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FOSDEM 2015 Schedule – January 31 – February 1 2015

January 29th, 2015 6 comments

FOSDEM (Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting) takes place every year during the first week-end of February. This year the developer-oriented event expects to bring over 5000 geeks to share ideas and collaborate on open source projects. Contrary to most other events, it’s free to attend, and you don’t even need to register, just show up. FOSDEM 2015 will take place on January 31- February 1 in Brussels.

Fosdem_2015There will be 551 sessions divided into 5 keynotes, 40 lightning talks, 6 certification exams, and with the bulk being developer rooms and main tracks,  divided into 7 main tracks this year: Languages, Performance, Time, Typesetting, Hardware, Security and Miscellaneous.

I’m not going to attend, but it’s still interested to see what will be talked about, and I’ve concocted my own little virtual program out of the main tracks and developers’ rooms. There’s a few minutes overlap between some talks on Sunday.. Oh well.

If you won’t be able to attend, you should be able to watch the video and access the slides in a few weeks, as most sessions will be recorded.

What is the current status of Allwinner support in upstream u-boot and the kernel, which SoCs are supported, and which features (sound, video, etc.) are supported ?

The linux-sunxi community has been slowly but steadily working on getting Allwinner SoCs like the A10 supported in upstream u-boot and the kernel.

This talk will present the current status of Allwinner support upstream. Which SoCs are supported and which ones are not (yet) supported ? Which blocks if the supported SoCs are supported, and which are not ? Why are some SoCs / blocks not supported, and what are the plans to get them supported ? This are some of the questions this talk tries to answer.

Not all free operating systems are feature-full POSIX systems. FreeRTOS is a minimal operating system which is designed to run on micro-controllers, and provide real-time scheduling. It is used in industrial automation and automotive.

A brief introduction to FreeRTOS, depending on audience preference, will be followed by either a hands-on workshop using PCs, or a demonstration on a board. The workshop includes how to get started, what can be done with it, and what type of features and pitfalls to expect from FreeRTOS.

As ADAS and infotainment require more electronics, using an hypervisor is a solution to gather multiple boards into one. Xvisor is an open source lightweight hypervisor for embedded systems that perfectly fits the needs of the automative industry. It is a complete monolithic type-1 hypervisor with full virtualization and paravirtualisation support, showing better performances than KVM. We, OpenWide and the Institute for Technological Research SystemX, are working on its port on i.MX6 boards.

F*watch is an infinitely hackable GPS watch with many sensors based on a 100% Free design. Everything is Free, from the PCB and watch housing design to the software stack. Moreover, only Free software tools have been used during the development.

F*watch. Why should your watch be different?

The talk describes the development process and shows a first prototype, along with performance measurements and future plans.

The lowRISC project was established in the summer of 2014 with the aim of producing a complete open-source System-on-Chip in volume, with low-cost development boards. Alex Bradbury, one of the co-founders of the project will discuss the progress to date and the path to the first test chip. lowRISC implements the open RISC-V instruction set architecture and is exploring ideas on improving security via tagged memory and increasing flexibility through the addition of RISC-V ‘Minion’ cores to implement soft peripherals. This talk will discuss the potential benefits of a fully open-source hardware ecosystem, the challenges of getting to first silicon, and how the open source community at large can help.

Digital cameras provide almost every feature you could want. But if they don’t, you are forced to upgrade or go without. CHDK is a project which allows you to program new functionality to the majority of Canon cameras, in either C, Lua, or Basic. The talk features background on the project, code, tools, and the methods of compiling and introducing a new firmware into the camera.

Over the course of 1 hour, Steven Goodwin will guide the audience through the entire process of taking a normal (proprietary) camera and converting it into an open source version by installing custom firmware on it. He will then cover some of the features available (such as the on-device scripting language) and continue by explaining how to build and debug your own functionality. Starting with simple grids, continuing with games, and time-lapse code. And ending with a fully recompiled firmware running on the device.

The video4linux kernel subsystem reports which colorspace the captured video uses. But what does that really mean, and what do you have to do to correctly reproduce those colors? This talk will dive into the crazy world of colorspaces and give you a practical guide to colorspace handling. I will also demonstrate colorspace handling, both right and wrong.

Kernel profiling tools status on ARM and ARM64: – perf status, – ARM and ARM64 support, – callchain unwinding mechanisms and support, – patches status: merged, pending, in development, – links to discussions (LKML) and patches.

The profiling tools in the kernel are changing at a fast pace. This talk is about the support for ARM and ARM64 architecture and the development of features for these architectures, namely the callchain unwinding. The presentation goes over: – the detailed description of the feature, – the methods used to do the callchain unwinding (fp, exidx, dwarf etc.), – the status of the on-going patches, – the remaining work to be done, – the links to patches, discussions on the mailing lists, – -if needed and if time allows- a demo of the feature.

Building a medical device requires to follow certain rules specially when health care depend on it. The presentation will explain how Yocto help us in Kaptalia to solve this issue. In particular we will focus on fast boot, update with unskilled user base, Bluetooth Low Energy, security and data privacy.

