While Exynos 7 Octa was made with ARM’s own Cortex A53 and A57 cores, Samsung did not go with Cortex A72 in 8890, but instead decided to design their own ARMv8 cores and coupled for of these with four low power ARM Cortex A53 cores, and a Mali-T880 GPU. Samsung also included a LTE Rel.12 Cat.12/13 modem that enables speeds up to 600Mbps DL (Cat.12) and 150Mbps UL (Cat.13), and the processor will be manufactured using 14nm FinFET process technology. Excluding the custom cores, and the manufacturing process, this configuration is similar to the recently unveiled Huawei Kirin 950 processor using four Cortex A72 cores and TSMC 16nm FinFET+ technology instead.
Mass production of Exynos 8 Octa processor should start before the end of the year.
So it *felt* like the last week of the rc series was busy, to the point where I got a bit worried about the release. But doing the actual numbers shows that that really was just my subjective feeling, probably due to the kernel summit and travel back home from Korea. It wasn’t actually a particularly busy week, it’s just that the pull requests were more noticeable in the last couple of days.
We had a network update and a late fix for a x86 vm86 mode bug introduced by the vm86 cleanups, but other than that it’s just a collection of various small one-liners all over. Ok, the vm86 mode thing was a one-liner too, it was just slightly more nerve-wracking because it looked scarier than it was before people (Andy) figured out what was going on.
The changes from rc7 are dominated by the network stuff, but as you can tell from the appended shortlog it’s not anything particularly scary.
So on the whole, this remains a rather calm release cycle until the very end. And with the release of 4.3, obviously the merge window for 4.4 is open, and let’s keep our fingers crossed that that will be an equally calm release. Especially since apparently Greg has decided ahead of time (as an experiment brought on by discussion at the kernel summit) that 4.4 will be another LTS release.
Linux 4.2 brought us file systems and networking changed, new cryptography implementations, AMD GPU driver support for more graphics card, among other things. Some changes made to Linux 4.3 include:
Removal of EXT-3 file system (EXT-4 file system will handle EXT-3)
Various fixed for BTRFS, EXT-4, F2FS, and XFS file systems
IPv6 is now built into the kernel by default.
New driver framework for nonvolatile memory devices (e.g.EEPROMs). See nvmem.txt for details.
Audio – Machine drivers for Rockchip systems with MAX98090 and RT5645 and RT5650
Added USB PHY support for RK3066 and RK3188, enabled on Marsboard
Reserve unusable memory region (0xfe000000~0xff000000) on RK3288 and RK3368
Fixed suspend issues on RK3288
Added support for phase inverters
Added support for Rockchip RK3368 including clock-controller
Added support for Netxeon R89 board, two Chromebooks (Veyron family), and R88 board (RK3368)
Amlogic (Minor changes)
meson6: DTS: Fix wrong reg mapping and IRQ numbers
meson8b: Properly include clk.h
Added basic support for Mediatek MT6580
Added SMP support for Mediatek MT6795
Mediatek MT8173: cpuidle-dt updates, watchdog device, misc other additions
Added MT6397 PMIC support to MT8173 eval board
Qualcomm MSM8916 and APQ8016 updates for USB
Pinctrl driver updates for Qualcomm SPMI-MPP, and Qualcomm Technologies QDF2xxx ARM64 SoCs
Qualcomm driver for SMM/SMD (Shared Memory Driver)
Regulator driver for the Qualcomm RPM
Device tree updates for Compulab QS600, Inforce 6410 & 6540, APQ8074 Dragonboard, etc…
Various defconfig and device tree updates for Exynos processors
cpufreq driver updates
clk driver updates for Exynos 3250, 4210, 4412, and 5250 SoCs
Xilinx – ZynqMP: A bunch of devices added to the existing DTSI (sdhci and watchdog on ep108, DWC3 usb, SMMU, CANs node…)
Other new ARM SoCs & hardware platforms – Broadcom North Star 2 (ns2), Marvell Berlin4CT, Freescale i.MX6UL boards, SocioNext (previously Panasonic) UniPhier, Texas Instruments DM814x, Gumstix Overo platforms
There have also been some changes for MIPS architecture mostly committed by Imagination Technologies themselves:
Fixed JZ4740 build
Cavium Octeon CN68XX improvements
Some work on the clock framework
Added uprobes support
Support for the I6400
Moved ath79 GPIO driver to drivers/gpio
Finally, I’ve generated Linux 4.3 Changelog with comments only (12.3MB) using git log v4.2..v4.3 --stat. Normally I would also recommend checking out the changelog on KernelNewbies here, but they have not even updated Linux 4.2 changelog yet.
