Archive

Posts Tagged ‘uefi’

FOSDEM 2016 Schedule – Open Source Hardware and Software Event in Europe

January 13th, 2016 3 comments

FOSDEM (Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting) is a 2-day event that usually takes place on the first week-end of February in Brussels, but this year it will be on January 30-31. The event brings thousands of developers, hackers, and other person interested in open source technology who present their projects and share ideas. FOSDEM 2016 schedule is now available, and There will be 557 speakers, 612 events, and 50 tracks this year including 7 main tracks: Distros, Enterprise, Hardware, Communications, Miscellaneous, Office, Systems Administration, and Virtualization.

FOSDEM_2016

So I’ve had a look at some of the talks, especially out of  “Embedded, Mobile and Automotive” and “IoT” devrooms, and prepared my own virtual schedule although I won’t be able to attend.

Saturday

For many years MIPS processors have been involved in the embedded market, particularly in areas related to networks and storage. With the success of the mobile market, and the great evolution of the world linked to the “makers”, other architectures (such as ARM), they have reached very large levels of diffusion.

Meanwhile, the MIPS architecture has evolved, introducing innovations and improvements to adapt to both the processor market from performance, both to the world of micro-controllers. The future of MIPS is a new family divided into several generations evolving.

During the presentation, after a brief and simplified introduction to architecture, will be shown the technologies available at the time and what will be the future developments.

The presentation will also show some reference platforms (ex. Imagination Creator CI20), and how to work to integrate and port on these platforms. Application examples with Yocto and buildroot, to switch to a full distribution (Debian). Finally it will also present a perspective on the use of MIPS in embedded designs.

AsteroidOS is a free and open-source smartwatch platform based on OpenEmbedded, libhybris, BlueZ5 and Qt5. The OS currently offers a basic user experience on the LG G Watch. This technical talk will briefly introduce the philosophical background of the project and more deeply its architecture’s details in order to attract developers, porters and curious.

This talk will successively be focused on how to boot an Android Wear watch, on how to gain hardware acceleration on that kind of hardware, on how Qt5 and OpenEmbedded are used and on the future of AsteroidOS.

AsteroidOS uses similar technological choices as those of projects like SailfishOS, NemoMobile, Mer, WebOS-Ports or Ubuntu Touch but adapted to the needs of smartwatches. The architecture of those project will briefly be compared during the presentation.

Based on Migen, MiSoC is a library of cores and a system-on-chip integration system to build gateware for various applications. MiSoC is lightweight (runs on FPGA devices as small as Spartan-6 LX9 with 32-bit RISC CPU and SDRAM), portable (demonstrated on Xilinx, Altera and Lattice devices) and high performance (e.g. contains the fastest open source DDR3 solution we are aware of). Designing and integrating cores is facilitated by Python and Migen features. Current MiSoC applications include LTE base stations, video processing (Numato Opsis) and experiment control system (ARTIQ).

Nemo Mobile is a long time FOSS operating system. Created in 2012 as continuation to Meego Community Edition, it has been actively developed since then. The newest iteration of it is to use Glacier UI as its renewed User Interface, along with its Qt Components. These components are now used in the NemoTablet adaptation using Raspberry Pi2 as underlying hardware and its plethora of possible peripherals to create a true DIY tablet derived from SailPi project.

With Raspberry Pi 2 introduction in February 2015, it was then possible to create an adaptation for it. This enables the myriad of functionality it offers, with its hardware provided. Initial adaptation was done originally for SailfishOS, but Nemo Mobile had the first run and checking that everything worked, before a closed system was installed. Nemo Mobile, however, was then not tried until later. The idea came once the official touchscreen by Raspberry Pi Foundation was released, so that a FOSS tablet could be built by anyone and used. Raspberry Pi 2 has non-free hardware, but Nemo Mobile itself is FOSS completely. As with all other adaptations, the questions regarding hardware freedom limitations rise for a good reason.

Libreboot is a free software BIOS replacement (boot firmware), based on coreboot, for Intel, AMD and ARM based systems. Backed by the Free Software Foundation, the aim of the Libreboot project is to provide individuals and companies with an escape from proprietary firmware in their computing. Libreboot is also being reviewed for entry as an official component of the GNU system.

