Intel has recently announced it would lay off 11% of its workforce, and has now decided to kill plans for Atom Broxton, successor of Intel Cherry Trail processor, as well as low cost SoFia smartphone SoCs. That’s not really surprising as Intel was reported to have very small margins, or even to subsidy, low cost Intel based smartphones, and mini PCs. Rockchip/Intel Sofia SoC has never been popular with only a handful of smartphones and tablets launched in the last year.
Nevertheless, we’ve had it good with $70 Bay Trail TV sticks, and $85 Cherry Trail mini PCs, and Intel is still manufacturing and selling those parts. But in the future, it might not be possible to buy sub $100 mini PCs or tablets with the latest Intel processors, as the company is now focusing on higher margin processors with Intel Core M and Apollo Lake (succeeding Braswell).
More details and in-depth analysis of the announcement can be found on Liliputing and Anandtech.
Intel released a presentation entitled “Design Considerations and Reference Designs for Entry, Value and Mainstream PCs” at IDF 2016 Shenzhen, explaining the company vision about low power laptops and mini PCs. At the core of those devices will be “Apollo Lake” Pentium and Celeron Processors with 6 to 10W TDP replacing Braswell processors with better CPU and graphics performance, lower power consumption, and low overall BoM cost.
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Beside mini PCs, the processors will also find their way into what Intel calls Cloudbooks, some sort of laptops with 2 to 4GB RAM, 32 to 64GB storage, no hard drive, and displays whose size ranges from 11.6″ to 14″. So it looks like Cloudbooks may be the new Netbooks, with better performance and larger displays.
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Cost savings on the mainboard are achieved thanks to the integration of many features (Signal Processor, SD Card bridge chip, Spead Spectrum Clock…), low power consumption leading to smaller batteries, the ability to load the BIOS/UEFI to the eMMC instead of an SPI flash, etc…
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The savings appear to be small, but bear in mind that those are for the bills of materials, so the retail price savings may be two to three times higher.
Intel also unveiled a Cloudbook reference design with the complete BoM which show what we may expect later this year, as OEM/ODM manufacturers are likely to take the easy way at first, by simply copying Intel reference design, possibly by removing some of the features in the processor.
That means Apollo Lake Cloudbooks with a 11.6″ full HD display, 32 to 64 GB storage, 4GB RAM, 802.11ac WiFi , and USB type C connector should be expected in the second part of 2016.
Intel announced five new Computer Sticks at the beginning of the year, and so far 4 have been launched, and the Intel Core m3 have been benchmarked showing about to double the performance compared to the Cherry Trail versions, but the most powerful model based on Core m5 had yet to be launched. The news is that if you have some spare cash, you can now pre-order Intel Compute Stick STK2mv64CC based on Core m5-6Y57 vPro processor for $485 on Amazon US with shipping scheduled for May 12, 2016.
That’s quite a steep price, so let’s see what you’d get for $500:
SoC – Intel Core m5-6Y57 vProdual core/four thread processor @ 1.1 GHz/2.8GHz with Intel HD Graphics 515 @ 300MHz/900Mhz (4.5 W TDP, configurable to 3.5W and 7W)
USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, and 2x USB 3.0 ports on power adapter.
Misc – Power button, security notch, TPM (STK2MV64CC and STK2M364CC)
Power Supply – 5V/4A via USB type C power port
Dimensions – 114 mm x 38 mm x 12 mm
STK2mv64CC is sold with operating system, and ships with the 5V/4A power supply (which also includes 2x USB 3.0 ports), and an HDMI extension cable. Performance appears to be only a little better compared to Core m3-6Y30 used in STK2M3W64CC (~$400 with Windows 10, ~$330 without), but the Core m5 processor supports Intel Vpro technology which makes it more suitable for the enterprise.
Intel appears to be all-in with their Realsense technology at IDF 2016 Shenzhen, as together with RealSense Robotic Development Kit, the company is showcasing an Intel Core m “Skylake” TV Stick, based on similar hardware as STK2MV64CC Compute Stick with a Core m3 or m5 vPro processor, but adding a Realsense F200 3D depth camera and an array of microphones.
The full specifications are not available, but we do know the stick also comes with one USB 3.0 ports, and a yellow USB 2.0 port which should be always-on, a micro USB port for power, and a micro HDMI port to connect the your TV. The stick is supposed to be placed on top of your TV so you’d then be able to control the user interface, play games, etc… using gestures, with potentially other applications made possible thanks to 3D depth sensing such as Windows Hello which allows you to sign-in without password.
NotebookItalia also reports that while Core m TV stick design where reserves to Intel’s own use so far, the company will release then so that OEM/ODM manufacturers can start offering their own Skylake TV sticks.
An Intel Developer Forum is currently taking place in Shenzhen, China, which may explains why we have several Intel products announcements targeting developers such as the launch of Quark D2000 development board. Another product for makers and developers is Intel RealSense Robotic Development Kit combining Raspberry Pi like UP Board powered by Intel Atom x5-Z8350 processor with Intel RealSense camera (R200) in order to bring 3D / depth vision to robots.
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UP Board specifications have changed a little as the processor is now Z8350 instead of Z8300, and they now have a version with 4GB RAM used in the kit:
SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8350 “Cherry Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz (Burst frequency: 1.92 GHz) with Intel Gen8 HD graphics
System Memory – 4GB DDR3L-1600
Storage – 32 GB eMMC flash
Video Output / Display – HDMI 1.4b, MIPI DSI/eDP interface
Audio I/O – HDMI, I2S
Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet
USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports, 2x USB 2.0 pin header, 1x micro USB 3.0 port
Camera – MIPI CSI up to 4MP
Expansion – 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header
Misc – Power button, RTC
Power Supply – 5V/3A via 5.5/2.1mm jack
Dimensions – 85.60 x 56.50 mm
The board will ships with Ubuntu Linux, but other operating systems such as Windows 10 and other Linux distributors are also supported. One of the USB 3.0 port is used to interface with R200 3D depth camera with the following features:
Depth Range – Up to 3-4 meters indoors, longer range outdoors
Depth / Infrared: 640 x480 resolution at 60 FPS
RGB: 1080p at 30 FPS
USB 3.0 port (required on host)
Dimensions – 130 mm x 20 mm x 7 mm
I could not find much information about the software side, but I assume this is likely supported by RealSense SDK.
The development kit is up for pre-order for $249.99 for resident of the United States, Canada, China, EU, and Japan only, and is expected to ship in June 2016. More details are available in the devkit page.
Intel introduces three new Quark Micro-controllers last year, and I already experimented with Intel System Studio tools, quite similar to the Arduino IDE, and designed for hardware such as Intel Quark D1000 Customer Reference Board. So far the company had not released any boards available to the general public, but this has now changed since they’ve launched the “Intel Quark Microcontroller Developer Kit D2000”.
Intel Quark D2000 development board specifications:
MCU – Intel Quark D2000 32-bit processor Intel Pentium x86-compatible without x87 FPU @ 32 MHz with 8 KB SRAM, 32 KB instruction flash, 8 KB OTP flash and 4 KB OTP data flash
USB – 1x micro USB (JTAG) for power and programming/debugging
Sensors – 6-axis Accelerometer / magnetometer with temperature sensor (Bosch Sensortec BCM150)
Arduino Uno compatible SIL sockets (3.3V IO only)
Booster pack compatible SIL headers (3.3V IO only)
Misc – Reset and user buttons, jumpers, RTC
External (2.5V – 5V) DC input via screw terminal
USB power (5V) via debug port
Coin cell battery (type CR2032 not supplied)
Dimensions – 8.4 x 5.7 cm
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The board can also be developed with Intel System Studio for Microcontrollers IDE with support for GCC 5.2.1, Intel-enhanced GDB 7.9, Integrated Performance Primitives for Microcontrollers 1.0, Floating Point Emulation library, sample applications, a BSP for the Intel Quark Microcontroller Software Interface (Intel QMSI)
OpenOCD 0.8.0, TinyCrypt 0.1.0, Python 2.7.10, and more. The IDE works in Linux 64-bit (Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, and Fedora 21), and Windows 7/8.1/10 64-bit. All manufacturing and hardware design files have been released (Cadence Allegro), and documentation includes hardware and user’s guides.
He started by running some standard benchmarks in Windows 10 including CrystalDiskMark (storage performance), Passmark8, and 3DMark, and while the storage performance is underwhelming, the processor is clearly and noticeably faster than Braswell, and Cherry Trail processors in terms of CPU and GPU performance based on comparisons with Tronsmart Ara X5 (x5-Z8300), Kangaroo Mobile Desktop (x5-Z8500), Voyo V3 (x7-Z8700), and Intel Braswell based Intel NUC5CPYB/H NUC, and MINIX NGC-1.
Benchmarks vs Bay Trail and Cherry Trail Platforms
The results of 3DMark Ice Storm 1.2 benchmark were divided by 20 for a more readable chart.
Ubuntu 16.04 on STK2M3W64CC Compute Stick – Click to Enlarge
He also booted Ubuntu 16.04 daily build from micro SD card and an ISO image from Windows 10, and everything worked, including WiFi and HDMI audio, contrary to lower cost platforms. Chromium OS could also be booted from an ISO located in the eMMC in the Windows 10 partition.
Ian also gave an historical perspective of the progress made since the first HDMI TV stick (MK802) launched four years ago, by comparing the Phoronix benchmarks in Ubuntu 12.04 for MK802+ (Allwinner A10 Cortex A8 processor) and Ubuntu 16.04 for the latest Intel Compute Stick.
Most results show at least 10 times more performance, and some up to 60 times faster (OpenSSL may use some hardware acceleration in the Intel platform), but nobody should be surprised that a $399 device in 2016 performs way better than a $70 in 2012.
You can see how Ubuntu 16.04 performs in STK2M3W64CC – especially app loading times – in the video below.
STK2M364CC, the version with Windows 10, should sell for $399, and STK2m364CC, the one without OS, is shown for $366.85 on a US site. Neither are listed on Amazon US or Newegg yet, but you might be able to find a local reseller.
The Embedded Linux Conference 2016 and the OpenIoT summit 2016 will take place on April 4 – 6, 2016 in San Diego, California, and over 800 attended will meet including kernel & system developers, userspace developers, and product vendors. The Linux Foundation has recently published the schedule, so I’ve had a look at some of the talks, and designed my own virtual schedule to find out more the current development focus although I won’t attend.
Monday April 4
10:40am – 11:30am – Linux Connectivity for IoT by Marcel Holtmann, Intel OTC
There are many connectivity solutions that available for IoT. For example Bluetooth Low Energy, 802.15.4, Zigbee, OIC, Thread and others. This presentation will provide and overview of the existing technology and upcoming standard and how they tie into the Linux kernel and its ecosystem.
11:40 – 12:30 – BoF: kernelci.org: A Million Kernel Boots and Counting by Kevin Hilman, BayLibre
The kernelci.org project is currently over 1500 kernel boot tests per day for upstream kernels on a wide variety of hardware. This BoF will provide a very brief overview of kernelci.org and then be a forum for discussion and feature requests, how to participate and next steps.
14:00 – 14:50 – Hello, Brillo by Dave Smith, NewCircle
Brillo is Google’s latest embedded offering, based on Android, intended for low-power devices in the IoT market. But what does “based on Android” really mean? In this session, we will compare the Brillo stack to Android, examining what has been added as well as removed. You will learn how Google attempts to bring secure solutions to IoT using Brillo and Weave—Google’s IoT connectivity protocol. We will also discuss the current status of user space application development on the platform.
15:00 – 15:50 – Reducing the Memory Footprint of Android by Bernhard Rosenkränzer, Linaro
The Android team inside the Linaro Mobile Group has been working on reducing the memory footprint of the Android system – cutting around 70 MB off the memory used by a newly booted AOSP build on Nexus 7.
This talk describes what techniques we have used to save memory without having too much of a negative impact on performance.
16:10 – 17:00 – Bringing Display and 3D to the C.H.I.P Computer by Maxime Ripard, Free Electrons
Every modern multimedia-oriented ARM SoC usually has a bunch of display controllers, to drive a screen or an LCD panel, and a GPU, to provide 3D acceleration. The framework of choice to support these controllers in Linux is the DRM subsystem.