Shortly after writing about NanoPi2 development board based on Samsung S5P4418 processor, I checked some other more featured solutions based on the same processor, but made by competitors such as Graperain G4418 IBOX Card Computer or ARMBest Core4418 module. Whiel browsing Shenzhen Graperain Technology website, I discovered another processor by Samsung with S5P6818 octa core Cortex A53 processor found in their G6818 IBOX single board computer.
SoC – Samsung S5P6818 octa-core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ 1.4 to 1.6 GHz with Mali-400MP 3D GPU
System Memory – 2GB DDR3 up to 800MHz (1GB optional)
Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (RTL8211E), Wifi and Bluetooth 4.0 (Realtek RTL8723BU module)
USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
Camera – BT601, BT656 Camera Interface
2x 10-pin header with GPIO, SPI, UART, and ADC signals
Serial – UART0 for debugging, UART1 TTL levels
Misc – IR receiver; power, reset and 2 users buttons; RTC with battery slot
5V DC via power barrel
2-pin battery header for 4.2V lithium battery
Dimensions – 100 x 68 mm
The company can offer 4.3″, 5″, 7″, 10.1″, 11.6″ and 15.6″ capacitive displays working with the board. There’s no information about software at all on their website, but we can probably assume it will run Linux and Android like it’s little brother S5P4418 [Update: I’ve been informed the board supports Android, Linux 3.4.39 + Qt, and Ubuntu]. Information about S5P6818 is also sparse, but the company also mentioned a system-on-module and baseboard on ARM community website, where we get at least a block diagram.
The company also claims S5P6818 processor is pin-to-pin compatible with S5P4418, which is conceivable since both are available in a 17×17 mm 513-pin FCBGA package according to informations on Nexell website. That means NanoPi2 could also have an S5P6818 version soon too (NanoPi3?).
I don’t have any details about pricing or availability for the Graperain board, but you can find a few more details on the company’s G6818 IBOX Card Computer page.
FriendlyARM released NanoPi board this summer, a small and inexpensive development board based on Samsung S3C2451 ARM9 processor with both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. The company has now unveils a more powerful, and slightly wider, version with NanoPi2 featuring Samsung S5P4418 quad core Cortex A9 processor with 1GB RAM, AP6212 wireless module, a new HDMI output, and the same connectors for I/Os and LCD displays.
SoC – Samsung S5P4418 quad core Cortex A9 processor @ up to 1.4GHz
System Memory – 1GB 32bit DDR3
Storage – 2 x Micro SD Slot
Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth LE 4.0 via AP6212 module
Video Output / Display I/F- 1x HDMI 1.4a, 0.5 mm pitch SMT FPC seat for type-A full-color LCD (RGB: 8-8-8)
Camera – 24-pin DVP interface
USB – 1x USB Host port; 1x micro USB 2.0 OTG port for power and data
Expansions Headers – 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header with UART, I2C, SPI, GPIOs…
Debugging – 4-pin header for serial console
Misc – User and reset buttons, power and user LEDs, RTC battery header
Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB port
Dimension: 75 x 40 mm (6-layer PCB)
Weight – 22 g
The board boots from a micro SD card (on the right below) with either Android 4.4.2 or Debian.
NanoPi2 Wiki describes the board, shows how to install the images, build U-boot, Linux 3.4.x and Android, and provides links to the schematics and mechanical files (PDF). The Debian Image Build System (DIBS) and other tools can also be found on ARMWorks github account.
Built-in Gigabit Ethernet, and you can use a 3RMB (~50 cents) chip to support 10/100/1000M Ethernet
NanoPi2 board sells for $32, and you can also purchase a kit with a 7″ resistive LCD for $65. Alternatively, 4.3″ and 7″ can be purchased separately for $25 and $35. Sadly shipping is monstrous, as I was asked for respectively $32 and $65 extra for shipping and handling for the board only and 7″ LCD kit with NanoPi2 board. Both match exactly the costs of the board and kit, so hopefully it’s a temporary mistake.
You can find more details and/or buy the board on NanoPi2 product page, as well as on Andahammer, where people from North America should be able to buy with lower shipping fees.
I’m mainly focusing on Android mini PCs, and not so much on mobile devices. But this year, silicon vendors launched 64-bit ARM processor for TV boxes based on the low power Cortex A53 cores, lowering costs instead of improving performance of their 32-bit ARM processors, as media player don’t usually need very fast processor simply because video decoding is normally handled by the video engine. Two exceptions being Amazon Fire TV 2015 which gets over 51,000 points mostly thanks to MediaTek MT8173‘s two Cortex A72 cores, and Nvidia Shield Android TV box getting over 68,000 points, but sadly these two devices are not (easily) available worldwide yet. But on the mobile space, the race to faster and faster performance is still on, and according to a recent post on Antutu website (in Chinese), the fastest smartphones now reach over 75,000 points in the popular benchmark.
