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Linux 4.10 Release – Main Changes, ARM & MIPS Architectures

February 20th, 2017 No comments

Linus Torvalds has just released Linux 4.10:

So there it is, the final 4.10 release. It’s been quiet since rc8, but we did end up fixing several small issues, so the extra week was all good.

On the whole, 4.10 didn’t end up as small as it initially looked. After the huge release that was 4.9, I expected things to be pretty quiet, but it ended up very much a fairly average release by modern kernel standards. So we have about 13,000 commits (not counting merges – that would be another 1200+ commits if you count those). The work is all over, obviously – the shortlog below is just the changes in the last week, since rc8.

Go out and verify that it’s all good, and I’ll obviously start pulling stuff for 4.11 on Monday. Linus

Linux 4.9 added Greybus staging support, improved security thanks to virtually mapped kernel stacks, and memory protection keys, included various file systems improvements, and many more changes.

Some newsworthy changes for Linux 4.10 include:

  • Virtual GPU support – Intel GVT-g for KVM (KVMGT) is a full GPU virtualization solution with mediated pass-through, starting from 4th generation Intel Core processors with Intel Graphics. Unlike direct pass-through alternatives, the mediated device framework allows KVMGT to offer a complete virtualized GPU with full GPU features to each one of the virtualized guests, with part of performance critical resources directly assigned, while still having performance close to native.
  • New ‘perf c2c’ tool, for cacheline contention analysis – perf c2c (for “cache to cache”) is a new tool designed to analyse and track down performance problems caused by false sharing on NUMA systems. The tool is based on x86’s load latency and precise store facility events provided by Intel CPUs. Visit C2C – False Sharing Detection in Linux Perf for more details about the tool.
  • Improved writeback management – Linux 4.10 release adds a mechanism that throttles back buffered writeback, which makes more difficult for heavy writers to monopolize the I/O requests queue, and thus provides a smoother experience in Linux desktops and shells than what people was used to. The algorithm for when to throttle can monitor the latencies of requests, and shrinks or grows the request queue depth accordingly, which means that it’s auto-tunable, and generally, a user would not have to touch the settings. Read Toward less-annoying background writeback for more details about this improvement.
  • FAILFAST support –  This release also adds “failfast” support. RAID disk with failed IOs are marked as broken quickly, and avoided in the future, which can improve latency.
  • Faster Initial WiFi Connection – Linux 4.10 adds support for using drivers with Fast Initial Link Setup as defined in IEEE 802.11ai. It enables a wireless LAN client to achieve a secure link setup within 100ms. This release covers only the FILS authentication/association functionality from IEEE 802.11ai, i.e., the other changes like scanning optimizations are not included.

Some notable ARM architecture improvements and new features:

  • Allwinner:
    • Allwinner A23 – Audio codec driver
    • Allwinner A31/A31s – Display Driver (first pipeline), audio codec support
    • Allwinner A64 – clock driver
    • Allwinner A80 – External SDIO WiFi
    • Allwinner H3 – Audio codec driver, SPI
    • New boards support: NextThingCo CHIP Pro, Pine A64, NanoPi M1
  • Rockchip:
    • Initial support for Rockchip PX5 & PX3 automotive platforms
    • Added Rockchip RK1108 evaluation board
    • Added support for Rikomagic MK808 Android TV stick based on Rockchip RK3066
    • Update Rockchip PCI driver to support for max-link-speed
    • Rockchip rk3399,rk3066 PLL clock optimizations
  • Amlogic
    • Support for the pre-release “SCPI” firmware protocol shipped by Amlogic in their GXBB SoC
    • Initial support for Amlogic S905D, and S912 (GXM) SoCs
    • Added support for Nexbox A1 and A95X Android TV boxes
    • Cleanup for the Amlogic Meson PWM driver
    • New Amlogic Meson Graphic Controller GXBB (S905)/GXL (S905X/S905D)/GXM (S912) SoCs (meson)
    • Resets for 2nd USB PHY
    • Initial support for the SD/eMMC controller in the Amlogic S905/GX* family of SoCs
    • Updated DTS to enable support for USB, I2C, SPI, maibox/MHU, PWM, ethernet MAC & PHY, secure monitor, IR, and watchdog.
  • Samsung
    • Device Tree for Samsung Exynos5433 mobile phone platform, including an (almost) fully supported phone reference board
    • Added support for TOPEET itop/elite board based on exynos4412
    • DeviceTree  updates:
      • Add Performance Monitor Unit to Exynos7.
      • Add MFC, JPEG and Gscaler to Exynos5433 based TM2 board.
      • Cleanups and fixes for recently added TM2 and TM2E boards.
      • Enable ADC on Odroid boards
      • Remove unused Exynos4415 DTSI
  • Qualcomm
    • Add support for Qualcomm MSM8992 (Snapdragon 808) and MSM8994 (Snapdragon 810) mobile phone SoCs
    • Added support for Huawei Nexus 6P (Angler) and LG Nexus 5X (Bullhead) smartphones
    • Support for Qualcomm MDM9615 LTE baseband
    • Support for WP8548 MangOH Open Hardware platform for IOT, based on Qualcomm MDM9615
    • Other device tree changes:
      • Added SDHC xo clk and 1.8V DDR support
      • Add EBI2 support to MSM8660
      • Add SMSC ethernet support to APQ8060
      • Add support for display, pstore, iommu, and hdmi to APQ8064
      • Add SDHCI node to MSM8974 Hammerhead
      • Add Hexagon SMD/PIL nodes
      • Add DB820c PMIC pins
      • Fixup APQ8016 voltage ranges
      • Add various MSM8996 nodes to support SMD/SMEM/SMP2P
  • Mediatek
    • Added clock for Mediatek MT2701 SoCs
    • New Mediatek drivers: mtk-mdp and mtk-vcodec (VP8/VP9/H.264) for MT8173
    • Updated the Mediatek IOMMU driver to use the new struct device->iommu_fwspec member
  • Other new ARM hardware platforms and SoCs:
    • Hisilicon – Hip07 server platform and D05 board
    • NXP – LS1046A Communication processor, i.MX 6ULL SoC, UDOO Neo board, Boundary Devices Nitrogen6_SOM2 (i.MX6), Engicam i.CoreM6, Grinn i.MX6UL liteSOM/liteBoard,  Toradex Colibri iMX6 module
    • Nvidia – Early support for the Nvidia Tegra Tegra186 SoC, NVIDIA P2771 board, and NVIDIA P3310 processor module
    • Marvell – Globalscale Marvell ESPRESSOBin community board based on Armada 3700, Turris Omnia open source hardware router based on Armada 385
    • Renesas “R-Car Starter Kit Pro” (M3ULCB) low-cost automotive board, Renesas RZ/G (r8a7743 and r8a7745) application processors
    • Oxford semiconductor (now Broadcom) OX820 SoC for NAS devices, Cloud Engines PogoPlug v3 based on OX820
    • Broadcom – Various wireless devices: Netgear R8500 router, Tenda AC9 router, TP-LINK Archer C9 V1, Luxul XAP-1510 Access point
    • STMicro  – stm32f746 Cortex-M7 based microcontroller
    • Texas Instruments – DRA71x automotive processors, AM571x-IDK industrial board based on TI AM5718
    • Altera – Macnica Sodia development platform for Altera socfpga (Cyclone V)
    • Xilinx – MicroZed board based on Xilinx Zynq FPGA platforms

That’s a long list of changes and new boards and devices… Linux 4.10 only brings few MIPS changes however:

  • KVM fixes: fix host kernel crashes when receiving a signal with 64-bit userspace,  flush instruction cache on all vcpus after generating entry code (both for stable)
  • uprobes: Fix uprobes on MIPS, allow for a cache flush after ixol breakpoint creation
  • RTC updates:  Remove obsolete code and probe the jz4740-rtc driver from devicetree for jz4740, qi_lb60
  • microblaze/irqchip: Moved intc driver to irqchip. The Xilinx AXI Interrupt Controller IP block is used by the MIPS based xilfpga platform and a few PowerPC based platforms.
  • crypto: poly1305 – Use unaligned access where required, which speeds up performance on small MIPS routers.
  • MIPS: Wire up new pkey_{mprotect,alloc,free} syscalls

You can also read Linux 4.10 changelog with comments only, generated using git log v4.9..v4.10 --stat, in order to get a full list of changes. Alternatively, you could also read Linux 4.9 changelog on kernelnewbies.org.

Fairphone 2 “Ethical” Smartphone Gets a Ubuntu Port

February 10th, 2017 17 comments

Fairphone aims to “create positive social and environmental impact from the beginning to the end of a phone’s life cycle”by designing easy to repair and long lasting phones that can be recycled and reused, and manufactured in good working conditions using conflicts-free materials. Their latest model is the Fairphone 2  5” Android 5.1 smartphone with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, but you can now install Ubuntu on the device as UBports Ubuntu community has released a port for the phone.