This talk will walk through the DRM stack, the architecture of a DRM/KMS driver and the interaction between the display and GPU drivers. The presentation is based on the work we have done to develop a DRM driver for the Allwinner SoCs display controller, as part of enabling the C.H.I.P platform with the upstream Linux kernel. The work done to make the ARM Mali OpenGL driver work on top of a mainline DRM/KMS driver will also be detailed.
17:10 – 18:00 – Bluetooth on Modern Linux by Szymon Janc
This presentation will help audience to better understand how Linux supports fast changing and evolving technology as Bluetooth. It will provide comprehensive guide on BlueZ 5 Bluetooth stack architecture demystifying transition from BlueZ 4 systems. This includes integration with external components like PulseAudio or NetworkManager. Audience will also have good overview of how Bluetooth on Linux can help building Internet of Things by supporting bleeding edge features like LE Connection Oriented Channels, 6LowPAN, LE Secure Connections and more.
18:10 – 19:00 – BoF: Device Tree by Frank Rowand
The Linux kernel Device Tree continues to evolve. The presentation portion of the BoF will include improvements completed over the last year, the status of partially completed projects, and plans for the coming year. Suggestions for changes and improvements to Device Tree will be solicited from the participants. Come meet Device Tree maintainers and contributors.
Please bring questions, complaints, solutions, reports of what is not working for you, and wish-lists.
Tuesday April 5
9:00 – 9:50 – Implementing Miniature Smart Home by Constantin Musca, Intel
We are at the beginning of a new era of technologies computing where almost every device communicates with each other or communicates with their environment. It is about the so called Internet of things (IoT).
A major line of investigation is the smart home and the benefits of having one and what it takes to make a home “smart”. These solutions are to make life easier and free more time. How cool is to be able to control the temperature, lights, music or garage door remotely.
The smart house system runs on a Brillo OS device which exposes standard peripherals’ APIs and can be controlled through the standard Weave interface using your Google account with commands like: open_garaje_door, set_living_temperature, play_song or close_curtains.
For the moment we only implemented this solution on a miniature house, but we are looking forward to extend it to a larger scale and use it in real
I’ve found a demo of the project, and they’ve actually used a house as big as “standard” apartment… Maybe it’s only considered miniature if you live in the US…
10:00 – 10:50 – Developing a Standard Interface for Drones by Tully Foote, Open Source Robotics Foundation
With the proliferation of a huge variety of drones it is becoming more important to develop standard interfaces which can enable software to be reused across whole classes of airframes. In his work on ROS (the Robot Operating System), Tully Foote has been actively involved in many standard interface proposals and refinements and is the maintainer of many of the core message definitions. In this talk he will review the important aspects of designing standard interfaces using examples from indoor robotics, autonomous cars, and more. The talk will conclude with a proposed standard interface for drones with the hope of sparking further discussion in the greater drone community.
11:20 – 12:10 – Linux Power Management Optimization on the Nvidia Jetson Platform by Merlin Friesen, Golden Gate Research
Powerful cellular System on Chip (SoC) Application Processors with multiple ARM cores and a vast array of peripherals are now readily available for non cellular applications and are finding use in areas such as vision processing, robotics and drones. These devices, due to their use in mobile smart phones and tablets, have highly optimized power management features and come with Linux kernels that complement the hardware.
The Linux based Nvidia Jetson platform is used in this presentation to give developers a hands on overview of SoC power management and techniques they can use to monitor and improve power consumption in their own designs.
14:00 – 14:50 – libiio – Access to Sensor Devices Made Easy by Lars-Peter Clausen, Analog Devices
The Linux IIO (Industrial IO) framework is tasked with handling configuration and data aggregation from and to all sorts of sensors and data converters including ADCs, DACs, temperature sensors, accelerators, chemical analysis, light sensors, lifestyle sensor and many more. libiio is a system library hides the low-level details of the IIO kernel ABI and provides a simple yet complete programming interface. It implements functionality often required by applications which want to access IIO sensor devices.
This presentation will give an introduction to the core concepts of libiio, it’s API and how it can be used in applications to access sensor devices, enabling attendees to develop their own applications being able to access sensor devices fast and efficiently. In addition it will discuss the existing infrastructure and tools that have been built around libiio.
