Studio ReSpeaker board does by combining audio capabilities, WiFi connectivity, and I/O headers.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

ReSpeaker Core board specifications:

  • WiFi Module – Acsip AI7688 Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n module based on Mediatek MT7688 MIPS SoC
  • Storage – micro SD card slot
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for programming and power
  • Audio – 3.5mm AUX port, WM8960 audio codec, 2-pin header for external speakers
  • Expansion – 2x 8-pin expansion headers for I2C, GPIO and USB 2.0 host connected to MT7688
  • MCU – Atmel ATMega32U4 @ 16 MHz
  • Misc – 12x RGB LEDs, 8x touch sensors, 3 push buttons
  • Power Supply – 5V DC
  • Dimensions – 70mm diameter
  • Weight – 70 grams

The board runs OpenWrt, and uses Text-to-Speech and Speech-to-Text capabilities from Bing and Google with the company having focused on the English language so far, but you should be able to add other languages fairly easily.  A “detailed and easy-to-use” Python SDK is provided to developers, and other programming languages/options such as C/C++, Arduino, JavaScript and Lua are also available. You can find more details and source code on the Wiki.

Beside the core board, the company also offers two add-on boards such as Grove Extension board to add I2C, UART, digital or analog Grove modules to your projects, and a Microphone array board with 7 microphones and 12 LEDs.

Mic Array (Top Left), Grove Extension (Bottom Left), and (Right)

Mic Array (Top Left), Grove Extension (Bottom Left), and Meow King Drive Unit (Right)

Finally if you want something hackable, but looking more like a consumer product, Seeed Studio has partnered with Meow King Audio Electronic to design Meow King Drive Unit with a 5W speaker and taking ReSpeaker Core and Mic Array boards. ReSpeaker Core is also compatible with ESP8266 based Wio Link, and its graphical setup interface.

Some fun projects include a smart speaker answering your questions, weather forecasting decorative cloud, voice controlled meeting scheduler, talking “I’m thirsty” flower, smart photo album showing photos from a given date or event, and more…

The project has launched on Kickstarter a few hours ago, and already raised $37,000 out of its $40,000 funding target. ReSpeaker Core with a 8GB micro SD card requires a $39 pledge (early bird, $59 normal), which goes up to $89 with ReSpeaker Mic Array, and $139 with the complete Meow King Drive unit kit with all necessary boards. There are many other rewards to choose from with various sensors, bundles, etc… Shipping is not included, and adds $10 for standard shipping (Tip: select Hong Kong irregardless of your country), or $20 for DHL shipping according to their latest update. Delivery is scheduled for November 2016, except for the Meow King kit  (January 2017).

PS: I have an early sample of ReSpeaker Core board, and I’ll post a review/guide in a few days.

NanoPi NEO Board Gets Armbian Debian 8 & Ubuntu 16.04 with Linux 4.6 & 4.7 (Mainline), h3consumption Power Consumption Tool

August 23rd, 2016 10 comments

We’ve been blessed with a wide range of low cost Allwinner H3 boards thanks to Shenzhen Xunlong Orange Pi and FriendylARM NanoPi boards. Recently, armbian developers have been focusing on NanoPi NEO board, and they’ve now released Debian Jessie and Ubuntu Xenial with Linux 4.6.7 and Linux 4.7.2. The latter is mainline kernel with some patchsets for Ethernet.

FriendlyARM_NanoPi_NEO_BoardYou can download the Linux 4.6.7 based “beta” images from armbian NanoPi NEO page, and selected the “Vanilla” versions, then flash then one a micro SD card as you would normally do. Linux 4.7.2 based “experimental” images with USB OTG support and schedutil cpufreq governor can be found on the separate server in a temporary directory.

Thomas Kaiser explains further:

Ethernet and throttling are working (the latter not as efficient as with legacy kernel but at least it protects the SoC from overheating). Please note that all vanilla kernel images currently suffer from random MAC addresses on reboot so better choose a static IP address configuration. Also keep in mind that current cpufreq scaling settings in mainline kernel don’t know the 912 MHz operating point so with our default /etc/defaults/cpufrequtils contents you end up with 816 MHz max cpufreq (feel free to adjust, throttling works with these images).