Let’s go through Fairphone 2 hardware specifications first:

  • SoC- Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 (MSM8974AB) quad core Krait 400 processor @ up to 2.26 GHz with Adreno 330 GPU
  • System Memory – 2 GB LPDDR3
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC flash + micro SD slot with support for SDHC, SDXC, UHS cards
  • Display – 5″ Full HD (1920 x 1080) LCD TFT IPS touchscreen display with Gorilla Glass 3
  • Cellular Connectivity
    • 2x micro SIM (3FF) Dual-SIM, Dual-Standby (DSDS); Not shared with micro SD slot
    • GSM/GPRS/EDGE Quad-band: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
    • WCDMA Bands 1 (2100 MHz), 2 (1900 MHz), 8 (900 MHz)
    • 3G Max Downlink Speed Cat. 24 – 42.2 Mbps
    • 3G Max Uplink Speed Cat. 6 – 5.76 Mbps (Cat. 7 capable)
    • LTE Bands 3 (1800 MHz), 7 (2600 MHz), 20 (800 MHz)
    • 4G Max Downlink Speed Cat. 4 – 150 Mbps
    • 4G Max Uplink Speed Cat. 4 – 50 Mbps
  • Wireless  Connectivity –  Dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi up to 433 Mpbs, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, GPS with A-GPS, Glonass, FM radio
  • Camera – 8MP rear camera with flash, 2MP front-facing camera
  • Audio – Rear facing speaker, 3.5mm headset jack, dual microphones
  • USB – 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Sensors – Ambient Light, Proximity, 3-axis Compass, 3D Accelerometer, 3D Gyroscope
  • Misc – Vibration Motor with Haptics Feedback; Power, Volume & Camera buttons; 3 color LED
  • Expansion – Backside expansion port for external case with USB 2.0 device interface and power input
  • Battery – Removable 2,420 mAh battery
  • Dimensions & Weight – N/A

You’ll also be able to buy spare parts in case you need to repair the phone with the display, camera, battery, core, top and bottom modules sold separately if you need a replacement. Fairphone 2 sells with Android 5.1 exclusively, so if you want to run Ubuntu Touch LTS, you’ll need to install it yourself with Magic Device tool. The installation procedure looks very easy as shown in the video below.

If you are interested you can pre-order a Fairphone 2 for about 524 Euros including 21% VAT.

Via Ubuntu Insights

Sony Has Developed a Smartphone Camera Sensor Capable of Recording 1080p 1000 fps Slow Motion Videos

February 8th, 2017 No comments

Sony has announced what it claims to be the first 3-layer stacked CMOS image sensor with DRAM for smartphones, which allows for fast data readout speeds making possible still images capture of fast moving objects with minimal focal plane distortion, and recording of Full HD (1920×1080) slow motion movies at 1000 fps, which compares to current solutions capable of only 720p @ 240 fps such as Google Pixel phones.

Conventional 2-layer stacked CMOS image sensor vs Sony’s 3-layer stacked CMOS image sensor with DRAM

Sony CMOS camera key specifications as listed in the press release:

  • Effective pixel count – 5520 (H) x 3840 (V) 21.2 megapixels
  • Image size Diagonal – 7.73mm (Type 1/2.3)
  • Unit cell size – 1.22μm (H) x 1.22μm (V)
  • Frame rate
    • Still images – 30fps; 4:3 19.3 megapixels / 16:9 17.1 megapixels
    • Movies – 60fps @ 4K (3840 x 2160); 240fps @ Full HD / 720p
  • Image format – Bayer RAW
  • Reading speed – 8.478 ms (4:3 19.3 megapixels) / 6.962 ms (16:9 17.1 megapixels)
  • Output – MIPI CSI2 D-PHY 2.2 Gbps/lane / C-PHY 2.0 Gsps/lane
  • DRAM capacity – 1G bit
  • Power supply – 2.5V / 1.8V / 1.1V

While the frame rate for movies is only listed up to 240 fps for full HD videos in the specs, the demo video included in the announcement clearly shows 1080p videos recording at 960p and played back at 15 fps, and the results are rather cool.

Sony did not say when we can expect smartphones based on the camera. The new solution was presented at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco, during a talk entitled “A 1/2.3inch 20Mpixel 3-Layer Stacked CMOS Image Sensor with DRAM”.

Via Liliputing

Categories: Hardware Tags: camera, smartphone, sony

$99 Insta360 Air 360 Degrees Video Camera Works with your Android Smartphone and Laptop (Crowdfunding)

January 17th, 2017 3 comments

Insta360 Nano is a dual camera designed to take 360 degrees videos selling for $190 and up on Amazon US, but it only works on iPhone 6 & 7 series, so the company has designed a new model – Insta360 Air – specifically to work on Android phones with a micro USB or USB-C port, and packaged in a spherical shapes in order to be compatible with most, if not all, brands and models. It also works with laptops thanks to a rigid yet flexible USB cable.