15:00 – 15:50 – Communication for IoT: MQTT Development and Integration by Rodrigo Chiossi, Intel
MQTT is a lightweight publish/subscribe protocol intended for small sensors and mobile devices. It is designed to work with high-latency and unreliable networks and is the protocol of choice of many IoT solutions, such as IBM Bluemix and Amazon AWS IoT. MQTT is also one of the communication protocols of the Soletta Project, which uses Mosquitto, a compact open source implementation of MQTT, as backend.
This technical talk is focused on the integration between Mosquitto and Soletta. The Soletta MQTT API will be presented along with the process of integrating Mosquitto into Soletta’s mainloop. We then discuss the main limitations and problems of this process, and present the solutions applied. Lastly, we take a look at live demos of Soletta MQTT working with IBM Bluemix and Amazon AWS, with code snippets and development guidelines for those platforms.
Wednesday April 6
9:00 – 9:50 – Static Code Checking in the Linux Kernel by Arnd Bergmann, Linaro
As a maintainer of the arm-soc tree, Arnd is responsible for the quality of a lot of new code that gets merged each release. His dirty secret is that he never runs any of it on real hardware, but that makes static compile-time checking at even more important.
10:00 – 10:50 – HDMI CEC: What? Why? How? by Hans Verkuil, Cisco Systems Norway
The HDMI connector features a CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) pin that allows connected devices to detect and control one another. This talk describes what CEC is, why you would want to implement support for it, and how you can use a new kernel framework and API to support this HDMI feature.
This talk will include a short introduction of the upcoming CEC framework and the utilities that use it.
11:05 – 11:55 – Embedded Linux 3D Sensing: Minnowboard Meets RealSense by Miguel Bernal Marin, Intel
Robots and Drones use sensing devices (like cameras, lasers range-finders, ultrasonic sonars) to get information from external environment and it is used avoid obstacles or create maps. The use of 3D depth cameras helps to do these task easily. But the current 3D depth cameras in the market are heavy to load on a drone or the smaller doesn’t have Linux support. In this presentation, Miguel will explain how to use the Intel RealSense 3D camera in a Linux environment using a Minnowboard Max, a small 3D camera that can be used in outdoors. In addition, Miguel will go into detail on how to use it using the Clear Linux Project for Intel Architecture.
13:35 – 14:25 – Survey of Open Hardware 2016 by John Hawley, Intel
This is a generalized talk where we’ll generally compare, contrast and discuss various things that have happened in the last year regarding Open Hardware. In 2016 this will cover things that happened at the last OSHWA meeting, various new devices that are on the market, and generally focus on devices capable of running and operating system, and not micro-controllers.
14:35 – 15:25 – Zephyr Project: An RTOS to change the face of IoT by Anas Nashif
An increasing number of developers need a scalable, real-time operating system designed specifically for small-footprint IoT devices. It needs to be affordable, easy to use and built with input from the developers using it. An open source RTOS can’t just be called “open” – it must live and breathe “the open source way.” Developers should have influence over the direction of the project and be able to impact its software and hardware architecture support. The OS should also maximize interconnectivity between other devices, contain powerful development tools and come with customizable capabilities. The Zephyr Project offers just that.
This class will give an overview of Zephyr Project. Zephyr is a small, scalable, real-time operating system designed specifically for small-footprint IoT edge devices. Its modular design allows you to create an IoT solution that meets all of your device needs, regardless of architecture. It is also embedded with powerful development tools that will, over time, enable developers to customize its capabilities.
Launched in partnership with the Linux Foundation, the Zephyr project is a truly open source solution focused on empowering community development. The goal of Zephyr is to allow commercial and open source developers alike to define and develop IoT solutions best suited for their needs.
There are so many other interested talks that I did not mention in my list, but that’s what happens when you do a schedule.
You can register online to attend both Embedded Linux Conference and OpenIOT Summit 2016. The fees are as follows:
Early Registration Fee – US$550 through February 21, 2016
Standard Registration Fee – US$650 through March 13, 2016
Late Registration Fee – US$850 after March 14, 2015
Student Registration Fee – US$175
Hobbyist Registration Fee – US$175. You’ll need to contact events [at] linuxfoundation.org to receive a discount code, and you must pay for the fee yourself.