During this event we will show how our team succeeded to build our first OS, start from a company with medical expert only and no prior expertise on embedded systems. At the end, a live demonstration for using the the monitor and sensor will be held.

LAVA is a python service created by Linaro for testing software on hardware which accepts test jobs to perform on selected hardware to provide a black box to continuous integration tests. Bisecting is a technique for finding commit in version control system that broke the software. Git provides the powerful “git bisect” subcommand for this purposes. In this talk we give and introduction to LAVA and explain howto combine LAVA and git bisect to automatically find offending commits in the Linux kernel.

Prospero Technologies has made a Linux based Digital Video Recorder which constantly records all UK broadcast TV so that the consumer no longer needs to schedule recordings. This will be a talk on the technologies used to achieve this, the open source software on the consumer device and how you can build your own 30 channel DVR.

The final version of the DVR uses a Freescale i.MX6 CPU with a video processing unit running a Linux built with Yocto. The talk will cover how well this is supported by gstreamer and how we built a QT application to display our HTML5 interface.

More and more embedded projects require support for advance connectivity. With it, comes the requirement to enforce a better security as well as private data protection. Using the layer model of Yocto, we show how we can extract from a complex project such as Tizen, advance connectivity and security and apply it to any embedded project.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing fast and opens large opportunities to embedded Linux. Unfortunately traditional embedded Linux has been weak when it comes to security and complex connectivity enabling. Tizen which has been developed as a Linux base OS for connected object (phone, TV, car) is on the other side very well equipped in that area. We will start by explaining what is Tizen architecture and how it provides Security and Connectivity facilities on top of a base Linux. We will then show how Yocto and Tizen-meta can be used to create embedded devices which benefit from several years of work done by the Tizen community. In particular we will review : – the mandatory access control enabling in an embedded device – the enforcement of good behavior by applications – resource access control – connectivity layers – HTML5 App enabling. – multi user mode enabling.

The ARM LLVM backend has been around for many years and generates high quality code, yet there are still standard benchmarks where GCC is generating more efficient code than LLVM. The goal of this talk is to get a better understanding of why the GCC-generated code for those benchmarks is executing more efficiently and also about finding out what we need to do on the LLVM side to address those code generation deficiencies. This talk presents current performance numbers for the SPEC CPU benchmark suites on ARM, comparing the performance of LLVM and GCC, with the main focus on the SPEC CPU integer benchmarks. To dive a little bit deeper, we will also have a closer look at the generated assembly code of selected benchmarks where LLVM is performing worse than GCC and use the results of this performance analysis to point out potential code generation opportunities for LLVM.

Connectivity is crucial for Internet of Things concept. For moving devices like position data loggers is typical solution GSM network. I will show you how you can use different types of GSM network for your IoT projects.

GSM network is easy way how to connect almost any device to internet. There are lot of GSM modules on market from different vendors but all devices has one thing in common – AT commands. There is standardized AT commands set for GSM networks. Using AT command you can send text messages, read phone number from list on SIM card, connect to internet and much more. I will show you basic command set for HTTP communication using basic GSM module SIM900 and Arduino.

This talk will give an overview over the Linux backports project and how to use it. The Linux backports project makes it possible to use a driver from a recent Linux mainline kernel with an older kernel version.

When you have a vendor board support package which does not use a bleeding edge mainline kernel, like it is the case most times, but you want to use some driver from a bleeding edge Linux kernel you can use backports. Backports “automatically” generates a tar with many drivers from a specific Linux mainline kernel which can be used with older kernel versions.

In this talk I will describe how the backports project, with its compatibility layer, the spatches and the normal patches. For practical usage I will show how to use backports with your own kernel in addition I will give a brief overview on how to add a new driver to backports.

Patchwork is a toolkit for connecting various devices into a network of things or, in a more broad case – Internet of Things (IoT). The main goal of creating this toolkit is to have a lightweight set of components that can help to quickly integrate different devices (i.e. Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Plugwise, etc) into a smart environment and expose specific devices’ capabilities as RESTful/SOAP/CoAP/MQTT/etc services and data streams.

The key features of patchwork include:

  • Lightweight (no RAM-consuming sliced pie of Java and OSGi, only bare necessities)
  • Cross-platform (can be deployed on OSX/Linux/Windows, tested on Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black boards)
  • Language-agnostic (device agents can be written in any programming language, APIs can be consumed by app written in any programming language)
  • Easily deployable (no JARs, no Eggs or Wheels for the core components, just a single native binary with statically linked dependencies)
  • Easily extendable (integrate new devices without modification of the core components, drop in solution)
  • Interchangeable (not happy with current existing Device Gateway or Catalog? replace it with another implementation without breaking the infrastructure)
  • Not re-inventing the wheel (we re-use as many existing technologies and components as possible)

libcurl is the world’s most used and most popular Internet transfer library, already used in every imaginable sort of embedded device out there. How did this happen and how do you use libcurl to transfer data to or from your device?