Boot firmware is the low-level software that runs when you turn your computer on, which initializes the hardware and starts a bootloader for your operating system. Libreboot currently supports laptops and servers, on x86 (Intel and AMD) and ARM (Rockchip RK3288), with more hardware support on the horizon. The purpose of this talk is to describe the history of the project, why it started, why it’s important, where it’s going and, most importantly, to tell people how they can get involved.

Francis also runs the Minifree (formerly Gluglug), a company that sells computers with libreboot and Trisquel GNU/Linux pre-installed.

No abstract, but it’s clear about Olimex’s Allwinner A64 A64-OlinuXino board to be used in the company’s open source hardware laptop.

A brief discussion about the stable release branch 4 of KiCad as well as goals for the next development cycle and beyond.

The WPANKit is a ptxdist based Open-Source 6LoWPAN Board Support Package (BSP). The main focus is to provide a software development kit for the linux-wpan project. The linux-wpan project aims to implement a 6LoWPAN inside the mainline Linux kernel.

This talk will present the WPANKit: An Open-Source Linux BSP to develop 6LoWPAN IoT applications. It contains support for various common platforms such Raspberry Pi’s and Beaglebones. Additional components like the openlabs 802.15.4 transceiver SPI transceiver or BTLE USB dongles gives you a getting started platform into the Linux 6LoWPAN world.

The WPANKit will directly build a current mainline 6LoWPAN kernel, which is the official bluetooth-next tree. This is important, because the mainline 6LoWPAN development is still much in development. Additional the WPANKit offers a large of userspace IoT software collection e.g. tshark for sniffing network traffic, libcoap, etc. On top of this BSP you can develop your IoT application, setting up a Border-Router or help at the current mainline 6LoWPAN Linux-kernel development.

Through the power of ptxdist you can easily add new own packages for cross-compiling. As well we accept patches to integrate new software into the official WPANKit repository, so we getting more and more new IoT capable software into the WPANKit which can be used by other ptxdist users.

An AdaCore intern has rewritten the CrazyFlie drone software, originally in C, into SPARK. In addition to fixing some bugs, this allowed to prove absence of runtime errors. Various techniques used to achieve that result will be presented, as well as a live demo of free fall detection.

This talk will take us through the available FOSS software stacks that are available for automotive. This last year has produced a lot of working software from fiber-optic networking drivers in the Linux kernel, complete In-Vehicle Infotainment stacks, to a newly released Qt Automotive. There has also been a change in available hardware to run this software on, new boards like the Minnowboard Max, Renesas’ Porter board, and even the Raspberry Pi 2. This talk will try and cover the entire software ecosystem and how it matches to hardware, how you can get involved today, and what the future holds.

Turris Omnia aims to bring to the market affordable, powerful and secure SOHO router which is completely open-source and open-hardware. As a operating system it uses our own fork of OpenWrt which has some additional features such as automatic security updates. This talk will cover few topics such as motivation for starting this project and developing of our own hardware and software.

FROSTED is an acronym for “FRee Operating System for Tiny Embedded Devices”. The goal of this project is to provide a free kernel for embedded systems based on ARM Cortex-M CPU family, which exposes a POSIX-compliant system call API. Even if it runs on small systems with no MMU and limited resources, Frosted has a VFS, UNIX command line tools and a HW abstraction layer which makes it easy to support new platforms and device drivers.

This talk will cover why the project was started, the approach taken to separate the kernel and user-space on ARM Cortex-M CPU’s without MMU, the collaboration with the libopencm3 project to provide a high quality hardware abstraction layer and the future goals of the project. Of course there will a demo showing the latest developments: dynamic loading of applications and possibly TCP/IP communication.

Sunday

Yocto project has been used at Open-RnD for building a number of IoT related products. The talk will go though the details of integration of Poky build system and OpenEmbedded layers into 3 projects carried out at Open-RnD:

  • an autonomous parking space monitoring system
  • a distributed 3D steroscopic image acquisition system
  • a gadget for acquisition of metabolic parameters of professional athletes

The presentation will approach to building software, automation and upstreaming of fixes. Only widely available hardware platforms such as BeagleBone Black, Raspberry Pi, Wandboard or Gateworks GW5400 (not as widely used as the previous ones, but still fully supported) were used in the project, hence all the points made during presentation are directly applicable by professionals and hobbyists alike.

