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Posts Tagged ‘intel’

Intel Provides Details for Atom x3, x5 and x7 Processors

March 3rd, 2015 3 comments

Intel had already announced their plan to change Intel Atom branding to use x3/x5/x7 nomenclature in order to make it easier for consumers to navigate their product offerings, but the company has now provided much more details during their press conference at Mobile World Congress 2015.

Intel_x3_5_x7_Markets_PricingIntel Atom x3 (previously known as SoFIA) will be entry and ultra-low cost processor up with 3G or LTE connectivity found in products up to around $150, while Atom x5 and x7 (previously known as Cherry Trail) will be found in tablets between about $200 to $400, with the top performing devices going with Intel Core M processors.

Intel_x3Intel Atom x3 are very interesting because they mix Intel 64-bit cores with ARM GPUs (to keep the cost down), and parts with RK suffix are made by Rockchip. Three x3 processors are currently available:

  • Intel Atom x3-C3130 – Dual-core processor up to 1.0 GHz with ARM Mali-400MP2 GPU and 2G/3G modem.
  • Intel Atom x3-C3230RK – Quad-core processor up to 1.2GHz with ARM Mali-450MP4 GPU, and 2G/3G modem. Designed/Manufactured by Rockchip.
  • Intel Atom x3-C3440 – Quad-core processor up to 1.4GHz with ARM Mali-T720 GPU, and a 5-mode LTE modem

Intel_Atom_x3_3G_LTE

Atom x3 3G SoCs can be coupled with A-Gold 620 chipsets combining 2G/3G RF, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, FM radio, GPS/GLONASS and Audio/PMU, while Atom x3 LTE SoC would interface with four chips for 4G RF (Smarti RF TRX), PMIC + Audio, 802.11ac/BT 4.1 (Intel Wireless-AC WCS8270), and GPS (Intel Wireless-GNSS WCS 2100 & WCS 2000). All three processors are manufactured with a 28nm process, again to keep costs low.

Atom x5 and x7 will however be 14-nm processor, bringing lower power consumption, but a least initially, a higher cost. These processors will feature Intel Gen8 graphics, and support next-gen LTE Cat-6 thanks to Intel XMM-726x modem, and be found in 7″ to 10″ Windows and Android tablets and 2-in-1 hybrid laptops priced between $120 to $500.

Atom_x5_x7At first it seemed like the company did not provide that much information for Atom x5 and x7 processors just yet, and that it just expected products by Acer, Asus, Lenovo, Dell, Toshiba, and HP should be shipping in H1 2015. They did however provide a block diagram for Atom x5 / x7 processors which reveals more details to what can be expected including HDMI 1.4b up to 4K30,2K internal display (DSI / eDP), PCIe, USB 3.0, eMMC 4.51, but no integrated Ethernet MAC or SATA IP blocks, although these could be added via the PCIe interfaces.

Intel_Atom_x5_x7_Block_diagram

Atom x5/x7 Block Diagram (Click to Enlarge)

Furthermore, Techreport mentioned two Atom x5 processors will be available first with x5-8300 @ 1.84 GHz (up to 1080p) and Atom x5-8500 @ 2.24 GHz (up to 4K2K), as well as one Atom x7 processors: x7-8700 running at 2.4 GHz, as well as specifications:

  • CPU
    • x5-8300 – Quad core 64-bit Atom x5 up to 1.84 GHz
    • x5-8500 – Quad core 64-bit Atom x5 up to 2.24 GHz
    • x7-8700 – Quad core 64-bit Atom x7 up to 2.40 GHz
  • Graphics
    • Atom x5 – Gen8 12 EU, up to 500/600 MHz supporting  DX11.1, OpenGL ES 3.1, OpenCL 1.2, OpenGL 4.3, RS Compute
    • Atom x7 – Gen8 16 EU, up to 600 MHz supporting DX11.1, OpenGL ES 3.1, OpenCL 1.2, OpenGL 4.3, RS Compute
  • Media (encode/decode) – HEVC (decode), H.264, VP8
  • Memory
    • x5-8300 – 1×32, 1×64 DDR3L-RS 1600, 1-2GB
    • x5-8500 / x7-8700 – 2×64 LPDDR3 1600, 2-8GB
  • Storage – eMMC 4.51
  • Display resolution
    • x5-8300
      • Internal – 1920×1200 (MIPI-DSI or LVDS)
      • External: 1920×1080 (HDMI)
    • x5-8500 & x7-8700
      • Internal – 2500 x 1600 (MIPI-DSI or eDP)
      • External: 4K2K @ 30 Hz (HDMI)
  • Modem – Intel XMM 7260/62 LTE Cat-6 (up to 300Mbps DL). M.2 only for x5-8300
  • Connectivity – Intel WLAN, Intel WWAN, Intel NFC; Atom x7 also adds Intel WiGig.
  • I/O
    • x5-8300 – 6xI2C, 2xHSUART, 1xSDIO, 3xI2S, SPI, PCIe 2.0 x1, 1xI2C(ISH), 1xI2C (NFC)
    • x5-8500 & x7-8700 – 7xI2C, 2xHSUART, 1xSDIO, 3xI2S, 1xLPC, 1xSPI, PCIe 2.0 x2, 1x I2C(ISH), 1xI2C (NFC)
  • USB – 1xUSB3 OTG, 2xHSIC, 3xUSB2. x5-8500 & x7- only: 2x SSIC
  • ISP/camera (Rear & front)
    • x5-8300 – Up to 8MP with Intel RealSense Snapshot
    • x5-8500 & x7-8700 – Up to 13MP with Intel RealSense 3D camera