Embedded devices are very often network connected these days. Network connected embedded devices often need to transfer data to and from them as clients, using one or more of the popular internet protocols.

Daniel once founded the project and is still lead developer and maintainer of the curl project, making curl and libcurl. He is also active within IETF and maintain several other open source projects. Daniel is employed by Mozilla.

This presentation will reveal the process of porting Tizen:Common to open source hardware developer boards with SoC manufactured by Allwinner, Rockchip or Intel such as OLinuXino, Radxa Rock, Minnowboard. The following topics will be covered:

  • Building Tizen ARMv7 and x86 images from scratch
  • Adapting the Linux kernel, bootloader and Tizen:Common to popular single board computers
  • Do it yourself (DIY) open-source hardware Tizen tablet or laptop
  • Sharing knowledge and experience of the community.
The presentation will also provide information about U-Boot, Yocto project, the Linux-Sunxi and Linux-Rockchip, Minnowboard communities.

Although Tegra K1 uses the same Kepler architecture as NVIDIA desktop cards that Nouveau already supports, there are other challenges that need to be addressed before Nouveau can drive K1’s graphic acceleration: the fact that the GPU does not reside on the PCI bus requires architectural changes in the Nouveau core. The absence of dedicated GPU memory directly interferes with the way Nouveau is used to do memory management and leads to potentially sub-optimal behavior. Also, in a system where all devices share the same system memory, PRIME support is mandatory to perform any useful work and the relevance of a driver-agnostic memory allocator becomes perceptible.

This talk will discuss these challenges, and in particular the consequences of using a unified memory architecture, in the hope of triggering discussions that will help improving the general support of GPU architectures for new mobile platforms.

A brief look at the past, present, and future of the KiCad project. The discussion will be primarily on what near and long term future development is planned for the project as well as discussing the potential for collaboration with other EDA projects.

Yocto has an alleged steep learning curve. It can be a challenge for modules and evaluation board manufacturers to add support for their devices in Yocto as they don’t necessarily have a software background. This talk will highlight the steps required, techniques and good practices to create a well integrated machine configuration allowing to build images using the Yocto Linux build system. The Crystalfontz support from meta-fsl-arm-extra will be used to illustrate the talk.

The bitbox console is a small open hardware & open source game console. I will present the rationale behind it and the current status of the project, detail the hardware conception and particularly video signal generation from a cortex-m4 chip with no video subsystem. I will then proceed to show the different elements of the software stack : kernel, video engines, the boot loader and, finally, current programs and games, including a Gameboy emulator and a full motion video player.

If you want to build your own schedule before going, you can check the full list of events by subjects, but an easier way to organize your day is to check the sessions in chronological order, by checking out Saturday and Sunday schedules.

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Black Swift is a Tiny OpenWRT Wi-Fi Board Powered by Atheros AR9331 (Crowdfunding)

January 28th, 2015 6 comments

In case you thought there were not enough Wi-Fi board in the market already, here’s another one with Black Swift. The board runs OpenWRT, is a little larger than Vocore, and quite smaller than WRTnode, is powered by Atheros AR9331, provides access to I/Os via headers, and comes with two micro USB ports which should make it easy to use, and allow some interesting applications with USB devices.

Black_SwiftBlack Swift specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Atheros AR9331 32-bit MIPS 24K CPU core @ 400 MHz, or 200 MHz in energy-saving mode selectable by software
  • System Memory – 64 MB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Storage – 16 MB NOR flash
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi (1×1, up to 150 Mbps) with PCB antenna
  • USB –  1 x microUSB for power, 1x microUSB 2.0 port
  • Expansion –  Headers for 26x GPIO, 2x Fast Ethernet, SPI, I²C, 1x 16550 UART, 1x USB 2.0
  • Misc – Factory reset button
  • Power Supply
    • 5 V (with full USB support), 3.3 V (w/o USB power), 3.4…6 V (using onboard voltage regulator, w/o USB power)
    • Integrated voltage regulators: 3.3 V (switching mode, 1 A max, at least 700 mA available for powering external devices), 2.75 V (linear LDO, 300 mA max)
  • Power consumption: 120 mA typical (400 MHz CPU frequency, Wi-Fi enabled), 60 mA in energy-saving mode (200 MHz, Wi-Fi disabled), 300 mA max
  • I/O Voltage / Current – 3.3 V max (5V non-tolerant), maximum load 24 mA
  • Dimensions – 25x35x4 mm
  • Weight – 3 g

Black_Swift_Pinout

The board runs OpenWRT 14.07 Barrier Breaker, and will allegedly be open source hardware with schematics, Gerber files, and BoM released once development is complete. The company will also release OpenWRT patchsets, and utilities they developed for the board.