Tizen is an open source GNU/Linux based software platform for mobile, wearable and embedded devices as well as Internet of Things. Tizen:Common provides a generic development environment for Tizen 3 which key features include, Wayland, Weston, EFL UI/UX toolkit, and a web runtime for safely running standalone HTML5 apps. Yocto Project offers tools to easily expends features of Tizen:Common by creating layers for new profiles. This talk will focus the Tizen architecture and it will provide guidelines for creating and building new Tizen profiles, based on Tizen:Common, using the Yocto Project for devices with Intel or ARM processors. It will also provide information about hidden gems in Tizen on Yocto and practical examples for packaging and deploying HTML5 applications through Yocto recipes for the open source hardware development boards like Raspberry PI2 or HummingBoard (Freescale I.MX6 ARM SoC) or MinnowBoard Max (Intel).

Finally, since Tizen aims to because the OS of everything, we will illustrate this by extending Tizen Distro with new connectivity features provided by IoTivity library, the open source implementation of OpenInterConnect’s standard.

This session will show you how to build your own retro hand-held console that is powered by Java, runs on a Raspberry Pi, and is printed on a 3D printer. Some of the topics covered include:

  • Hacking Java on the Raspberry Pi
  • Rigging input devices with Pi4J
  • Insane performance tuning on the JVM
  • Why your boss [or SO] needs to buy you a 3D printer!

And of course your retro gaming mettle will be put to the test, so make sure to dust off your old 8 and 16 bit consoles to prepare.

How to roll your own build and extend the Fairphone 2 hardware

The kernelci.org project is currently doing hundreds of build and boot tests for upstream kernels on a wide variety of hardware. This session will provide an introduction to the kernelci.org system, some live demos and how to start consuming its results, and be a forum for further discussions.

Distributed boards farms across the world are working together to deliver unified build, boot, and test results for every merge of an upstream Linux kernel tree. A community based architecture agnostic effort, kernelci.org aims to detect regressions in a timely manner and report back to kernel developers with a concise summary of the issues found. On every merge, all defconfigs for x86, arm, and arm64 are built, booted, and tested on over 300 real or virtual hardware platforms. Come join in the discussion and help make Linux better!

Hardware is funny stuff. It is often documented to work one way when it actually works a slightly different way. Different revisions of the hardware may have different bugs that require different sets of work-arounds. Programming it even slightly incorrectly can lead to software crashes or system hangs. Sometimes some versions of the hardware work fine, but the version not on the developer’s desk crashes. Failure modes are often opaque and give no clues for fixing the problem. Writing robust, reliable software to run directly on hardware is hard.

Software simulation of hardware is a technique that, in many cases, can alleviate some of this pain. Teams that develop hardware will often create a simulator as a by-product of hardware synthesis. Not ever developer is fortunate to have access to such tools. Those who do have access often find them slow or difficult to use. After all, these simulators are generally created as an aid for the hardware developers themselves. Much of the benefit of a full hardware simulator can be attained by developing the simulator independently from the hardware development. When the correct techniques are applied, it’s not even that hard.

This talk will present a variety of techniques based on experience with several “home grown” simulation environments. Techniques for both developing and validating the simulator and techniques for integrating simulation in the regular development process will be described.

  • 16:00 – 17:00 – PHP7 by Derick Rethans

With PHP 7 having been released, it is time to show what’s in there. Speed, scalar type hints and spaceships.

These are just a few selection from the complete schedule. Last year, most FOSDEM 2015 videos were available in mid-March, so I’d expect FOSDEM 2016 videos to be available in about the same time frame.

As usual, the event will be free, and does not require registration, so you just need to show up at the Université libre de Bruxelles in order to attend.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

How to Unbrick MeegoPad T01 (Intel Atom Z3735F) HDMI TV Stick

May 21st, 2015 8 comments

When you use one of the Intel Atom Z3735F mini PCs, there’s very little chance to brick it as long as you use the pre-installed operating systems. But if you play around with the BIOS, or use one of the recent dual boot firmware that re-flash the BIOS when you switch OS, there’s a real possibility to completely brick your device. Ian Morrison (Linuxium) and Deadhp1 posted separate instructions to flash the BIOS and recover their devices.