I could not find any TDP figures, but thermal dissipation should be around 2 to 5W since Atom x3, x5 and x7 target tablets and smartphones.

Via Anandtech

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Console OS Developer Preview Image Released for Some Intel Haswell and Bay Trail Systems

February 26th, 2015 2 comments

Console_OS_LogoConsole OS is an operating system based on Android that’s designed to run son x86 machines ide-by-side with Windows and with desktop-friendly user interface. The project has been funded via a Kickstarter campaign, so backers get the updates earlier, but the developers have now publicly released Console OS DR1 (Developer Release 1) based on Android 4.4.2 so that more people can download it and try it for free after registration.

I wanted to try it on Mele PCG03, but it failed, even after copying bootia32.efi to /EFI/BOOT directory (I get stuck into Grub command line), and I found out that “Systems must have 64-bit UEFI firmware. Some systems have 32-bit UEFI firmware, and we are working on adding support for those provided you have one of the processors above”. So it won’t work on cheap Windows 8.1 dongles and mini PC like MeegoPad T01 or Pipo X7, but MINIX NEO Z64A may work thanks to its 64-bit UEFI firmware. If your PC has a 64-bit UEFI it should be able to run Console OS provided it comes with one of these Intel processor family:

  • Fourth-generation Intel Core (formerly “Haswell”)
  • Third-generation Intel Core (formerly “Ivy Bridge”)
  • Second-generation Intel Core (formerly “Sandy Bridge”) – Note Second-gen Core / Sandy Bridge processor support is untested and not planned for future versions
  • Intel Atom 64-bit processors (formerly “Bay Trail”)

AMD processors are not support, and Nvidia / AMD graphics card aren’t either, but these are planned for future releases. You may want to check if your device is officially supported on the Device section of Console OS website.

The image is an installer, and I understand you cannot run this as a live CD, so it has to be installed on your PC, preferably to a USB 3.0 hard drive for testing, after backing up your computer. But installation appears simple enough, as you just need to copy the binary (for Bay Trail or Haswell) to a flash drive with Win32DiskImager or dd, and boot the system for installation. If you run Windows, you’ll have an options for dual boot installation, whereas Linux OS would have to be wiped out on the destination drive. You can find out more in the Wiki.

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Intel Introduces Atom x3, x5 and x7 Categories for Its Upcoming Low Power Processors

February 26th, 2015 5 comments

Intel has been using Core i3, i5, and i7 models for its desktop processor for a few years in order to help consumers chose between entry-level, mid-range, and high-performance processor, although you may also want to look at the launch date as some Core i7 launched in 2010 may be quite slower than Core i3 launched in 2013 or 2014 for example.

Atom_x3_x5_x7Intel has now decided to use a similar naming scheme for its next generation Atom processor used in tablets, phablets, and smartphones with Atom x3, Atom x5, and Atom x7 product ranges instead of the often confusing names like Z3735F, Z3580, etc.. The company will still offer slightly more powerful Pentium and Celeron processor for 2-in-1 laptop designs and mini PCs, as well as new Core-M processors for low power and PC-like performance think laptops or tablets.

Via Liliputing and UMPCPortal

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Categories: Intel Atom Tags: intel

Linux 3.19 Release – Main Changes, ARM and MIPS Architectures

February 9th, 2015 4 comments

Linus Torvalds released Linux Kernel 3.19 yesterday:

So nothing all that exciting happened, and while I was tempted a couple of times to do an rc8, there really wasn’t any reason for it.

Just as an example, Sasha Levin used KASan and found an interesting bug in paravirtualized spinlocks, but realistically it’s been around forever, and it’s not even clear that it can really ever trigger in practice. We’ll get it fixed, and mark it for stable, and tempting as it was, it wasn’t really a reason to delay 3.19.

And the actual fixes that went in (see appended shortlog) were all fairly small, with the exception of some medium-sized infiniband changes that were all reverting code that just wasn’t ready.

So it’s out there – go and get it. And as a result, the merge window for 3.20 is obviously also now open.

