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Embedded Linux Conference 2014 Schedule

April 19th, 2014 No comments

The Tenth Embedded Linux Conference (ELC 2014) will take place on April 29 – May 1, 2014 at the San Jose Marriott in San Jose, California. The event will feature 90+ sessions on embedded Linux, Android and IoT with over 450 attendees expected to attend. It will also be co-located with Android Builders Summit and the AllSeen Alliance Hackfest. Even if you can’t attend it’s still interesting to see what will be discussed at the event to get a grasp of on-going developments, learn a few things about different optimization techniques, and so on. So I’ve gone through the sessions’ description, and I’ve designed my own virtual schedule with sessions that could be of interest.

Embedded_Linux_Conference_2014April 29

Linux has taken the embedded world by storm.  Billions (with a ‘B’) of devices have now shipped with a Linux kernel, and it seems unstoppable.  But will the next 10 billion devices ship with Linux or with something else?  How can Linux be specialized for deeply embedded projects, as characterized by the Internet of Things, while still maintaining the network effects of community cooperation and sharing?  Is this possible or even desirable?  The startling truth might be revealed at this keynote. Or, Tim might just rant a bit about device-tree… who knows?

The past year has seen a remarkable growth of interest in super-low-power and super-low-form-factor computing, in the form of ‘wearables’, the ‘Internet of Things’, and the release of exciting new hardware such as Intel’s Quark and Edison SoCs. Taking advantage of this super-small hardware also implies the need for super-small operating systems and applications to match. This talk will describe a super-small-footprint Linux distribution called ‘microYocto”. The main focus will be the kernel and how we achieved what we think is close to the minimal possible kernel footprint, both in terms of static text size and dynamic memory usage. We’ll talk about the tools and methodologies we used and developed to analyze the problem, such as tracing and machine simulation, and will describe the various technologies developed and applied to achieving this minimalistic system.

Many community resources exist about boot time reduction. However, few of them are up to date and share the exact time savings that can be achieved on recent systems. This talk will detail today’s most efficient techniques to reduce boot time. For each of them, figures will be shared, obtained from recent boot time reduction projects and from the preparation of Free Electrons new workshop on this topic. If you attend this talk, you will know which optimization techniques are worth using first, and will save time not exploring techniques that won’t make a significant difference in your project. Don’t tell your boss, and this will leave your more time to contribute to community projects!

In this talk, Chris will describe the internal workings of the Android graphics stack from the Application layer down through the stack to pixels on the screen. It is a fairly complex journey, taking in two different 2D rendering engines, applications calling OpenGL ES directory, passing buffers on to the system compositor, Surface Flinger, and then down to the display controller or frame buffer. All this requires careful synchronisation so that what appears on the screen is smooth, without jitter, and makes efficient use of memory, CPU, GPU and power resources.

Linux-based platforms such as the Beaglebone and Raspberry Pi are inexpensive powerhouses. But, beyond being cool on their own, what else can you do with them? This presentation will step you through the process of building a Wi-Fi enabled, Linux-based robot that you can build without breaking the bank and without special knowledge of robotics and robotic controls.

Since last year, we have been working on supporting the SoCs from Allwinner, a Chinese SoC vendor, in the mainline kernel. These SoCs are cheap, wide-spread, backed by a strong community and, until last year, only supported by an out-of-tree kernel. Through this talk, we would like to share the status of this effort: where we were a year ago, what solutions were in place, where we are currently, and what to expect from the future. We will also focus on the community around these SoCs, the work that is done there, etc.

April 30

GCC is an optimizing compiler, currently most common compiler to build software for Embedded Linux systems like Android, Yocto Project etc. This tutorial will introduce specific optimizations and features of GCC which are less known but could benefit optimizing software especially for embedded use while highlight the effect of common optimizations. While it will focus on squeezing most out of GCC, it will also cover some of “pessimizations” to avoid and will tip the developer to write code thats more conducive (compiler friendly) for general optimizations. They will also get some contrast with other compilers when needed.

Throughout the last two years, a team of engineers at Free Electrons has been involved in mainlining the support for several ARM processors from Marvell, converting the not-so-great vendor-specific BSP into mainline quality code progressively merged upstream. This effort of several hundreds working days, has led to the integration of hundreds of patches in the kernel. Through this talk we would like to share some lessons learned regarding this mainlining effort, which could be useful to other engineers involved in ARM SoC support, as well as detail the steps we have gone through, the mistakes we’ve made and how we solved them, and generally our experience on this project.