Black_Swift_Electricty_MeterThey also have developers three projects to showcase their board capabilities:

  • A network music player with a Sound Blaster audio card connected to the USB port via a USB OTG adapter, which can be controlled with MPDroid on Android, QMPDClient on PC, or other MPD compliant clients.
  • A Christmas tree lights controller. A little out of season, but it shows the GPIO capabilities of the board with several Betlux’s BL-FL7600 ultrabright LEDs, and a L293 quadruple H-bridge driver.
  • An electricity meter (pictured on the right) to show a more professional use of the board.  Power measurement is done via  Analog Devices ADE7757 chip with frequency output.

You can have a look at these demos, right after the product introduction in the video below.

https://d2pq0u4uni88oo.cloudfront.net/projects/1609299/video-490528-h264_base.mp4

The project is on Kickstarter trying to raise $33,000 NZD (about $24,700 US) to fund mass production. There are three version of the board / kits available:

  • Black Swift Basic – $35 NZD pledge (~$26 US)
  • Black Swift PRO with on-board USB-UART adapter, and an extra baseboard (1.27mm to 2.54 mm header adapter) – $42 NZD pledge (~$34 US)
Black Swift PRO

Black Swift PRO Connected to a Relay

Perks all include shipping worldwide, and delivery is scheduled for June 2015. You can also visit Black Swift website and its Wiki for a few more details.

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Linaro Connect Hong Kong 2015 Schedule and Demos

January 27th, 2015 No comments

Linaro Connect Hong Kong 2015 will take place on February 9 – 13,2015 in Hong Kong, and the organization has released the schedule for the five days events with keynotes, sessions, and demos.

Linaro_Connect_Hong_Kong_2015Each day will start with the keynote including speakers such as:

  • George Grey, Linaro CEO, who will welcome attendees to Linaro Connect, and provide an update on the latest Linaro developments
  • Jon Masters, Chief ARM Architect, Redhat, who will present Red Hat update and latest ARMv8-A demonstrations
  • Dejan Milojicic, Senior Researcher & Manager, HP Labs
  • Bob Monkman, Enterprise Segment Marketing Manager, ARM, will discuss about  the impact of ARM in next generation cloud and communication network infrastructure
  • Greg Kroah-Hartman, Linux Foundation Fellow, will introduce the Greybus Project (Linux for Project Ara modular phones)
  • Warren Rehman,  Android Partner Engineering Manager, Google

The agenda also features sessions covering Android, ARMv8-A, Automation & Validation, Digital Home, Enterprise Servers, LAVA, Linux Kernel, Networking, Power Management, Security, Toolchain, Virtualization and multiple training sessions. I’ve gone through the full schedule to make my own virtual list of sessions.

Monday 9th

  • 14:00 – 14:50 – maddog: ARMv8 Optimization (No abstract)
  • 15:00 – 15:50 – ACPI Power Management on ARM64 Servers (No abstract)
  • 16:10 – 17:00 – Standardizing Linux Kernel Power Management on ARM 32/64-bit

The 32-bit ARM kernel supports a wide variety of processors harking back to ARM v4 architecture up to the latest v7 SMP processors. This huge legacy forced kernel developers to adapt the power management code for the newest processors (eg v7 multi-cluster systems) to an infrastructure that was developed to support simpler uniprocessor (UP) ARM architectures, resulting in code fragmentation and lack of unified drivers.

The brand new ARMv8 architecture provides kernel developers a clean slate to start developing new code, a nice opportunity to learn lessons from the past and bring about a kernel power management (PM) subsystem completely generic and up to the latest standards. This talk will provide details of the undergoing effort carried out at ARM to develop a kernel PM framework for ARM v8 systems, with kernel design details of the respective DT and ACPI implementations.

Tuesday 10th

  • 10:10 – 11:00 – UMEQ (User Mode Emulation Quest)

UMEQ (user-mode emulation quest) and has been developed to eliminate the functional deficiencies of qemu in user mode (multi-threaded applications, signal handling, etc). Umeq primarily targets ARM 64-bit. The presentation will focus on the architecture principles of umeq and on its implementation.

  • 11:15 – 12:05 – Solving the year 2038 problem in Linux

The concept of ‘time’ in Linux is encoded in many different ways, but the most common one is based on the ‘time_t’ type that counts the number of seconds that have passed since Jan 1, 1970. This type is currently defined as ‘long’, which on 32-bit systems is a signed 32-bit number that will overflow on Jan 19 2038 and likely cause all systems existing today to stop working.

In our presentation, we give an introduction to range of problems that we see across user space and kernel, and we talk about the work that we are doing to address some of these issues.

  • 12:10 – 13:00 – Browser Testing Framework for LHG

The purpose of this talk is to provide the audience with an introduction to the testing framework used in Web browser performance testing as implemented by LHG (Linaro Home Group). The browser test suite is used to compare browser performance and compliance by using a series of benchmarks in key test categories. Sample browser results for both Android and RDK will be presented.