Linus

Linux 3.18 improved performance of the network stack, received BTRFS and EXT-4 file systems improvements, introduced overlayfs for live CDs, and more.

Some changes made to Linux 3.19 include:

  • Btrfs: support scrubbing and fast device replacement in RAID 5&6Btrfs  – Added support for fast & live device replacement (see btrfs-replace), much faster and efficient than adding the new device and removing the old one in separated commands. This feature could not fast-replace devices from file systems using RAID 5 & 6, this release has removed that limitation. Support for the process of scrubbing a btrfs filesystem (with btrfs-scrub) has also been added for RAID 5&6 file systems.
  • Support for Intel Memory Protection Extensions – Intel’s Memory Protection Extension (MPX) is a set of CPU instructions which brings increased robustness to software by checking pointer references usurped maliciously at runtime by buffer overflows. This Linux release adds support in the Linux kernel, although CPUs with MPX support are not sold yet (To be introduced with Intel Skylake and Goldmont microarchitectures). LWN article: Supporting Intel MPX in Linux
  • SquashFS adds LZ4 Compression Support
  • Work on year 2038 bug – do_settimeofday(), timekeeping_inject_sleeptime(), and mktime() now have 2038-safe replacements
  • The networking layer has a new subsystem for offloading switching and routing duties to suitably capable hardware
  • Audio – Intel Baytrail-based audio devices, Samsung Exynos7 I2S controllers, NXP Semiconductors TFA9879 amplifiers, and Texas Instruments TS3A227E headset chips.

Some of the new features and improvements specific to the ARM architecture include:

  • Allwinner:
    • Simple Framebuffer and USB phy driver support for usb0  for Allwinner A10 / A10s / A13 / A20 / A31 / A23
    • NAND Flash driver for Allwinner A10 & A20
    • DMAengine driver for Allwinner A23 (Shared with A31)
    • Allwinner A80 – initial machine support, basic clocks and reset, pinctrl driver, extra UART, I2C, LEDS
    • New boards: Mele M3, LeMaker Banana Pi, Merrii A80 Optimus Board, Olimex A20-OLinuXino-Lime2
  • Rockchip
    • RK3288 – Basic SMP support
    • Device tree for MarsBoard RK3066
    • Added support for rk3066-tsadc variantof rockchip_saradc
    • Add support for the mmc clock phases using the framework
  • Amlogic
    • Added DTSI for Meson8 SoCs
    • Driver for Meson IR remote control
    • Support for Meson SPIFC
  • Mediatek
    • Basic support for MT6592, MT8127 and MT8135
    • DTS for 8127 Moose board, MT8125 evaluation board, and MT6592-EVB
  • ARM64
    • Added Device tree for Juno and AMD Seattle platform
    • Added framework for legacy instruction emulation, secomp suport, SMBIOS/DMI support, etc…
  • Atmel AT91 architecture has gotten rid of board files, and is now fully converted to device tree
  • Other new device tree files: Altera Arria10 SoC, Synology DS213j/DS414, Braodcom BCM5301X devices (Asus RT-N18U, Buffalo WZR-1750DHP, Buffalo WZR-600DHP2, Netgear R6300 V2 ), DLink DIR665, Raspberry Pi model B+, Freescale LS1021A, TBS2910 Matrix ARM mini PC, NHK15 board (nomadik)

Some changes have been listed for MIPS architecture too:

  • BMIPS: Add PRId for BMIPS5200 (Whirlwind)
  • Enable VDSO randomization
  • Loongson-3 –  Add PHYS48_TO_HT40 support, Add RS780/SBX00 HPET support, Add oprofile support
  • Loongson1B – Add a clockevent/clocksource using PWM Timer
  • Loongson –  Allow booting from any core
  • Support for hybrid FPRs
  • ath25 – Add basic AR2315 SoC support, add AR2315 PCI host controller driver, add basic AR5312 SoC support
  • bcm3384 – Initial commit of bcm3384 platform support
  • ralink – add mt7628an support, add rt2880 pci driver, add support for MT7620n

A more detailed changelog for Linux 3.19 will soon be available on Kernelnewbies.org. You can also checkout ARM architecture and drivers sections for more details about changes related to ARM, MIPS and other platforms.

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Embedded Linux Conference 2015 Schedule – IoT, Cars, and Drones

February 6th, 2015 No comments

Embedded Linux Conference 2015 will take place in San Jose, California, on March 23 – 25, 2015, and will focus on Drones, Things and Automobiles. The schedule has been published, and whether you’ll attend or not, it’s always interested to have a look at what will be talked about to have a peak into the future of Embedded Linux, or simply keep abreast with the progress in the field.

Embedded_LInux_Conference_2015So as usual, I’ve gone through the schedule, and made my own virtual program with talks that I find interesting.

