Allwinner H5 is a Quad Core Cortex A53 Processor for 4K OTT TV Boxes

Last year, we found that Allwinner was preparing to launch Allwinner H64 and H5 quad and octa processors in their roadmap, but there have been some changes, and the compny seems to have dropped H64 name, and has now introduced Allwinner H5 quad core Cortex A53 processor designed for 4K TV boxes.

Allwinner H5 Block Diagram - Click to Enlarge
Allwinner H5 Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

Allwinner H5 main specifications:

  • CPU – quad core Cortex A53 with NEON, FPU, 64KB I/D cache per core, and 512KB L2 cache
  • 3G GPU – ARM Mali-450MP GPU with 4 pixel processor cores, and 2 geometry cores with support for OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1/1.1, OpenVG 1.1 and EGL
  • 2D GPU (Graphics and Display Processor) – Dual display; Main display: 4 video layers, 12 graphics layers, 4 alpha blending channels; Auxiliary display: 4 video layers, 4 graphics layers, and 2 alpha blending channels
  • Memory I/F – DDR3/3L SDRAM interface up to 32-bit data width
  • Storage I/F – SPI NOR flash, SPI NAND flash, NAND flash (SLC/MLC with 64-bit ECC), and eMMC 5.0 flash interfaces
  • Video Decoding – Up to 4K decoding of H.265/HEVC Main10, H.264/AVC, VP6/VP8/VP9, MPEG1/2/4, AVS-P16, VC1
  • Image Decoding – YUV400/YUV420/YUV422/YUV444; Picture scale and rotate
  • Video & Image Encoding – 1080p60 or 2x 1080p30, or 4x 72030 video encoding with AVC or JPEG
  • Audio Encoding/Decoding – MPEG L1/L2, AAC-LC, HE AAC V1/V2, APE, FLAC, OGG, AMR-WB, G.711 (u/a) decoding; G.711(u/a), AMR-NB, AMR-WB, and AAC-LC encoding
  • TS Demultiplexing/PVR – 4x TS inputs using SSI or SPI modes, DVB-CSA/AES/DES descrambling, recording of scrambled and non-scrambled streams
  • Security – TEE, Secure OS, secure boot, 2K bits EFuse, DRM, conditional access, HDCP 1.4 protection
  • A/V Interfaces
    • PAL and NTSC, HDMI Tx with HDCP, CVBS, HD and SD output from same source. 480i to 4K2K resolutions
    • Analog videos – 1x CVBS, 1x embedded VDAC
    • Audio interfaces – 2x stereo input interfaces, 1x stereo output interface, 1x S/PDIF, 2x ADAC, 2x I2S/PCM, HDMI audio
  • Peripherals
    • 3x USB 2.0 host, 1x USB 2.0 OTG
    • 10/100M Ethernet with integrated PHY, Gigabit Ethernet MAC
    • 3x 4-bit SDIO 3.0 interfaces
    • 5x UART, 4x TWI (I2C), 2x SPI, multiple GPIOs, 2x PWM
    • 2x smart card interfaces (ISO7816)
    • LED and keypad control interface, IR receiver
    • 1x CSI camera
  • Boot program download over serial port or USB port
  • Low power CPU – For standby power as low as 30 mW power consumption

Allwinner is actually pushing the limit of “generally accepted marketing principles” by calling Allwinner H5 a “Deca-core 4K OTT Box Total Solution” by adding 4 CPU cores to 6 GPU cores… They also done a “good job” at hiding whether HDMI 2.0 is supported, as the HDMI version is not mentioned, nor the maximum framerate for video codec @ 4K2K. [Update: Allwinner H-Series comparison table shows H.265 @ 4K30Hz, so it’s most likely limited to HDMI 1.4]

The processor will apparently run Android 5.1, and while features look similar to Allwinner A64, the GPU is quite faster, I’ve been told video processing is better by Allwinner marketing team, and I can also see some interfaces (TS input and smartcard) that would make it suitable for Android Digital TV receivers with DVB, ISDB-C and ATSC tuners.


Image Source: ARMBIAN
Orange Pi PC 2 – Image Source: ARMBian

Linux support is also likely as two of the first platforms to use the new processor will be Shenzhen Xunlong Orange Pi 3 and Orange Pi PC 2 (pictured above) development boards.

More details can be found on Allwinner H5 product page.

Thanks to Thomas for the tip.