Insta360 Air specifications:

  • 210° dual fish-eye lens; minimum Aperture F2.4
  • Photo Capture Resolution – 3008 x 1504 (3K)
  • Video Capture  – 2560 x 1280 @ 30 fps (some smartphone models also support 3008×1504 @ 30 fps, e.g. Samsung S7, S7 edge, and Huawei P9)
  • Connector – USB micro/Type-C
  • Dimensions – 37.6mm Diameter
  • Weight 26.5g

The camera can be used with Insta360 Air app allowing you to shoot spherical images and videos, and share them to Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, WhatsApp, Messenger, Line, Wechat, QQ, QZone, and Weibo. If you have friends that don’t have the camera, they can still watch your video using Insta360 Player app that offers normal, virtual reality, and “little planet” viewing modes. You can also connect the camera to your computer or laptop in order to use it as a 360 degrees webcam with Skype or other video conference programs.

Insta360 Air camera has been launched on Indiegogo, and with 10 days to go the project has already raised over $230,000 from about 1,100 backers. A $99 pledge will get you an Insta360 Air camera with a transfer cable for laptop, but you may consider pledging $125 instead to add a smartphone mount, a smartphone tripod, and a smartphone adapter. It’s unclear to me what the mount and adapter are for, and note that you’ll have to choose between micro USB or USB type C at the time of order. Shipping is free to China, but adds $20 to $26 to the rest of the world. Delivery is planned for March 2017. You’ll find a few more details on Insta360 Air product page.

Changhong H2 Smartphone Comes with a Molecular Sensor to Detect Materials

January 10th, 2017 3 comments

New smartphones used to bring lots of new useful features and innovations a few years ago, but as new device releases has become much less interesting in recent years with the most interesting recent features probably being dual rear camera systems, and fast charging.However, Changhong H2 Android smartphone is integrating a unique feature thanks to SCiO molecular sensor allowing the device to detect materials.

material-sensing-smartphoneThe rest of the specifications are pretty standard with an octa-core processor clocked at 2 GHz, a 6″ full HD display, a 16 MP rear camera with autofocus, a fingerprint sensor, and a 3,000mAh polymer battery. There’s also a special physical button to extend battery life & clear memory.

The smartphone molecular sensor works by emitting lights and analyzing the reflected light spectrum. This enabled the smartphone to scan your food and for example detect the type of fruit you are holding in your hand, as well as estimate the caloric or sugar content in your food, report your skin’s moisture or body fat, and so on. It can also detect fake medicines such as fake Viagra pills. However, it won’t be able to detect fake gold, as the sensor does not work with metals since they reflect all light.

The phone will sell in China later this year for 2,999 RMB (~$433 US), but if you don’t happen to live in China, you can register your interest to be informed when the phone launches in your country. If you are interesting in material sensing in a phone, but are interested in the technology, SCiO handheld scanner with support for iOS and Android smartphone is for sale for $299, but if you want to develop your own app or molecular sensing models, you can get the same scanner with the SDK for $499. The sensor was actually launched in a Kickstarter campaign in 2014, but some people have yet to receive theirs, and some report it’s not quite working that well.

Via Liliputing

Samsung Exynos 7880 Octa-core Processor is Designed for Mid-Range LTE Smartphones

January 9th, 2017 3 comments

Samsung has recently introduced a new Exynos 7880 octa-core ARM Cortex A53 processor with an ARM Mali-T830MP GPU, and an LTE Cat. 7 modem designed for mid-range smartphone.

exynos-7880

Samsung Exynos 7880 key features

  • CPU – Octa-Core ARM Cortex-A53 processor @ up to 1.9GHz
  • GPU – ARM Mali-T830 MP3
  • Memory – LPDDR4
  • Storage – eMMC5.1, UFS 2.0, SD Card
  • Display – Up to WQHD (1,440×2,560)
  • LTE Modem –  LTE Category 7; 3CA (Downlink) up to 300 Mbps, 2CA(Uplink) up to 100 Mbps, FDD-TDD Joint CA
  • GNSS – GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou
  • Camera – Rear up to 21.7MP, Front up to 21.7MP
  • Video – UHD 30fps (FHD 120fps) recording and playback with HEVC (H.265), H.264 / playback with VP9
  • Process – 14nm FinFET Process

The processor will first be used in Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) and Galaxy A7 (2017) smartphones. A few more details about the processor may be found on the product page.

