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Posts Tagged ‘freescale’

Novena Open Source Hardware ARM Laptop Gets Crowdfunded for $1995

April 4th, 2014 2 comments

In 2012, Andrew Huang (“Bunnie”) decided to build an open source hardware and software laptop codenamed Novena powered by Freescale i.MX6 as a side project. The goal of the project was to be fully open source, both in terms of hardware and software, and the components have been selected so that the datasheets can be downloaded without NDA. Design has now been completed, and a crowdfunding campaign has now been launched on Crowd Supply, but since finding low cost part was not priority, you’ll have to fork $1,995 to get the complete laptop, $1,195 will get you the desktop version, and $500 the motherboard only. There’s also a version of the laptop called “Heirloom Laptop” with a hand-crafted wood and aluminum case that goes for $5,000.

Novena_Open_Source_Hardware_Laptop

Novena Laptop

Let’s go through the board specs first:

  • SoC – Freescale iMX6 Quad-core Cortex A9 CPU with NEON FPU @ 1.2 GHz. – NDA-free datasheet and programming manual
  • System Memory – 64-bit, DDR3-1066 SO-DIMM slot. 4GB DDR3 SO-DIMM will be installed in the shipped products.
  • Storage – Boots from microSD firmware, SATA-II (3Gbps) connector
  • Internal ports & sensors:
    • mini PCI-express slot
    • UIM slot for mPCIx mobile data card support
    • Dual-channel LVDS LCD connector with USB2.0 side-channel for a display-side camera
    • Resistive touchscreen controller
    • Stereo 1.1W, 8-ohm internal speaker connectors
    • 2x USB2.0 internal connectors for keyboard and mouse/trackpad
    • Digital microphone (optional, not populated by default)
    • 3-axis accelerometer
    • 3x internal UART ports
  • External ports:
    • HDMI
    • SD card reader
    • headphone + mic port (compatible with most mobile phone headsets, supports sensing in-line cable buttons)
    • 2x USB 2.0 ports, supporting high-current (1.5A) device charging
    • 1Gbit ethernet
  • Other features:
    • 100 Mbit ethernet – dual Ethernet capability allows laptop to be used as an in-line packet filter or router
    • USB OTG – enables laptop to spoof/fuzz ethernet, serial, etc. over USB via gadget interface to other USB hosts
    • Utility serial EEPROM – for storing crash logs and other bits of handy data
    • Spartan-6 CSG324-packaged FPGA – has several interfaces to the CPU, including a 2Gbit/s (peak) RAM-like bus — for your bitcoin mining needs. Or whatever else you might want to toss in an FPGA.
    • High-speed I/O expansion header – useful for implementing a wide variety of functions, from simple GPIO breakouts to high-performance analog data sampling front-ends

Beside the 4GB RAM, the board with also come with a microSD card with basic Debian install, Ath9k (blob-free firmware) mPCIe wifi card, 802.11n b/g 1T1R and a 16V, 3.75A power supply (100-240V 50/60Hz input).

The desktop version will come with a gen-2 hacker case, a 13.3″ TFT  LCD (1080P), an LVDS to eDP adapter board, and some other accessories such as cables.

The laptop version will features all hardware from the desktop version but add a battery controller board, a 240 GB SSD, a 3000mAh 3-cell lithium battery pack, measure 330 mm x 225 mm x 27mm and weight 1.36 kg. The keyboard is not included.

$5,000 Heirloom Laptop

$5,000 Heirloom Laptop

Since these laptops and desktop PC are fully open source, you can download the hardware design files, get the source code, and build the Linux distribution yourself without binary blobs.

The board should ship in November 2014, the All-in-one desktop in December 2014, the laptop in January 2015, and Heirloom laptop in February 2015.

Via Liliputing

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Meet Freescale Kinetis KL03, the Smallest Ever ARM MCU

February 26th, 2014 No comments

Last year at Embedded World 2013, Freescale announced Kinetis KL02, an ARM Cortex M0+ MCU measuring just 1.9 x 2.0mm. Customer must have complained that it’s not small enough, as the company has just unveiled Kinetis KL03 MCU, 15% smaller or 1.6 x 2.0 mm, at Embedded World 2014. Just like its predecessor KL03 targets space-constraint IoT applications such as ingestible healthcare sensing, portable consumer devices, remote sensing nodes, and wearable devices.