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28 Replies to “Allwinner H5 is a Quad Core Cortex A53 Processor for 4K OTT TV Boxes”

  1. Did they tell how they are going to cheat in Antutu this time ? The “hirsu” setting in the build.prop ?

    And why does Amlogic and Allwinner still use the Ancient Mali 400/450 ?

    Disspointing SOC from a dissapointing company.

  2. So this is Allwinners answer to the Amlogic s905 , except allwinner has 6 GPU cores, 2 of which are labeled geometry. So it is a general TV box Soc with light casual phone type games market aims.
    It will also be several months behind the mature software curve. So the Soc will have to be cheap but not to cheap to kill the H3, unless their aim is to end H3 production.

    However the S905 already out competes the H3 in the Android OTT market.

  3. @theguyuk
    What I don’t understand is why they did not get HDMI 2.0 support. 4K 60Hz is already used for DVB-S2.
    They also don’t have HDR support. Allwinner seems to be behind the curve in this market, especially since Amlogic SoCs are already very cheap.

    I would have a hard time convincing somebody to buy a device with Allwinner H5 over one with Amlogic S905, even if it was $5 cheaper (which mostly likely, it won’t be).

  4. @cnxsoft
    Beelink X2 (‘our’ H3 OTT box since we ported already Armbian to it 😉 ) has 1 GB RAM and costs $26.69 (at Gearbest and today — Flash sale the next 3 days) but in general I tend to agree that if it’s just about an OTT box running Android it doesn’t look that good for Allwinner from Amlogic’s perspective 😉

    Well, I like that H5 has the same count of real USB host ports like H3 but that’s something every normal TV box customer doesn’t care about at all…

  5. @tkaiser
    True, it did not show for an Allwinner H3 search. On the other end, the more a processor is popular/used, the cheaper it can become, so Amlogic is currently in a virtuous circle, while Allwinner is in a vicious circle.

  6. @cnxsoft
    I guess no HDMI 2.0 or 4k @60hz is because they don’t see it as high end seller but more a bouncing along the bottom of the market product.

    Too high a spec would crush the H3 on the bottom and H8 at the top.

    Consider too the aimed for family market might not have the wealth for 4k TV and Fibre broadband and a 4k service.

  7. Theguyuk :
    Too high a spec would crush the H3 on the bottom and H8 at the top.

    I don’t think the average TV box customer reads blogs like this. So if he does not know what to expect from features like ‘HDMI 2.0 or 4k @60hz’ then he simply buys numbers (as he does with smartphones and tablets too and this is the reason we see octa-core SoCs that get outperformed by their quad-core predecessors). Then it’s deca-core and 64-bit for H5 based boxes and only octa-core and 32-bit for H8. Two more cores and twice as much of these ‘bits’ everyone is talking about: H5 is clearly the better choice but if the H8 box is $1 less then it becomes the best buy 😉

    I would believe marketing for morons (deca-core!) works somewhat differently than people with a technical background are able to understand (me included)

  8. @tkaiser
    That’s true that people don’t really get into or known the details, and when you spend time on something everyday, you don’t realize people won’t understand what you may be talking about. I get comments from time to time that my reviews are hard to follow because they are too technical. Once I chatted with somebody who asked me was I was doing, and I showed then the most recent article about one TV box, and they just said they could not understand what I was writing about…

    Once I also helped a friend over chat with their TV box connection, and the conversation went like:
    A: I can’t connect to Internet.
    CNX: Have you connect the Ethernet cable?
    A: The what?
    CNX: The cable you need to connect to Internet
    A: hmm.
    ~5 minutes of confusing discussion later…
    A: Ahhh, you mean the LAN cable?
    CNX: Yes!!!

  9. @tkaiser
    The Core marketing is just aping Intel, AMD, and game Consoles.

    Real world users that technical people look down on as morons are the major back bone of the market, without them high spec devices would cost much more as components would not sell in such vast numbers.

    The morons would be better informed if technical people were not such liars and cheats. It is the high educated who write the lies and post the articles telling lower educated people this or that product is great or best buy.

    As for the H8, Allwinner aimed that as their premium high-end OTT Soc before the H5 was on the scene, yet lable the crippled (HDMI, 4K etc ) H5 below the H8 and not as its replacement.

    So I would guess the H5 is a rushed answer to the shockwave caused by Amlogic s905 success in low end OTT boxes, or Allwinner could not afford better spec at the target price.

