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Posts Tagged ‘linaro’

$79 HiSilicon Poplar is the First 96Boards TV Platform Compliant Board

August 30th, 2016 6 comments

At the end of last month I wrote about 96Boards TV Platform specifications, and noticed Hisilicon had one such boards, but details were sparse. Linaro has now officially unveiled HiSilicon Poplar board, the first 96Boards TV Platform board, sold for $79 + shipping on Aliexpress.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Poplar board specifications:

  • SoC – HiSilicon Hi3798C V200 quad-core 64-bit ARM Cortex-A53 CPU up to 2.0 GHz per core with ARM Mali-T720 GPU supporting OpenGL ES 3.1/3.0/2.0/1.1/1.0, OpenVG 1.1, OpenCL 1.2/1.1 Full Profile, RenderScript, and Microsoft DirectX 11 FL9_3
  • Memory – 1 or 2 GB DDR3 (Specs are conflicting depending where you look)
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a with HDCP 2.2 up to 4K @ 60Hz
  • Video Decoding – H.265/HEVC Main/Main10 and VP9 up to 4K @ 60 fps
  • Audio Output – HDMI, optical S/PDIF, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 2xUSB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port for console
  • Expansion
    • 40-pin Low Speed (LS) connector with UART, SPI, I2S, 2x I2C, 12x GPIO
    • 1x PCIe 2.0 interface
    • 12-pin Smart Card connector (unpopulated)
    • 24-pin connector for tuner (unpopulated)
  • Debugging – 1x JTAG port, 1x UART connector
  • Misc – IR receiver, boot selection jumper, LEDs, power button
  • Security – ARM Trustzone, trusted execution environment, secure boot, secure storage, secure video path, DRM, DCAS
  • Power Supply – 12V / 2A
  • Dimensions – 160 x 120 mm (96Boards TV platform specs)
  • Temperature Range – 0°C to +70°C

Hisilicon Hi3798C V200 is quite an interesting processor with many high speed and media interfaces, and while they used most of them, they did not leverage support for SATA. Luckily, there’s still USB 3.0 and PCIe if you need faster storage.

Hi3798C V200 Block Diagram - Click to Enlarge

Hi3798C V200 Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The board is sold with Android 5.1.1, but it will be the main development platform of Linaro Digital Home Group which aims “to continue creating optimized, high-performance secure media solutions for ARM on both Linux- and Android-based platforms. Licensees of the RDK (Linux) will be able to create Open Embedded/Yocto RDK builds for Poplar. The Poplar board will also serve as a common development platform for Android TV (AOSP) as well as for TVOS-based STB solutions used in China.”

In the meantime, you may find some information on Tocoding Poplar page, or access directly the hardware user manual. Eventually, 96Boards Poplar page will be a good place to look.

96Boards Gets a TV Platform Edition Targeting $50 Mid-range Boards, $99 High-end Boards

July 26th, 2016 2 comments

96Boards was born as a hardware and software standard with Consumer (CE) & Enterprise Editions (EE), with different form factors with the latter focusing on server boards, but with similar software requirements requiring recent and mostly open source software. The consumer edition was also split into “Standard” and “Extended” editions, which the latter allowing for larger boards with more features, while the Enterprise Edition has its own larger format, as well as an option for micro-ATX form factor. I’ve just learned that a “fifth” 96Boards standard has been worked on with 96Board TV Platform for Home Gateways, OTT Streaming boxes, and TV boards with prices target of $50 or lower for mid-range boards, and $99 or lower for high-end boards.

96Boards TV Platform Board Layout - Click to Enlarge

96Boards TV Platform Board Layout – Click to Enlarge

96Boards TV Platform hardware requirements:

  • Dimensions – 160 x 120 mm (EE Standard form factor)
  • RAM – 1GB minimum; 2GB recommended
  • Flash – 8GB eMMC minimum
  • WiFi – 802.11 g/n minimum; 802.11ac recommended
  • Bluetooth LE – Optional; at least Bluetooth 4.0

    96Boards TV Platform Board by Hisilicon

    96Boards TV Platform Board by Hisilicon

  • Video Output
    • HDMI 1.4 minimum; HDMI 2.0 recommended
    • HDCP 2.0 minimum; HDCP 2.2 recommended
    • Optional Video Outputs – Composite, Component, S-Video
  • Video Input – Optional same requirements as Video output; used for TV boards
  • Audio – HDMI audio mandatory; options stereo I/O and S/PDIF
  • Ethernet – RJ45; >= 100 Mbps recommended
  • Expansion – 40-pin Low Speed Connector as per 96Boards EE specs
  • Additional functionality options:
    • User input – Optional IR detector
    • Security interfaces – Optional smartcard I/F
    • Transport stream I/F – Optional parallel connector for tuner card (ATSC, DVB-T2, DVB-S2, etc…)