This BoFs is intended to bring together anybody that tests the Linux kernel to share best practices and brainstorm new ideas. Topics may range from .config testing, module/built-in drivers, test methods and tools for testing specific driver subsystems, VM/scheduler/interrupt stress testing, and beyond. The discussion is targeted at Linux kernel developers, test engineers, and embedded Linux product teams/consultants with the common task of testing Linux kernel integrity. Attendees should have a firm grasp of building and deploying the kernel as well as kernel/userspace kernel APIs.

Several vendors are getting ready to start enabling the upstream kernel for their upcoming 64-bit ARM platforms, and it opens up a few questions on things that are not quite sorted out yet, especially on the embedded and mobile platforms. This is an open discussion on the issues these maintainers are anticipating, and what we should do about it.

Communication between components is necessary for effective power management in mobile devices. The System Power Management Interface, also known as SPMI, is a standardized bus interface intended to provide power-management related connectivity between components. Josh Cartwright will provide a high-level architectural overview of SPMI and discuss how to leverage the Linux Kernel software interfaces (expected to land in 3.15) to communicate with devices on the bus.

May 1

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.

This half-day workshop is aimed at embedded developers that want to use Android in their embedded designs.

The MIPS processor cores are widely used in embedded platforms, including TVs and set-top-boxes. In most of those platforms dedicated graphics hardware exists but it may be specialized for its use in audio and video signal processing: rendering of web content has to be done in software. We implemented optimizations for the software-based QPainter renderer to improve the performance of Qt —including QtWebKit— in MIPS processors. The target platform was the modern 74kf cores, which include new SIMD instructions suitable for graphics operations (alpha blending, color space conversion and JPEG image decoding), and also for non-graphics operations: string functions were also improved. Our figures estimate that web pages are rendered up to 30% faster using hand-coded assembler fast-paths for those operations.

Software Freedom Conservancy announced last year a renewed effort for cross-project collaborative GPL compliance efforts, including copyright holders from BusyBox, Linux, and Samba. Conservancy uses an internal system of communication and collaboration to take input from stakeholders to discuss and engage in compliance activity to ensure compliance with the GPL throughout the technology industry and particularly in the embedded device market. Compliance with the GPL is the responsibility of copyright holders of the software, and Conservancy helps those copyright holders pursue the work, so those developers can focus on coding. In this talk, the President of Conservancy will discuss how Conservancy handles compliance matters, what matters it focuses on, and how the copyright holders that work with Conservancy engage in a collaborative effort to ensure compliance with the GPL.

Ubuntu Touch is the new Ubuntu-based OS for phones and tablets. Announced at the beginning of 2013, it gives a new UI and design proposal, but also a new way of developing and supporting many different devices, using either the Android HAL or the traditional Linux stack to build the platform. This talk will go over the Ubuntu Touch internals, presenting the technical decisions and also the work that was done to bootstrap this new platform (camera, radio, video decode, GLES and etc) and the future challenges to support a single stack across mobile and the traditional desktop.

These are just a few sessions out of the 90+ sessions available at the Embedded Linux Conference and Android Builder Summit. You can check the full schedule to find out which sessions are most interesting to you.

If you’d like to attend the event, you’ll need to register online.

The attendance fees have significantly gone up compared to last year, at least for hobbyists, but include entrance for both ELC and Android Builder Summit:

  • Professional Registration Fee - US$600 (Was US$500 until March 29, 2014)
  • Hobbyist Fee – US$150
  • Student FeeUS$150

After the events, many videos are usually uploaded by the Linux Foundation, and you should be able to find the list of talks with links to presentation slides oneLinux.org.

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Novena Open Source Hardware ARM Laptop Gets Crowdfunded for $1995

April 4th, 2014 2 comments

In 2012, Andrew Huang (“Bunnie”) decided to build an open source hardware and software laptop codenamed Novena powered by Freescale i.MX6 as a side project. The goal of the project was to be fully open source, both in terms of hardware and software, and the components have been selected so that the datasheets can be downloaded without NDA. Design has now been completed, and a crowdfunding campaign has now been launched on Crowd Supply, but since finding low cost part was not priority, you’ll have to fork $1,995 to get the complete laptop, $1,195 will get you the desktop version, and $500 the motherboard only. There’s also a version of the laptop called “Heirloom Laptop” with a hand-crafted wood and aluminum case that goes for $5,000.