I had to look up the devices to find out the processor and display resolution for each smartphone:
Meizu Pro 5 – Samsung Exynos 7420 with four Cortex-A53 @ 1.5GHz, four Cortex-A57 @ 2.1 GHz, and a Mali-760MP8 GPU. Resolution: 1080 x 1920.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 – Samsung Exynos 7420 with four Cortex-A53 @ 1.5GHz, four Cortex-A57 @ 2.1 GHz, and a Mali-760MP8 GPU. Resolution: 1440 x 2560.
Samsung S6 Edge+ – Samsung Exynos 7420 with four Cortex-A53 @ 1.5GHz, four Cortex-A57 @ 2.1 GHz, and a Mali-760MP8 GPU. Resolution: 1440 x 2560.
Samsung S6 – Samsung Exynos 7420 with four Cortex-A53 @ 1.5GHz, four Cortex-A57 @ 2.1 GHz, and a Mali-760MP8 GPU. Resolution: 1440 x 2560
Samsung S6 Edge – Samsung Exynos 7420 with four Cortex-A53 @ 1.5GHz, four Cortex-A57 @ 2.1 GHz, and a Mali-760MP8 GPU. Resolution: 1440 x 2560
LeTV 1 Pro – Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 with four Cortex-A53 @ 1.5 GHz, four Cortex-A57 @ 2.5? GHz, and an Adreno 430 GPU. Resolution: 1440 x 2560.
LeTV 1 MAX – Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 with four Cortex-A53 @ 1.5 GHz, four Cortex-A57 @ 2.5? GHz, and an Adreno 430 GPU. Resolution: 1440 x 2560.
Sony Xperia Z5 – Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 (MSM8994) with four Cortex-A53 @ 1.5 GHz, four Cortex-A57 @ 2 GHz, and an Adreno 430 GPU. Resolution: 1440 x 2560.
Xiaomi Note Pro – Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 (MSM8994) with four Cortex-A53 @ 1.5 GHz, four Cortex-A57 @ 2 GHz, and an Adreno 430 GPU. Resolution: 1440 x 2560.
OnePlus 2 – Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 (MSM8994) with four Cortex-A53 @ 1.56 GHz, four Cortex-A57 @ 1.82 GHz, and an Adreno 430 GPU
The data mostly comes from gsmarena, except for LeTV smartphones where I had to go to oppomart.
So Samsung Exynos 7420 and Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 shares the top of the charts. There are different versions of Qualcomm 810 processor which might explain the different core frequencies between phones, or it could be that the company making OnePlus 2 decided to lower the frequency to avoid overheating. The 2.5GHz frequency shown for LeTV smartphone is probably because of the source, a Chinese shop, which made up some nice numbers… That’s just what they do…
Samsung has recently launched SmartThings Home Monitoring Kit including a SmartThings hub, a motions sensor, two multi-pupose sensors to detect when windows or doors are opened, and a smart outlet for home automation and monitoring via mobile devices.
Some of SmartThings Hub technical specifications:
Ethernet for connection to router
Communication Protocol – ZigBee, Z-Wave, IP
Range – 15 to 40 meters
Power Supply – In-wall power adapter with about 10 hours of backup power from 4 included AA batteries
Dimensions – 10.67 x 12.45 x 3.3 cm
Weight – 218 grams
Operating Temperature: 5 to 35°C (Indoor use only)
They’ve decided not to include WiFi, or omitted in the product page, so it would have to be close to your router. The multi-purpose sensors, and motion sensor are powered by a pre-installed CR-2450 battery, while the smart outlet takes 100 to 220V (12A @ 120V max). All three devices communicate with the hub using Zigbee protocol.
You’ll need to download SmartThings app for iOS 7.0 or later, Android 4.0 or later, or Windows Phone 8.1 or later to setup the hub, and manage the devices. The app reviews on the Apple Store are not exactly flattering: “Horrible App!“, “From bad to worse”, “Still an awful app”, while the ones on Google Play are more mixed going from “Can’t believe it’s been released” to “Good App. Bad Battery Use ” and “Overall 2.0 is a big improvement”…
The first time setup and basic usage are explained in the video below.
The hub is also compatible with other Zigbee, Z-wave and IP based products from Samsung, Bose, Schlage, Yale, Cree, Osram Lightify, Honeywell, First Alert, and other brands. The kit does not include a camera, so if you’d like to record videos or take pictures when the motion sensor is activated, you” also need to purchase Samsung SmartCam HD Pro, or other compatible IP cameras.
Somehow large companies never seem to manage a worldwide launch, maybe due to the quantities and logistics involved, and SmartThings Home Kit is no different, as I understand it’s only available in the US for now, either directly from SmartThings website for $249, or via online retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy. Visit SmartThings.com for more details.