Monday 23rd

  • 9:00 – 9:30 – Driving standards and Open Source to Grow the Internet of Things by Mark Skarpness, Director of Systems Engineering at Intel

Billions of devices are beginning to come online, and many of these devices, large and small, are running open source software.  To fuel this innovation, it’s more important than ever for these devices to use a common framework to communicate with each other and the cloud.  Intel is a founding member of the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC), which will use both open source innovation and standards specifications to drive interoperability across multiple operating systems and communication protocols to enable the Internet of Things. As one of the founding members of the Linux Foundation, a top external contributor to the Android Open Source Project, and a leader behind USB, WiFi, Bluetooth and other projects and standards, Intel has the depth of knowledge and a unique approach to move things forward to benefit developers and consumers.

  • 9:30 – 10:00 – Project Ara with Paul Eremenko, Head of Project Ara, ATAP at Google & Marti Bolivar, Project Ara Software Lead, Google

Marti and Paul will discuss Project Ara’s aim to develop an open hardware platform for modular smartphones, with the goal of creating a vibrant module developer community and a marketplace from which consumers can create an entirely custom mobile device.

  • 10:45 – 11:35 – Generalizing Android for Low-Cost 64-Bit ARM-Based Community Boards by Khasim Syed Mohammed, Linaro

Linaro is developing an open hardware platform specification to encourage software development on low-cost boards to lower the cost and accelerate the availability of maker and embedded products based on ARM SoCs. By end of 2015 there will be many compliant boards based on and adhering to this specification. The key challenge for the Android community is to enable and maintain Android for multiple platforms on a common code base. This presentation highlights the issues like non-standard SoC customizations, peripheral controller customizations from vendors and shares the possible solutions through Android software generalization.

  • 11:45 – 12:35 – Open Source Drones on Linux by Lorenz Meier

This presentation will summarize the current state in academia and industry using Linux on drones, which is by now already a widespread and common pattern.

  • 14:00 – 14:50 – IoTivity and Embedded Linux Support by Kishen Maloor, Intel

IoTivity is a new collaborative project, hosted at the Linux Foundation and sponsored by the Open Interconnect Consortium. Its goal is to facilitate interconnections across the billions of “things” to be on the Internet in coming years. A majority of these “things” would be low-power embedded devices. To satisfy their connectivity needs, IoTivity must support a variety of transmission media, such as WiFi, Bluetooth, Bluetooth LE, 6LoWPAN over 805.15.4, etc. This session will present an overview of IoTivity’s current support for the Yocto Linux environment on embedded platforms, and how it allows us to be flexible for multiple purposes. It will also present how a developer can enable IoTivity on Yocto and make modifications.

  • 15:00 – 15:50 – Performance Analysis Using the perf Suite by Mans Rullgard

When faced with a performance problem, the initial steps towards a solution include identifying the sections of code responsible and the precise reasons they are time-consuming. To this end, the ‘perf’ profiling tools provide valuable insight into the characteristics of a program. The presentation will show, using real-world examples, how the ‘perf’ tools can be used to pinpoint the parts of a program in need of optimisation.

This presentation will be a version of that given at ELCE 2014 updated based on questions and audience feedback.

  • 16:20 – 17:10 – Poky meets Debian: Understanding How to Make an Embedded Linux by Using an Existing Distribution’s Source Code by Yoshitake Kobayashi, Toshiba

Poky has already become one of the most popular build system to make an embedded Linux environment. Poky refers to OpenEmbedded originally. However if you want to use other source code, how to do it? We have some experience we would like to share with you. For this study, We choose Debian source and already tried two ways to use it. The first try was probably an incorrect way and the second try may be a correct way.

In this talk, we will show both of them and also describe why we choose Debian. If you are interested in this implementation, you can download the source code from GitHub (cnxsoft: empty for now). There are some implementations available for development boards such as pandaboard, minnowboard and etc. Let’s enjoy Bitbake!

  • 17:20 – 18:10 – Teaching More Fish to Fly by John Hawley, Intel

n 2013, at the Embedded Linux Conference in Europe in Edinburgh, there was a race between a dog and a blimp. It was said that despite the dogs win, that the blimp had participated in the miracle of flight. In 2014 we started showing how the MinnowBoard can be lofted and show useful. In 2015 we just want to give an update on where we are at and what interesting projects are being done both with the MinnowBoard and other platforms in the UAV space. The talk is mainly targeting taking an off the shelf embedded platform, Minnowboard Max, and it’s use in UAVs, specifically quad-copters. With the ability to do real time computer vision, as well as various GPIO capabilities we’ll explore the directions that significantly more autonomous UAVs can take with Linux and embedded platforms using, mostly, off the shelf components.

Tuesday 24th

  • 9:00 – 10:50 – Customizing AOSP for my Device by Rafael Coutinho, Phi Innovations

Android BSP gives you some tools to create your own device customizations. This can be achieved without changes on the Android main code, and just some customizations on the devices folder. It is possible to overlay some system apk configurations, ui and even services. In this tutorial I plan to show the step by step of creating a custom Android device using a AOSP. Setting up some Kernel parameters, customizing the lights HAL and sensors HAL, changing the look and feel of Settings apk etc.