  • 14:00 – 14:50 – Training 1 – FOSS
  • 15:00 – 15:50 – Training 2 – Upstreaming 101
  • 16:10 – 17:00 – Training 3 – Upstreaming 200

Wednesday 11th

  • 10:10 – 11:00 – Art’s Quick Compiler: An unofficial overview

One of the important technical novelties introduced with the recent release of Android Lollipop is the replacement of Dalvik, the VM which was used to execute the bytecode produced from Java apps, with ART, a new Android Run-Time. One interesting aspect in this upgrade is that the use of Just-In-Time compilation was abandoned in favour of Ahead-Of-Time compilation. This delivers better performance, also leaving a good margin for future improvements. ART was designed to support multiple compilers. The compiler that shipped with Android Lollipop is called the “Quick Compiler”. This is simple, fast, and is derived from Dalvik’s JIT compiler. In 2014 our team at ARM worked in collaboration with Google to extend ART and its Quick Compiler to add support for 64-bit and for the A64 instruction set. These efforts culminated with the recent release of the Nexus 9 tablet, the first 64-bit Android product to hit the market. Despite Google’s intention of replacing the Quick Compiler with the so-called “Optimizing Compiler”, the job for the the Quick Compiler is not yet over. Indeed, the Quick Compiler will remain the only usable compiler in Android Lollipop. Therefore, all competing parties in the Android ecosystem have a huge interest in investigating and improving this component, which will very likely be one of the battlegrounds in the Android benchmark wars of 2015. This talk aims to give an unofficial overview of ART’s Quick compiler. It will first focus on the internal organisation of the compiler, adopting the point of view of a developer who is interested in understanding its limitations and strengths. The talk will then move to exploring the output produced by the compiler, discussing possible strategies for improving the generated code, while keeping in mind that this component may have a limited life-span, and that any long-term work would be better directed towards the Optimizing Compiler.

  • 11:15 – 12:05 – Secure Media using DMA-buf

Secure data path for media streams involve lots of differents software and hardware elements and is very complexe. The goal of this talk is to expose an hardware independent proposition using open-TEE and dmabuf. Feedback from all SoC experts is more than welcome.

  • 12:10 –  13:00 – OP-TEE for Beginners and Porting Review

Explains the building blocks involved in Security including TrustZone, OP-TEE, Trusted Firmware etc. Goes into detail on how Secure Boot Works.. and Why. Explains how a simple secure Trusted Application interacts with OP-TEE and works. Brief overview on how to port OP-TEE to an ARM platform. Opens discussions for Potential Challenges and Hardware limitations and how they can be overcome.

  • 14:00 – 18:00 – Hacking sessions or training (no description provided)

Thursday 12th

  • 10:10 – 11:00 – Chromium Blink on Wayland with HW accelerated video playback using Gstreamer

Linaro and STM implemented an integration layer between Chromium and Wayland/Gstreamer. The solution allows HW accelerated video playback, high performance GPU accelerated HTML5 rendering. The approach uses hole punching mechanism to compose the UI layer on the top of the video content. The Gstreamer Chromium plugin is implemented trough the Pepper API. The presentation will provide implementation details on the Wayland/Chromium/Gstreamer integration.

  • 11:15 – 12:05 – EME implementation in Chromium: Linaro Clear Key

An example of a key system from a Clear Key point of view. Linaro implemented a sample CDM plugin for Chromium capable to exercise the EME implementation of the browser. The presentation gives an insight to the EME/CDM implementation in Chromium and the guidelines to integrating various DRM systems. We will present call flows with example classes, experiences learned, and example of things to watch out for.

  • 12:10 – 13:00 – ARM v8-A NEON optimization

With FFT optimization as an example, the following topics are discussed:

  1. Performance boost using ARM v8-A NEON
  2. NEON-optimization workflow for Ne10
  3. Some tips with example of Ne10 FFT and Android libraries
  4. Performance comparison between assembly and intrinsic
  • 14:00 – 18:00 – Hacking sessions or training (no description provided)

Friday 13th

  •  10:10 – 11:00 – Toolchain Performance Analysis and Investigations

This session will present a workflow of analyzing application or benchmark performance and ways investigate how performance can be increased by improving the toolchain. The session will cover use of profiling tools, reading of compiler optimization dumps, reducing optimization problems using compiler debug counters, and submitting optimization request/bug report to compiler developers

  • 11:15 – 12:05 – Power Management interactions with OP-TEE and Trusted Firmware

Understand what use cases related to Power Management have to interact with Trusted Firmware via Secure calls. Walk through some key use cases like CPU Suspend and explain how PM Linux drivers interacts with Trusted Firmware / PSCI (Power State Coordination Interface).

That’s it for the schedule, I find there are a lot of sessions about security, mainly OP-TEE, so this should become something important.

Linaro 2015 Demos

Beside keynotes, sessions, and training, there will be several demos during the event including:

  • Linaro Clear Key CDM
  • Chromium on Wayland with Gstreamer
  • Linaro Web Browser Test Framework
  • Demo of VLANd
  • l2fwd (See code on github)
  • OVS – x86 – ARM
  • ODP on Cavium platform
  • OpenJDK running on ARMv8 hardware
  • OpenStack running on ARMv8 hardware
  • Android support for clang 3.6 and gcc 5.0
  • Ceph on remote server cluster
  • UEFI on BeagleBone Black

If you want to attend Linaro Connect HK 2015, you can register online for £941.50 (~$1420 US). Live and recorded sessions should also be available for free via Linaro OnAir YouTube account.

