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Posts Tagged ‘h.265’

Rockchip RK3328 Quad Core 64-bit ARM SoC is Designed for 4K HDR Android 7.1 & Linux TV Boxes

January 11th, 2017 11 comments

Beside RV1108 visual platform for applications, Rockchip also unveiled another processor at CES 2017 with RK3328 quad core Cortex A53 processor for 4K TV Box with H.265, H.264 and VP9 codecs support, HDR, HDMI 2.0, USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet and more.

rk3328-tv-boxRockchip RK3328 STB SoC specifications:

  • Processor – Quad core Cortex A53 @ up to 1.5 GHz
  • GPU – ARM Mali-450MP2
  • Memory I/F – DDR3/DDR3L/DDR4 with “large memory” support (4GB?)
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.x/1.4 up to 4K @ 60 Hz with HDR10/HLG support, CVBS output
  • Video Processor
    • 4K UHD H.264, 10-bit H.265 and VP9 video decoder
    • 1080p H.265/H.264 video encoder
  • Audio – Embedded audio DAC
  • Peripherals
    • embedded USB 3.0 interface
    • Dual Ethernet interface: RGMII (reduced gigabit media-independent interface) + Fast Ethernet PHY
    • 8 channel I2S interface supporting PDM/TDM
    • TS and smart card interface, with support for CSA 2.0
  • Security – TrustZone, Secure Video Path, Secure Boot, OTP

The new processor with support Android 7.1 and Linux, as well as OP-TEE secure OS and DRM support for Widewine L1 and Microsoft PlayReady. The TS interface will allow for tuner (DVB, ATSC…) support.

The processor is quite similar to Amlogic S905X. However the GPU is a bit weaker, which is not really that important for video applications, but not so good for games, and RK3328 also offer some extra interfaces with USB 3.0, dual Ethernet including one Gigabit Ethernet MAC, and tuner support.

The company did not provide any information about pricing or availability in their press release, and has yet to add RK3328 product page to their website.

Qualcomm Officially Unveils Snapdragon 835 Octa-core Processor for Smartphones, Mobile PCs, Virtual Reality…

January 4th, 2017 1 comment

Qualcomm first mentioned Snapdragon 835 processor in November, but at the time, they only disclosed it would be manufactured using 10nm process technology in partnership with Samsung, and claimed the obvious “faster and lower power consumption” compared the previous generation. The company has now provided much more info ahead of CES 2017.

snapdragon-835-block-diagramSnapdragon 835 key features and specifications:

  • Processor – 8x Kryo 280 cores used into two clusters:
    • performance cluster with 4x cores @ up to 2.45 GHz with 2MB L2 cache
    • efficient cluster with 4x cores @ up to 1.9 GHz with 1MB L2 cache
  • GPU – Adreno 540 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0 full, Vulkan, DX12
  • DSP – Hexagon 682 DSP with Hexagon Vector eXtensions and Qualcomm All-Ways Aware technology
  • Memory I/F – dual channel LPDDR4x
  • Storage I/F – UFS2.1 Gear3 2L, SD 3.0 (UHS-I)
  • Display – UltraHD Premium-ready , 4K Ultra HD 60 Hz, 10-bit color depth, DisplayPort, HDMI, and USB Type-C support
  • Video – Up to 4K @ 30 fps capture, up to 4K @ 60 fps playback, H.264, H.265 and VP9 codecs.
  • Audio – Qualcomm Aqstic audio codec and speaker amplifier; Qualcomm aptX audio playback support: aptX Classic, aptX HD
  • Camera – Spectra 180 ISP; dual 14-bit ISPs up to 16MP dual camera, 32MP single camera
  • Connectivity – 802.11ad multi-gigabit, integrated 802.11ac 2×2 WiFi with MU-MIMO (tri-band: 2.4, 5.0 and 60 GHz); Bluetooth 5.0
  • Modem – X16 LTE modem; downlink up to 1 Gbps, uplink up to 150 Mbps
  • Location – GPS, Glonass, BeiDou, Galileo, and QZSS systems content protection
  • Security – Qualcomm SecureMSM technology, Qualcomm Haven security suite, Qualcomm Snapdragon StudioAccess content protection
  • Charging – Quick Charge 4 technology, Quacomm WiPower technology
  • Manufacturing – 10nm FinFET (Samsung)

Snapdragon 835 will use about 25 percent less power than Snapdragon 820, while being 35 percent smaller, and delivering 25 percent faster 3D graphic rendering. The processor is expected to be found in premium consumer devices such as smartphones, VR/AR head-mounted displays, IP cameras, tablets, mobile PCs, and more. The first devices announced with Snapdragon 835 are Osterhout Design Group (ODG) R-8  augmented/virtual reality smartglasses and ODG R-9 smartglasses and devkit for wide field of view (WFOV) experiences

You’ll find more details on Snapdragon 835 product page.