Freescale Kinetis KL03 on a Golf Ball...

Freescale Kinetis KL03 on a Golf Ball…

 

Kinetis KL03 MCU features include:

  • 48 MHz ARM Cortex-M0+ core, 1.71-3.6V operation
  • Bit manipulation engine for faster, more code-efficient handling of peripheral registers
  • 8 to 32 KB flash memory, 2 KB RAM, 8K ROM with on-chip boot loader
  • High-speed 12-bit ADC
  • Internal voltage reference for high ADC accuracy
  • High-speed analog comparator
  • Up to 22 GPIOs with pin interrupt support
  • Low-power UART, SPI, I2C (high speed)
  • Low power wake up
  • Secure real time clock
  • Timers for a broad range of applications including motor control
  • -40 °C to +85 °C operation
Kinetis KL03 Block Diagram

Kinetis KL03 Block Diagram

KL03 has less SRAM compared to KL02 (2KB vs 4KB) but seems to have added an RTC, an internal voltage reference. and a 8KB BootROM.  This BootROM allows factory programming and on-line system firmware upgrades without adding circuitry to the board. Beside the ultra small 20 WLCSP (1.6 x 2.0 mm) package, KL03 MCUs are also available with 16QFN (3 x 3 mm) and 24 QFN (4 x 4 mm) packages. MKL03Z32xxx4 with 32 KB Flash is the only one available with WLCSP package.

As usual, Freescale also announced a low cost Freedom development platform for Kinetis, FRDM-KL03Z, so that developers can quick start their project as soon as possible. Development tools include CodeWarrior for MCUs V10.x (Eclipse) IDE, IAR Embedded Workbench, ARM Keil MDK, Atollic and GCC, and MQX Lite and FreeRTOS are supported by KL03 MCUs.

Kinetis KL03 MCU sampling will begin next month, with full production planned for June 2014. Suggested pricing is $0.75 in 100K-unit quantities. There are no details about FRDM-KL03Z development board at this time. To learn more about the new Freescale MCU, visit freescale.com/kinetis/kl03csp.

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Freescale Announces WaRP (Wearables Reference Platform) Powered by Freescale i.MX 6SoloLite

January 6th, 2014 1 comment

We’ve seen more and more wearable products recently, be it smartwaches, smart rings, fitness bands, etc.., and we can expect several announcements at CES 2014 for wearables. Freescale has just launched their Wearable Reference Platform (WaRP), comprised of the WaRPboard, a tiny board based on Freescale i.MX 6SoloLite running Android, and a daughter board with KL16 Cortex M0+ MCU and several sensors.

Freescale_WaRPThe main chips and corresponding features on the board are as follows:

  • Freescale i.MX 6SoloLite Cortex A9 processor @ 1GHz with 2D graphics Vivante GC355 and  GC320 GPUs.
  • KL16 Sub-Family General Purpose Cortex M0+ MCU.
  • Xtrinsic FXOS8700CQ, 6-Axis Sensor with Integrated Linear Accelerometer and Magnetometer.
  • Xtrinsic MMA955xL Intelligent Motion-Sensing Platform. It cane be programmed to provide freefall detection, tilt and 3-D orientation detection, tap and double tap detection, dead reckoning, shock, vibration and sudden motion detection and power management.

The company expect WaRP to be used in devices such as sports monitors, smart glasses, activity trackers, smart watches and healthcare/medical applications. This will be a fully open source project with open source code and hardware. For some reasons, I could only find picture of the main board, but not the daughter board, and full technical details do not seem to be available right now.

The wearables reference platform kit includes the main board (WaRPbard with i.MX6), a daughter card (with KL16 and sensors), an LCD display, a battery and a micro USB cable. The kit will become available in Q2 2014 for $149. You can register to the community www.WaRPboard.org if you are interested.

