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Forlinx OK335xD Industrial Single Board Computer Supports Android, Linux and WinCE

October 23rd, 2014 2 comments

Forlinx, an embedded systems design and manufacturing company based in Hebei province in China, has announced OK335xD industrial (temperature) single board computer powered by Texas Instruments Sitara AM335X processor, and which appears to be a high-end version of their OK335xS-II SBC with more ports. Potential applications include communication devices, medical equipment, automotive computers, control panels, data acquisition devices, industrial control, industrial automation equipment, and more.

Forlinx_OK335xDOK335xD single board computer is composed of a CPU module (FET335xD), and a baseboard simply called “OK335xD Base Board”.

Listed specifications for FET335xD computer-on-module:

  • SoC – Texas Instruments Sitara AM3354 Cortex A8 processor @ 800MHz with PowerVR SGX530 GPU
  • System Memory – 512MB DDR3
  • Storage – 256MB SLC NAND Flash
  • Interfaces available via CoM connector:
    • 1x USB 2.0 Host; 1x USB2.0 OTG
    • Ethernet Dual Gigabit Ethernet
    • 3x MMC
    • 3x I2C, 2x SPI, 6x UART / IrDA
    • Various GPIO pins
    • 8x ADC
    • 2x CAN
    • LCD Interface
  • Misc – Watchdog (SP706SEN)
  • Power Supply – 5V; PMU – TPS65217C
  • Dimension – 46mm x 70mm
  • Temperature Range – -40℃~+85℃ (Operating)

Features listed for OK335xD baseboard:

  • Processor/Memory/Storage – Via FET335xD CoM
  • External Storage – 1x SD/SDHC card slot up to 32GB
  • Display
    • LCD interface with optional 4.3″, 5″, 7″, 8″, 10.4″ resistive or capacitive displays with various resolutions (480×272, 800×480, 800×600).
    • VGA is supported via an optional LCD to VGA board
  • Audio – 1x headphone jack, 1x MIC jack, 1x Line IN
  • Connectivity – 1x Gigabit Ethernet, connector for external SDIO Wi-Fi module
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB device port
  • Serial Ports
    • 3x Serial Port (2x RS232, 1x TTL)
    • 1x RS485 (Horizontal connectors with isolation protection)
    • 1x CAN (Horizontal connectors with isolation protection)
  • Other Expansion Headers
    • “BUS” header with 12-Bit address bus, 16-bit data bus
    • “I2C” header with 2x I2C
    • “SPI” header with 1x SPI,  1x PWM?
    • “AD” header with 8x ADC (4 for resistive touching, and 4 for user),
  • Debugging – JTAG connector
  • Misc – 4x LED, 6x user keys, 1x reset switch, 1x power switch, 1x boot switch (SD or NAND boot), on-board RTC
  • Power Supply – 5V
  • Power Consumption – 1.35W in standalone mode; 3.5 W to 5W with 7″ LCD in various scenario.
  • Dimensions – 190 x 130 mm
  • Temperature Range – -40℃~+85℃ (Operating), except the RTC chip.

The company provides BSPs for Android 4.2,  Linux 3.2, and WinCE 6.0 / 7.0 with several drivers for each operating systems, but the Linux BSP appears to come with some extra command line and graphical test tools. The documentation and source code are available online, and must be included on a CD/DVD with the kit.

OK335xD single board computer will be available next month for $259 (reference price, subject to change), and FET335xD computer-on-module for $112. You can find a little more information and/or contact the company for details on Forlinx OK335xD product page.

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Preliminary Dual Boot Android & Ubuntu Firmware for Nagrace HPH NT-V6 TV Box (Rockchip RK3288)

October 22nd, 2014 3 comments

Nagrace NT-V6 TV Box is powered by Rockchip RK3288 processor, and in my review I found the hardware to be pretty good, although some progress had to be done on the firmware. The company is still focus on perfecting Android firmware for NT-V6 and Firefly-RK3288 development board, but in meantime, they’ve released a dual boot image capable of running either Android 4.4 or Ubuntu (14.04?).

HPH-NTV6_Android_Ubuntu_Linux

To give it a try download HPH-RK3288-Android-Ubuntu_20140924.rar. I haven’t been able to try it myself, because Google Drive download is extremely slow today. Once the download is complete, you’ll probably need to flash the firmware using Rockchip AndroidTools (windows) or upgrade_tool command line utility (Linux).

