Accelerated 3D Graphics, Hardware Video Decoding, and Network Performance on Orange Pi One Board (Video)

I’ve just written Getting Started Guide for Orange Pi One, a $10 development board based on Allwinner H3 quad core Cortex A7 processor, where I explain how to install and configure Armbian distribution on the board. As promised, I’ve also tested 3D graphics acceleration, and hardware video decoding, and also included some Ethernet benchmarks.

Orange Pi One Running Iceweasel, es2gears, and mpv - Click to Enlarge
Orange Pi One Running Iceweasel, es2gears, and mpv – Click to Enlarge

Since ARM Mali-400 GPU found in Allwinner H3 is only capable of OpenGL ES, as in most ARM SoCs, you can test 3D graphics acceleration by using es2gears (and not glxgears as I’ve seen some other do in the past):

The log shows the utility is using Linux-r3p0 Mali driver, and the gears are display at a high frame rate close to 300 fps. If I switch to full screen, the frame rate drops to about 43 fps, which should still be acceptable.

CedarX is the infamous closed source and GPL violating media library released by Allwinner, but the community has worked on an open source alternative dubbed Cedrus, which armbian is using. It has some limitations, but it did a good enough job with Big Buck Bunny 720p and 1080p H.264 videos using mpv to play from a USB flash drive:

Again the log clearly shows hardware video decoding is enabled, and you can see the actual results in the demo video below.

So while es2gears rendering window was very smooth, I found CPU usage to be very high, mostly due to Iceweasel, but even after exiting the web browser, I found it was still fairly high. You will also have noticed a massive lag when moving the browser window around. The system could however handle both es2gears and playing a 720p video at the same time. The 1080p video started with some frame drops, but overall played smoothly, so that’s a positive. Sadly H.265 reverts to software decoding, despite both Cedrus and Allwinner H3 supporting the new codec.

Finally, I tested the network performance of the 100m Ethernet interface using a full duplex transfer with iperf -t 60 -c server_ip -d command:

The download could basically fill the maximum bandwidth, but the upload was limited to 30 Mbps when both occur at the same time.

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