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Posts Tagged ‘uboot’

$15 Orange Pi Zero Plus Board Released with Allwinner H5 SoC, Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi, and SPI flash

August 12th, 2017 32 comments

We had Orange Pi Zero, followed by Orange Pi Zero Plus 2, then Orange Pi Zero Plus 2 H5, but now there’s another “Zero” model that’s called Orange Pi Zero Plus, which like Orange Pi Zero Plus 2 H5 board is based on Allwinner H5 processor, but adds a faster Gigabit Ethernet port, and offers a fairly different features set compared to the first Orange Pi H5 board, albeit in the same form factor.

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Orange Pi Zero Plus specifications with highlights in bold and stricken-through showing difference with Orange Pi Plus 2 H5 model:

  • SoC – Allwinner H5 quad core Cortex A53 processor with hexa core Mali-450MP4 GPU
  • System Memory – 512 MB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash, micro SD card slot + 2MB SPI flash
  • Video Output – HDMI ; AV port via 13-pin header
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (Realtek RTL8189FTV) with u.FL antenna connector and external antenna. No Bluetooth
  • USB – 1x micro USB OTG port, 1x USB 2.0 host port
  • Camera – MIPI CSI port
  • Expansion headers
    • Unpopulated 26-pin “Raspberry Pi B+” header
    • 13-pin header with headphone, 2x USB 2.0, TV out, microphone and IR receiver signals
  • Debugging – 3-pin serial console header
  • Misc – 2x LEDs for power and status
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 48 x 45 mm
  • Weight – 26 grams

The eMMC flash is gone, but has been replaced with an SPI flash that should allow for network boot without micro SD card. HDMI output is gone, so your only video output option would be via the video composite signal on the 13-pin header. Bluetooth is gone as they replaced the Ampak module by a Realtek one, and the camera connector. All those differences means the two Orange Pi H5 boards have different uses case, with the new board is better suited to headless application where you need Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, and potentially want to save a few dollars on the board price, and remove the need for storage (if you use network boot).

The board should also be compatible with Orange Pi Zero NAS expansion board, so you’d have an inexpensive micro NAS with performance and price that rivals with FriendlyELEC NanoPi NEO 2 NAS kit, minus the enclosure. 2017 has been an exciting year for affordable networked storage so far, with various options from the two lower-end solutions aforementioned, to the better upcoming ODROID-MC1, and the higher end EspressoBin board, with some interesting work also taking place on ROCK64 board.

Software-wise, it may be worth noting that there’s no stable Armbian build so far, but there are experimental Ubuntu Xenial images for Orange Pi Zero 2 H5 board with mainline Linux kernel, which should work on the new board by just changing the DTB file. However, I did use NanoPi NEO2 with Allwinner H5 as a OpenMediaVault NAS, and it worked well enough, so I would not worry too much about software support for this use case. I’m not sure about U-boot support in the SPI flash, but hoping for some feedback in the comments section.

Orange Pi Zero Plus is sold for $14.90 plus shipping ($18.29 in total here). If you’re interested in mini NAS / home cloud system, you’ll need to add the NAS expansion board for $6.98, which in my case brings the total to $27.13 including shipping. A direct comparison with NanoPi NEO2 NAS kit is not possible, since Shenzhen Xunlong micro NAS solution does not include a case, nor heatsink, but for reference, a complete NAS kit v1.2 with NEO2 board goes for $28.98 plus shipping, or $44.98 in total in my case.

Rockchip Has Setup an Official Open Source Website with Software & Hardware Documentation, Source Code

August 3rd, 2017 27 comments

As a young engineer, I first understood the importance of good documentation thanks to an incomplete Holtek MCU datasheet that made us waste weeks of development, and the value open source software thanks to Sigma Designs’ SDK that was full of binary blobs with our applications often crashing inside those, leading to software development delays, especially since we had access to limited support. More recently, if you ever worked with the most popular Chinese processors found in ARM Linux development board, usually made by Allwinner, Amlogic, or Rockchip, you must have gone through roadblocks due to a lack of documentation and software support. So far, Allwinner is purely relying on linux-sunxi community and “leaks” of their documentation and SDKs, while Amlogic has had their “open linux” microsite  for several years, but you won’t find complete documentation like technical reference manual, schematics, and part of the source code requires you to sign an SLA. I’ve heard people who signed the later, still have problem with accessing the source due to lacking username/password though. But that’s still better than nothing, and probably explains why Amlogic is the has been the preferred ARM target for Kodi in recent years.  The company also contracted Bay Libre to add support for Amlogic processors in mainline Linux.