    There is a empty place for a H8 replacement I would guess,, as the H8 was marketed at high-end premium, multi layer off the OTT market.

  10. @Theguyuk
    With ‘marketing for morons’ I was not speaking about the average customer but the marketing approach behind. Adding 4 CPU and 6 GPU cores to a ‘deca-core’ marketing claim will result in S905 boxes being sold as ’14 core OTT box solution’ soon if Allwinner succeeds with this.

    This ‘as many cores as possible’ approach for TV boxes makes absolutely no sense from a technical point of view since none of the devices featuring eg. octa-core CPUs can benefit from the count of cores since the heat generated is just too much. Without active cooling overall CPU performance will be as low as with the SoC’s quad-core predecessor. And in TV boxes the video decoder engine and GPU is more important anyway. But since the average customer wants ‘more cores’ he gets them and questionable designs appear where a 2nd CPU cluster got cramped into the SoC package causing all sorts of thermal problems as can be seen with every octa-core SoC out there.

    BTW: H8 is just an A83T with another chip ID preventing Allwinner’s Android 5.1/6.0 to run on it (so H8 is ‘limited’ to Android 4.4 for whatever reasons while the very same A83T is not). And the same SoC is now also known as T8, V66, R58 and H8vr while H5 seems to be an A64 with more USB ports, better video engine but lacking PMIC support (and as a member of the H series one Android generation behind — they list 5.1 for H5 while allowing 6.0 for A64/A83T)

    This is all just about marketing or market segmentation it seems. The only ‘new’ device is the A20 successor R40 (also known as T3 and V40 when Allwinner’s other business units are involved). And since T3 has the same feature set as R40 but is accompanied by well known AXP221s PMIC this would be my SoC of choice for server use cases and stuff like that. But since T series targets transportation/automotive use I doubt this SoC will appear on any dev board that soon or ever.

  11. You’d think these companies would give up on “core marketing” as none can beat NVIDIA and their “192 core” K1

  12. @tkaiser
    Agree with what you say.

    I see the multi cores being used as big little as a cheap fudge rather than real heat sinks used. They have took if from the Phone and Tablet Socs and while it does cool while also cutting electric use, it does not deliver the assumed double the cores the uneducated expect.

    In my limited experience the Nvidia Tegra 4 approach of Quad core A15 + 1 extra low power core for when only browsing texting, works better than classic big little. However of note, Nvidia had to refine the Tegra Note ROM over several issues and at first too had heat issues on back of the Tegra Note 7″ Tablet.

    I would guess the rate of silicon hardware change is running to fast to allow the software to mature. Products date and get left behind to quick to pay for the support in the sub £50.00 market. ( only my assumptions on what I see )

    The drive for a all singing dancing Soc is putting pressure on hardware design space in the Soc design. One fix would be the radical splitting of the GPU and GPU ram to a separate Soc, but that rasies hardware and extra hardware bus costs while splitting the heat sources.

    Imagine a passive heat sink graphics Soc with a separate CPU Soc but all on one single board. ( very rough sketch of this throw back in design idea. ) but it would cost more.

  13. @JM
    AMD and RADEON have the tech but not the low power experience or available money, they have also licenced designs and tech to ARM.

    It is not a fair like for like compassion of a sub £35.00 OTT box with a £149.99 Nvidia Shield TV.

    A cheap family hatchback is not fairly compared against a Rolls Royce or Ferrari.

  14. anyone known if it’s 28nm or 40nm?
    allwinner only say csi, but really its camera is parallel cmos camera… not serial csi.
    it’s ok, but h5 or r40 have 10bit?
    a imx225 need 10 or 12 bits interface…

    so i will need use a hi3518e, but without mainline kernel, i’m scary about found sdk and if i will be able to compile and build a useful image. but maybe not more options…

  15. @cnxsoft
    h3 have good firmware, and working camera driver, but its csi is only parallel cmos 8bits ( 8 data io + 1 clock, +i2s for command).
    So it’s unable to work with imx225, because its minimun 10bits (12bits better) in parallel. In serial csi is even faster.

    now why exmor imx255 or imx291, because low light sensitivity is far away of any omnivision.

  16. I am trying to determin if the board accesses the ts stream ports of the H5 processor on any of the pins.
    I could not find them. Anyone ?

  17. This board lack of official support and community contribution, don’t waste time, go to raspberry pi 3

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