  • 11:20 – 12:10 – Room For Cooperation: Bionic and musl by Bernhard Rosenkränzer, Linaro

A while after Android started Bionic, another interesting libc project was started: musl. Its licensing is compatible with Android’s – so there may be room for picking the best of both worlds. This talk investigates where musl outperforms Bionic and vice versa — and whether or not (and how) Android can benefit from pulling musl code into Bionic.

  • 13:40 – 14:10 – Dronecode Project and Autopilot With Linux by Andrew Tridgell, Technical Steering Committee Chair of Dronecode Project

Andrew “Tridge” Tridgell provides updates on the progress of Dronecode’s open source software project for commercial drones, and insight into the future of drone development. He will also delve into the specific task of running an autopilot directly on a Linux-based platform.

  • 14:10 – 14:55 – IoT Panel with Dominig Ar Foll, Intel (Tizen); Greg Burns, AllSeen Alliance; Bryant Eastham, Panasonic; Guy Martin, Samsung; Tim Bird, Sony Mobile (Moderator)
  • 15:40 – 16:30 – Linux for Microcontrollers: From Marginal to Mainstream by Vitaly Wool, Softprise Consulting OU

The story of a DRAM-less Linux-operated microcontroller delivered at ELC a year ago, which came as a surprise for many, wouldn’t be that surprising now. However, there are some important updates to share: moving to mainline-aligned 3.x baseline, compiling out VM-specific code, optimizing kernel XIP, and the last but not the least, starting to use picoTCP kernel networking stack.

Some size and performance benchmarks will also be presented, along with the Linux demo on the DRAM-less microcontroller board.

  • 16:40 – 18:20 – Building a General Purpose Android Workstation by Ron Munitz

In this tutorial, you will have a hands-on journey of customizing, building, and using a General Purpose Desktop variant of the Android-X86 project. The tutorial assumes previous experience with building Android off the AOSP, Android-IA, CyanogenMod, or any other build system, and describes the special additions of Android-X86, such as a Kernel build system, general X86 hardware detection based HAL’s/firmware and live cd/disk installer generation and more. Then, we will explore the Linux friendly busybox minimal image, and describe the way a fully fledged Android version can be spawned out of it (with similar techniques for any other Linux distribution with the Android patches!) using chroot, and provide a listing of the ultimate Android init process.

We will continue the discussion with day to day uses, and a joint brainstorming of Linux developer uses, and justify Android-X86 as yet another X-less Linux distribution – until the time we add X to it… As a special bonus, we will address how to make any app run using a user-QEMU based ARM translator.

  • 18:20 – 19:20 – BoFs: Yocto Project / OpenEmbedded by Jeff Osier-Mixon

Got a question, comment, gripe, praise, or other communication for the Yocto Project and/or OpenEmbedded? Or maybe you’d just like to learn more about these projects and their influence on the world of embedded Linux? Feel free to join us for an informal BoF.

Wednesday 25th

  • 9:00 – 9:30 – Embedding Openness in the Connected Car by Matt Jones, Jaguar Land Rover

A future vehicle will be a “thing” on the Internet, but how can industry and community come together to accelerate the future concepts into production. The keynote will explore the platforms and standard needed for the future, and relate them to open prototypes from Jaguar Land Rover and the Automotive Grade Linux projects.

  • 9:30 – 10:00 – Community Involvement: Looking Forward and Looking Back by Deepak Saxena

Linux has grown by leaps and bounds in the last decade, finding its way into billions of mobile devices and also into the core of cloud based services that we rely on for business, entertainment, and increasingly, security. With this explosion of devices, we have seen more companies get involved with the kernel community, some successfully, and some struggling. In this talk, we will look at some of the challenges that the industry and the community continue to face in working with each other and also more importantly think about what is next? The adoption of Linux will continue to increase throughout all market segments, bringing in numerous new organizations and new developers. How do we move forward and what changes need to happen within the industry and community cultures to work better together?

  • 10:45 – 17:50 – Embedded Android Workshop by Karim Yaghmour, Opersys

While Android has been created for mobile devices — phones first and now tablets — it can, nonetheless, be used as the basis of any touch-screen system, whether it be mobile or not. Essentially, Android is a custom-built embedded Linux distribution with a very elaborate and rich set of user-space abstractions, APIs, services and virtual machine. This one-day workshop is aimed at embedded developers wanting to build embedded systems using Android. It will cover Android from the ground up, enabling developers to get a firm hold on the components that make up Android and how they need to be adapted to an embedded system. Specifically, we will start by introducing Android’s overall architecture and then proceed to peel Android’s layer one-by-one.