Rockchip was very much like Allwinner at the beginning, but as the company worked with Google on Chromebooks, they started to push code to mainline linux and u-boot, and last year, they also created a Rockchip Github account and Wiki on Wikidot, where you could find some information about the processors. The company has now launched their own open source microsite on their own website: opensource.rock-chips.com. The new website will replace Wikidot Wiki for new processors, and for now they have hardware documentation for RK3288, RK3328 and RK3399, including the technical reference manual, datasheet, and a “guide” to design schematics and PCB layouts. The later mostly consists of PDF schematics of their reference platform. That’s progress, but I don’t understand why an SoC company would not release the full hardware design for their own board.

You’ll find links to source code for u-boot, Coreboot, ARM Trusted Firmware, and Linux on the website, as well as software development guides and tools, including a Linux porting guides, BSP module user  guides, graphics and multimedia user guides (GPU/VPU/ISP), and tools like Rockusb abd Rkdeveloptool.

They also have a dedicated email address opensource [at] rock-chips.com for people who want to provide feedback about the website. This kind of initiative with a public release of hardware and software documentation and source code, benefits both customers, especially smaller companies, and Rockchip themselves, since they may not need to deploy as many field application engineers (FAE) to sort out issues, and their customers have better chances of successfully completing their projects.

Banana Pi BPI-R2’s U-boot & Linux 4.4 Source Code & MediaTek MT7623N Datasheet Released

June 28th, 2017 39 comments

Banana Pi BPI-R2 is a multimedia router board powered by MediaTek MT7623N quad core processor with 2GB RAM, 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports, up to two SATA ports, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI output, and I/O headers. The board is not for sale yet, but the company has recently released the source code with U-boot and Linux 4.4.70, as well as a datasheet for MediaTek MT7623N processor.

The source code can be found on Github, so let’s see if we can build it:

After a couple of minutes, the build would end with:

For the very last step, it asks you to login as root / sudoer, which it should not do… But we end up with the images, so at least it builds:

MediaTek has also been active by committing patchsets for MT7623 to the Linux Kernel Mailing List, so mainline Linux is an eventual possibility for BPI-R2 board. We just don’t have a clear view of what works and what doesn’t with mainline.

Mediatek MT7623N PCIe Subsystem Block Diagram

The datasheet is a 1,235-page document, but the name “MT7623N Datasheet for Development Board” implies that it may actually be a subset of another larger and more complete datasheet. Nevertheless, it looks to have enough information to control peripherals like GPIOs, I2C, PWM, UART, timers, GMAC, USB, etc… You’ll also find BPI-R2 schematics (PDF only) in the board’s Wiki.

Compulab’s Miniature “Bend & Fold” UCM-iMX7 System-on-Module Could Fit into a Watch

June 2nd, 2017 2 comments

Many companies are still releasing NXP – soon to be Qualcomm – i.MX 6/7 system-on-modules, but I don’t cover all of them, since we have already many to choose from. But Compulab’s latest UCM-iMX7 SoM differentiates itself by it size, using the company’s “Ultra-compact Multilevel Module” (UCMM) technology, to pack NXP i.MX7 processor, 2GB RAM, 64 GB eMMC flash, and a wireless module into a 30 x 27 x 8 mm volume that could potentially fit into something as small as a watch.

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The picture above clearly shows how UCMM technology works with the module comprised of two rigid PCBs and one flexible layer routing signals between the two allowing to bend and fold the rigid parts together to form a vertical stack. The principle could be extended to more PCBs and flexible layers, sof for example you could have four PCBs with three flexible layers in future / custom designs.

The rest of the specifications of UCM-iMX7 module are pretty standard:

  • SoC – NXP i.MX7 Dual or Solo with ARM Cortex-A7 core(s) @ up to 1GHz, ARM Cortex-M4 co-processor @ 200MHz
  • System Memory – Up to 2GB DDR3L-1066
  • Storage – Up to 64GB eMMC flash or up to 1GB SLC NAND flash, SPI flash for bootloader, EEPROM
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet PHY, WiFi 802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.1 BLE via BCM4343W module
  • Audio – WM8731L audio codec
  • Other On-module ICs – SPI resistive touch controller, USB 2.0 hub, PF3000 PMIC
  • 2x 100-pin board-to-board connector with the following signals

    Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

    • Display
      • Parallel 24-bit display interface up to 1920 x 1080
      • MIPI-DSI up to 1400 x 1050
      • Touchscreen 4-wire resistive touch-screen support
    • Camera
      • Parallel camera interface up to 24-bit
      • MIPI-CSI with 2 data lanes
      • Audio Audio codec with stereo line-out, line-in, mic
    • Networking – Gigabit Ethernet
    • PCI Express – PCIe x1 Gen. 2.1
    • USB – 1x USB2.0 OTG + 4x USB2.0 host ports
    • Up to 7x UART ports, up to 3x I2C, 3x SPI, 2x CAN, 6x Timer, 112x GPIO
    • Up to 4x general-purpose ADC inputs
    • Up to 2x MMC/SD/SDIO interface
  • Power Supply – 3.2V to 4.5V / Li-Ion battery
  • Dimensions – 30 x 27 x 8 mm
  • Temperature Range – -40 to 85°C

The specifications above are about the same as the ones for Compulab’s CL-SOM-iMX7 SO-DIMM module, but in a much smaller form factor, at the costs of a thicker design.