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Atmel SAMA5D4 Xplained Ultra Development Board Adds HDMI, 720p Video Decoding

January 19th, 2015 No comments

Atmel has introduced an upgrade to their Atmel SAMA5D3 Xplained development board with SAMA5D4 Xplained Ultra replacing SAMA5D36 by SAMA5D44 embedded micro-processor for 720p hardware video decoding support, and adding HDMI output, extra storage and memory, etc… but losing one Ethernet port.

Atmel_SAMA5D4_Xplained_Ultra

Atmel SAMA5D4 Xplained Ultra (XLUT) specifications:

  • MPU – Atmel SAMA5D44 Cortex-A5 Microprocessor @ 536 MHz
  • System Memory – 2x 2Gbit DDR2 memory
  • Storage – 4 Gbit NAND Flash, 1x 4-bit SD card connector (not populated), 1x 4-bit micro SD connector, optional serial EEPROM (SPI), one EEPROM with MAC address and serial number.
  • Connectivity – 1x Ethernet 10/100M
  • Display – 1x LCD interface connector, 1x HDMI port
  • USB –  1x micro USB device connector, 2x USB host connectors
  • Debugging – 1x 20-pin J-TAG connector, 1x EDBG connector (not populated), 1x serial DBGU interface (3.3V)
  • Expansion – Arduino R3-compatible headers, XPRO set of connectors; ADC inputs and CAN interfaces
  • Misc – Reset, wake-up, and user push buttons, 1x user/power LED, 1x user LED, RTC battery slot (CR1225)
  • Power Supply – 5V from USB, power jack or Arduino headers; On-board regulation with PMIC; Power measurement straps
  • Dimensions – 135 x 88 x 20 mm
The kit also includes a micro USB cable and a welcome letter.SAMA5D4-XULT_BoardSome documentation is available on Element14 page, including the user’s guide, SAMA5D4 eMPUs datasheet, and two application notes. There’s little information about software support for now, and we are being redirected to Atmel’s SAMA5D4 Software Package page with IAR and some GNU tools. But if we go to Linux4SAM instead we’ll find a Linux4SAM Yocto/Poky distribution for the board, as well building and flashing instructions.  There’s also an Android 4.4.2 image with source code. Just like SAMA5D3 Xplained,  SAMA5D4 XULT board is open source hardware, and you can find the hardware design and manufacturing files on SAMA5D4 Xplained Ultra product’s page.

SAMA5D4 Xplained Ultra is apparently available now, and sells for $99 on Atmel store, but you can also find it on Element14 for $93.50.

Via Embedded.com

 

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Project Ara Modular Phone Update

January 15th, 2015 1 comment

The modular phone concept started with PhoneBloks, whose founders shortly got to work with Motorola Project Ara, and since Google bought parts of Motorola, the concept is now part a Google’s project. Project Ara Developers Conference 2015 has taken place yesterday in California, but if you’ve missed it, another one is planned in Singapore on January 21, and it will also be live-streamed.

Ara Phone MDK 0.2 (Click to Enlarge)

Spiral 2 Hardware  (Click to Enlarge)

We’ve now got a bit more information, a neat video has been uploaded to YouTube showing how a battery, a (broken) display, speakers, and camera modules would slide into the phone, and a pilot project has started in Puerto Rico.

Google has very recently shipped Spiral 2 developer hardware enable prototyping and development of modules for the Ara platform. The kit consists of:

  1. A board with the UniPro Switch in the Ara endoskeleton and multiple modules interfaces with UniPro Bridge ASICs (Tosbiba T6WM8XBG-0001) supporting multiple bridged  and tunneled protocols;
  2. An Application Processor (AP) board with a custom version of Linaro Android
  3. Connectors and cables.

The Module Developers Kit (MDK) is freely available for download and contains Ara MDK v.02 specifications, hardware schematics, PCB layout, and BoM for the main board and some prototype modules, and 3D printing files (STP). There are AP boards for Nvidia Tegra K1 and Marvell PXA1928 processors in the MDK, also with all hardware design files, but I’m not entirely sure which one is provided with Spiral 2 hardware. For now, Project Ara looks mostly looks like an 100% hardware project (and open source), at least from the community perspective, but the company is also developing APIs that will let people create ways for users to customize their devices. Some code is available on github too, but nothing about Android for now, except an empty Wiki.

That’s the video. Looks cool, right?

People living in Puerto Rico will be able to try out Project Ara thanks to a pilot program, scheduled to start in H2 2015, where Google ATAP will start selling modular phone in partnership OpenMobile and Claro carriers, as well as roll out trucks where people will be able to try and buy modular phones, and a few of the 20 to 30 modules available at launch.

Ara_TruckYou can find more details about the pilot program on The Verge.