The dual boot firmware is based on Android firmware 1.3.9 released on September 30, plus an Ubuntu root file system. It’s not overly convenient to use Ubuntu, because you need to enter recovery mode by inserting a sharp oject (e.g. a toothpick) into the recovery pinhole on the side of the device, and keep pressing for a few seconds as you power it up, or reboot from Android. Switching from Ubuntu to Android is much easier, as you simply need to click on a button called “boot android” located on the home screen.

It’s highly unlikely this image support 2D/3D graphics acceleration and/or hardware video decoding in Linux, but since the eMMC flash has very good performance, overall user experience should be pretty decent in Ubuntu, and most videos (up to 720p or 1080p depending on video codec/bitrate) can probably be played relatively smoothly using software decoding. The company also warns users that the Linux image is likely to have many bugs, and fixing them will be done after they’ve handled Android bugs.

If you have some other RK3288 TV boxes (Orion R28, Beelink R89…), you can also try some instructions provided in Linuxium in Mini PC Google+ community.

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Freescale Unveils QorIQ LS1043A Quad core ARM Cortex A53 Communication Processor for Fanless Networking Equipment

October 22nd, 2014 5 comments

Freescale has introduced the QorIQ LS1043A communications processor, powered by four 64-bit ARM Cortex A53 cores, and destined to be integrated into “intelligent-edge networking equipment including security appliances, SDN (Software Designed Networks) / NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) edge platforms and other fanless, power-efficient applications.” A dual core version named LS1023A is also available.

QorIQ_LS1043A_Block_DiagramKey features of LS1043A and LS1023A SoCs:

  • CPU – Quad (LS1043A) or Dual (LS1023A) ARM Cortex-A53 64-bit cores @ 1 GHz to 1.5 GHz with 32/32 I/D Cache KB L1 and 1 MB L2 cache. 16,000+ CoreMarks.
  • Networking & High Speed Interfaces:
    • Up to six 1x GbE or 1x 10GbE and five x GbE
    • Four lane SerDes up to 10 GHz multiplexed across controllers supporting:
      • Three PCI Express Gen 2 interfaces
      • SATA 3.0 Interface
      • uQUICC Engine
  • Accelerators and Memory Control
  • Other peripherals
    • 3x USB 3.0 interfaces with PHY
    • QuadSPI
    • Integrated Flash Controller (IFC)
    • Quad I²C
  • Misc – QorIQ Platform’s Trust Architecture, ARM SMMU for hardware enhanced virtualization
  • Power Consumption – As low as 6W for a complete fanless system

The company provides a Linux 3.12 BSP, VortiQa  software stacks for the enterprise, SMB networking applications, security appliances, cloud equipment, etc…, and a 6-month evaluation license for CodeWarrior development tools for the company’s LS1 development platforms (no details provided). Freescale also claims third party tools and development kits are available, but did not list them, except for OpenDataPlane program developed in collaboration with Linaro LNG.

QorIQ LS1043A communications processor should start sampling in Q1 2015. More information is available on Freescale LS1043A and LS1023A product page, and QorIQ solutions are currently showcased at Linley Processor Conference, at the Hyatt Regency in Santa Clara, California, until October 23.

Via Embedded.com

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USB Armory is an Open Source Hardware Freescale i.MX53 Dongle for Security Applications

October 22nd, 2014 4 comments

Most computers-on-a-stick come with an HDMI port, and a few USB ports, but Inverse Path’s dongle is quite different. USB Armory is a flash drive sized computer powered by Freescale i.MX53 Cortex A8 processor with only a USB port and a micro SD slot, that targets security applications such as mass storage devices with automatic encryption, virus scanning, host authentication and data self-destruct, VPN routers, electronic wallets, password managers, portable penetration testing platforms, and so on.