On of the software side, the kernel must be buildable from source code with eventual closed-source binary blobs from either kernel.org, latest Google-supported Android kernel version, or one of the latest two LTS kernels from kernel.org. Supported operating systems must at least one of the latest version of Android, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Red Hat, or Linaro / Vendor supported Linux OS built with OpenEmbedded/Yocto Project. The latter being supported by Linaro Home Group (LHG). Other requirements include support for vendor or open source bootloader, optional but recommended OP-TEE support, ARM Trust Firmware, and royalty-free vendor or open source accelerated graphics support. Note that the specifications are aimed at development boards, and not at commercial products. You can find more details in the slides for 96Boards – TV Platform presentation at Linaro Connect Bangkok 2016, as corresponding YouTube video.


I learned about the new 96Boards specifications through the blog post about a “sprint” at the Huawei/Hisilicon facilities in Shenzhen, China on July 11-14. Hisilicon showcased “Poplar” – manufactured by Tocoding Technologies startup – one of the first 96Boards TV platform boards (pictured above), and worked on/demonstrated support for OP-TEE builds on Linux and Android for PlayReady and Widevine DRMs, AOSP TV with TV input framework, LHG OpenEmbedded builds with Yocto 2.1, automatic testing, and so on…

It’s unclear when 96Boards TV platform specifications will be officially released, and when the boards will come to market.

Raspberry Pi 3 To Get ARM TrustZone Support with Linaro OP-TEE Port

June 9th, 2016 1 comment

If you ever wanted to experiment with ARM Trustzone, and IoT security, you’ll soon be able to do so with the Raspberry Pi 3 board thanks to a port of Linaro OP-TEE (Open Portable Trusted Environment Execution) by Sequitur Labs.

OP-TEE Architecture

OP-TEE Architecture: optee_client, optee_linuxdriver and optee_os

Broadcom BCM2737 SoC found in Raspberry Pi 3 board already had TrustZone hardware for isolation and protection for sensitive material such as cryptographic keys, algorithms and data, but the upcoming software release will mean the feature can now be used, and it’s free for trial/evaluation, and  education. Trustzone is also used for DRM (digital rights management), but in the case of Raspberry Pi 3 it will most likely used to teach how to secure the Internet of Things (IoT).

The release is scheduled for July 11, with source code and documentation to be available in OP-TEE github account. All you’ll need to get started is a Raspberry Pi 3 board, a micro SD  card to load, a Bus blaster, a custom cable to enable bare metal debugging,  a single firmware image with 64-bit Linux, ARM Trusted Firmware, and OP-TEE image, OpenOCD and the configuration file for the Raspberry Pi 3, as well as some code samples and a quick start guide.

Support for OP-TEE will be provided through forums on Linaro.

You may find a few more details in the press release.

SD 600eval Development Board Compliant with 96Boards CE Extended To Sell for $279

June 6th, 2016 7 comments

Last month, we found out that Arrows Electronics was working on DragonBoard 600c development board featuring Qualcomm Snapragon 600 processor and based on 96Boards CE Extended version which allows for extra features such as SATA and Ethernet ports. At the time, the complete specifications were not available, and neither pricing. We do now have more details, as the board designed by Elinfochips is (also) called SD 600eval, and is available on back order for $279.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

SD 600eval specifications:

  • SoC- Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 (APQ8064) quad-core Krait 300 processor  @ up to 1.7 GHz with Adreno 320 GPU @ 400MHz supporting OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0, OpenCL 1.1, WebGL 1.0, and DirectX 9.3
  • System Memory – 2GB PoP LPDDR2 @ 533 MHz
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC Flash + micro SD 3.0 (UHS-1) slot + SATA port
  • Video Output – HDMI up to 1080p
  • Video – [email protected] HD video playback and capture (h.264/AVC)
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet via AR8151 PCIe chip, 802.11n/g/n/ac WiFi 2×2 and Bluetooth 4.0 LE, GPS/GLONASS with external GPS antenna
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Expansion:
    • 1x 40 pin low speed expansion connector – 2x UART, SPI, PCM, 2x I2C, 12x GPIO, DC power
    • 1x 60 pin high speed expansion connector – 4L-MIPI DSI, USB, HSIC, 2x I2C, 2L+4L MIPI CSI
    • 1x 16-pin & 40-pin audio expansion connector – Stereo headset/Line OUT, speaker, analog/digital microphones
  • Sensors – On-board magnetometer, gyro meter, and accelerometer
  • Misc – Volume, power & reset buttons. 6 LEDS (4x user, 1x Wifi, 1x Bluetooth), RTC battery slot
  • Power Supply – +6.5 – 18V DC input
  • Dimensions – 100 x 100 mm (96Boards Consumer Edition Extended dimensions specifications)
  • Operating Temperature Range – 0 to 50 deg. C
Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The company provides Android 5.1 with Linux 3.4 support for the board, and Linaro will provide the Linux BSP for D 600eval/Dragonboard 600c, so hopefully a more recent Linux kernel will be supported. There are several links to software and hardware documentation, source code and binaries on the “Resources” section of the product page, including schematics (PDF) and hardware user manual.