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$60 MarsBoard Rockchip PX2 Development Board Runs Ubuntu, Debian, openSUSE, or Android 4.4

January 10th, 2015 No comments

Haoyu Electronics has made a new board similar to their MarsBoard RK3066, but instead of using a CPU module with Rockchip RK3066, they’ve used the industrial version of the chip called Rockchip PX2 dual core Cortex A9 processor.

MarsBoard PX2 Development Board (Click to Enlarge)

MarsBoard PX2 Development Board (Click to Enlarge)

The board is also comprised of a baseboard and CPU module (CM-PX2), and based on the name of the pictures it’s using the exact same PCB: CM-RK3066 SoM, and SOM-RK3066 baseboard, but they simply replaced RK3066 by PX2, and increased the NAND flash capacity to 8GB.

  • CM-PX2 Computer-on-Module:
    • SoC – Rockchip PX2 dual core ARM Cortex A9 @ 1.4 GHz + Mali-400MP4 GPU
    • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
    • Storage – 8 GB NAND
    • Power Management Unit – TPS659102
    • Misc – TX indicator LED use for debug, Power Indicator LED
    • 10/100M Ethernet PHY – LAN8720A
    • Connectors – 2x 100- pin for baseboard connection, 40-pin connector (unsoldered)
    • Dimensions – 70 x 58 mm
  • SOM-RK3066 Baseboard:
    • Storage – micro SD card socket up to 128 GB
    • Video Output – HDMI A Type socket, LCD + capacitive touch 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 (via CP2102), Micro USB OTG port
    • Misc – IR Receiver (not soldered), CR1220 battery holder for RTC, VOL+ (Recovery Key), VOL-, ESC, and Power Keys
    • Expansion Port – 2x 20 pin headers
    • Power Supply – 5V/2A
    • Dimensions – 105 x 78 mm
SOM-RK3066 Baseboard (Click to Enlarge)

SOM-RK3066 Baseboard (Click to Enlarge)

The schematics in PDF are available for both the CoM and baseboard, but the latter is also claimed to be open source hardware, and you’ll find a license file, and a DSN file in the company’s server, but no PCB layout, BoM, and other required document. Images (Ubuntu 14.04, Debian 7.7, openSUSE, Android 4.4.2), source code (Linux kernel, and Android SDK), as well as tools and documentation can be found on the download page. There you’ll notice a single image is provided for both PX2 and RK3066, so both processor are not only pin-to-pin compatible, but also software compatible.

MarsBoard PX2 is sold with a USB Wi-Fi dongle based on RTL8188EU for $60 + shipping on hotmcu.com. MarsBoard PX2 is not the only Rockchip PX2 available, and Rayeager PX2 board is another option for $99 that includes a Wi-Fi + BT module on-board, and a SATA port (via a USB to SATA chip) among other things.

Thanks to Freire for the tip.

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Fernvale Open Source Hardware IoT Board Based on Mediatek MT6260 SoC with GSM Connectivity

January 2nd, 2015 1 comment

Andrew Huang (Bunnie), an hardware engineer, known for hacking the original XBOX, and more recently for Novena open source laptop, has decided it could be interesting to reverse-engineer Mediatek MT6260 processor, as in China, it’s difficult to get documentation, SDK, and tools if you don’t commit to purchase X chips, where X is a rather large number. He and others also checked whether their work could be open sourced legally, and assert their “fair use” rights to reverse-engineer hardware and firmware. And so Fernvale project was born both as a technical challenge and to make a point.

Ferndale_Board

Two Ferndale “Frond” Mainboards Shown on top of an Arduino Board

Ferndale_Boards

Click to Enlarge

MT6260 is a $3 ARM7EJ-S processor clocked at 364 MHz with 8MB built-in RAM, interfaces such as I2C, SPI, PWM, UART, as well as LCD and touchscheen controller, and audio codec, battery charger, USB,  Bluetooth, and GSM support, which make the $6 Atmel MCU used in Arduino board look expensive. The main differences is that Atmel provides proper documentation to anyone who can click on a link, whether Mediatek would only talk if you can show them 6 or 7 figure cheques.

The hardware designed is comprised of three boards:

  • Ferndale “Frond” mainboard – Features MT6260DA processor , a micro USB port, a micro SD card slot, and headers for UART, speakers, battery, as well as Bluetooth, and some “Arduino” GPIO pins.
  • Ferndale “blade” UI breakout board with a SIM card slot, an LCD interface,a keypad, a headphone jack, and some expansions.
  • Ferndale “spore” analog front end (AFE) board – GSM RF: PA + Tx/RX + Filters, and GSM antenna
Ferndale Blade (Left) and Ferndale Spore (Right)

Ferndale Blade (Left) and Ferndale Spore (Right)

That’s for the hardware, and Bunnie explained the hardware was the easy part, and they also had to work on reverse-engineering the firmware. They first work on the boot sequence (extracting the firmware required unsoldering the NAND flash), then build an interactive shell to run experiments on the target hardware, attached a debugger, ported NuttX RTOS to the platform, and developed a toolchain.