That’s a just a small selection of the talks, and there are many other interested sessions if you are interested in IoT, automotive or drone applications.

If you’d like to attend, you can register online with a single fee for the Embedded Linux Conference and Android Builders Summit 2015, as well as breakfasts and breaks, a T-shirt, and access to evening events:

  • Early Bird Registration Fee – US$500 through January 30, 2015
  • Standard Registration Fee – US$650 through March 5, 2015
  • Late Registration Fee – US$750 after March 5, 2015
  • Student Registration Fee – US$150
  • Hobbyist Registration Fee – US$150

If you attend as a hobbyist, you need to contact events [at] linuxfoundation.org to receive a discount code.

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Winbook TW700 Windows 8.1 Tablet with micro HDMI, Full Size USB Port Sells for $60

February 5th, 2015 12 comments

MeegoPad T01, Pipo X7, MeLE PCG03, MINIX NEO Z64, etc.. you could name a pretty long list of Intel Bay Trail-T Z3735 mini PCs running Windows 8.1… They all cost above $100, but the ones that include a valid Windows 8.1 license usually cost closer to $150. That’s because contrary to the Windows 8.1 with Bing on small tablets that comes free and with a one-year subscription to office 365, Windows 8.1 with Bing on mini PCs adds about $30 to the price, and it does not even include a one-year subscription. So using a tablet as a mini PC should be cheaper, even with the extra touchscreen display and battery. And as I checked out Liliputing’s list of cheap Windows tablets, Winbook TW700 stood out as it sells for just $60 on Micro-center (US only) or $70 on Amazon US, and features a mini HDMI port, a full-sized USB port, meaning it can easily be connected to an HDMI TV, and be used as mini PC for over half the price of actual Windows 8.1 mini PCs.

Winbook_TW700Winbook TW700 specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom Z3735G “Bay Trail” quad core processor @ 1.33 GHz (Bust freq: 1.83 GHz) with Intel HD graphics (2.2W TDP)
  • System Memory – 1 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 16 GB eMMC + micro SD card slot (up to 64 GB)
  • Display – 7″ IPS display; 1280×800 resolution; 5-point touchscreen
  • Video Output – micro HDMI
  • Audio I/O – micro HDMI, 3.5mm earphone jack
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Camera – 2MP Front-facing and rear cameras
  • Sensors – G-sensor, light sensor
  • Misc – Power and volume buttons
  • Battery – Rechargeable lithium-on battery (Capacity not specified)
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 189 x 121 x 11 mm
  • Weight – 350 grams

So the memory and storage are a bit tight, but it should probably be enough to run Kodi 14 with the default skin, and should make a very good media player based on my Kodi 14.1 testing with MeLE PCG03, providing a smoother experience than on any ARM based mini PC I tried in the past, as long as you play videos up to 1080p, and don’t need HEVC/H.265 video decode. Some people also noticed an overheating issue on other devices while playing high framerate videos (50 fps @ 720p or 1080i), leading to throttling on Pipo X7, but I could not reproduce this in MeLE PCG03. It mostly depends on the thermal design of the device, and one person also said running Kodi in Linux does not exhibit the issue, but requires a USB sound card, as HDMI audio does not work (yet). Hopefully a working OpenELEC image will soon be released for Intel Atom Z37xx devices.

One other difference is the use of Z3735G instead of Z3735F, which means the maximum memory is 1GB RAM, and the memory bandwidth is only 5.3 GB/s instead of 10.6 GB/s.

As I understand it, Winbook is a US brand and only sells in the US, so if Amazon US won’t ship to your country, you’re out of luck. But as the device is certainly a re-branded Chinese table, so I checked out for similar Z3735G tablet on Aliexpress. I could not find an exact match, but PiPo W7 and Cube iWork7 tablets are selling for about $80 including shipping, and both include micro HDMI and micro USB OTG ports, but no full-size USB port.

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Kodi 14 Video Playback on Intel Atom Z3735F Computers Running Windows 8.1

January 31st, 2015 30 comments

I’ve already written a short review of Mele PCG03 mini PC powered by Intel Atom Z3735F processor, with 2GB RAM, and 32GB eMMC flash, where I found out that almost it’s not the fastest device around, it’s still usable for most tasks, albeit you can quickly run out of space with only 32GB storage, so if you really plan to use it as an actual computer using applications such as email clients, web browser and office suites, an external USB hard drive, or connection to a NAS is probably a must, or you’ll probably have to run Disk Cleaner fairly often.  Mele PCG03 also have a valid Windows 8.1 license, and a VGA port, both of which are often missing on many other Bay Trail-T mini PCs.