Debian on DragonBoard 410c Development Board

May 6th, 2016 29 comments

I purchased Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c development board last year, and first tested it and run some benchmark on the 96Boards compliant hardware with Android. I found that it was still work-in-progress, and decided to wait before trying Debian on the board. I’ve now done so, and will report by experience installing Debian Linux, playing with the board, and running Phoronix benchmarks to compare it to other ARM Linux boards.

Installing Debian on DragonBoard 410c

The first challenge is to navigate through the documentation that is not always clear or up-to-date. I eventually ended up on DragonBoard 410c Wiki on Github.

DragonBoard_410c_Debian_Android_Opearting_SystemsYou then have to decided which image you want. While there are two official operating systems with Android and Debian, you can three “entities” releasiong their own images. For Debian specifically, you have the Linaro image, and Reference Platform Build (RPB) image. I could not find any changelog or known issues with the former, but the latter as its own Wiki with the latest release being RPB 16.03 (March 2016), and the next one scheduled to be RPB 16.06 in June.

That’s the current list of known issues

  • bug 285 USB host doesn’t detect any plugged devices
  • bug 121 [RPB] Cannot soft power off or shutdown db410c
  • bug 284 [RPB] Dragon board Display sleep not working
  • bug 289 [RPB] USB devices don’t work after reboot
  • bug 207 [RPB] Bluetooth does not work on Dragon board debian
  • bug 153 [RPB] Missing information about hwpack usage

USB host not working did not inspire confidence, so I first tested the Linaro image. The (other) Wiki points to the “latest version”, but the link would point to Linaro Debian 16.02 release, while I could find a more recent Linaro Debian 16.04 which I downloaded in a terminal:

I used a micro SD card to install it. If you use Windows, simply use Win32DiskImager, but in computer running Linux or in Windows via Windows subsystem for Linux, you may want to do it in the terminal. First check the SD card device with lsblk. Mine was /dev/sdb, but your may be different, and I use /dev/sdX in the command below tp flash the Debian installer to a micro SD card:

Now remove the micro SD card from your computer and insert it in to the board, set the jumper to boot from SD card on the DragonBoard 410c, and connect the power. I could see LED 1 blinking, but nothing on my HDMI TV. Last time, I did not  manage to make the serial console (requiring a 1.8V USB to TTL board or cable) using Hardkernel ODROID board, so I went to the support forums, and after several minutes of reading, I found that the RPB image is recommended, as well as a clear explanation between the Linaro and RPB images:

Use the Reference Platform Build instead of the Linaro release. The Reference Platform is an integrated build with support for multiple boards, and that is where all engineering effort is going. The Linaro build is the old single-platform image that we’re not working on anymore.

The reference platform will run on all 96boards CE (Consumer Edition) and EE (Enterprise Edition), while the Linaro image is built specifically for a given board, and they are not really working on it. [Update: This answer was specific to Hikey board, and for DragonBoard 410c there are two images provided by Qualcomm Landing Team and the Reference Platform team]

So let’s start again from scratch using the RPB image, and download the bootloader, Linux kernel and rootfs to my Ubuntu computer:

Now find a micro USB to USB cable to connect to DragonBoard 410c, install fastboot…

.. and check the device is detected:

Good. After making sure the jumper switch is set to 0000 on the board again, we can  extract the three files, and install Debian as follows:

That was a lot of commands to install the operating system… Now you can unplug the board, remove the micro USB cable, and connect the power again. After a few seconds, you should see the kernel log, and eventually LXDE desktop environment.

Click to Original Size

Click to Original Size

You’ll be asked to configure WiFi, and you’re basically done.