Vorke Z3 Rockchip RK3399 TV Box to Launch in February 2017

December 20th, 2016 8 comments

I was expecting devices based on Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor to launch by the end of this year, that is about right now, but finally it looks like products will only start the show by the end of Q1 2017, as Firefly-RK3399 development board is scheduled to ship to backers in March 2017, while GeekBuying has started teasing us with their Vorke Z3 TV box powered by Rockchip RK3399 with 4GB RAM slated to launch in February 2017.

vorke-z3Vorke Z3 preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor with  2x ARM Cortex A72 cores at up to 2.0GHz, 4x Cortex A53 cores, and an ARM Mali-T860MP4 GPU
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR3
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC flash, external SATA interface (hopefully implemented via the PCIe interface), micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60 Hz
  • Video Decoder – 4K H.265 and VP9
  • Audio Output – HDMI, 3.5mm audio port, optical S/PDIF
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi up to 1200 Mbps (300 Mpbs + 867 Mbps)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 port, 1x USB type C port (for data and power external devices?)
  • Misc – IR receiver, mechanical power switch
  • Power Supply – TBD
  • Dimension & Weight – TBD

rockchip-rk3399-android-tv-boxThe box will run Android 6.0, and currently gets about 72,500 points in Antutu 6.x with 16,519 points for 3D graphics, 25,805 points for UX, 25,905 points for CPU, and 4254 points for RAM tests. There’s hope a good Linux support on Rockchip RK3399, as Google and Rockchip are working on RK3399 Chromebooks, actively committing code to mainline kernel, and Firefly has ported Ubuntu 16.04 to their RK3399 development board with 3D graphics acceleration, and hardware video decoding is coming.

rk3399-sataPrice has now been announced yet, but for reference, Firefly-RK3399 development board with 4GB RAM and 32GB storage is now offered with all accessories for $199 on Kickstarter, and Remix IO+ TV Box also sells with 4GB/32GB configuration sells for $139 shipped, so I’d expect Vorke Z3 to sell for about the same price.

YokaTV KB2 Review – Amlogic S912 TV Box with 32 GB Flash

December 15th, 2016 10 comments

CNXSoft: This is another review by Karl about Amlogic S912 based YokaTV KB2 TV box.

Introduction

Today we will be looking at Videostrong YokaTV KB2. Below are the specs from Videostrong website.

yokatv-kb2-specifications

This is my first S912 device so I had high expectation. I have been using it for quite some time now with no major issues. I received approximately 6 OTA updates since I started testing and some welcome updates have come.

yokatv-kb2-package

yokatv-kb2-remote-control-power-supply

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Build

When I receive a box first thing I do is take it apart and check out the inside. I was excited when I found out it had 32 gig of storage. It is not too common.

yokatv-kb2-bottom-case

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Then when I opened the box I was really happy to see an antenna that wasn’t soldered on. Makes it easy to add a different one. +1 for KB2. Then I noticed the heat sink. It seemed a little small. I was right, it runs warm.

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Simple Mod

First thing to do: get this baby running cooler. When stressing the box, the temperature got over 80+°C a couple times. It ran between 70 and 75 °C on average before the mod. The case is mostly plastic except the bottom cover. Bingo! A couple squares of 5mm thermal pads between the board and the bottom of the case and thermal issues are gone.

yokatv-kb2-thermal-hack

I started SetCPU and ran the built-in stress test, it tops out around 72 °C, and quickly cools after stopping the test. I put a square approximately where the CPU is and while I had it open, where the memory is although I don’t think it is necessary. After the mod, the box runs about 60 deg Celsius.

Antutu

For this test I use SetCPU to set the Min and Max frequency for the CPU to 1.5 GHz which is the max for this processor. It will give the best score.

yokatv-kb2-antutu

Network Test

I am not sure why my WiFi was slow on the tests below. I don’t have an AC access point yet. The best I have is N, maybe that is the cause. Some friends over on Freaktab are getting some really good speeds on AC with this box. I might have damaged something when I opened the box.

Below are the results but take them with a grain of salt. I do a simple file transfer test of a large movie with optimum conditions for WiFi then one in more real world scenario.  

5ghz 3ft from NAS to internal SD

kb2-5ghz-wifi-nas-to-flash

2.4ghz 3ft from NAS to internal SD

kb2-2-4ghz-wifi-nas-to-flash

Gigabit Ethernet from NAS to internal SD (This is as fast as my NAS can transfer)

kb2-gbe-nas-to-flash

Next is more real world where AP’s have more obstruction.