Novena_Open_Source_Hardware_Laptop

Novena Laptop

Let’s go through the board specs first:

  • SoC – Freescale iMX6 Quad-core Cortex A9 CPU with NEON FPU @ 1.2 GHz. – NDA-free datasheet and programming manual
  • System Memory – 64-bit, DDR3-1066 SO-DIMM slot. 4GB DDR3 SO-DIMM will be installed in the shipped products.
  • Storage – Boots from microSD firmware, SATA-II (3Gbps) connector
  • Internal ports & sensors:
    • mini PCI-express slot
    • UIM slot for mPCIx mobile data card support
    • Dual-channel LVDS LCD connector with USB2.0 side-channel for a display-side camera
    • Resistive touchscreen controller
    • Stereo 1.1W, 8-ohm internal speaker connectors
    • 2x USB2.0 internal connectors for keyboard and mouse/trackpad
    • Digital microphone (optional, not populated by default)
    • 3-axis accelerometer
    • 3x internal UART ports
  • External ports:
    • HDMI
    • SD card reader
    • headphone + mic port (compatible with most mobile phone headsets, supports sensing in-line cable buttons)
    • 2x USB 2.0 ports, supporting high-current (1.5A) device charging
    • 1Gbit ethernet
  • Other features:
    • 100 Mbit ethernet – dual Ethernet capability allows laptop to be used as an in-line packet filter or router
    • USB OTG – enables laptop to spoof/fuzz ethernet, serial, etc. over USB via gadget interface to other USB hosts
    • Utility serial EEPROM – for storing crash logs and other bits of handy data
    • Spartan-6 CSG324-packaged FPGA – has several interfaces to the CPU, including a 2Gbit/s (peak) RAM-like bus — for your bitcoin mining needs. Or whatever else you might want to toss in an FPGA.
    • High-speed I/O expansion header – useful for implementing a wide variety of functions, from simple GPIO breakouts to high-performance analog data sampling front-ends

Beside the 4GB RAM, the board with also come with a microSD card with basic Debian install, Ath9k (blob-free firmware) mPCIe wifi card, 802.11n b/g 1T1R and a 16V, 3.75A power supply (100-240V 50/60Hz input).

The desktop version will come with a gen-2 hacker case, a 13.3″ TFT  LCD (1080P), an LVDS to eDP adapter board, and some other accessories such as cables.

The laptop version will features all hardware from the desktop version but add a battery controller board, a 240 GB SSD, a 3000mAh 3-cell lithium battery pack, measure 330 mm x 225 mm x 27mm and weight 1.36 kg. The keyboard is not included.

$5,000 Heirloom Laptop

$5,000 Heirloom Laptop

Since these laptops and desktop PC are fully open source, you can download the hardware design files, get the source code, and build the Linux distribution yourself without binary blobs.

The board should ship in November 2014, the All-in-one desktop in December 2014, the laptop in January 2015, and Heirloom laptop in February 2015.

Via Liliputing

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$99 MinnowBoard MAX Development Board Powered by Intel Bay Trail-I SoC

April 1st, 2014 8 comments

When Intel released the original MinnowBoard which was a step in the right direction, but there were some complains, as the company had chosen to use an older Intel processor, and the price was much higher than most high performance low cost ARM development boards. MinnowBoard MAX (aka Minnow2 Board) fixes all that, as it features the latest Intel Bay Trail-I (E3800 series) processor, and costs as low as $99 for the single core version, and $129 for the dual core version.

