Current Performance and Stability Issues on AllWinner A80 OptimusBoard Development Board

Sine A80 OptimusBoard is the first ARM hardware that supports both USB 3.0 and Gigabit that I’ve ever owned, so I though it might be interesting to see what performance I could get with a USB 3.0 hard drive through the USB 3.0 OTG port of the board. For testing purpose, I bought a USB 3.0 OTG adapter on Ebay, but I did not look closely enough as it turned out to be only a USB 3.0 OTG to USB 2.0 female adapter capable of USB 2.0 speeds… Kind of useless item since you can plug a standard USB 2.0 OTG adapter into a USB 3.0 OTG receptacle. But I tried my hard drive anyway, and quickly realized write performance was very poor at 3 MB/s on the NTFS partition, whereas most other devices can handle at least15 MB/s, and usually over 25 MB/s. So I contacted Allwinner with this issue, and they were kind enough to look into it, and provided an updated firmware.

Today, I tried it, and it seems they’ve selected a more aggressive scheduler for the board, as some benchmarks results are much higher. For example, Vellamo Browser score was over 3,000 today, whereas during my initial benchmarks, it only achieved 2,300 points. So quite a boost. Unfortunately, this also introduced so stability issues (possibly resolvable with a heatsink and a fan), and did not improve NTFS performance in a major way:

  1. Multicore benchmarks will make the system reboot. Reproducible with Antutu Multi-thread and Vellamo Multicore tests.
  2. Riptide GP2 game will freeze after a short while. Very similar to what I’ve experienced with some Amlogic S802 TV boxes, except it happens much earlier (after one race).
  3. NTFS write speed is now 4.6MB/s, so it’s still an issue. FAT32 write speed is 29 MB/s, which is fine.

I’ve recorded these three issues in the video below.

So if you are wondering why there aren’t any Allwinner A80 mini PCs just yet, why Cubieboard8 is nowhere to be seen, and why no SDK has been provided for OptimiusBoard and pcDuino8, this could be could the explanation, and more work is needed at this stage of development. The first two issues were not present in the first firmware, but a more aggressive scheduler may have introduced the reboot/freeze issues. I don’t have a spare heatsink/fan, so I haven’t tried to work around these with passive/active cooling. Another possibility for the reboot could be the 5V/3A power adapter does not provide enough power to the board.

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