You can test the schedutil cpufreq governor in Linux 4.7, by changing /etc/default/cpufrequtils to something like:

They have not released equivalent “Vanilla” images for Allwinner H3 Orange Pi boards, but I guess it will done once NanoPi NEO images are proven to be working reasonably. Eventually, you’ll be able to download the Linux kernel directly from Kernel.org for your Allwinner H3 boards. I’ve been told this won’t happen in Linux 4.8, but I’d assume Linux 4.9 or 4.10 are realistic targets.

Since NanoPi NEO board has been designed for IoT applications with low load too, armbian community has also investigated how to lower power consumption, and after finding that disabling Ethernet PHY saved 200 mW, and disabling HDMI and the GPU 210 mW, they created a new tool (bash script) called h3consumption, and working on all Allwinner H3 boards. You can find more power savings tips and h3consumption options in the forums.

Nvidia Provides More Details About Parker Automotive SoC with ARMv8 Cores, Pascal GPU

August 23rd, 2016 9 comments

Nvidia demonstrated DRIVE PX2 platform for self-driving cars at CES 2016, but did not give many details about the SoC used in the board. Today, the company has finally provided more information about Parker hexa-core SoC combining two Denver 2 cores, and four Cortex A57 cores combining with a 256-core Pascal GPU.

Nvidia_Parker_Block_DiagramNvidia Parker SoC specifications:

  • CPU – 2x Denver 2 ARMv8 cores, and 4x ARM Cortex A57 cores with 2MB + 2 MB L2 cache, coherent HMP architecture (meaning all 6 cores can work at the same time)
  • GPUs – Nvidia Pascal Geforce GPU with 256 CUDA cores supporting DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.5, Nvidia CUDA 8.0, OpenGL ES 3.1, AEP, and Vulkan + 2D graphics engine
  • Memory – 128-bit LPDDR4 with ECC
  • Display – Triple display pipeline, each at up to 4K 60fps.
  • VPU – 4K60 H.265 and VP9 hardware video decoder and encoder
  • Others:
    • Gigabit Ethernet MAC
    • Dual-CAN (controller area network)
    • Audio engine
    • Security & safety engines including a dual-lockstep processor for reliable fault detection and processing
    • Image processor
  • ISO 26262 functional safety standard for electrical and electronic (E/E) systems compliance
  • Process – 16nm FinFet
PX Drive 2 Board with two Parker SoCs

PX Drive 2 Board with two Parker SoCs

Parker is said to deliver up to 1.5 teraflops (native FP16 processing) of performance for “deep learning-based self-driving AI cockpit systems”.

This type of board and processor is normally only available to car and part manufacturer, and the company claims than 80 carmakers, tier 1 suppliers and university research centers are now using DRIVE PX 2 systems to develop autonomous vehicles. That means the platform should find its way into cars, trucks and buses soon, including in some 100 Volvo XC90 SUVs part of an autonomous-car pilot program in Sweden slated to start next year.

Realtek RTL8710 Witty-like WiFi IoT Board with micro USB Port Sells for $8 / 35 RMB

August 20th, 2016 9 comments

Realtek RTL8710 could eventually become a serious competitor to ESP8266, as it’s based on ARM Cortex M3, provides many of the same features, and sells for roughly the same price. While currently software support is still work in progress and community is very small, I’ve recently written a quick start guide  using AT commands to control RTL8710 connectivity in station and access point mode, and commands are also available for GPIO, OTA firmware updates, servers… This however requires some soldering and a USB to TTL debug board, and is not quite as convenient as ESP8266 board like NodeMCU. Some RTL8710 and RTL8195 development boards are already available but they cost over $25, but I’ve been informed of a cheap no-name RTL8710 board with a micro USB port for programming and power, and well as headers with GPIOs, UARTs, NFC, and power pins, that looks somewhat similar to ESP8266 Witty board.

Realtek_RTL8710_Development_Board

RTL8710 “Witty” development board specifications:

  • WiSoC – Realtek RTL8710 ARM Cortex M3 MCU with 802.11 b/g/n connectivity
  • Serial to TTL Chip – CH340G
  • Expansion headers – 2x 13 pin with GPIOs, I2C, UART, SPI, NFC, and power signals (5V, 3.3V, GND)
  • Misc – RGB LED, temperature sensor, photo resistor, and button
  • Power – 5V via micro USB port, 3.3V via header
  • Dimensions – TBD

I’ve asked one Aliexpress seller whether it would be breadboard compatible, but they did not manage to answer my question. [Update: After estimating dimensions with pictures, it will most likely not be breadboard friendly]

Breadboard-RTL8710They did try to help however, by first sending some software manual with AT commands, followed by schematics and PCB layout pictures, all of which you can find here.