DragonBoard 410c Debian System Info

I’ve then run a few command to learn more about the image and system:

One of the main advantage of 96Boards should be recent Linux version,and that’s exactly what we have here with Linux 4.4 running on the board. Out of a total of 866MB reported RAM, 64MB is free, and the 6.9GB rootfs has 4.8 GB available to the user. Snapdragon 410 SoC is correctly reported as being a quad core Cortex A53 (0xd03) processor.

I used file utility to make sure a 64-bit rootfs is being used here:

Finally, there’s a bunch of modules pre-loaded on the board:

Testing Debian on DragonBoard 410c

The thing that often do not work on ARM Linux board are 3D graphics and hardware video decoding, so I’ve specifically tested these two, and also played with the pre-installed Chromium browser.

If I understand correctly the debian image comes with Freedreno open source graphics driver, and if that’s the case I have the first ever platform with working open source 3D graphics drivers:

So that means both framebuffer and X11 3D graphics acceleration are working. Nice !

I also tried to play Tuxracer as it was part of the board’s test results provided by Linaro.

It works, but it’s so slow that it’s barely playable (see video below).

I installed VLC to play 1080op h.264 videos, but based on the CPU usage the system is clearly using software decoding, and there’s no audio via HDMI. I’ve asked about those two issues on the forums about 24 hours ago, but I have yet to get a reply.

Chromium loads OK, but I did notice some freezes during use, and YouTube will struggle at full screen at 1080p, in similar way to many other low end ARM Linux platforms.

DragonBoard 410c Linux Benchmarks

Let’s install the latest version of Phoronix…

…and run some benchmarks to compare against other development boards:

After over 3 hours the results are in. Bear in mind that the board does not have heatsink, just a metallic shield, and this may affects the performance. It’s also running an OS with a 64-bit ARM rootfs, while platforms like Raspberry Pi 3 features a 64-bit processor running 32-bit code.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

I like to check John the Ripper for multi-threaded performance.

DragonBoard_410c_Phoronix_John_The_RipperWhile FLAC audio encoding is nice to single threaded performance.

DragonBoard_410c_Phoronix_FLAC

In theory the CPU performance of Snapdragon 410 and Broadcom BCM2837 (as found in RPi 3) should be equal since both are quad core Cortex A53 processors @ 1.2 GHz, but for some reasons DragonBoard 410c is a little slower in the multi-threaded benchmark, and quite faster during FLAC audio encoding likely due to software differences (Aarch64 vs Aarch32).

You can find the full results @ http://openbenchmarking.org/result/1605068-GA-1604204GA12

Inforce 6601 micro SoM Snapdragon 820 System-on-Module Embeds WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS

April 28th, 2016 1 comment

We’ve already seem Intrinsyc’s Snapdragon 820 development board and module, but there’s now an alternative thanks to Inforce Computing 6601 micro SoM  which is pin-to-pin compatible to the company’s earlier Inforce 6401 and Inforce 6501 Micro SOMs, also based on Qualcomm Snapdragon processors, and works with the same SYS6501 carrier board.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Inforce Computing 6601 Micro SoM specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (APQ8096) quad core ARMv8 processor with two “Gold” cores up to 2.2 GHz, two “Silver” cores up to 1.6 GHz, Adreno 530 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.0, and Vulkan, as well as  Hexagon 680 DSP  up to 825 MHz
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR4 @ 1866 MHz
  • Storage – 64GB UFS 2.0 gear 3 flash up to 5.83Gbps, 1x micro SD card 3.0 interface for support for to HS400,  optional eMMC 5.1 flash.
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.1 & 2×2 dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi (QCA6174), and GPS (WGR4310)
  • Peripherals and I/O via two 100-pin SoM connectors:
    • Video / Display – 1x HDMI 2.0, dual MIPI-DSI (4-lane) & touch screen
    • Audio
      • 4x Line out, 3x Mic-in, 2x headphone out
      • On-board WDC9355 audio codec
      • Codec support for MP3, AAC + eAAC, WMA 9/Pro, Dolby AC-3, eAC-3, DTS
    • Camera – 3x MIPI-CSI (3x 4-lane) up to 28 MP with zero shutter lag
    • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x USB 3.0 host/OTG port
    • 1x PCIe, 1x SDC, SLIMBUS
    • JTAG, 8x GPIO, 12x BLSPs for UART, I2C, and SPI
  • Video / Image Capabilities
    • H.264 playback and capture @4K60
    • H.265 playback @4K60 and capture @4K30
    • VP9 playback up to 4K60
    • Dual 14-bit Spectra ISP with support for up to 1.2GPix/sec throughput
  • Power Supply – +3.3V/6A DC input; On-module MA8996 MIC
  • Dimensions – 50 x 28 mm
  • Weight – 11 grams
  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0° C to 70° C; Storage: -20° C to 80° C
  • Certifications – RoHS and WEEE compliant, FCC.
6601 Micro SoM Block Diagram - Click to Enlarge