Crowd-designed ZTE Hawkeye “Project CSX” Smartphone with Eye-Tracking, Adhesive Back Launched on KickStarter

January 5th, 2017 5 comments

ZTE launched Project CSX last year in order to let anybody submit product ideas and/or vote for the best choices, and after several months, the winning entry was a phone with an adhesive backcover and eye-tracking function to control the phone without hands. The company has now named the phone ZTE Hawkeye launched a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise funds for the development and manufacturing of the smartphone.

zte-haweye-eye-tracking-phoneHawkeye smartphone specifications [Updated on Jan 18 with the released the specs]:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 Octa-core processor @ 2.0GHz
  • System Memory – 3GB RAM
  • Storage – 32GB flash memory + micro SD slot up to 256GB
  • Display – 5.5″ FHD (1920 x 1080)
  • Audio – HiFi audio
  • Connectivity – WiFi, Bluetooth, NFC, dual SIM card slot
  • Camera – Rear: Dual Lens 13MP + 12MP with optical zoom; front: 8MP
  • USB – 1x USB type C port
  • Sensors – Fingerprint sensor
  • Battery – 3,000 mAh with Quick Charge 2.0

The phone will run Android 7.x Nougat and support OTA firmware updates.

zte-hawkeyeSo the company is not quite ready to stick to full detailed specs at this stage of development, but is committed to fulfill the main requirements of the winning concept design, namely:

  • Scrolling based on Eye-Tracking (Senseye) – Pages can scroll automatically up-down or left-right based on movement of your eyes.  Voice commands can be used to navigate between pages.
  • Stick to Walls and Surfaces with Self-Adhesive Case – The phone can be mounted to a vertical surface using an optional case, freeing up the need to hold the phone.

The two features are demonstrated in what looks like a prototype.

The project might have a hard time reaching its $500,000 target, because of the relatively high funding target, unclear specifications, ZTE decided to launch the campaign right during CES 2017 when many people are flooded by tech news, and this type of hands-free smartphone might be only useful for a limited number of users. If you’d like to contribute to this smartphone with design inputs from the community, you can do so by pledging $199 for the phone and the adhesive case. Shipping is free worldwide, and backers should be sent their rewards around September 2017.

Via Liliputing

Vapor Cooled ASUS Zenfone AR Smartphone Comes with 8GB RAM, Supports Google DayDream and Tango

January 5th, 2017 1 comment

ASUS Zenfore AR is an interesting beast, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor, it’s the first processor I’ve heard to come with 8GB RAM, and also the first to support both Google DayDream virtual reality, and Google Tango 3D depth sensing camera. On top of that, it’s allegedly cooled by an “advanced vapor cooling system”.
asus-zenfone-ar

Zenfone AR (ZS571KL) specifications:

  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 quad core processor up to 2.35 GHz with Adreno 530 GPU
  • System Memory – 6 to 8 GB LPDDR4 RAM
  • Storage – 32, 64, 128 or 256GB UFS 2.0 flash, micro SD/SDCX card slot up to 2TB, 5GB ASUS WebStorage for file, 100GB Google drive for 2 years
  • Display – 5.7″ WQHD (2560×1440) AMOLED display with Gorilla Glass 4, 10-finger capacitive touch
  • Camera
    • Tricam system with 23MP autofocus, motion tracking, and depth sensing cameras (Tango)
    • 8MP front-facing camera with autofocus dual LED flash
  • Video – 4K video recording
  • Audio – Built-in mono speaker, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Cellular Connectivity – Dual SIM card for 2G, 3G, and 4G networks; up to 600Mbps download speed (LTE cat12); up to 75 upload speed (LTE cat13)
  • Connectivity – 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2×2 MIMO, Bluetooth 4.2 + A2DP + EDR, GPS/A-GPS/GLONASS/BDS, NFC
  • USB – 1x USB type C port
  • Sensors – Accelerator/E-Compass/Gyroscope/Proximity sensor/Hall sensor/Ambient light sensor/RGB sensor/IR sensor (Laser Focus)/Fingerprint/Barometer
  • Battery – 3,300 mAh (non-removable) with fast charging through PowerDelivery 2.0 and Quick Charge 3.0
  • Power Supply – 9V/2A (18W) power adapter
  • Dimensions – 158.67 x 77.7 x 4.6 to 8.95 mm
  • Weight – 170 grams

The smartphone will run Android 7.0 Nougat with ZenUI 3.0, and ships with a headset and the power adapter.

Zefone AR is expected to be released in Q2 2017, with pricing yet to be announced. You’ll find more details and photos on ZenFone AR product page.