You can purchase for board for $8.82 on Aliexpress including shipping, and it’s also sold on Taobao for 35 RMB ($5.26). shipped in China. [Update: The board is also on eBay for $7.99 shipped]

Teensy 3.5 & 3.6 Boards Feature NXP Kinetis K64 & K66 MCUs (Crowdfunding)

August 18th, 2016 6 comments

Paul Stoffregen has been making Teensy USB MCU development boards since 2008, and has just launched the latest Teensy 3.5 & 3.6 boards powered by NXP (previously Freescale) Kinetis K64 & K66 ARM Cortex-M4 MCUs with a micro USB port for power and programming, a micro SD slot, and several I/Os.

Teensy_3.5-3.6

Teensy 3.6 (Top) and Teensy 3.5 (Bottom)

Boards specifications:

  • MCU
    • Teensy 3.5 (T3.5) – NXP Kinetis K64 ARM Cortex M4 MCU @ 120 MHz with FPU, 512KB flash, 192 KB RAM, 4K EEPROM
    • Teensy 3.6 (T3.6) – NXP Kinetis K66 ARM Cortex M4 MCU @ 180 MHz with FPU, 1MB flash, 256KB RAM, 4K EEPROM
  • Storage – micro SD card port

    Teensy_back

    Bottom of Teensy Board

  • USB – 1x USB Full Speed (12 Mbit/sec) Port; T3.6 only: 480 Mbit/sec host port
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet mac
  • 62x I/O Pins (42 breadboard friendly)
  • 25x Analog Inputs to 2 ADCs with 13 bits resolution
  • 2x Analog Outputs (DACs) with 12 bit resolution
  • 20x PWM Outputs
  • 6x Serial Ports (2 with FIFO & Fast Baud Rates)
  • I2S Audio Port, 4 Channel Digital Audio Input & Output
  • 3x SPI Ports (1 with FIFO), 4x I2C Ports
  • CAN bus – T3.5: 1x; T3.6: 2x
  • 14x Hardware Timers
  • General Purpose DMA channels – T3.5: 16x; T3.6: 32x
  • 11x Touch sensing inputs  (T3.6 only)
  • Security – Cryptographic Acceleration Unit, Random Number Generator, CRC Computation Unit
  • Misc – Real Time Clock; Teensy 3.5 only: 5V tolerance on all digital I/Os.
  • Dimensions – N/A

The main way to developer for the board is via the Arduino IDE. You’ll find documentation and sample projects about the older boards on PJRC.com, as well as an active developer community.

Teensy_Arduino_IDE

The boards launched on Kickstarter yesterday, and already vastly surpassed its funding target having raised around $45,000 from 700+ backers out of a goal of $5,000. Teensy 3.5 requires a $23 pledge, while you’ll need to pledge $28 for Teensy 3.6. Shipping adds $4 to $5 to the costs, and delivery is scheduled for October 2016.

Thanks to Nanik for the tip!

Getting Started with B&T RTL-00 RTL8710 Module – Serial Console, AT Commands, and ESP8266 Pin-to-Pin Compatibility

August 18th, 2016 13 comments

The announcement of the ultra-low cost ARM based Realtek RTL8710 WiFi modules for IoT applications generated quite a lot of buzz since they can potentially compete with the popular ESP8266 modules. The main problem at the time was documentation and software support, but after some searches we could find that RTL8710 was part of Realtek Ameba family, and found some documents and an SDK for RTL8710/RTL8711/RTL8195. ICStation also kindly provided one B&T RTL-00 module for review, which costs $3.55 shipped per unit, and as low as $2.85 if you purchase 10 or more.

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Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

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The question here is how to get started? The answer can be found in page 8 of the Chinese datasheet for the module with GB0 and GB1 pins used for Tx and Rx to access the serial console. Time for some soldering…

RTL8710_Soldering

For the first test, we’ll just need Tx (GB1), Rx (GB0), GND and 3.3V, and cut breadboard wires to give me the flexibility to use it with a breadboard just in case.

RTL8710_Serial_Connection

Now you need to connect the module to a USB to TTL debug board with all four pins connected since it will also provide power.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Insert the debug board into a USB port of your computer, and setup a serial connection @ 38400 8N1 using minicom, screen, putty, or other serial capable app. I struggled to get the full boot, until I found ATSR command would reboot the board:

If you type help you’ll see some AT commands:

You can find the full AT command set in RTL8710 forums, and somehow it differs from the AT command set found in AN0025 Realtek at command.pdf application note available in Ameba Standard SDK.