Inverse_path_USB_armoryUSB Armory specifications:

  • SoC – Freescale i.MX53 ARM Cortex-A8 @ 800Mhz with ARM TrustZone
  • System Memory – 512MB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – microSD card slot
  • USB – 1x USB host port. USB device emulation: CDC Ethernet, mass storage, HID, etc.
  • Expansion Header – 5-pin breakout header with GPIOs and UART
  • Misc – customizable LED, including secure mode detection
  • Power – 5V via USB  (<500 mA power consumption)
  • Dimensions – 65 x 19 x 6 mm

The board is said to run Android, Debian, Ubuntu, and FreeBSD. USB Armory is open source hardware and software, and you can already find the Kicad schematics and PCB layout files for the alpha version, distributed under a GPL v2 license, on github. Some software documentation can be found on the project’s Wiki, with firmware images coming later. Security features are achieved through ARM Trustzone which allows for secure and normal zones, and you may want to read a Trustzone on i.MX53 article on Genode OS framework project for more technical details.

USB armory is still under development, but you can register your interest on Crowdsupply where it should sell for less than 100 Euros later this year. Some more information is also available on Inverse Path’s USB Armory page.

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AllWinner A80 based Cubieboard4 Development Board is Now Available for $100 (in China)

October 21st, 2014 24 comments

Allwinner and Cubietech announced they were working on Cubieboard8 in May, before we got to see some pictures of the first engineering samples. Cubieboard8 has now been renamed to Cubieboard4, also known as CC-A80 (CubieTech single board Computer A80), and the company has listed the board on Taobao for 620 RMB (~$102), with shipping scheduled for October 30.

Cubieboard_CC-A80_Board

Cubietech CC-A80 board specifications, which have changed since the first pictures were released in July:

  • SoC – AllWinner A80 octa core 4x Cortex A15 @ 2.0GHz,  4x Cortex A7 @ 1.3GHz, and Imagination PowerVR G6200 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC (25MB/s read and write speed), micro SD Card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4, and VGA
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, 2x 3.5mm audio jacks for audio output and microphone
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n up to 300 Mbps + Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6330 module)
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x Micro-B USB 3.0 port
  • Debugging – UART and JTAG (4 pins on top left of battery slot)
  • Expansion Header – 20-pin header with 2x UART, 3x I2C, GND, and VCC (5V)
  • Misc – IR receiver, RTC + battery slot, 2x user LEDs, 1x power LED, 3 push buttons for power, reset, and reboot (FEL).
  • Power – 5V/2.5A, USB 3.0, or 3.7V LiPo battery
  • Dimensions – 146x142mm
Lubuntu running on CC-A80 Board

Lubuntu running on CC-A80 Board

The board is clearly called CC-A80 V1.1 on the PCB, but it will also be referred to as Cubieboard 4. Since the board still have about 10 days before shipping, CC-A80 Wiki is far from being complete (understatement of the month), but you  can find some resources on their FTP server including schematics (PDF), datasheets for A80T, AC100, AXP809 PMIC…, and Lubuntu rootfs. Most directory are currently empty, and there are more details on Baidu including Lubuntu (eMMC and SD card) and Android 4.4 (eMMC) firmware images, as well as instructions to use CC-A80 Linux SDK. There are also some images on http://dl.cubieboard.org/software/a80/, but these may not be up-to-date, or even for Cubieboard 4.

Beside Taobao, I also found it for pre-order on a UK site for 110.79 GBP excluding VAT (about $180), with delivery expected for November 3, 2014. The price delta versus Taobao is a bit excessive, so it may pay to wait a couple of weeks to get a better deal.

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Add GPIOs to Windows, Linux, Android Computers and Devices with FTDI USB Adapters / Breakout Boards

October 20th, 2014 19 comments

It’s possible to to add GPIOs to your computer, (openWRT) router, or Android tablet using some FTDI USB dongles that expose I/Os. On operating systems based on Linux, including Android, you can use the GPIO sysfs interface (/sys/class/gpio) to easily control GPIOs from the command line, and in some cases Rx, Tx, CTS, .. pins can also be used as GPIOs. Zoobab has tried it with various FTDI USB adapters, and Oneping OP-1010 breakout board based on PL2303 HDX chip, and the results are mixed, but it could worth a try.

oneping_op1010

Oneping OP1010 Breakout Board

There are currently patchsets ([1] and [2]) awaiting acceptance to mainline kernel that will enable GPIO support for these USB devices, but in the meantime you need to patch the kernel yourself, and then enable the relevant options in the kernel config for example “USB_SERIAL_PL2303_GPIO” or “USB_SERIAL_FTDI_SIO_GPIO”. The first patch is for PL2303 chips, and the second for FT2xxx/FT4xxx chips, so it should work on most USB to serial debug board out there.