MinnowBoard MAX (Click to Enlarge)

MinnowBoard MAX (Click to Enlarge)

Let’s jump directly to the specifications:

  • SoC – 64-bit Intel Atom E3815 (single-core, 1.46 GHz) or Atom E3825 (dual-core, 1.33 GHz) both with integrated Intel HD Graphics coming with Open Source hardware-accelerated drivers for Linux OS
  • System Memory – 1GB ($99 model) or 2GB ($129 model) DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 1x Micro SD card slot, 1x SATA2 3Gb/sec, 8 MB SPI Flash for firmware (UEFI)
  • Video Output – micro HDMI connector
  • Audio Output
    • HDMI (digital)
    • Analog audio to become available via a separate Lure, the name for MinnowBoard expansion boards, which will be sold separately –
  • Connectivity – 10/100/1000M Ethernet RJ-45 connector
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 host, 1x USB 2.0 host
  • Debugging & Programming – Serial debug via FTDI cable (sold separately), programming header compatible with Dedi-Prog programmer, and JTAG via high-speed expansion port.
  • Expansion headers
    • Low-speed expansion port – 2×13 (26-pin) male 0.1″ pin header with access to SPI, I2C, I2S Audio, 2x UARTs (TTL-level), 8x GPIO (including 2x supporting PWM), +5V, and GND
    • High-speed expansion port -  60-pin, high-density connector with access to 1x PCIe Gen 2.0 Lane, 1x SATA2 3Gb/sec, 1x USB 2.0 host, I2C, GPIO, JTAG, +5V, and GND
  • Dimensions – 99 x 74mm
  • Temperature Range -  0 – 70 deg C. Industrial temperature range may also be also available, but price will be higher, and has not been disclosed.
  • Power – 5V DC (Sold separately)

The board will run Debian GNU/Linux, Android 4.4 Kitkat, and be supported by the Yocto Project. It will boot with UEFI firmware stored in the 8MB SPI flash. The specifications also mention Intel HD graphics will be supported in Linux with open source graphics drivers, something that’s almost impossible to find for ARM development boards, although there has been some progress recently with the Raspberry Pi and Nvidia Tegra K1.  It will be an open source hardware board, and design files will be made available under Creative Commons licensing within weeks of production boards being available at distributors.

MinnowBoard MAX competes directly with quad core ARM Cortex A9 development board such as HardKernel ODROID, Wandboard, and so on, that sells for about the same price. We’ll need to check benchmarks to get a better idea of the performance.

The boards are scheduled to be manufactured by CircuitCo by the end of June 2014. You can’t pre-order them just yet, and they will be available through various distributors.  if you happen to be in EE Live! in San Jose, you can see a working demo with MinnowBoard MAX on booth #916.

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Opendive – Low Cost DIY Open Source 3D Virtual Reality Kit for Smartphones

March 17th, 2014 No comments

About 10 days ago, I wrote about solution to record and play 360 degrees panoramic videos. One of the itmen was vrAse virtual reality case for your smartphone, and allows you to enjoy immersive 3D experience. If you’d rather do your own, than buy a kit for about 100 Euros, there’s an open source project called OpenDive that does about the same thing, and allows you to play games in 3D.
opendive

All you need to do is to download the 3D files, print the head-mounted glasses it with your 3D printer, and buy the lense kit (6.99 Euros) to get a complete working system. You may have to modify the design, and adapt it to your phone dimensions. And if you don’t have a 3D printer, somebody provided instructions to do your own by cutting wood or plastic sheets. You then should be able to watch 360 deg. panorama videos, and play 3D games (See current list) as shown in the video below:

If you are a game developer (iOS or Android), you can use the Dive SDK to make your games support the glasses.

More information can be found on Opendive page. There’s also a commercial version called the Dive.

Thanks to Matthias for the tip.

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Amlogic GPL Source Code Release – Kernel 3.10, U-Boot, and Drivers (Wi-Fi, NAND, TVIN, Mali GPU)

March 10th, 2014 13 comments

Last month, I noticed Amlogic provided links to the Android SDK for S802 / M802 on their open source website, but the only way to get the source was to share your SSH public with Amlogic, so that they give you access. It did not happen, but the company has released the source for Linux 3.10.10, U-boot 2011.03, Realtek and Broadcom Wi-Fi drivers, NAND drivers, “TVIN”drivers, and kernel space GPU drivers for Mali-400 / 450 GPU. There are also some customer board files for Meson 6 only (AML8726-MX / M6) but they do not seem to match the kernel…

amlogic_kernel_m802_s802

If you want to build the kernel, including the drivers, you’ll need to download a bunch of files:

wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/kernel/arm-src-kernel-2014-03-06-d5d0557b2b.tar.gz
wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/wifi/rtk8192du-2014-03-06-7f70d95d29.tar.gz
wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/wifi/rtk8192eu-2014-03-06-9766866350.tar.gz
wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/wifi/rtk8192cu-2014-03-06-54bde7d73d.tar.gz
wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/wifi/rtk8188eu-2014-03-06-2462231f02.tar.gz
wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/wifi/brcmap6xxx-2014-03-06-302aca1a31.tar.gz
wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/wifi/wifi-fw-2014-03-06-d3b2263640.tar.gz
wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/modules/aml_tvin-2014-03-06-fb3ba6b1c8.tar.gz
wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/modules/aml_nand-2014-03-06-39095c4296.tar.gz
wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/customer/aml_customer-2014-03-06-76ce689191.tar.gz
wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/gpu/gpu-2014-03-06-0425a1f681.tar.gz

You’ll need to extract these tarballs in specific directories:

tar xvf arm-src-kernel-2014-03-06-d5d0557b2b.tar.gz
mkdir -p hardware/amlogic/
mkdir -p hardware/wifi/realtek/drivers
mkdir -p hardware/wifi/broadcom/drivers
mkdir -p hardware/arm/
cd hardware/amlogic
tar xvf aml_nand-2014-03-06-39095c4296.tar.gz
mv aml_nand-amlogic-nand nand
cd ../wifi/realtek/drivers
tar xvf ../../../../rtk8192du-2014-03-06-7f70d95d29.tar.gz
tar xvf ../../../../rtk8192eu-2014-03-06-9766866350.tar.gz
tar xvf ../../../../rtk8192cu-2014-03-06-54bde7d73d.tar.gz 
tar xvf ../../../../rtk8188eu-2014-03-06-2462231f02.tar.gz
mv rtk8188eu-8188eu 8188eu
mv rtk8192du-8192du 8192du
mv rtk8192cu-8192cu 8192cu
mv rtk8192eu-8192eu 8192eu
tar xvf ../../../../brcmap6xxx-2014-03-06-302aca1a31.tar.gz
cd ../../broadcom/drivers
mv brcmap6xxx-ap6xxx ap6xxx
cd ../../../arm
tar xvf ../../gpu-2014-03-06-0425a1f681.tar.gz
mv gpu-r3p2-01rel3 gpu
cd ..
mv aml_tvin-amlogic-3.10-bringup tvin

You can also extract the customer file into the kernel directory to add some drivers. As I said above I’m not sure the source code inside matches the Linux kernel 3.10.10, because there’s now device tree file for the boards. In arch/arm/plat-meson/Kconfig, there are (commented out) references to customer/meson/dt/Kconfig and customer/drivers/Kconfig. The device tree is not available, but the drivers is, so you could give a try in order to build the touchscreen and sensors drivers available in the customer tarball:

cd ../linux-amlogic-3.10-bringup
tar xvf ../aml_customer-2014-03-06-76ce689191.tar.gz 
mv aml_customer-master customer

Finally, the development tree is ready to build the kernel. There must surely be a script somewhere to do that… I haven’t used the file wifi-fw-2014-03-06-d3b2263640.tar.gz, as the kernel did not complain about it, and it looks like it’s just for Android Kit Kat. There are four scripts to build the kernel: mk_m6.sh, mk_m6tv, mk_m6_tvd.sh, and mk_m8.sh. The first three are for meson6 (dual core processor), and the last one meson8 (quad core S802/M802).

Let’s go with M8 build:

make ARCH=arm meson8_defconfig
./mk_m8.sh

Please not that I had to change mk_m8.sh, as it should just make computer hand requiring a hard reset. The culprity was the line:

make uImage -j

The manpage indicates “If the -j option is given without an argument, make  will  not  limit  the number of jobs that can run simultaneously”.  It does not seem like a good idea… ,s so I changed that to

make uImage -j8

Upon successful build, the end of log you look like:

UIMAGE arch/arm/boot/uImage
Image Name: Linux-3.10.10
Created: Mon Mar 10 11:48:52 2014
Image Type: ARM Linux Kernel Image (lzo compressed)
Data Size: 7099978 Bytes = 6933.57 kB = 6.77 MB
Load Address: 00008000
Entry Point: 00008000
Image arch/arm/boot/uImage is ready
/home/jaufranc/edev/AMLogic/s802/linux-amlogic-3.10-bringup/scripts/amlogic/aml2dtb.sh /home/jaufranc/edev/AMLogic/s802/linux-amlogic-3.10-bringup/arch/arm/boot/dts/amlogic/meson8_skt.dtd
DTD_FILE: /home/jaufranc/edev/AMLogic/s802/linux-amlogic-3.10-bringup/arch/arm/boot/dts/amlogic/meson8_skt.dtd
the middle dts file: /home/jaufranc/edev/AMLogic/s802/linux-amlogic-3.10-bringup/arch/arm/boot/dts/amlogic/meson8_skt.dts
process file /home/jaufranc/edev/AMLogic/s802/linux-amlogic-3.10-bringup/arch/arm/boot/dts/amlogic/meson8_skt.dts start
processing... please wait...
process file /home/jaufranc/edev/AMLogic/s802/linux-amlogic-3.10-bringup/arch/arm/boot/dts/amlogic/meson8_skt.dts end

CC scripts/mod/devicetable-offsets.s
GEN scripts/mod/devicetable-offsets.h
HOSTCC scripts/mod/file2alias.o
HOSTLD scripts/mod/modpost
DTC arch/arm/boot/dts/amlogic/meson8_skt.dtb
rm /home/jaufranc/edev/AMLogic/s802/linux-amlogic-3.10-bringup/arch/arm/boot/dts/amlogic/meson8_skt.dts
-rw-r–r– 1 jaufranc jaufranc 11244948 Mar 10 11:48 ./m8boot.img
m8boot.img done

If you want to get U-boot code it’s not quite as messy, you jut need to download and extract two files:

wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/u-boot/uboot-2014-03-06-323515c056.tar.gz
wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/u-boot/aml_uboot_customer-2014-03-06-09887e87b4.tar.gz
tar xvf uboot-2014-03-06-323515c056.tar.gz
cd uboot-next
tar xvf ../aml_uboot_customer-2014-03-06-09887e87b4.tar.gz
mv aml_uboot_customer-next/ customer

Then just select a board in customer/board/ to build U-boot for your hardware. For example:

make m8_k03_M102_v1_config CROSS_COMPILE=arm-linux-gnueabihf-
make CROSS_COMPILE=arm-linux-gnueabihf- -j8

The build failed for me, but it might be I may need to use another compiler, e.g. arm-none-eabi-gcc.

[Update: arm-none-eabi-gcc does seem to go further, but you'll also need an arc compiler as shown in my previous Amlogic U-boot build instructions].

Thanks to M][sko for the tip.

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$79 Atmel ATSAMA5D3 Xplained Arduino Compatible, Open Source Hardware Board Powered by SAMA5D3 ARM Cortex-A5 Processor

March 7th, 2014 1 comment

A few days ago, at Embedded World 2014, Atmel has unveiled ATSAMA5D3 Xplained evaluation board based on SAMA5D36 ARM Cortex A5 micro-processor with 256 MB DDR2, 256 MB flash and numerous ports and expansion connectors, that targets industrial automation, networks, robotics, control panels and wearable applications. Atmel is one of the rare companies that provides support for the latest long term kernel (3.10) and mainline for their embedded solutions, and their latest board is fully open source hardware.

Atmel ATSAMA5D3 Xplained Pro (Click to Enlarge)

Atmel ATSAMA5D3-XPLD Board (Click to Enlarge)

Let’s have a look at the board specifications:

  • MPU – Atmel SAMA5D36 Cortex-A5 Microprocessor @ 536 MHz
  • System Memory – 2GBit DDR2 (Micron)
  • Storage – 2GBit Flash (Micron), SD/MMCPlus 8-bit Card slot, 1x Micro SD Card 4-bit slot footprint (meaning not soldered)
  • Connectivity – 1x Ethernet 10/100/1000M, 1x Ethernet 10/100M
  • USB -  1x micro USB Device connector, 2x USB Host connectors
  • Debugging – 1x 6-lead 3V3-level serial port, 10-pin J-TAG connector
  • Expansion – Arduino R3-compatible headers (6) and LCD connector
  • Misc – 2x push buttons, reset and startup, 1x general purpose push button, 2x general purpose LEDs
  • Power
    • Active Semi PMIC
    • Power measurement straps
    • USB powered
    • Supply input footprint (not soldered)

Beside the board, the kit also includes a Micro-AB to typeA USB cable, and a welcome letter…

ATSAMA5D3_Xplained_Description

The company provides a Linux distribution (Poky) based on either Linux 3.10 or mainline built with the Yocto Project (version 1.5.1), as well as headless Android support. You an also run bare metal C code if you don’t need an operating systems. You can find links to hardware and software development tools, technical documents including a user’s guide, SAMA5D3 datasheet, some application notes, and hardware files such as schematics, gerber, BoM…. on Element14. A detailed Linux wiki is available on Linux4SAM microsite.

SAMA5D3 Xplained board will ship in mid-March 2014  and sell for $79. You can register you interest @  www.element14.com/sama5d3, shipping with be handled by Farnell element14 in Europe, Newark element14 in North America and element14 in APAC. It can also be pre-order from Atmel e-Store. Beside Element14, you can also find more details on Atmel ATSAMA5D3-XPLD page.

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$60 MarsBoard RK3066 (Partially) Open Source Hardware Development Board Supports Android & PicUntu

March 3rd, 2014 9 comments

Until now if you wanted a low cost Rockchip development board you’d have to go with Radxa Rock (Quad core RK3188) or WaxBerry Pi2 (Dual core RK3066). Thanks to Haoyu Electronics , the company who made MarsBoard A10, there’s now another option with MarsBoard RK3066 powered by Rockchip RK3066 dual core Cortex A9 SoC with 1 to 2 GB RAM, 4 to 8 GB Flash and lots of ports and expansion connectors.

MarsBoard RK3066 (Click to Enlarge)

MarsBoard RK3066 (Click to Enlarge)

MarsBoard RK3066 is composed of a baseboard (SOM-RK3066) and a computer on module (CM-RK3066) with the following specifications:

  • CM-RK3066 Computer-on-Module:
    • SoC – Rockchip RK3066 dual core ARM Cortex A9 @ 1.6Ghz + Mali-400MP4 GPU
    • System Memory – 1GB DDR3 SDRAM up to 2GB
    • Storage – 4GB Nand Flash & eMMC FLASH
    • Power Management Unit – TPS659102
    • Misc – TX indicator LED use for debug, Power Indicator LED
    • 10/100M Ethernet PHY – LAN8720A
  • SOM-RK3066 Baseboard:
    • Storage – micro SD card socket up to 128 GB
    • Video Output – HDMI A Type socket, LCD interface
    • Audio – Headphone and speaker output, microphone (not soldered), Audio Codec IC ALC5631Q
    • Connectivity – RJ45 10/100M Ethernet
    • USB – 4 x USB 2.0 Host port, Micro USB DEBUG port (vai CP2102), Micro USB OTG port
    • Misc – IR Receiver (not soldered), CR1220 battery holder for RTC, VOL + (Recover Key), VOL -, ESC, and Power Keys
    • Expansion Port – 2x 20 pin headers (including Camera CIF signals),
    • Power Supply – 5V/2A
MarsBoard Rk3066 - CoM and Baseboard (Click to Enlarge)

MarsBoard Rk3066 – CoM and Baseboard (Click to Enlarge)

A 7″ TFT LCD display with capacitive touch panel (Model HY07CTP-A) with 800×480 resolution,  is also available for purchase and supported by the firmware. The company provides firmware for Linux (PicUntu) and Android 4.2.2, and if you go over the download page, you’ll find links to hardware schematics (PDF only), software tools for Windows and Linux, and firmware files to boot from flash or micro SD card. There’s also a link to their FTP server, where you’ll find Android 4.1.1 and 4.2.2 SDK, Orcad schematics, PCB layout and gerber files for the baseboard, datasheets for the main components, and some more documentation. As usual, there does not seem to be any license attached to the hardware files. The company has also setup a wiki and a forum for the board, albeit there’s not much to see there for now.

MarsBoard RK3066 and the touchscreen display can be purchased for respectively $60 and $35 including shipping via Haoyu Electronics e-Store (hotmcu). You can visit MarsBoard.com for more information.

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