Armada Mach 8 Pure Linux is a Quad Core XBMC Linux TV Box

Armada Mach 8 is an Amlogic S802 based TV Box apparently based on M8/EM8 hardware, but instead of running Android, it comes with XBMC Linux. It’s unlikely a quad core media player brings much performance over a dual core media player with XBMC Linux, but Amlogic S802 adds 4K video playback compared to Amlogic AML8726-MX. One of the main advantages of Linux compared to Android is support for automatic frame rate switching depending on the video you are watching (24Hz, 50Hz, 60Hz…), in order to avoid regular skipped frames when the video frame rate does not match the video output refresh rate.

Let’s double check the specifications to confirm they are indeed the same as Shenzhen Tomato / Enybox M8, except possibly for Bluetooth:

  • SoC – AMLogic S802 quad core Cortex A9r4 processor @ 2GHz with Mali‐450MP6 GPU @ 600Mhz
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB NAND flash + SD card slot
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, dual band Wi‐Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz), Bluetooth
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 1080p, AV
  • Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF
  • Video Codecs and Containers – MPEG1/2/4, H.264, AVC, VC‐1, RM/RMVB, Xvid, DivX3/4/5/6, RealVideo8/9/10…
  • Audio – MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV, OGG, AC3, DDP, TrueHD, DTS, DTS HD, FLAC, APE…
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power LED (ON:blue; Standby:Red), IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A

The firmware is what differentiate this box from the Android ones. Many people have reported problem with XBMC Android in their M8, so hopefully the Linux version may bring more stability. If the listed specs are correct the box will decoded 4K, but only output up to 1080p, so there’s no true 4K output with this box, which by the way is also the case for all ARM based Android TV boxes on the market at this time. You may remember XBMC Linux (Beta) was released for the M8, but the firmware used in Armada Mach 8 looks much different with a custom skin, and some extra features such as OTA updates, “Cloudword installer” to make add-ons installation easy with just a keyword/code, and “Total Installer” to search for add-ons.

You can now get an Android M8 for about $85 to $100, but XBMC Linux based TV Boxes are usually more expensive, and Armada Mach 8 Pure Linux is not exception, as it that goes for $129.99 in TheaterInABox or Amazon US.

Thanks to CSilie

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18 Replies to “Armada Mach 8 Pure Linux is a Quad Core XBMC Linux TV Box”

  1. Actually there is a big difference in processing power between the Amlogic S8 series and the old MX series, the CPU/GPU affect XBMC in a variety of areas outside of pure video playback, UI performance, library, skins, PVR etc.

    However that this comes from well out of nowhere does not inspire confidence, if the device was more open and just say here install Openelec, GeeXbox or OSMC on it and off you go that would be better instead of another custom linux distro.

  2. Unless there is support for a traditional window manager and productivity applications: LibreOffice, GIMP, web browser etc the term, “pure Linux”, is quite contrary to my expectations. Perhaps they should call this “Linux for Leisure”.

  3. @Gabe
    True and thats why I renamed my XBMC Linux to AMLinux.

    Window manager, productivity apps, app store…. you’re talking about full feature Linux distribution like Ubuntu or Debian. There’s difference, pure Linux can be only kernel + some specific workflow or some sort of shell (bash for example). Try to install Arch Linux for example and you’ll see what you will get after initial, minimal installation 🙂

  4. @Ganesh @ AnandTech
    There are several Android TV boxes that outputs 4K including Vega S89-H. However, if you play a 4K video or display a picture, you’ll notice it will not be 4K quality, because before being outputted the video/image is downscaled to 1080p or whatever UI resolution is used with the box. I can’t confirm that myself since I don’t own a 4K TV, but this happened with older Full HD Android TV boxes with a 720p UI.

    Yes, correct. They mention croniccorey in the YouTube video description

  5. @Stane1983
    I did not even know about 4K FUHD… I’m not sure there are TV with this. So when I say 4K I actually always assume UHD (3840×2160).

    But the problem reported by users is that the actual resolution of a video is not based on the selected video output (e.g. 2160p), but the user interface resolution (e.g. 1080p). So even you may see 4K 60 Hz selected on your TV, the image seen will actually be 1080p. That’s why many people complained about 1280×720 user interfaces in Android TV box (e.g. Rockchip RK3188, Amlogic AML8726-MX…), as they used test 1080p videos, with 1080p output, but they lost details as if output was 720p.

  6. @cnxsoft

    Point taken 🙂 I saw some work on MX boards (Linux XBMC) to get full 1080 output, but never tested it. About M8, I can say that 720 output is 720 and 1080 is 1080 100%…. Spent more than few hours adding multiple real resolutions to Linux XBMC. 4K output (playback works normally) in my AMLinux will not work for now…. need to get UHD tv for testing first… 😀

  7. Would be nice if this linux XBMC could be installed in the EM8, though perhaps they are not exactly the same machine.

  8. @Curmudgeon
    Similar to OpenELEC this “AMLinux”, this type of embedded OS is referred to as a JeOS (Just enough Operating System) to allow these boxes to be only a software appliance, just as any other set-top box based on Linux (think TiVo)

    Benefits of the JeOS and software appliance model:

    Software appliances have several benefits over traditional software applications that are installed on top of an operating system:

    Simplified deployment: A software appliance encapsulates an application’s dependencies in a pre-integrated, self-contained unit. This can dramatically simplify software deployment by freeing users from having to worry about resolving potentially complex OS compatibility issues, library dependencies or undesirable interactions with other applications. This is known as a “toaster.”

    Improved performance: A software appliance does not embed any unused operating system services, applications or any form of bloatware hence it does not have to share the hardware resources (CPU, memory, storage space, …) usually consumed by these on a generic OS setup. This naturally leads to faster boot time and application execution speed. In the case where multiple software appliances share and run simultaneously on the same hardware (on a virtualization platform for example) this will not hold true as running n instances of a software appliance (OS + software application) will consume more hardware resources than running n instances of a software application on 1 instance of an operating system due to the overhead of running n – 1 more instances of operating system.

  9. Does this device support HDMI-CEC? I like the included remote, but would prefer to use my TV remote instead.

  10. @Harley
    Thanks for your very lucid and helpful explanation. I hope these people will make it very clear that they are selling a software appliance that is dedicated to the recreational XBMC application to the exclusion of any other use. I would normally expect more open-endedness in a product that makes a feature of the Linux name.

  11. Hello All,

    First let me say I love this site and get a ton of good info from here. LOTs of it come from all your good comments.
    I understand the desire to put a JeOS on these devices and have done that in the past, but all my boxes (quad-core) are running android OS. The reason is the boxes are powerful enough now to run that OS and render all videos. I dont run 4K but do most of my movies in BR and never have a problem. Although I did have to recently find the right combination of firmware and XBMC (firmware-0807 and 13.2XBMC) to get the video to render in hardware and use iStream.

    Thanks again guys….


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