Then you can export the GPIOs (done with OP1010 board) from your Linux PC / board:

root@sabayon /sys/class/gpio [22]# echo 252 > export
root@sabayon /sys/class/gpio [23]# echo 253 > export
root@sabayon /sys/class/gpio [24]# echo 254 > export
root@sabayon /sys/class/gpio [25]# echo 255 > export

and change the values as follows to confirm it’s working:

root@sabayon /sys/class/gpio [22]# echo 1 > gpio255/value
root@sabayon /sys/class/gpio [22]# echo 0 > gpio255/value

Even if it is working with OP1010, some other boards do not work, as despite the GPIOs being detected, the values can’t be changed. Other boards that are known to work, at least partially, include JTAGkey Tiny, Arduino Duemilanove, Moderndevice BUB1, and MicroFTX.

You can also control GPIOs for PL2303HXD / EA / RA, from an OTG capable Android device with Prolific PL2303 USB-GPIO app, but apparently not all tablets will work properly, and zoobab finally tested it with Android-x86-4.4-r1 image successfully.

Oneping also provides a Windows app for OP1010, which is demonstrated in the video below. They talk in Chinese, but it’s still easy to understand how it all work even if you can’t understand a word.

I’ve been unable to find Oneping OP-1010 board online, and I’ve been told you need to contact them by email, pay by Paypal (around $10) to receive a sample. Anyway this can also be tested with other low cost FTDI adapters. There are also some other USB modules exposing GPIOs such as Sparkfun’s FT232RL breakout board, or a Numato board with 8 GPIOs and up to 6 analog inputs (share with GPIOs), but I’m not sure the latter support GPIO sysfs interface.

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Categories: Hardware, Linux, Video Tags: Android, Linux, gpio, how-to, windows

Updated Android 4.4 Beta and Ubuntu Images for pcDuino8 / A80 OptimusBoard Boards Released

October 17th, 2014 9 comments

pcDuino8 and A80 OptimusBoard are the only two Allwinner A80 development boards currently “somewhat” available, and albeit the PCB color is different, every else is basically identical, and pcDuino8 firmware should probably run on A80 OptimusBoard and vice versa. If you own any of these boards, you may interested in two images, one with Android 4.4 (beta), and one with Lubuntu, recently released by pcDuino / Linksprite.

pcDuino8_Ubuntu_Update

Android 4.4 (beta) 2014-10-08 – sun9iw1p1_android_optimus.img to be flashed with PhoenixCard (Windows) or Livesuit (Linux)

Lubuntu 14.04? 2014-10-08 is comprised of two files:

  1. Kernel – pcduino8_kernel_livesuit_20141008.img to be flashed with PhoenixCard or Livesuit first. See instructions to use Livesuit with A80 OptimusBoard.
  2. Rootfs – pcduino8_ubuntu_20141008.rar. First extract the rar files to the root of an SD card or USB flash drive. There should be two files: pcduino8_ubuntu_20141008.img and update.sh. Now connect the mass storage device to pcDuino3 / A80 Optimusboard, and reboot the board to flash the image to /dev/nandd automatically.
    The serial console should show something like:

    mount udisk succeed

    update.sh found, updating rootfs from udisk, please wait…

    writing pcduino8_ubuntu_20141008.img to nand flash

    it will take about 8 minutes to finish…

    During the update, one blue LEDs will blink quickly, and once the procedure is complete two LEDs should blink slowly (success) or fast (failure)

I have tried the Ubuntu image on A80 OptimusBoard, and the kernel update works fine, but the rootfs update (USB flash drive) failed to complete successfully, ending with “write ubuntu to nand failed. update failed, please retry.” after a few seconds. The reason being /dev/nandd partition is only 630 MB, and Ubuntu image is 1.7GB, so I’d have to repartition the flash, something that’s used to be done in the board files for older Linux kernels, but with Allwinner kernel is might be different… An unofficial source also told me an A80 GPU SDK would be released by the end of the month.

Thanks to miniNodes for the info.

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