UCM-iMX7 module currently supports Linux kernel 4.1.15, Yocto Project file system, and U-Boot bootloader, with the company working on mainline Linux and upstream Yocto Project. The company expects the module to be used for autonomous drones, smart glasses, healthcare monitors / medical devices, industrial handhelds, and smart IoT cameras.

While the module is not directly aimed at the smartwatch market, the company demonstrated their module with a tiny smartwatch like gadget equipped with UCM-i>MX7, a lithium battery, a 1.5″ LCD display, and an interconnect board.

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UCM-iMX7 will be available later this month through Compulab and their distributors with prices starting at $39 for volume orders. EVAL-UCM-iMX7 evaluation kit will be offered at $475 with SB-UCM carrier board,WiFi antenna and cable, a serial port cable, HDMI to DVI cable, a USB cable and adapter, an LCD panel, adapters & cables for generic LCD panel interface, and a 12V power supply. You’ll find more details about the module and pricing options on UCM-iMX7 product page.

Categories: Hardware, Linux, NXP i.MX Tags: bsp, compulab, Linux, som, uboot, yocto

GnuBee Personal Cloud 1 Low Cost Linux NAS Supports Up to Six 2.5″ SATA Drives (Crowdfunding)

March 23rd, 2017 46 comments

Networked Access Storage (NAS) with a large number of SATA bays usually cost several hundreds dollars up to thousands of dollars depending on the features set and performance, but there’s a new a project called GnuBee Personal Cloud 1, or GB-PC1, that delivers a MIPS Linux system supporting up to six 2.5″ SATA drives for less than $200.

GB-PC1 NAS specifications:

  • ProcessorMediaTek MT7621A dual core, quad thread processor @ 880 MHz, overclockable to 1.2 GHz
  • System Memory512 MB DDR3
  • Storage – micro SD card slot tested up to 64 GB, 6x 2.5” SATA HDD or SSD
  • Connectivity – Dual Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Serial port – 3-pin J1 connector or 3.5 mm audio-type jack
  • Power – 12 VDC @ 3 A via 5.5 mm x 2.1 mm, center-positive barrel jack
  • Dimensions –  21.6 cm (L) x 7 cm (W) x 14 cm (H)
  • Weight – ~210 g (without drives)

The case is comprised of two anodized aluminum side plates assembled with six threaded brackets and screws, and comes with 24 drive screws (four per drive).

The NAS supports Debian, OpenMediaVault, LEDE, as well as the lesser-known (at least to me) LibreCMC distribution. Source code including Linux 4.9 and U-boot, some documentations, as well as the BoM & schematics (PDF) can be found on Github.  Potential applications include network storage and backup, file server,home media server, download server, web server, or remotely accessible private cloud.

A comparison table has also been provided by the developer with GB-PC1, QNAP TS-431 ($294.22 on Amazon US) and Synology DS416slim ($289.99 on Amazon US).

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TS-431 might have an implicit price advantage with support for 3.5″ SATA drives, as you may need less 3.5″ drives to achieve the same amount of storage as with 2.5″ drives. One clear advantage of GB-PC1 is that you should have better control over the software than the two competing commercial solution. One clear disadvantage however is the mechanical design, as GB-PC1 has been designed to offer as low a cost as possible.

GB-PC1 launched on Crowdsupply a few days ago with the goal of raising at least $75,000. Rewards start at $168 for a diskless GB-PC1, but you may also want to add $19 to get a 12V/3A power supply, and potential $6 for a 2 GB micro SD card preloaded with Debian. Shipping is free to the US, and $12 to the rest of the world, with delivery planned for August 2017.

Via Orange Pi’s Facebook Group

FriendlyELEC NanoPi M1 Plus Allwinner H3 Board Adds Gigabit Ethernet, WiFi & Bluetooth, and an 8GB eMMC Flash

March 1st, 2017 21 comments

FriendlyELEC has introduced an update to NanoPi M1 board, aptly named NanoPi M1 Plus with a similar form factor and Allwinner H3 processor, but adding Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi & Bluetooth, and an 8GB eMMC flash, at the expense of one USB port that had to go to make place for the new features, and it got a little wider too.NanoPi M1 Plus board specifications:

 

  • SoC – Allwinner H3 quad core Cortex A7 @ 1.2 GHz with an ARM Mali-400MP2 GPU up to 600 MHz
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI and 3.5mm jack for CVBS (composite + stereo audio)
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 dual mode (classic + low energy) with chip antenna and IPEX/u.FL connector
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x 4-pin USB 2.0 host header, 1x micro USB OTG port..
  • Camera – 24-pin DVP camera Interface
  • Expansions – 40-pin Raspberry Pi “mostly” compatible header with UART, SPI, I2C, I2S/PCM, SPDIF-OUT and GPIOs
  • Debugging – 4-pin header for serial console
  • Misc – Power and reset buttons; 2x LEDs; IR receiver; on-board microphone.
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB port; 4.7V ~ 5.6V via VDD pin on “Raspberry Pi” header.
  • Dimensions – 64 x 60mm

The company provides Debian, Ubuntu MATE, and Ubuntu Core with Qt Embedded images with 3D acceleration and hardware video decoding for the board, and some documentation in the Wiki. But it should also support Armbian, possibly without WiFi and eMMC flash support right now.

 

NanoPi M1 Plus is now sold for $29.99 + shipping on the company website. Note that the company has made an habit of launching products at a promotional price, and after a few months the price may go up a little. For example, the original NanoPi M1 was launched for $11, but it is now sold for $14.99.

AndromedaBox Networking Edge Board Includes a Dual Core Marvell Processor, SATA, Gigabit Ethernet, and More

December 23rd, 2016 3 comments

Last year, Marvell introduced AndroMeda Box Edge IoT board using 96Boards form factor and running Brillo (now Android Things), but the company has been working on the similarly named AndromedaBox Networking Edge (ANE) board with a tweaked version of 96Boards form factor including Gigabit Ethernet and SATA, and powered by a dual core ARMADA 3700 processor.

andromedabox-networking-edge-ane

AndromedaBox Networking Edge specifications:

  • SoC – Marvell ARMADA LP 3700 dual-core ARM Cortex 53 processor @ up to 1.2 GHz
  • System Memory – 512MB LPDDR4
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash, 1x SATA 3.0 port
  • Connectivity – 1x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port, 1×1 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.2
  • USB – 2x micro USB 2.0 port, 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Expansion – 1x PCIe 2.0 (maybe via a slot on the back of the board), 40-pin LS (Low Speed) Expansion connector
  • Power Supply – Likely 8 to 18V input as per 96Boards specs
  • Dimensions – 85 x 54 mm (Same as 96Boards CE Edition)

The board would be suitable for IoT gateways, mobile NAS, home cloud server, etc… You can watch a short description of the board in the video below.

Marvell ARMADA 3700 is the same processor as used in the company’s ESPRESSOBin community board, which means we already have a Wiki with a little more technical details (no processor datasheet though), as well as u-boot and Linux images and source code.

What’s odd is that there’s no trace of AndromedaBox Networking Edge board anywhere in the net, including in Andromedabox.org website, and the board via apparently introduced last June.

Via ARMDevices.net

SolidRun MACCHIATOBin is Another Marvell ARMADA 8040 Networking Mini-ITX Board

October 11th, 2016 34 comments

We’ve already seen SolidRun is working on a Marvell ARMADA 8040 quad core Cortex A72 community board for networking and storage applications, but based on a picture taken at Linaro Connect, the company is also working on a similar board with extra connectivity options called MACCHIATOBin.

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Apart from the picture, there’s no info on the web about this board, so we’ll have to derive specs from the photo, the community board features, and info provided by Marcin Juszkiewicz, so all details are preliminary and subject to change:

  • SoC – ARMADA 8040 (88F8040) quad core Cortex A72 processor @ up to 2.0 GHz
  • System Memory – 1x DDR4 DIMM up to 16GB RAM
  • Storage – 3x SATA 3.0 port + micro SD slot
  • Connectivity – 1x Gigabit RJ45 port, 1x SFP SGMII @ 2.5Gbps, 2x 10Gbps copper (RJ45) with auto switchover to dual SFP+
  • Expansion – 1x PCIe-x4 3.0 slot, Marvell TDM module header
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB-C port
  • Debugging – 20-pin Connector for CPU JTAG debugger
  • Power Supply – 12V DC via power jack or ATX power supply
  • Dimensions – Mini-ITX form factor (170 mm x 170 mm)

That board is said to be SBSA compliant, meaning any ARM SBSA server distributions (like Red Hat) should work with mainlined kernel and bootloaders (U-Boot and UEFI). The price is said to be $350 with 4GB RAM, exactly what the community board is supposed to sell for, so MACCHIATOBin could also be the latest revision of the community board with a layout change, and most of the same features.