Kodi 14.1 on Mele PCG03 (Click for Original Size)

Kodi 14.1 on Mele PCG03 (Click for Original Size)

I’ve now installed Kodi 14.1, downloaded directly from xbmc.org,  on this low cost and low power computer, to go through my video test files, and see how it performs compared to the many ARM based Android TV boxes I’ve tested in the past. I’ve played the videos over Ethernet from a SAMBA share on an Ubuntu 14.04 machine, unless otherwise noted. I full expect the results to be identical on other Intel Atom Z3735 / Z3736 based mini PCs such as MeegoPad T01 or Pipo X7.

The device was connected to LG 42UB820T, a 4K UltraHD television, but the maximum output resolution supported by the box is 1080p60 (1920×1080), so that’s the output resolution I used for testing.

Let’s get started with videos samples from samplemedia.linaro.org, plus some H.265/HEVC videos (Elecard), and a low resolution VP9 video:

  • H.264 codec / MP4 container (Big Buck Bunny), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • MPEG2 codec / MPG container, 480p/720p/1080p – OK. But XBMC reports decoding at 24 fps, instead of the video native 25 fps.
  • MPEG4 codec, AVI container 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • VC1 codec (WMV), 480p/720p/1080p – OK
  • Real Media (RMVB), 720p / 5Mbps – RV8, RV9, and RV10 – OK, but at 720p and 1080p video is played at about 22 fps instead of 25 fps.
  • WebM / VP8 – OK
  • H.265 codec / MPEG TS container – 360p and 720p OK, 1080p video is not really watchable (15 fps), and audio cuts.
  • WebM / VP9 (no audio in video) – OK

Followed by some higher bitrate videos:

  • ED_HD.avi – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_1080p_surround.avi (1080p H.264 – 12 Mbps) – OK.
  • h264_1080p_hp_4.1_40mbps_birds.mkv (40 Mbps) – OK
  • hddvd_demo_17.5Mbps_1080p_VC1.mkv (17.5Mbps) – OK, but plays at 24 fps instead of 29.970 fps
  • Jellyfish-120-Mbps.mkv (120 Mbps video without audio) – OK (using USB hard drive)

High definition audio codecs below have only been tested using PCM output over HDMI, as I’ll still waiting for Speakers to go with my AV receiver. So HDMI pass-through is still To Be Tested (TBT), and S/PDIF won’t be tested since there’s no S/PDIF output on MeLE’s mini PC. I expect to update the table with HDMI pass-through in about a week. I’ve now tested HDMI audio pass-through using Onkyo TX-NR636 AV receiver. I selected WASAPI audio device in Kodi, and enabled all codecs below.

Video’s Audio Codec HDMI PCM Output HDMI Pass-through SPDIF Pass-through
AC3 / Dolby Digital 5.1 OK OK No S/PDIF Output on MeLE PCG03
E-AC-3 / Dolby Digital+ 5.1 OK OK
Dolby Digital+ 7.1 OK Some audio but frequent cuts
TrueHD 5.1 OK No audio Audio Formats Not Supported over S/PDIF
TrueHD 7.1 OK No audio
DTS HD Master OK No audio
DTS HD High Resolution OK No audio

I could play Sintel-Bluray.iso without problem, so Bluray ISO are supported. I’ve been told encrypted ISO might be more problematic, but I don’t have any sample to test. 1080i MPEG2 videos (GridHD.mpg & Pastel1080i25HD.mpg) could also play.

Intel Atom Z3735F processor does not support 4K video output, however it can still decode some 4K videos (H.264), but both H.265 and VP9 are out of reach:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – XBMC reports playback at about 10 fps, but I looks like 2 to 3 fps to me.
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – XBMC reports playback at about 10 fps, but I looks like 2 to 3 fps to me.
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) –  Won’t play at all (stays in XBMC UI)
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC) – Slow notion playback, just like other H.265 videos.
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – Plays at about 10 fps.
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – Won’t play at all (stays in XBMC UI)

I’ve also played some 3D videos:

  • bbb_sunflower_1080p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (1080p Over/Under) – OK (Decoded at 60 fps as it should)
  • bbb_sunflower_2160p_60fps_stereo_abl.mp4 (2160p Over/Under) – Plays at about 10 fps, and frequent audio cuts.
  • Turbo_Film-DreamWorks_trailer_VO_3D.mp4 (1080p SBS) – OK

Please note that My TV does not support 3D, so I only tested video decoding capability.

All my AVI, MKV, FLV, VOB, IFO and MP4 videos could play smmothly, without A/V sync issues, and contrary to XBMC Android, the reported framerate is extremely stable. In most, if not all, Android media players, it’s quite common to see 24 fps videos, being played at  a reported 22 to 25 fps according to XBMC live log window. But in ths test, the vast majority of videos played exactly and constantly at the native framerate.

All the video above where played over Ethernet, but I switched to Wi-Fi, but my reliability test, consisting of playing a full 1080p movie (1h50 / MKV / 3GB). XBMC reported only 1 skipped frame over the whole movie, while in Android TV boxes I usually get 14,000 skipped frames for the complete movie.