Time to have some fun by trying to connect the board to my WiFi router:

Success, and that was easy. Now AP mode….

ATPA needs four arguments with ESSID,password (8 to 64 characters), channel, and hidden or not (1 or 0). I could not find the new access point with my phone, connected to it and typed the password. The serial console outputted it.

The command ATW? will return lots of info about WiFi status:

I’ll complete those little tests by enabling the web server in the board:

You can now connect to the web interface to configure the access point.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

AT commands are all good, and you can configure WiFi, UDP/TCP servers, and even OTA firmware update, but there’s nothing about controlling GPIOs there… So that will be something to look into. [Update: ATSG is the command for GPIOs. See comment]

Dpape on RTL8710 forums discovered something very interesting: B&T RTL-00 module is pin-to-pin compatible with ESP12E module based on ESP8266, so if you already own a board with such module including NodeMCU board, you could unsolder the ESP8266 module, and replace it with RTL8710 and get going.

NodeMCU_RTL8710That’s exactly what he’s done and shown to work, with the module bought from Aliexpress, which appears to come pre-loaded with the exact same firmware. You’d normally not need the red USB debug board as shown above, but he removed the USB to TTL chip on NodeMCU previously, so that’s why…

ESP12E_vs_RTL00

The modules are actually only mostly pin-to-pin compatible, as for example GC5, corresponding to ADC on ESP12E, does not seem to support ADC, but only I2C1 SCL, SPI0 CS2, and GPIO_INT signals. But the power signals, Tx and TX, and most GPIO signal will match.

Realtek RTL8710 is still nowhere near ESP8266 in terms of community and software support however. However an ARM development board company – previously featured in this blog and many news outlets – is involved in the project, and I’ve been informed more details will be provided in 2 to 3 weeks. The current modules sold are for the Chinese market, and an international version is planned with a slightly different radio.

Allwinner R40 Quad Core ARM Processor, Successor of Allwinner A20, Supports SATA & Gigabit Ethernet

August 17th, 2016 25 comments

One of the most common complaints I get from readers when I publish news about new ARM processor is “Why didn’t they include SATA?”. So far Allwinner A20 is the only really low cost ARM processor that includes a SATA port, but it’s been released a few years, and its dual core Cortex A7 processor is getting old. We’ve been hearing rumors about an upgraded version for one or two years with Allwinner A40 or more recently Allwinner A20E, and finally the company has now published details about Allwinner R40 processor on their revamped website, which they claim to be the successor of Allwinner A20.

Allwinner_R40

Allwinner R40 Block Diagram

Allwinner R40 key specifications:

  • CPU – Quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 Processor
  • GPU – Mali-400 MP2 GPU
  • Memory I/F – 32-bit DDR3/DDR3L/LPDDR2/LPDDR3
  • Storage I/F – 8-bit NAND flash, SD3.0,  eMMC 5.0, and 1x SATA

    Allwinner R40 System-on-Module

    Photoshopped Allwinner R40 System-on-Module

  • Networking – 2x MAC: 1x EMAC (10/100M Ethernet), 1x GMAC  (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • Display – RGB/LVDS/HDMI/MIPI DSI/TV Out
  • Video – [email protected] decoding and H.264 HP [email protected] encoding
  • Audio – Up to 2x I2S/PCM interfaces, eight channels of Time Division Multiplexing(TDM) with sampling precision up to 32bit/192KHz
  • Camera-  2x Parallel MIPI CSI interfaces
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host
  • I/Os – 8x UART, 4x SPI,  5x TWI/I2C
  • STB interfaces – 1x smart card, 2x TS
  • Misc – 2x PS2 1x 8×8 keypad, 2x IR receiver, 2x KEYADC, RTP
  • Package – 16×16 mm FBGA468

Compared to Allwinner A20, the company explains that R40 is an “Allwinner A20 upgrade edition” with four cores instead of two, 40nm process instead of 55nm, lower power consumption, and a smaller package. They also mention the processor will be supported by their lightweight open source Tina operating system based on Linux.

One of the first devices to use the new processor, beside the unnamed CPU module shown above (Update: that’s a photoshopped C.H.I.P board), will be Banana Pi M2 Ultra development board, which will come with 2GB RAM, 8GB flash, and expose the SATA interface.