MeegoPad T01 Connected to Flash Writer

MeegoPad T01 Connected to Flash Writer

Both bricked MeegoPad T01, and deadhp1 used CH341a USB programmer which only supports 3.3V/5V, while the SPI flash on T01 only support 1.8V. It worked for him, but it could potentially fry the flash. So it’s probably better to with Ian’s solution involving EZP_XPro USB Programmer and some SOIC8 Test Clips.

Once you get the hardware, you’ll need to download on install EZP XPro Flash 1.4 on a Windows PC. Now follow the steps below:

  1. Ttake out MeegoPad T01 out of its casing, and disconnect the battery.
  2. Assemble the test clips with the socket adapter and plug into the programmer
  3. Connect the programmer’s USB cable to your PC and attach the test clips to the BIOS chip (pin 1 must be correctly aligned)
  4. Run “EZ” program which should automatically detect the BIOS (flash) chip
  5. Load the BIOS (for example that one for MeegoPad T01) using the “brower” button
  6. Finally click on “Erase”, “Program”, and “Verify”

Ian made a video with the steps to follow with EZ software.

Once all is done, simply disconnect the test clips, re-plug the battery and put back the board in the casing, connect Meegopad T01 and check it can boot again. Good luck!

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

How to Install 64-bit BIOS on Sunchip CX-W8

April 29th, 2015 39 comments

Sunchip CX-W8 is an Intel Atom Z3735F TV box running Windows, but I’ve been informed that originally Sunchip designed it for WeTek in order to manufacture a Linux based mini PC. Unfortunately, they finally gave up once they discovered Intel had no intention to work on HDMI audio support in Linux for their Atom Z3700 series processor despite it working on Android… Intel Compute Stick will apparently use a separate DSP to handle that part (TBC).

Nevertheless, when WeTek saw I had Wintel W8, they decided to share the 64-bit “BIOS” they had worked on for the Linux port. By the way, Wintel W8 and Sunchip CX-W8 allegedly come from two different factories / design houses, so although they look alike, the hardware might be different, and the UEFI firmware / BIOS, I’m about to share may or may not be compatible with Wintel W8, so you may brick it if it is not already bricked…

If you want to install a new version of the BIOS, or possibly unbrick your device (TBC), you can download and extract CX-W8_64-bit_UEFI.tar.7z. You should get three files:

  • H2OFFT-S.efi – H2O UEFI Flash Firmware Tool
  • M64.W8ANNA01.ROM – 64-bit BIOS
  • STARTUP.nsh – startup script

Copy these three files to the root directory of a USB flash drive formatted with FAT32, and insert the drive into one of the USB ports of CX-W8 mini PC. Power on the device, and press the “Esc” key on the keyboard repeatedly (not press and hold) until you see the menu below.Sunchip-CX_W8_BIOS_InstallationNow select Boot Manager with the keyboard’s arrow keys and Enter, and select Internal EFI shell.

CX-W8_UEFI_FirmwareAs you press Enter,  the BIOS installation should start.

CX-W8_BIOS_InstallationOne installation is completed, the PC will reboot, and you can install the 64-bit operating system of your choice. I’m also trying to get the 32-bit BIOS for people who want to unbrick their device to re-install Windows.

I have not tried these instructions myself, but I know at least two persons who bricked their CX-W8 or W8 mini PC, so hopefully we’ll get some feedback soon.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

Linaro 15.03 Release with Linux 4.0 and Android 5.1

March 27th, 2015 No comments

Linaro has just announced their 15.03 release with Linux 4.0-rc4 (baseline), Linux 3.10.72 and 3.14.36 (LSK), and Android 5.1.

The organization has worked on hardware platforms from members namely Qualcomm, ARM, HiSilicon, Samsung, and STMicro, including the recently announced 96Boards boards, and other ARMv8 platforms.