I also wanted to test automatic frame rate switching, so I went to Settings->Video, changed the Settings level to Advanced, and set Adjust display refresh rate to match video to On start/stop. And got the following results using the Info button on the remote control of my TV for the video output:

  • 23.976 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p24
  • 24 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p24
  • 25 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p50
  • 30 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p60
  • 50 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p50
  • 59.94 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p60
  • 60 fps video -> Video Output: 1080p60

So it’s mostly working. If I open Intel HD Graphics Control Panel, the following refresh rate are available: 23p, 24p, 25p, 29p, 30p, 50p, 50i, 59p, 59i, 60p, and 60i, and I can set any of these refresh rates, but for example, when I set 59p, and press the Info button on the remote of my LG TV, I only see 1080p60, so it’s difficult to know exactly what’s going on for refresh rates such as 23.976 or 59.94 fps.

Anyway, the conclusion is excluding the lack of H.265 codec and 4K video output support, that’s clearly the best experience I’ve had using XBMC / Kodi on any low cost hardware platform, as all 1080p or lower resolution videos could be played, the vast majority at the native video framerate, H.264 4K videos are playing fine (but outputted to 1080p), and automatic frame rate switching is working. [Update: 4K video can limited to 30 fps, the system can’t handle 4K 60fps at full rate]

Links to various video samples used in this review and be found in “Where to get video, audio and images samples” post and comments.

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X29 Intel Celeron J1800 / J1900 mini PC Sells for $125 and Up

January 26th, 2015 10 comments

Today, somebody asked me to test 4K output on Intel Atom Z3735F, but I can’t do that since the platform only supports 1080p. As I just posted my unboxing of MeLE PCG03 mini PC, I noticed several ICs where added for extra functionalities, and people also started to complain about lack of Gigabit Ethernet, Fast Ethernet via a USB bridge, no USB 3.0, and no SATA. That’s what happens when you use a Tablet SoC in a mini PC, but if you’re ready to pay a little more, you could still get a mini PC with a proper desktop processor (Bay Trail-D) including SATA, USB 3.0, and Gigabit Ethernet (maybe) for about $125 (shipped) with X29-J1800 computer powered by Intel Celeron J1800 (10W TDP). That’s the price for the barebone system without RAM or storage, and if you want a complete system with 32GB eMMC and 4GB RAM the price goes up to about $200 including shipping via DHL. The quad core version with J1900 is also available for about $20 more. None of these processors support 4K video output however, as the maximum listed resolution is 1080p.

X29_Celeron-J1900_computer

X29 specifications:

 

  • SoC
    • Intel Celeron J1800 dual core processor @ 2.41 GHz (base) / 2.58 GHz (Burst) with Intel HD graphics (10W TDP) or
    • Intel Celeron J1900 Quad core processor  @ 2.0 GHz (base) / 2.41 GHz (Burst) with Intel HD graphics (10W TDP)
  • System Memory – 2x SO-DIMM sockets for unbuffered dual channel DDR3L 1066/1333/1600 MHz SDRAM up to 8GB
  • Storage – 1x SATA 6Gb/s, 1x mini SATA 3Gb/s
  • Video Output – HDMI + VGA
  • Connectivity – 2x Ethernet ports (via Realtek RTL8111E Gigabit Ethernet controller or RTL8103EL fast Ethernet controller), optional Wireless network card
  • Audio – Realtek ALC662 HD audio codec, 1x microphone jack, 1x LINE OUT jack
  • USB – 2x  USB 2.0 host portm 2x USB 3.0 ports.
  • Expansion slot – 1x Mini-PCIE slot
  • Misc – COM port (RJ45). power button, power LED
  • Power Supply – 12V
  • Dimensions – 134 x 124 x 36 mm
  • Certifications – CE, FCC, RoHS
  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0 to 60 C; Storage: -20 to 85 C

 

There’s also a 64MB DPI flash ROM for AMI UEFI BIOS. The system is said to be fanless, but at the same time they “suggest to use system fan”, so I’m not sure what that mean, unless there’s a fan connector, and you can add a fan yourself. It’s not clear whether the two LAN ports are Fast or Gigabit Ethernet, as descriptions are inconsistent.

X29-J1800_mini_PCIt’s also not 100% sure how you’d fit a 2.5″ SATA drive inside, so a mini SATA drive should be a more workable option, and should be included when storage is offered.

X29_SATAThere’s no mention of operating system, although the product title may include Windows or Ubuntu, even with system without storage, so you’d have to take care of that yourself. Ubuntu is not always perfectly running on Atom Z3735F processor (e.g. Wi-Fi, audio), and to be honest, I’m not sure of the support for Celeron J1800 / J1900 processor, but it’s at least two Celeron J1900 computers and five Celeron J1800 PCs are listed as certified on Ubuntu website.

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