6601 Micro SoM Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The company provides Android 6.0 Marshmallow / Linaro Ubuntu Linux BSPs for the module, as well as several free Qualcomm SDK such as Vuforia VR, Alljoyn proximity connectivity, FastCV computer vision, Symphony System Manager, and Snapdragon for facial recognition. SYS6601 development kit includes a Inforce 6601 Micro SOM pre-loaded with either Linux and Android, a mini-ITX baseboard, and other accessories.

6601 micro SoM Development Kit - Click to Enlarge

6601 micro SoM Development Kit – Click to Enlarge

It’s exactly the same carrier board as for SYS6501 development kit so I won’t repeat the specs again.

Inforce 6601 micro SoM is sold for $270, while the complete development kit goes for $475. More details can be found on the product page.

96Boards Hikey Development Board is Now Officially Supported in AOSP

March 11th, 2016 2 comments

Hikey is a one of the first 96Boards compliant development board manufactured by either LeMaker in China and CircuitCo in the US, and while the hardware requirements of 96Boards specifications are rather easy to meet, the software requirements including “bootloader (open source), accelerated graphics support (binary or open source), a Linux kernel buildable from source code based from mainline, or the latest Google-supported Android kernel version” are much harder to comply with. Linaro had a very good news for Linaro Connect Bangkok as they announced Hikey board was supported in Android Open Source Project (AOSP).

Lemaker_Hikey_Android_Open_Source_ProjectSo that means Hikey board will run the latest version of Android like Google Nexus devices, with the advantage of also getting more recent devices.

If you want to build an Android image from AOSP just retrieve the source code:

Grab & extract vendors binaries for Hikey from Google.com. and complete the build:

And you can find the instructions to load the resulting image to the board on Android.com Devices page.

If you are interested in finding out how Linaro managed to do this feat, and what kind of challenges they had to overcome, you may want to watch Linaro Connect “HiKey and AOSP collaborative experience” presentation.

You can also download the presentation slides for a quick look. Some interesting tidbits in the talk include that Google plans to use Linaro’s Linux 4.4 experimental tree, and Rockchip is also working on doing porting some hardware to AOSP.

LeMaker Cello 96Boards EE Board Powered by AMD Opteron A1120 Processor Targets Server Applications

March 7th, 2016 17 comments

There are two versions of Linaro’s 96Boards specifications the Consumer Edition (CE) and the Enterprise Edition (EE) with higher hardware requirements, and while several boards mostly compliant with 96Boards CE are available such as DragonBoard 410c and Hikey boards, the only board announced to be compliant with 96Boards EE specifications was AMD Huskyboard based on Opteron A1100 series processor and is yet to be available for sale. LeMaker has now designed a similar EE boards called Cello.

Lemaker_Cello_AMD_Opteron_A1100_BoardLeMaker Cello board specifications:

  • Processor – AMD Opteron A1120 quad core Cortex A57 processor @ 1.7 GHz with 2MB L2 cache, 8MB L3 cache
  • System Memory – 2x DDR3 SO-DIMM sockets
  • Storage – 2x SATA 3.0 ports, micro SD slot
  • Connectivity – 1x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • Expansions
    • x16 PCIe G3 slot
    • 40-pin Low Speed (LE) expansion header
  • Debugging – micro USB port for console access, 10-pin JTAG connector
  • Power Supply – 4-pin power connector
  • Dimensions – 160×120 mm as per 96Boards EE specifications
  • Weight – 500 grams (Package weight)

The board don’t show an heatsink, but the holes are there, and considering the SoC has a whopping 25W TDP, an heatsink and likely fan will likely be required. There’s also no information about operating systems, but the latest Linaro Reference Platform release for Enterprise supports Debian 8.3 and an image based on Centos 7.2, as well as UEFI with ACPI, KVM and PCIe support.

96boards_EE_BoardThe board can be pre-ordered for $299 on LeMaker Cello product page with shipping schedules for Q2 2016.

Via Mininodes

[Update: So I’ve been watching Linaro BKK 2016 keynote, and there was a demo with Huskyboard (similar to Cello featured in that post) running the developer preview of Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server release 7.2 (MaiPo). That’s what the board is supposed to look like with a heatsink and fan. They’ve also added a PCIe network card to show that PCIe is also working

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

]