Highlights of the release:

  • Linux Linaro 4.0-rc4-2015.03
    • updated linaro-android topic
    • added a few build/boot fixes for Arndale (llct-misc-fixes topic)
    • GATOR topic: version 5.20.1
    • updated integration-linaro-vexpress64 topic by ARM LT (FVP Base and Foundation models, and Juno support)
    • updated topic from Qualcomm LT (ifc6410 board support)
    • simple EEPROM framework (via Qualcomm LT’s topic)
    • updated topic from HiSilicon LT (Hi36xx, HiP04, and X5HD2 families support)
    • rebased “ILP32 patch set v3” onto 4.0-rc2
  • Linaro builds of AOSP 15.03
    • updated all the baselines to AOSP 5.1
    • added commit based trigger feature to CI builds
  • Linaro OpenEmbedded 2015.03
    • integrated Linaro GCC 4.9-2015.03
    • dismantled meta-aarch64 layer
    • created meta-ilp32 layer
    • cleaned out meta-bigendian layer
    • synced overlayed recipes with upstream
    • added full wget and rt-test on LAMP image as requested by QA team
    • update busybox xargs config as requested by QA team
    • integrated ODP 1.0
    • upstreaming:
      • sysprof: fix arm big-endian build
      • bitbake.conf: use http:// for GNU_MIRROR instead of ftp://
      • kexec-tools: fix build failure on aarch64_be architecture
      • busybox: update to 1.23.1 release
      • mozjs 17.0.0: fix aarch64 and 64k page builds, generic cleanups
  • Linaro Ubuntu 15.03
    • added packages: ti-calibrator
    • updated packages: LSK 3.10.72/3.14.36 and linux-linaro 4.0-rc4 kernels
    • Added ILP32 support for ARM64 to Linaro engineering builds
    • Dismantled meta-aarch64 in favour of OE-core aarch64 support
    • CI bring up: luvOS (Linux UEFI Validation Operating System)
  • KVM – support testing arm32 with arm64
  • Added b2120stxh410 to linux-mainline and linux-arm-soc-for-next build jobs
  • 96boards: enable Xorg by default in eMMC/SD debian build
  • Added 2 new build slaves
  • Migrated lt-qcom-ubuntu-images to docker based infrastructure
  • Upgraded ARMv8 build slaves to 3.19 kernel
  • Cleaned up LCR (Linaro Confectionery Release) information and instructions

Visit https://wiki.linaro.org/Cycles/1503/Release for a list of known issues, and further release details about the LEB, LMB (Linaro Member Builds), and community builds, as well as Android, Kernel, Graphics, Multimedia, Landing Team, Platform, Power management and Toolchain components.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

Acer Shamelessly Sells Aspire E5 Laptops with a Crippled UEFI Setup Utility

March 22nd, 2015 4 comments

Yesterday, I bought an Acer Aspire E5-421G-45L0 laptop powered by AMD A4-6210 “Beema” processor and after some effort I managed to install Ubuntu 14.04 and make it mostly work, but more on that later. I also planned to copy a 64-bit OS VirtualBox virtual machine from another PC to this PC, but I quickly realized I could only select 32-bit operating systems, so my 64-bit image could not boot.

Virtualization extension are required for 64-bit support in VirtualBox, and I had not checked whether AMD A4-6210 supported these before purchase. Amazingly, I could not find that information on AMD’s very own website, but CPU Boss reports A4-6210 does indeed support AMD-V virtualization. All good, so I must be just a question of enabling it in the “BIOS”. So I rebooted the laptop, and pressed F2 to enter InsydeH20 Setup Utility.

Click to Enlarge

Acer Aspire E5-421G UEFI Setup Utility – Click to Enlarge

There are few options with only  Information, Main, Security, Boot, and Exit menus, and there aren’t any Virtualization options to be found in either menus. But after searching a bit more, I’ve found out Acer and some other companies are purposely shipping their device with dumbed down UEFI firmware, and people have found ways to unlock the options by hacking the system, as shown in the pictures showing an unlocked Acer Aspire 4935G Setup Utility with extra Advanced, Power, Diagnostic, and system configuration menus.