Via Liliputing

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What to Expect from AllWinner, Rockchip, Mediatek, and Other Silicon Vendors at CES 2014

January 4th, 2014 8 comments

CES 2014 is coming soon, and it will take place on 7 – 10 January, 2014, and we can expect some interesting SoC news. Samsung suggested they will unveil their 64-bit ARM SoC (Exynos 6?) at CES 2014, Nvidia will hold a press conference to “showcase new NVIDIA Tegra mobile technologies, gaming innovations and advanced automotive display technologies”, and Qualcomm has been quiet for now. However, several Chinese SoC vendors, namely AllWinner, Rockchip and Mediatek, have already announced what they will showcase at CES 2014, albeit with few details.

AllWinner at CES 2014

Allwinner announced will showcase their OptimusBoard based on their Ultra Octa Core A80 SoC, as well as 4G tablets powered by Allwinner A31/A31s, and dual-SIM phablets sporting A23 dual core.

AllWinner A80 Development Board

AllWinner A80 Development Board (Click to Enlarge)

Allwinner A80 is an Octacore processor featuring four ARM Cortex A7 cores, and four Cortex A15 cores @ 2.0GHz together with an unnamed GPU offering 2x more performance over previous generations, and supporting OpenGL ES3.0 and GPU compute. This will certainly be a new generation of GPU from either ARM Mali or Imagination PowerVR SGX GPUs.

AllWinner announced the availability (to selected partners) of Android 4.4 KitKat SDK for their AllWinner A31/A31s, and the latest version of Android will be running on 4G tablets using these solutions.

Allwinner has slowly, and discreetly, started to enter the smartphone space last year, and the company will showcase dual-SIM phablets based on Allwinner A23 dual core processor @ 1.5Ghz, with 512MB RAM, and GMS-certified.

Rockchip at CES 2014

The company did not announce anything directly but the sent out invite for CES 2014 giving clues about what to expect.

Rockchip_RK3288_CES2014We’ve found out about RK3288 last July, and it appears Rockchip will showcase their latest SoC during CES 2014. The Cortex A17 mentioned in the picture. above is most definitely a typo, as RK3288 is a quad core Cortex A12 processor coupled with an ARM Mali-T628 GPU. The processor should support H.265, but it’s still unclear if it will use GPU compute or have a dedicated hardware block, as well as 4G LTE.

Several sites have also reported Rockchip will display a Smart Glass Solution at the conference. The glasses will be based on RK3168 dual core Cortex A9 processor, and support Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS, comes with a microphone and stereo output, as well as 720p display and 5MP camera.

Mediatek at CES 2014

Mediatek has put out a press release detailing what they’ll show at CES 2014, namely:

  • LTE Modem – MediaTek MT6290 is an LTE Release 9 Category 4 modem built on the 28nm process.
  • Mobile SOCs – MediaTek MT8135 quad core  big.LITTLE SoC for high-end tablets, and  MediaTek MT6592 (Launched in November 2013 eight-core Cortex A7 processor.
  • Home Entertainment  – Unnamed SoC for Digital TV market supporting UltraHD (4K2K) video playback and HEVC decoding @ 60Hz. Sampling to begin in Q2 2014.
  • Connectivity – MediaTek MT7621A dual-core 11ac Wi-Fi router platform (already available).
  • Wireless Charging – Unnamed SoC supporting multimode inductive Qi and resonance wireless charging.
  • Wearables – Aster all-in-one solution for wearables.
  • Internet of Things – Cloud applications, video over Wi-Fi (VoW), indoor positioning and smart home automation

Other SoC Vendors

Another Chinese SoC company, Actions Semiconductor, announced they’ll showcase their latest tablet and multimedia solutions based on ATM7039 and ATM7021 SoCs, but without much details.

AMLogic did not announced anything for now, but I’d expect Geniatech based M801/M802 Android set-top box to be demonstrated at CES 2014.

I could not find anything about Broadcom, also some report the company will launch their own 64-bit ARM processor, just like Samsung and Qualcomm are expected to do.

Both Texas Instruments and Freescale have more or less left the consumer’s orientation application processor business to focus on the industrial / embedded part, but TI will showcase some IoT, automotive, audio, and projector solutions at the conference, and Freescale will host an “Exclusive VIP event“, but no details were provided, and nothing about i.MX7 or i.MX8.

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Lantronix XPort Pro Lx6 is a Tiny Embedded Linux Server Fitted into an RJ45 Connector

December 15th, 2013 7 comments

Lantronix has recently launched XPort(R) Pro Lx6, a secure embedded device server supporting IPv6, that barely larger than an RJ45 connector. The device runs Linux or the company’s Evolution OS, and is destined to be used in wired industrial IoT / M2M applications.

Lantronix_XPort_Pro_Lx6Lantronix XPort Pro Lx6 Specifications:

  • Processor - Freescale ColdFire MCF5208 up to 166.67 MHz (TBC) 32-bit processor
  • System memory – 16MB SDRAM
  • Storage – 16MB Flash
  • Serial Interface -  Software selectable data rates from 300 to 921kbps
  • Programmable IO – 3 PIO pins (software selectable)
  • Network Interface – 10Base-T and 100Base-TX Link with support for IPv4 and IPv6, and the following protocols: TCP/IP, UDP/IP, ARP, ICMP, SNMPv2, TFTP, FTP, Telnet, DHCP, BOOTP, HTTP, SMTP, PPP, AutoIP, RSS, and SYSLOG
  • SecurityTCP/AES and UDP/AES
  • Temperature Range – Operating and storage: -40° to +85° C
  • Relative Humidity – 0% to 90% non-condensing
  • Regulatory ApprovalsFCC Part 15, Subpart B, Class B, ICES-003 Issue 4 (2004), Class B, EN55022:2006 and EN55024:1998 + A1:2001 + A2:2003, AS/NZS CISPR22:2006, VCCI V-3/2009.04, EN 61000-3-2:2006, EN 61000-3-3:1995+A1:2001+A2:2005
  • Power -  3.3VDC. I/O Max Rating: 3.3v
  • Dimensions – 33.9mm (L) x 16.25mm (W) x 13.5mm (H)
  • Weight – 9.6g
Lantronix XPort Pro Lx6 Block Diagram

Lantronix XPort Pro Lx6 Internals

The company provides two Windows based application namely “DeviceInstaller” and “Com Port Redirector”, to respectively install and configure the device, and control COM port-based equipment over the network. Management and control is also possible via the internal web manager, telnet, or the serial port, and configuration can customized using XML files.

XPort Pro Block Diagram

XPort Pro Block Diagram (Older IPv4 only version)

XPort Pro evaluation kit can be used for development, and includes an evaluation board with support for XPort Pro Lx6, a +5V power supply, an RS-232 DB9 cable, a Cat5e Ethernet cable, and a 25-to-9pin serial adapter.

Lantronix XPort Pro Lx6 is available now and sells for $39 per unit for 1,000 order, and comes with a 2-year limited warranty. For reference, XPort Pro, an earlier model without IPv6 support, sells for $62 per unit, and the evaluation kit goes for $90 (without XPort Pro (Lx6). You may want to visit Lantronix XPort Pro Lx6 page for further details.

Via Linux Gizmos

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Categories: Hardware, Linux Tags: IoT, Linux, freescale, lantronix, m2m

Most Embedded GPUs Do NOT Support Hardware Video Decoding Acceleration. The VPU Does.

December 10th, 2013 4 comments

Many people seem to get confused with the actual function of GPUs used in embedded (ARM / MIPS) SoC, and I can often read comments similar to “with lima drivers we should get video decoding in XBMc soon”,  and I’ve just received any email reading “My main task is to build a full hd media player based on ffmpeg with hardware decoding acceleration for linux. Is it possible with mali400mp4?”. So I’ve decoded to write a short post about it to make things a bit more clear. Contrary to GPUs in the PC world, embedded GPUs only take care of 3D, and sometimes 2D graphics, and leave video encoding and/or decoding to another block called Video Processing Unit (VPU). There’s at least one exception with Broadcom Videocore IV GPU as found in the processor used in the Raspberry Pi that apparently takes care of 2D & 3D graphics as well as hardware video decoding & encoding, but this is not the norm.

Let’s take an example with Freescale i.MX6 Quad SoC.

Freescale i.MX6 Quad Block Diagram

Freescale i.MX6 Quad Block Diagram

In the multimedia section in the middle of the block diagram above you’ll see hardware graphics accelerators, and video codecs:

  • 3D via Vivante GC2000 GPU
  • 2D via Vivante GC320 GPU
  • Vector Graphics (OpenVG 1.1) via Vivante GC355 GPU
  • 1080p30 Enc/Dec via a Video Processing Unit (VPU)

Freescale SoC is using one GPU for 3D, two separate GPUs for 2D composition and vector graphics, and a VPU to handle video by hardware. That means Vivante GC2000 has nothing to do with video hardware decoding for example.

Let’s give another short example. AllWinner A20 features a Mali-400 (MP2) GPU with 3D graphics and OpenVG support, a separate 2D engine, and CedarX VPU for hardware video processing.  So please, don’t come to ask me if it is possible to use Mali-400 hardware video decoder in Linux. :)

Where it gets a little confusing, is that some of the GPU capabilities can be used to decode video codecs that are not supported by the Video Processing Unit. For example, the Raspberry Pi guys used some features of the VideoCore IV GPU, but not the hardware codecs, to implemented VP6, VP8, MJPEG decoding in standard resolution. More recent GPUs comes with Renderscript and OpenCL support, which allows 1080p HEVC (H.265) video decoding using the CPU and GPU. That’s called GPU compute, and although it works, it won’t be as power efficient as video hardware decoding in the VPU.

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Free Online Courses & Workshops For ARM Cortex-M Microcontrollers

November 20th, 2013 No comments

STMicroelectronics and Digikey are co-sponsoring an EE Times University online training course entitled “Fundamentals of Microcontrollers (MCUs): Hands-On Workshop”. The first two 45-minutes sessions will be theoretical and provide and overview of micro-controllers, and explain methods to select an MCU for a given project. The first 1,000 persons based in the US or Canada, who attended the first 2 sessions, will receive a free STM32F4 Discovery Board (ARM Cortex M4). The three next sessions, conveniently taking place about a week later, hopefully after you’ve received your board, will be an actual workshop with STM32F429 Discovery Board.

STM32F429 Discovery Board

STM32F429 Discovery Board

Here’s the detailed schedule for the training:

  • December 2, 2013, 12PM (Eastern Time) -  Session 1 – Introduction to Microcontrollers
    • Common microcontroller architectures
    • Pipelining
    • Peripherals: Timers, Communication, Analog
  • December 3, 2013, 12PM (Eastern Time) – Session 2 – Selecting the Right Microcontroller
    • 10 Steps to Selecting a microcontroller
    • What to look for in a development kit
    • Tool setup lab
  • December 11, 2013, 12PM (Eastern Time) – Session 3 – An Overview of the STM32F4 Discovery Board (Hands-On Workshop)
    • Overview of the STM32F4
    • The ST family of microcontrollers
    • Ecosystem
    • Peripheral set: Graphics, DSP, Low power modes
    • Onboard sensors: Gyro, etc.
    • Expansion
    • Toolchain setup
    • MicoXplorer MCU graphical configuration tool
  • December 12, 2013, 12PM (Eastern time) – Session 4 – Digital Signal Processing With the STM32F4 (Hands-On Workshop)
    • Introduction to DSP
    • DSP features
    • DSP instructions
    • Floating point
    • DSP example
  • December 13, 2013, 12PM (Eastern time) – Session 5 – Introduction to Graphics Processing (Hands-On Workshop)
    • Introduction to graphics processing
    • Graphics peripheral
    • Graphics toolchain
    • Example

You’ll also be able to participate in a group chat with the presenter after or during? the 45-minutes session. If you’re interested, you can find details, and register on EETimes University.

While I’m at it, there’s another free webinar about ARM Cortex M MCU presented by Doulos, that will take place on the 22nd of November, and explain how to “Squeeze the most out of battery-life using ARM Cortex-M processors“. Here’s the agenda for this 1-hour session:

  • Introduction
  • Example application problem
  • Design goals to minimize energy profile
  • Power modes
  • Software architecture effects
    • Super loops
    • Interrupt driven
  • Tips for energy conservation
  • Energy profiling techniques

It will be repeated a couple of times during the day to cater for people living in different time zones. There will also be a prize draw, where one attendee will win a Freescale Kinetis L-Series Development Platform.

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