Currently only minimal set of hardware peripherals are currently supported, roughly matching functionality of the AVR MCUs used in Arduino boards. Bunnie and Xobs presented they finding at 31C3 with a paper called “Fernvale: A Reverse Engineered MT6260 Dev Platform“, and you can also find more on a long post on Bunnie Studios blog. The Wiki is where you’ll find the hardware files, and Femly boot environment.

As they developed Ferndale, Mediatek released LinkIt ONE, a development board based on MT2502A that offer some of the same features as the Bunnie & Xobs open source board, but is still relying on a close source RTOS (Nucleus OS), while if the project goes further an NuttX will be fully ported, and developers would be able to access the firmware.

Ferndale is not a board that you can purchase yet (if ever), but if you’d like to get involved, you can contact the developers on Kosagi forums.

Thanks to Nanik and Freire for the tip.

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Hardkernel ODROID-C1 is a $35 Development Board Powered by Amlogic S805 Quad Core Processor

December 10th, 2014 69 comments

Amlogic S805 is a quad core Cortex A5 processor which has found it way into low cost devices such as MK808B Plus TV Stick which can be purchased for as low as $30, or full-sized TV box such as MXQ S85 or MINIX NEO X6. All this low cost devices are nice, but the full source code is not available in your want to adapt them to your need. Luckily, Amlogic releases both an Android SDK, and a buildroot for Linux with GPU and Video Processing Unit (VPU) support, so Hardkernel decided to go ahead, designed a board, and has just launched ODROID-C1 quad core development board for just $35, or the exact price of a Raspberry Pi Model B+, but with much greater specs.

ODROID-C1 Board Description (Click to Enlarge)

ODROID-C1 Board Description (Click to Enlarge)

ODROID-C1 specifications:

  • SoC- Amlogic S805 quad core Cortex-A5 processor with a Mali-450MP2 GPU (2x fragment cores + 2x vertex shader cores)
  • System Memory – 1GBe DDR3 (2x Samsung K4B4G1646D)
  • Storage – eMMC module socket for  8GB/64GB Toshiba eMMC, or 16GB/32GB Sandisk iNAND Extreme, and micro SD slot (UHS-1 SD models supported)
  • Video & Audio Output – micro HDMI port
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8211F)
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports (via GENESYS LOGIC GL852G), 1x micro USB OTG port (Cannot be used for power input)
  • Expansion Headers – 40-pin Raspberry Pi (mostly) compatible header with GPIO, I2C, SPI, UART, and ADC.
  • Debugging – Serial console header (3.3V)
  • Misc – 4x Status / Power LEDS, IR receiver, RTC + RTC battery header, solder pads for power switch, boot media selector
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A DC input (2.5/0.8mm barrel). Typical power consumption:  0.5A @ 5V, up to 2A @ 5V with several USB peripherals.
  • Dimensions – 85 x 56mm (Same dimensions as Raspberry Pi Model B+)
  • Weight – 40 gram

It’s the first S805 device I see that actually uses a Gigabit Ethernet port, so that’s good news. You can boot the system from eMMC or micro SD card, using the boot media selector (Open: eMMC, Closed: SD card).

ODROID-C_Board_Bottom

The company will provide images for Ubuntu 14.04 or Android 4.4 KitKat with Linux 3.10. The source code for U-Boot/Linux will be released on December 15, but the Android source code will take a little longer due to license issues, and is expected for February. WiringPi v2 library used to control I/O in the Raspberry Pi with Python or C/C++, has been ported to ODROID-C1. Further information such an expansion header pinout, and instructions to build u-boot can be found on ODROID-C1 Wiki, which is still under construction. The schematics (PDF) and mechanical drawings have also been released.

What makes this platform existing, beside its attractive pricing and source code availability, is Ubuntu support with proper OpenGL ES and video hardware decoding support, which is showcased in the video below in Kodi 14 Helix running in Ubuntu 14.04.

ODROID-C1 is available for pre-order for $35 on Hardkernel website with shipping scheduled for December 16, but if you are based in North America or Europe, you should be better off purchasing from respectively Ameridroid or Pollin Electonic. I also wish they find a distributor for the rest of the world, as shipping is probably $25 (I can’t access the site from Thailand without proxy), which makes the board $60 [Update: Based on comments shipping is only $9 for some, for $25 for most]. You’ll also need to purchase storage for booting either from Hardkernel or its distributors which sells 8, 16, 32 and 64GB eMMC modules, or 8 to 16GB UHS-1 micro SD cards preloaded with Android 4.4 or Ubuntu 14.04, or buy it one locally, just make sure you don’t buy the cheapest micro SD card, get at least a Class 10 or UHS-1 micro SD, or your ODROID-C1 will feel as slow, or even slower, than a Raspberry Pi. Further details can also be found in ODROID magazine December 2014 (PDF) including a performance and specs comparison between ODROID-C1 and Raspberry Pi Model B+.

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