Acer_Aspire_E5_Unlock_UEFI

Unlocked UEFI

This problem is not new at all as I can see complains as far back as 2012. Luckily some website are putting out instructions to enabled avanced options, such as BIOS Mods Forums. I found a partial solution directly on some other forums that involves edit EFI configuration files with an HEX editor, so this is probably not without serious risk of bricking the laptop.

Here’s what you need to do.

  1. If /sys/firmware/efi/efivars/ directory is not mounted / available:
  2. In my case if was already mounted, so I simply installed a graphical hex editor:
  3. And modified byte 0xf4 from 00 to 01 in /sys/firmware/efi/efivars/Setup-a04a27f4-df00-4d42-b552-39411302113d with GHex in order to enable SVM (AMD Secure Virtual Machine) aka AMD-V virtualization.
    Acer_Aspire_E5-421G_AMD-V
  4. I powered off the laptop, and power it up again (A reboot will allegedly not do), and I could create a 64-bit virtual machine in VirtualBox.

With some other Aspire laptops, you can also modify byte 0x21b and 0x21c to 0x01 to enable advanced setting in UEFI, but unfortunately it did not work in my case. Nevertheless, if Acer have had the good judgment of providing a UEFI setup utility with access to advanced features this would have saved me, and I’m sure many others, a few hours trying to find out how to enable AMD-V (and possibly VT-x in Intel based laptops), on top of taking the unnecessary risk of bricking the laptop.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

HiSilicon D02 Server Board Supports up to 64 ARM Cortex A57 Cores

February 16th, 2015 10 comments

HiSilicon has showcased their latest server SoC and board at Linaro Connect Hong Kong 2015, with up to two processors with 32 Cortex A57 cores @ 2.1GHz, 8 DIMM DDR3 slots (up to 128 GB RAM), 12 SATA ports, 4 PCIe slots, 10GbE / GbE ports.

HiSilicon_D02D02 board specifications:

  • SoC – Hisilicon PhosphorV660 Hip05 with 16 to 32 ARM Cortex-A57 cores @ up to 2.1GHz and 1MB L2 cache/cluster, 32MB L3 cache
  • System Memory – 2x Memory channel 4x DDR3 DIMM(4x DIMM per processor)
  • Storage
    • 12x SAS 3.0 ports @ 12 Gbps (8 for the first processor, 4 for the second).  SAS port are compatible with SATA drives. You may want to read SAS vs SATA post for more details about SAS.
    • 2x SPI Flash 158Mb BIOS/UEFI
    • 1Gb NorFlash
  • Connectivity – 2×10/100/1000Mbit/s Gigabit Ethernet ports, 2x xGE SFP+ ports (10Gb/s)
  • Expansion – 2x 8x PCI express interfaces per processor (4 in total)USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port
  • Debugging – 1x UART interface, 1x ARM Tracer connector, 1x JTAG interface
  • Misc – RTC battery
  • Power – ATX power supply
  • Dimensions – 305 x xyz mm (SSI-EEB/E-ATX Compatible). xyz = 330, 257, 272, 264, or 267 (Not sure yet)

The board can run Ubuntu, Debian, OpenSUSE, or Fedora. The company has released a hacking manual for D02 board, where you can find more details, and learn how to build the kernel, and hack around with Grub and UEFI among other things.

For example, provided you’ve already installed the right development tools,. including Aarch64 toolchain, you should be able to build the kernel for the board as follows:

Binary files can also be downloaded directly from https://github.com/hisilicon/d02_binary.

Charbax filmed a demo of the board running Ubuntu, Linaro LAVA server, and LXC (Linux Containers). The board currently come with Hip05 SoC with 16 Cortex A57 cores, but in a couple of months, the version with 32 cores will come out, and and Linaro engineers working on ARM64 server should get their hands on several boards.

Via ARMdevices.net

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

MeLE PCG03 mini PC Review and Benchmarks with Windows 8.1 with Bing

January 29th, 2015 12 comments

MeLE PCG03 is an Intel Atom Z3735F mini PC with 2GB RAM, and 32GB eMMC. I’ve already posted some pictures of the device and board, and since Windows 8.1 with Bing NTE (with proper license) is installed, I’ll first test the device with Microsoft OS as reference, before trying Ubuntu or/and Android.