5ghz 30ft from NAS to internal SD

kb2-5ghz-wifi-nas-to-flash-30feet2.4ghz 30ft from NAS to internal SD

kb2-2-4ghz-wifi-nas-to-flash-30feetSome More Benchmarks and Info

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Apps

I’ve used several apps and only Netflix and Direct Now had some issues:

  • Sling TV
  • Netflix (SD) – Stopped working after updating the app
  • Kodi
  • Chrome – Chrome works really well. I open a bunch of heavy URL’s and it performs excellent. Nothing scientific here. Go to several sites that I visit daily and I felt no lag.
  • Plex
  • Emby
  • HDHomeRun
  • Crackle
  • DirectTV Now – Worked with some hacking
  • Player-MediaCenter App – I will admit it has been a while since I tested out this app. It acts as a DLNA receiver and Airplay receiver. I didn’t have much luck in the past but I tested on my one Apple device the screen mirroring worked.

At some point Netflix stopped working. Keep getting few seconds of video then error 0013 “Sorry, we could not reach the Netflix service….” Not sure if it is Netflix update or box update that caused the issue. I went back and did some more testing to narrow the issue down. If I reverted back to the Netflix that came pre-installed I had no issue.

DirectTV Now is a new service in the US. With some persistence I was able to get it running. Video wasn’t perfect but neither was it on any devices I tested. It was surprising that it plays better on KB2 then Nvidia Shield. It is mostly watchable but stutters some. It is new so hopefully ATT will get this fixed soon. I had to do a couple things to get it working. After Googleing and a lot of experimenting I used 2 apps from play store: Hide My Root and Fake GPS. I also had to make 2 build.prop changes: ro.build.type=userdebug to ro.build.type=user and ro.build.tags=test-keys to ro.build.tags=release-keys. I tried on a couple different boxes after figuring this out and seems to work universally.

Remote Control

The remote is big but there is a built in app that is pretty convenient. There are 4 color coded buttons on the remote that you can customize to launch the apps that you want through an app on the box. There is also a dedicated app button that brings up a listing of all the apps. Everything else is pretty standard. You can also program the remote to turn your TV on and off through a learning feature. But alas I still prefer either an air mouse or touchpad with full keyboard.

yokatv-kb2-remote-control-configuration

Status Bar

Thank the gods…there is an option to turn the navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen off and on in Android settings…It is about a 50/50 split for people that like them and those that don’t. This was the first box that I have tested that gives the user an option.

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Audio Passthrough

All the below tests worked. I set Android to SPDIF. I tested with latest SPMC 16.4.2 and Kodi 16.1. Turned on pass-through DTS and AC3 and all the videos below worked with no clipping. I have a 5.1 system. If I didn’t have the AC3 ticked I would get no audio on some. First box with 100% working that I have tested on stock firmware.

yokatv-kb2-kodi-audio-pass-through-settings audio-file-list-dts-dolby-truehd4K Video

4k testing went well. I was able to play all videos smoothly with one player or another that it was supposed to play. Below are the test results. This box does not play 4k H.264 video @ 60fps per sec, so stutter is expected. Kodi and derivatives play best with amcodec turned off. The box ships with Kodi 17 beta but since it is beta, it is not very stable. I uninstalled it, and tested with Kodi 16.1 from the Play Store instead. I am not sure why 4k 8bit H.265 works better with amcodec turned on. I found the same results on S905x boxes. For the testing, I wanted to find the best overall solution and that is Kodi with amcodec turned off.

Test File Name With Amcodec Without Amcodec MX Player
23.976fps (in MP4) GoPro Epic Russian Wingsuit in 4K good
24fps (in MP4) SPRING 4K (ULTRA HD) good
25fps (in MP4) Burj Khalifa Pinnacle BASE Jump – 4K good
29.970fps, 51Mbps (hdmkv’s iPhone 6S 4K clip) iphone6s_4k good
59.940fps (in MKV) samsung_seven_wonders_of_the_world_china_uhd-DWEU wont play stutter stutter
60fps (in MP4) COSTA RICA IN 4K 60fps (ULTRA HD) w Freefly Movi wont play good
H264, up to 30fps Sony_Alpha_7R_II_video-test-4K good
H264, 50-60fps linkin_park_ultra-hd wont play stutter stutter
H265 8bit, up to 30fps LG_4K_View-the-Feeling good stutter good
H265 10bit, up to 30fps Samsung_UHD_Dubai good
H265 10bit, 50-60fps Samsung_UHD_7Wonders_of_the_World_Italy good
UltraHD HDR 10bit HEVC, 24fps Exodus_UHD_HDR_Exodus_draft good
VP9 The Curvature of Earth 4K 60FPS good not as good best

Alternate Firmware

Super Celeron has put together a nice modification of the latest stock firmware from 11/23. He cleaned up the firmware and made some adjustments to boot to bring idle down to about 1% and got auto frame rate switch working. See full changelog.