Allwinner H5 is a Quad Core Cortex A53 Processor for 4K OTT TV Boxes

August 17th, 2016 22 comments

Last year, we found that Allwinner was preparing to launch Allwinner H64 and H5 quad and octa processors in their roadmap, but there have been some changes, and the compny seems to have dropped H64 name, and has now introduced Allwinner H5 quad core Cortex A53 processor designed for 4K TV boxes.

Allwinner H5 Block Diagram - Click to Enlarge

Allwinner H5 Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

Allwinner H5 main specifications:

  • CPU – quad core Cortex A53 with NEON, FPU, 64KB I/D cache per core, and 512KB L2 cache
  • 3G GPU – ARM Mali-450MP GPU with 4 pixel processor cores, and 2 geometry cores with support for OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1/1.1, OpenVG 1.1 and EGL
  • 2D GPU (Graphics and Display Processor) – Dual display; Main display: 4 video layers, 12 graphics layers, 4 alpha blending channels; Auxiliary display: 4 video layers, 4 graphics layers, and 2 alpha blending channels
  • Memory I/F – DDR3/3L SDRAM interface up to 32-bit data width
  • Storage I/F – SPI NOR flash, SPI NAND flash, NAND flash (SLC/MLC with 64-bit ECC), and eMMC 5.0 flash interfaces
  • Video Decoding – Up to 4K decoding of H.265/HEVC Main10, H.264/AVC, VP6/VP8/VP9, MPEG1/2/4, AVS-P16, VC1
  • Image Decoding – YUV400/YUV420/YUV422/YUV444; Picture scale and rotate
  • Video & Image Encoding – 1080p60 or 2x 1080p30, or 4x 72030 video encoding with AVC or JPEG
  • Audio Encoding/Decoding – MPEG L1/L2, AAC-LC, HE AAC V1/V2, APE, FLAC, OGG, AMR-WB, G.711 (u/a) decoding; G.711(u/a), AMR-NB, AMR-WB, and AAC-LC encoding
  • TS Demultiplexing/PVR – 4x TS inputs using SSI or SPI modes, DVB-CSA/AES/DES descrambling, recording of scrambled and non-scrambled streams
  • Security – TEE, Secure OS, secure boot, 2K bits EFuse, DRM, conditional access, HDCP 1.4 protection
  • A/V Interfaces
    • PAL and NTSC, HDMI Tx with HDCP, CVBS, HD and SD output from same source. 480i to 4K2K resolutions
    • Analog videos – 1x CVBS, 1x embedded VDAC
    • Audio interfaces – 2x stereo input interfaces, 1x stereo output interface, 1x S/PDIF, 2x ADAC, 2x I2S/PCM, HDMI audio
  • Peripherals
    • 3x USB 2.0 host, 1x USB 2.0 OTG
    • 10/100M Ethernet with integrated PHY, Gigabit Ethernet MAC
    • 3x 4-bit SDIO 3.0 interfaces
    • 5x UART, 4x TWI (I2C), 2x SPI, multiple GPIOs, 2x PWM
    • 2x smart card interfaces (ISO7816)
    • LED and keypad control interface, IR receiver
    • 1x CSI camera
  • Boot program download over serial port or USB port
  • Low power CPU – For standby power as low as 30 mW power consumption

Allwinner is actually pushing the limit of “generally accepted marketing principles” by calling Allwinner H5 a “Deca-core 4K OTT Box Total Solution” by adding 4 CPU cores to 6 GPU cores… They also done a “good job” at hiding whether HDMI 2.0 is supported, as the HDMI version is not mentioned, nor the maximum framerate for video codec @ 4K2K. [Update: Allwinner H-Series comparison table shows H.265 @ 4K30Hz, so it’s most likely limited to HDMI 1.4]

The processor will apparently run Android 5.1, and while features look similar to Allwinner A64, the GPU is quite faster, I’ve been told video processing is better by Allwinner marketing team, and I can also see some interfaces (TS input and smartcard) that would make it suitable for Android Digital TV receivers with DVB, ISDB-C and ATSC tuners.

 

Image Source: ARMBIAN

Orange Pi PC 2 – Image Source: ARMBian

Linux support is also likely as two of the first platforms to use the new processor will be Shenzhen Xunlong Orange Pi 3 and Orange Pi PC 2 (pictured above) development boards.

More details can be found on Allwinner H5 product page.

Thanks to Thomas for the tip.