MeLE PCG03 Setup

The computer comes only with a power adapter, so you’ll need to find an HDMI or/and VGA cable for your display(s), and USB keyboard and mouse to get started. Optionally, you’ll also want an Ethernet cable, and since storage is limited an extra storage device be it a USB hard drive, flash drive, or SD card.

Once all is connected you can press the power button on the left side to boot the device. The boot normally takes about 20 seconds, but the first time, you’ll go through the usual Windows 8.1 setup (I assume), including country, time zone and language selection: 中文简体, 中文繁體, English, Français, Deutsch, Italiano, Nederlands, espanol, Português (Brazil or Portugal), русский, Čeština, slovenščina, ,فارسی Polski, українська, العربية  or .עברית If your local language is not listed then you are out of luck.

You’ll also have to create a local account, or sign-in with an MSN account, and you should be done. So the process is pretty much straightforward.

Windows 8.1 Interface (Click for Original)

Windows 8.1 Interface (Click for Original)

mele_pcg03_resolution

Click to Enlarge

The screenshot above is after cleaning up the junk a bit, and adding my own app. The box is connected to my 4K TV, but the maximum resolution supported by the device is 1920×1080, and the lowest 1024×768. You may also connect an extra monitor via the VGA port for a dual display setup. I’ll demo this below in this post.

Mele PCG03 System Info

Let’s get some more details about the system.
mele_pcg03_PC_info
As advertised the system comes with a Z3735F processor, 2GB RAM, and the 32-bit version of Windows 8.1 with Bing activated. I also received a Windows Update while testing. The company also told me it would be possible to recover the firmware, but did not provide a link. They’ve just provided their FAQ explaining how to upgrade the firmware, and configure other things like audio and video output.

mele_PCG03_storageThere’s a 28.7GB partition out of the 32GB eMMC, and about 16 GB free space. The screenshot above is after installing Firefox and Crystal Disk Benchmark.

mele_pcg03_device_manager_large

Click to Enlarge

The Device Manager shows the list of devices, but we already knew about the hardware with tear-down. Realtek RTL8723 (BS) is also used in Meegopad T01 and Pipo X7, which should be good news for Android and Linux support.

mele_pcg03_hwinfoI ran also HWiNFO32 to get more details about the CPU, which is incorrectly detected as Z3735D, but the other information should be correct, as both processor are very similar.

In case you wonder about the BIOS, it’s basically the same AMI Bios as other Intel Atom Z3735F devices.

AMI BIOS UEFI 2.3 (Click to Enlarge)

AMI BIOS UEFI 2.3 (Click to Enlarge)

You can watch that video to see all options. This is for MeegoPad T01, but the BIOS is bascially the same, except the one in PCG03 has been built one month earlier.

MeLE PCG03 Benchmarks

PCMARK 8 is a standard benchmark for Windows, and covers lots of area include office use, video conferencing, gaming, web browsing and so on. I downloaded the basic version, and ran the baseline test.

mele_pcg03_pcmark_8

PCMark 8 on MeLE PCG03 (Click to Enlarge)

MeLE PCG03 gots 1,105 points in PCMARK 8 HOME CONVENTIONAL 3.0 test. The software somehow detected an Intel Core i7-5960X…
It’s the first time I’ve run this benchmark so looked for some comparison online. For example an Intel Core i7-920 processor with Nvidia GeForce GTX770 gets 2,610 points. I was expecting a larger gap, but if you look into the details, you’ll find that Casual gaming  is 10 times faster in the more powerful computer.

I measured the temperature on top and bottom of the enclosure right about the benchmark at respectively 39 °C and 46 °C, so that part is under control.

The internal storage is a Samsung eMMC 5.0 flash, and performance does show.

mele_pcg03_disk_benchmarkMeLE PCG03 Usability Testing

Benchmarks are nice, but nothing it worth and hands-on experience, so I’ve shot a video showing the device, some settings including storage and display,  and tasks that may be challenging in competing ARM Linux hardware platforms:

  • Web Browsing in Firefox
    • Loading CNX Software
    • Playing an Embedded Video
    • Playing a 1080p Video in Full Screen mode
    • Playing a flash game  (Candy Crush Saga)
  • Gaming with Asphalt 8
  • Kodi with 4K video playback
  • Dual display support with HDMI TV and VGA monitor

The refresh rate of my camera and the 4K TV does not match, so at time (desktop and web browsing), the video is a pain to watch but hopefully, it will give an idea of the performance and capabilities of this mini PC.