So to get 100% working pass-through and auto frame rate switching after installing the firmware above, as well as SPMC version 16.5.2. Codec acceleration is a little muddy at times. 4K files work best with amcodec off, and anything less work best with amcodec on. Below are my settings.

yokatv-kb2-custom-firmware-automatic-frame-rate-switching yokatv-kb2-custom-firmware-audio-pass-through yokatv-kb2-custom-firmware-video-codecsConclusion

I had this box for a while now and used it as my main box and it has performed really well. Consistent updates from Videostrong is much needed in the box world. I hope it continues. Gigabit Ethernet performed really well. Pass-through working 100% is fantastic and will make a lot of people happy. Video support in Kodi is really good. VP9 support is not 100% but MX player gives everyone an option if they have movies in that format.

I would like to thank Videostrong for sending a review sample. YokaTV KB2 can be purchased on Gearbest, Geekbuying, and Aliexpress for about $68.

Eweat R9 Plus Android TV Box and OpenWrt NAS Review – Part 1: Unboxing and Teardown

December 12th, 2016 7 comments

Zidoo X9S is getting some competition with Eweat R9 TV boxes based on the same Realtek RTD1295 processor with built-in SATA, Gigabit Ethernet, 4K VP9 and H.265, HDR, and USB 3.0. The company has three R9 models, and they sent me to top of the line R9 Plus with 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, a 3.5″ SATA bay, HDMI input, and dual Gigabit Ethernet ports for evaluation. I’ll start the first part of the review by checking out the hardware inside and out, before testing the firmware in the second part.

Eweat R9 Plus Unboxing

The device ships in a large package with a handle which can be convenient in brick and mortar shops since the whole package weights about 1.8 kilograms.eweat-r9-plus-packageThe package then contains a smaller package will all accessories: a 12V/2.5A power supply, a “Quickly User Guide” (sic.), a HDMI cable, and an IR remote control taking two AAA batteries.

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You’ll also find the box packed between two polystyrene blocks. The device really feels of high quality thanks to its metal case.

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It’s also much heavier than your typical TV box. The front panel include an LCD display and an IR receiver window, while you’ll notice the SATA bay door on the right.

eweat-r9-plus-sd-card

The other side has a USB 2.0 port, a recovery pinhole, an SD card slot, some ventilation holes, and a “don’t-think-out-it-this-will-void-your-warranty” sticker.

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Bu the rear panel has all the cool goodies with two WiFi antennas, two more USB 2.0 host ports, four RCA connectors for stereo audio, coaxial S/PDIF and CVBS (composite), a USB type C port that can be used to connect storage devices or charge your phone, a USB 3.0 port, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, one HDMI 2.0 out port to connect to your TV, one HDMI 2.0 input port to record video from external sources, an optical S/PDIF port, the DC jack, and a mechanical power switch.

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Inserting a hard drive is very easy. Pull the handle on the door, insert the hardware, and close the door and you’re done. If you want  to remove the drive, open the door and as we’ll see below a small arm is pushing the drive out. The SATA bay mechanism looks solid, and feels much better than the plastic key mechanism used in Cloud Media’s Popcorn Hour A-500, which I broke after two tries.

You can see how easy it is to insert the hard drive in the unboxing video below.

Eweat R9 Plus Teardown

The hardware looks good out the outside, what about the inside? Let’s open it to find out. Remove the four sticky pad on the bottom of the case, and loosen the four screws.

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Now you can lift the top cover, void the warranty, and have a closer look at the mechanical and thermal design of the device. The MAC address on the bottom of the device – 9C:F8:DB:xx:xx:xx – looks up to a company called Shenzhen Eyunmei Technology, who also manufactured the older M-195 TV box based on Realtek RTD1195 processor.

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The metal top cover is connected to the SATA bay’s metal frame via two short thermal pads, and you can see the arm pushing the HDD out when your open the door in the bottom right of the photo.

Then I had to take a thinner screwdriver to loosen four more screws to remove the SATA bay mechanism, and checkout the board – named 1295-V4.0_161029 – itself.

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Realtek RTD1295 quad core Cortex A53 processor is covered by a heatsink, and connected to a 16GB Toshiba THGBMBG7C2KBAIL eMMC flash, and two Micron MT40A512M16JY-083E (I used FBGA & Component Marking Decoder to find out) 8 Gbit DDR4 chips (16 Gbit = 2GB in total). Gigabit Ethernet connectivity is achieved via one RTL8211F PHY transceiver and two E-Con EG24S036S magnetic transformers (only one transceiver is required since Realtek RTD1295 SoC comes with one Gigabit Ethernet MAC/PHY),  and wireless connectivity is made possible through Realtek RTL8821AU USB 2.0 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 LE also used in Zidoo X9S. There’s also a part reserved for a battery for the RTC, but Eweat decided not to populate it.

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The front panel display is driven Titan Micro TM1628 LED Controller, just like the one on Zidoo X9S. You’ll need to loosen two more screws and two spacers attaching the board to the case, as well as the screw between the four RCA connectors on the rear panel to take the board out.

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Some parts are glued, so I did not removed it completely, especially since there’s no much to be seen, except one expansion header,  a footprint for another connector, and another thermal pad between the bottom of the board and the case.

I’d like to thank Eweat for sending the device for review. Interested resellers and distributions may want to contact the company via the company’s website, while individuals can purchase Eweat R9 Plus for $175.99 plus shipping on Aliexpress.

[Update: Part 2 is up @ Eweat R9 Plus TV Box Review Part 2 – Android, OpenWrt, and HDMI Recording ]

First Intel Apollo Lake J3455/J4205 Processor Benchmarks & Video Tests

December 6th, 2016 23 comments

Many products powered by Intel Apollo Lake processors have already been announced, but few are actually shipping, and I have yet to get one here. However, AndroidPC.es got hold of ASRock J4205-ITX and J3455-ITX motherboards powered by respectively a Pentium J4205 quad core processor and a Celeron J3455 quad core processor, run a few benchmarks, and tested videos in Windows 10 on the motherboards with Kodi 17 and MPC-HC.

 

ASRock J4205-ITX Motherboard

ASRock J4205-ITX Motherboard

Let’s have a look at some of the benchmarks to better understand of what we can expect from Apollo Lake desktop processors.

pcmark-apollo-lake-processorFirst there’s not that much of a difference between Celeron J3455 (1,771 points) and Pentium 4205 (1,830 points) in PCMark Home Convetional benchmark, however you should clearly feel a boost in performance compared to systems with Intel Cherry Trail x5-Z8300 processor (1,141), and the score is getting fairly close to a mini PC with an Intel Core i3-5005U dual core / four thread processor (15 Watt TDP).

apollo-lake-benchmark-3dmark

If we look at 3D graphics performance, there are even more contrasts between various machines / processors. There’s a really big leap between MINIX NEO Z83-4 with x5-Z8300 processor and both Apollo Lake motherboards (150 to 165% better 3D performance), but on the other hand there’s a noticeable gap (almost 50%) between Intel HD 5500 graphics found in Core-i3 processors and Intel HD 500/505 graphics used in J3455 and J4205 processors.

AndroidPC guys also ran other benchmarks such as Cinebench, games fps, and so on, and I invite you to read their review (in Spanish) if you want to find out more. However, since there was some confusion about 10-bit HEVC and VP9 support, it’s interesting to also check out the video test results.

1080p “standard”
MPC-HC KODI 17
MPEG2 / MP2 2.0 – 6.6Mbps OK OK
MPEG4 / MP3 2.0 – 7.6Mbps OK OK
H264 / AAC 2.0 – 7.2Mbps OK OK
VC1 / WMA3 2.0 – 8.6Mbps OK OK
VP8 / VORBIS 2.0 – 7.8Mbs OK OK
1080p  – Higher bitrate 
Birds – H264 / No audio – 40Mbps OK OK
Samsung Oceanic Life – H264 – AC3 2.0 – 40Mbps OK OK
4K Videos
Skyfall – H264 / AAC 2.0 – 10Mbps OK OK
Timelapse – H264 / AAC 2.0 – 43Mbps OK OK
H.265/VP9 Videos
Tears of steel – HEVC 8bit / AAC 2.0 – [email protected] – 17Mbps OK OK
Beauty – H265 – HEVC 8bit / No audio – [email protected] (recorded @ 120 fps) – 12Mbps Skipped frames OK
Samsung UHD Dubai – HEVC 10bit / AAC 2.0 – [email protected] – 51Mbps Skipped frames OK
Google test – VP9 Youtube OK OK

So all videos can play in Kodi 17 even 4K 10-bit H.265 videos and VP9 videos, however MPC-HC appears to have issues with some H.265 videos. Both ASRock motherboards support HDMI 2.0 with up to 4K @ 60 fps, but none of the 4K H.265 videos had a framerate over 30 fps, so this would have to be tested. HDMI audio pass-through was not so great, as it only worked for Dolby Digital 5.1, not but TrueHD or DTS HD, possibly because the boards are equipped with a DisplayPort to HDMI 2.0 converter which could introduce issues.

There are some Linux benchmarks (Phoronix) for ASRock J4205-ITX board, but currently limited to C-Ray.

Full Specifications for Intel Apollo Lake NUC Mini PC’s NUC6CAYB Board Released

December 5th, 2016 6 comments

Intel unveiled Intel NUC6CAYS & NUC6CAYH NUCs to be powered by Intel Celeron “Apollo Lake” Jxxx processors, but at the time we did not have the full technical specifications. The company has now published a 66-page technical product specification for NUC6CAYB board used in both mini PCs.

intel-apollo-lake-nuc-connectorsIntel NUC Board NUC6CAYB specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron J3455 quad core processor @ 1.5 GHz to 2.3 GHz (burst) with 12EU Intel HD graphics 500 @ 250 to 700 MHz supporting DirectX 9.3/10/11.1/12, OpenCL 1.2, OGLES 3.0, OpenGL 4.3 (10W TDP)
  • System Memory – 2x DDR3L-1600/1833 SO-DIMM supporting up to 8GB DDR3L-1866 in total
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC flash (Sandisk, Hynix or Samsung depending on your luck), 2.5″ SATA3 bay for hard drives up to 9.5mm thick, SDXC slot with UHS-I support
  • Video Output –
    • HDMI 2.0 (4K @ 60 Hz) with HDMI CEC via MegaChips MCDP2800-BCT DisplayPort 1.2a to HDMI 2.0 Level
      Shifter/Protocol Converter
    • VGA via ITE IT6516BFN DisplayPort to VGA bridge
  • Audio – Up to 7.1 channels via HDMI, 3.5mm headset jack, 3.5mm rear speaker/TOSLINK combo jack; digital microphone (DMIC) array; Realtek ALC283 HD Audio codec
  • Video Capabilities
    • Video Decode – H.265/HEVC @ Level 5.1, H.264 @ Level 5.2, MPEG2, MVC, VC-1, WMV9, JPEG, VP8 and VP9 formats
    • Video Encode – H.265/HEVC @ Level 4, H.264 @ Level 5.2, JPEG, MVC, VP8 and VP9 formats
    • Content Protection – High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) 1.4/2.0 and PAVP 2.0.
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8111HN), Intel Wireless AC-3168 M.2 module for 802.11ac 1×1 WiFi up to 433 Mbps and Bluetooth 4.2 with internal antennas
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports on the front panel (yellow one for charging other devices even when the NUC is powered off), 2x rear USB 3.0 ports, 2x internal USB 2.0 ports via header; 1x USB port reversed for M.2 2230 type E module
  • Expansion – 1x M.2 Module supporting M.2 2230 cards (key type E) (prepopulated with Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3168 module)
  • Misc – Consumer Infrared (CIR), Kensington key lock hole, hardware monitoring subsystem based on ITE IT8987D embedded controller (voltage, temperature, fan control)
  • Power Supply – 12 to 19V DC input
  • Dimensions – Board: 101.6 x 101.6mm; NUC: 151 x 111 x 51 (plastic casing with inner metal structure)
Intle Apollo Lake NUC Block Diagram - Click to Enlarge

Intle Apollo Lake NUC Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The board will be used in NUC6CAYH Kit with power adapter, no memory, no eMMC, no OS, as well as NUC6CAYS Kit with power adapter, preinstalled with 2GB 1600MHz SO-DIMM, and 32GB eMMC with Microsoft Windows 10 Home.

The specifications mention that Microsoft Windows 10 Home and Microsoft Windows 10 Pro operating systems are supports, and that “other operating system (OS) support may be available”. It’s very likely Linux be supported, and if you plan to run Linux the barebone kit is probably more suitable albeit you’ll lose the eMMC flash, and instead would have to install the OS on a SATA SSD or hard drive.

The other things that’s unclear right now are the price and availability for the new NUCs, but the wait should be almost over.

Via Liliputing and NUC Blog

R-Box Pro 3G Android TV Box Review – Part 2: Android 6.0 Firmware

November 21st, 2016 91 comments

The vast majority of octa-core Android TV Boxes sold on the market comes with 2GB RAM, but Amlogic S912 based R-Box Pro TV box was interesting with its 3GB RAM option (aka R-Box Pro 3G), as I wondered if I would see any noticeable improvements during my tests with the extra RAM. We’ve already confirmed the the hardware comes with 3GB RAM using 2x 1GB + 2x 512MB RAM chips configuration in the first part of the review last month, and it’s now time to check out whether this translates to anything in Android, as well as go through the usual hard-to-get features to work like automatic frame rate switching and HD audio pass-through.

r-box-pro-3g

First Boot, Firmware Update, and First Impressions

One positive with the device is the four USB ports, so this time I did not need an USB hub at all, and connected a USB HDD, two RF dongles for an air mouse and gamepad, as well as a USB keyboard to take screenshots. I completed the hardware setup with Ethernet and HDMI cables, and plugged the power supply to boot the device. Boot time is rather slow compared to competitors at about one minute.

Click for Original Size

Click for Original Size

The launcher used is exactly the same as on Rikomagic MK22, and the list of apps is also quite similar with IPTV apps such as Mobdro, Netflix, FilmOn Live, and UkTVNow.
r-box-pro-app-list

r-box-pro-apps-list-2The setup is also exactly the same, so if you want to find out more about the interface and setup options you can read Rikomagic MK22 review, while you’ll find more details about the IPTV apps (Mobdro / Filmon) in MXQ Plus / M12N TV box review.

I had no troubles with the settings when configuring WiFi and Ethernet, and the system kept the video output resolution I set (3840x2160p60) even between reboot. Part of the 16GB flash is used for the operating system, and the user still get 11.38 GB to play with, and at the end of the review after installing apps and some copying files, I only had used 3.26 GB.

r-box-pro-storageYou can also see exFAT and NTFS file systems are supported as usual, and a FAT32 micro SD card could also be mounted.

about-mediabox-r-box-proThe “About Media” box section shows R-BOX Pro 3G runs Android 6.0.1 with Linux 3.14.29, no surprise here. The firmware is rooted. I received the box early October, and when I first boot up the device the firmware was dated in September, so I checked for firmware update. They’ve done something pretty stupid as they’ve included both UPDATE&BACKUP and WirelessUpdate apps in the firmware, which is sure to confuse customers. But basically UPDATE&BACKUP app is not configured and trying to get an OTA firmware update will results in “Check Failed! Check Your OTA Servier Argent” (sic), while WirelessUpdate app appears to be configured, but can’t get any update firmware from the server, probably because they did not bother to copy any firmware… Finally, I could find new firmware on GeekBuying, but again on for “USB Burning Tool” with IMG extension, so I decided to try some new SD card method with Amlogic IMG firmware in Linux and Windows, and I finally managed to flash the firmware without using Amlogic USB Burning Tool. It took me nearly a full Saturday to make it work, but at least now I know how to do.

Nevertheless, this is 2016, and OTA firmware update is now working on most TV boxes, even some cheaper ones, so manufacturers should not expect end users to work with tools reserved to factory workers…

I had no problems using both Google Play and Amazon Underground to install apps. The remote control worked well enough up to 8 meters, and I could turn on and off the box with it.

Power handling is properly implemented with power off and standby modes, but the latter is pretty much useless based on the power consumption values I got on my power meter (with all USB devices connected as shown in top photo):

  • Power Off – 0.0 watt
  • Standby – 6.4 watts (USB HDD still on, Box LED is red)
  • Idle – 6.2 watts (Box LED is blue)

The case top and bottom temperatures were  respectively 41 and 51 °C max after Antutu 6.x benchmark, and after 15 minutes playing Riptide GP2, they rose to 42°C and 60°C respectively. The game performance was constant over time, and about the same as on other Amlogic S912 with highest resolution settings, i.e. not perfect, but playable.

Since one of the first thing I do with a new box is to check for new firmware, not having OTA firmware update, nor a simple SD card or USB flash drive ZIP firmware is not a good way to start. Sadly, even after the frustration of flash a new firmware, I had sluggishness issues with some apps show the “App is not responsive window” aking to wait or kill the app a bit more often than I’m comfortable with, and as we’ll see below my Kodi experience was one of the worse with 4K videos and audio pass-through. I certainly did not feel any benefit of having 3GB RAM over 2GB RAM with this device, as I was hoping the extra read/write buffer for the storage might improve the performance, but the opposite happened, likely because of sub-optimized firmware.

4K and Audio pass-through in Kodi 17.0 and DRM Info

The firmware I used for review (October 13, 2016) comes with Kodi 17.0-Alpha3 built on July 31, 2016 with TVaddons installed. I connected to my video samples SAMBA share and started testing some 4K videos:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 (H.264, 30 fps) – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv (H.264, 24 fps, 4096×1744) –  OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  OK
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – OK
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – OK
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Won’t play, stays in UI
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video; 36 Mbps; 59.97 Hz) – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – Started well, but after 30 seconds or so the image intermittently froze from time to time
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Not smooth, and audio delay (hardware does not support this type of video)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – OK (although video did not seem as sharp as usual)
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) – OK
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) –  OK
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – Not smooth
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – Won’t play, stays in UI
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – Won’t play, stays in UI

Most people probably don’t have VP9 videos, but considering one of the key selling on Amlogic S912 over Amlogic S905 is hardware video decoding support for VP9, it’s quite an unexpected issue, especially it is working on other Amlogic S912 TV boxes I tested so far.

Unsurprisingly, automatic frame rate switching is not working either…
kodi-17-audio-pass-through

I continued testing Kodi with HDMI pass-through to Onkyo TX-NR636 AV receiver was quite a disaster:

  • AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 – Audio OK (Dolby D 5.1), but video not smooth
  • E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 – OK
  • Dolby Digital+ 7.1 – PCM 2.0
  • TrueHD 5.1 – PCM 2.0
  • TrueHD 7.1 – PCM 2.0
  • Dolby Atmos 7.1 – PCM 2.0
  • DTS HD Master – Black screen and no audio
  • DTS HD High Resolution – Black screen and no audio
  • DTS:X – Black screen and no audio (not supported by Onkyo TX-NR636, but should normally be heard as DTS-HD MA)

The box supports Widevine Security Level 3 DRM, which should allow for SD playback of some premium video services, but not HD or UHD.

r-box-pro-drm

Click to Enlarge

WiFi and Internal Storage Benchmark

I’ve copied a 278 MB file between the internal storage and a SAMBA server using ES File Explorer in both direction in order to estimate WiFi performance. R-Box Pro support 802.11n and 802.11ac WiFi, so I tested both on different routers, and the system achieved 1.4 MB/s throughput using 802.11n, and 2.0 MB/s for 802.11ac on average.

WiFi Throughput in MB/s

WiFi Throughput in MB/s

rbox-pro-wifi-802-11ac-serverThe chart makes is clear that neither 802.11n nor 802.11ac performance is very. I must note than in the case of 802.11ac download performance was much higher than upload performance averaging about 3.4 MB/s. The chart on the right shows both Download (Upload from TV box – top) and Upload (Download from TV box – bottom) shows the traffic shape for 802.11ac transfer. 802.11ac download shows the performance is not stable, but at least there are no stalls, but the upload shows mostly constant throughput with several 3 stalls during transfer, so the connection does not appear to be entirely stable.

I measure Internal storage performance with A1SD bench, and the eMMC flash used in R-Box Pro delivered 39.28 MB/s read speed, and 19.31 MB/s write speed. Not the best, but those values should be enough to have responsive firmware in most conditions. So the slow loading apps issue if most probably due to a firmware/software issue then a problem with the hardware itself.

R-Box Pro 3G System Info and Antutu Benchmark

The board name is q6330, exactly the same as Rikomagic MK22, so I’d expect the firmware between those models to be very similar. R-Box manufacturer releases different firmware with their 2GB and 3GB RAM version however. CPU-Z also reports Amlogic S912 is an octa-core Cortex A53 clocked at 1.51 GHz with a Mali-T820MP GPU. 3 GB RAM is detected, or more exactly 2810 MB taking into account the hardware buffers), with 11.38 GB storage available to the user.

r-box-pro-3gb-cpu-z

Click to Enlarge

I ran Antutu 6.x to verify the performance, and 39,846 points is about what we’ve come to expect from Amlogic S912 TV boxes, with some devices getting as high as 42,000+ points.

r-box-pro-3g-antutu

Conclusion

I was intrigued with R-Box Pro 3G because of its 3GB RAM, but I ended getting the worse Amlogic S912 TV box of the six models I’ve reviewed so far.  OTA firmware is not working, the company does not seem to have a webpage for firmware, so I had to look on the Internet to find something on GeekBuying, with only IMG firmware requiring some Windows tools, or building your own parser in Linux in order to flash it. Clearly not user friendly. Kodi 17.0-alpha3 is installed in the box, and the list of issues is impressive: Vp9 videos can’t play, some 4K H.264 @ 30 fps video won’t play smoothly, automatic frame rate switching is not working either, and I only managed to get audio pass-through in Kodi work for a Dolby Digital 5.1 with some DTS-HD videos just showing a black screen. WiFi performance is rather weak both using 802.11n and 802.11ac WiFi, and the apps are not always loading very fast, leading the system to ask whether to wait or kill the apps. I’m pretty sure I missed some issues, but needless to say the company has a lot of work to do to make it a worthwhile device.

Kingnovel provided R-Box Pro 3G for review, and resellers & distributors can contact the company via their website. Individuals should probably not buy the device at this stage, but you can still purchase it for about $70 and up on GeekBuying,and Aliexpress. Note that the 2GB RAM version is often sold side-by-side with the 3GB RAM version, and price starts at $66.