After Samzung Z1 based on Spreadtrum SC7727S processor and running Tizen 2.3, Samsung skipped the Z2, and launched Samsung Z3 Tizen 2.4 smartphone powered by Spreadtrum SC7730S quad core processor in both India and Russia, with the Russian model allegedly adding LTE connectivity.
Samsung Z3 specifications:
SoC – Spreadtrum SC7730S Quad core ARM Cortex A7 processor @ 1.3 GHz with ARM Mali-400MP2 GPU
System Memory – 1GB RAM
Storage – 8GB flash + microSD slot (up to 128GB)
Display – 5.0” HD Super AMOLED (1280×720)
Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 BLE, GPS,GLONASS
Camera – 8.0MP rear camera with LED Flash (F2.2), 5.0MP front facing camera
Video – MP4, M4V, 3GP, 3G2, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV
USB – micro USB 2.0 port
Sensors – Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor
Battery – 2,600 mAh
Dimensions – 70 x 141.6 x 7.9mm
Weight – 137g
The phone runs Tizen 2.4, and the company has chosen two different market segments in the countries where the phone launched. Samsung Z3 will sell to consumers for 8,490 Rupees ($130) in India via Snapdeal starting October 21, while the phone is reserved to B2B customers in Russia. You may find a few more details on Samsung (India) Z3 product page.
Silicon vendor are now launching 8-core and even 12-core processors for mobile devices, and I can see some advantages in terms of power consumption in processors leveraging big.LITTLE processing with low power ‘LITTLE’ cores running light tasks such as audio or video playback, while performance ‘big’ cores running much demanding tasks. However, some processors, such as RK3368, feature the same eight cores, and in real-use don’t bring that extra bit of performance or lower power consumption, except in very specific cases. So the only “advantage” of this type of processor is a marketing one, with keyword like “Octa-core”, “64-bit”, etc… Last year, I found out, that more powerful cores may be more important than many cores, when I tested Allwinner A80 processor with PVRMonitor to check CPU usage per core in real-time, and in Antutu, while Browsing the web or playing games, only a few cores were used most of the time, and rarely all eight cores were needed.
PVRMonitor showing only 4 Cores out of 8 Cores Used During 3D Graphics Test in Antutu
Moor Insight and Strategy, a high-tech analyst firm, benchmarked five smartphones in order to find out whether the number of cores mattered, and when possible disabled a few cores during testing to get an idea of the performance difference between 2-, 4- and 8- core performance.
The five smartphones under test were:
LG G4 with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 2x Cortex-A57 + 4x Cortex-A53 processor (6 cores) – Android Lollipop
They also ran YouTube v10.24.57 and WeChat v6.2 apps, as well as Qualcomm Trepn Profiler to measure clock speed and load, and 3D CPU manager to disable cores on devices that supported (rooted + hotplug support) it, which sadly, meant only LG G Flex 2 and Xiaomi Mi 4i.
6 and 8 Core Smartphones Results in PCMark
One of their first remark was to notice that LG G4 with its 6-core processor outperformed almost all smartphones based on 8-core processors. This should have been expected since two of the eight cores smartphone are only running low power (and performance) Cortex A53 cores while LG G4’s Snapdragon processor comes with both A57 and A57 cores, but I guess it still shows to consumers that an 8-core is not necessarily faster than 6-core smartphone.
The more interesting part of the study is when they disable cores with on the same device with 3D CPU Manager.
The chart above shows that PCMark results are the same with 2, 4, 6 or 8 on Xiaomi Mi 4i, and results only drop on LG G Flex when switching from 4 to 2 cores, and the only reason is that only two Cortex A53 cores were active, while at lest two Cortex A57 cores were active when 4 to 8 cores were enabled.
In 3D graphics tests with Basemark X, there was little differences between 2, 4, 6 or 8 cores activated, and amazingly they even noticed a slightly better performance with 2 cores compared to 8 cores. They repeated the tests several times with the same, and assumed it might be due to thermal throttling as the processor would heat more with 8 cores…
The camera benchmark however showed a clear improvement with 4 cores over 2 cores (the same Cortex A53 cores), but very little improvement when 6 or 8 core were enabled.
Finally, while testing apps they found out that YouTube would play 1080p video in Xiaomi Mi 4i with 2 cores enabled, except when UI calls may cause a slowdown, which disappeared with 4 cores or higher. Unsurprisingly, WeChat ran perfectly fine on two cores…
Their conclusion was that CPU core count was not an accurate measurement of performance or performance, and that more CPU cores is not always better. They called on phone manufacturers and carriers to stop promoting the number of cores as a selling point, and instead improve benchmark practices and education.
If you feel like it, you can also watch the 49-minute benchmark session.