So overall the device is quite usable, but I experienced obvious stuttering while playing 1080p YouTube videos (Embedded or Full Screen), and animation in Candy Crush Saga were pretty slow. The good news was I could play some 4K videos in Kodi (albeit outputted to 1080p), and Asphalt 8 is running reasonably well, although a higher frame rate would be nice. With the wave of Intel Bay Trail mini PC, the VGA port is clearly a strong point of this box, especially dual display is working as it should. If you really intend to use this device as a PC for web browsing, emails (Outlook. Thunderbird),  and an office suite, you’ll likely to run out of space pretty quickly, so an external storage device is a must.

Mele_PCG03_Blue_Screen_Of_Death

If you miss Microsft BSOD, don’t worry it’s alive and well! :) This happened when I connected the hard drive via a USB hub, instead of directly to a USB port on the device. Maybe a power issue?

That’s all for today. I’ll write a separate post to thoroughly test video playback in Kodi Windows, and then try alternative operating systems such as Ubuntu and Android, and compare how they perform versus Windows 8.1.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter

Linaro 14.12 Release with Linux 3.18 and Android 5.0

December 19th, 2014 No comments

Linaro usually releases images and source code on the last Thursday of the month, but since most people will have long holidays for Chritsmas and New Year, the last working Thrusday of this month was yesterday (18th). Linaro 14.12 release includes Linux kernel 3.18 (baseline), Linux 3.10.62 & 3.14.26 (LSK, same versions as last month), and Android 5.0.1 Lollipop.

Here are the highlights of this release:

  • Linux Linaro 3.18-2014.12
    • Based on v3.18 release
    • GATOR topic: version 5.20
    • updated topic from Qualcomm LT (includes IFC6410 board support)
    • updated integration-linaro-vexpress64 topic by ARM LT (FVP Base and Foundation models, and Juno support)
    • updated LLVM topic (uses the community llvmlinux-latest branch)
    • included ILP32 patch set v3  rebased on 3.18. Boot tested with aarch64 userland. Work is in progress to test with aarch64-ilp32 userland.
    • config fragments updated – SELinux related config options enabled in linaro-base.conf, device tree runtime self tests enabled in distribution.conf
  • Linaro builds of AOSP 14.12
    • built with AOSP toolchain
    • All the Android builds have been updated to 5.0.1
    • Audio on Versatile Express TC2 is fixed (Android 5.0.1)
    • DNS issue fixed on Juno, FVP models and Versatile Express TC2 (Android 5.0.1)
    • daily CI updated to include benchmarks for Versatile Express TC2 and Juno
  • Linaro OpenEmbedded 2014.12
    • integrated Linaro GCC 4.9-2014.11 and Linaro binutils 2.24-2014.11
    • switched from eglibc to Linaro glibc 2.20-2014.11
    • improved external toolchain support
    • improved ACPI tooling
    • added python-numpy to images for LAVA tests
    • upstreaming:
  • Linaro Ubuntu 14.12 – updated packages: juno-pre-boot, LSK 3.10.62/3.14.26 and linux-linaro 3.18 kernels
  • CI loop for testing the pre-built Linaro toolchain using the OpenEmbedded external toolchain support has been reactivated
  • ARMv8 Ubuntu engineering build for Enterprise is available
  • CI bring up: HiSilicon Hi3716cv200
  • CI bring up: EAS (Energy Aware Scheduling) development – integration branch testing
  • Publish OpenSDK images on snapshots.linaro.org
  • Ship board recovery image into hwpack for Juno

You can visit https://wiki.linaro.org/Cycles/1412/Release for a list of known issues, and further release details about the LEB, LMB (Linaro Member Builds), and community builds, as well as Android, Kernel, Graphics, Multimedia, Landing Team, Platform, Power management and Toolchain components.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter