Allwinner H6 Processor for 4K HDR Set-Top Boxes Supports USB 3.0, PCIe, and Smart Card Interfaces

Allwinner H6 is a new quad core Cortex A53 processor designed for 4K set-top boxes. It will support “6K” video decoding for 10-bit HEVC, VP9, and H.264, integrate HDR10 and HLG video processing, support high speed interfaces like USB 3.0 and PCIe, as well as security features like two ISO7816 smart card interfaces and DRM solutions.

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Allwinner H6 specifications:

  • CPU –  Quad-core ARM Cortex A53 with NEON, hardware Java acceleration, and FPU
  • 3D GPU – Dual shader ARM Mali-T720 with support for OpenGL ES3.1/3.0/2.0/1.1, OpenCL 1.1/RenderScript, Microsoft DirectX 11 FL9_3
  • Memory I/F – DDR4/DDR3/DDR3L interface
  • Storage I/F – 1x eMMC 5.0 flash interface, 1x NAND Flash interface for SLC/MLC/TLC flash memory with up to 80-bit error-correcting code (ECC), 1x SPI NOR Flash interface, 1x SD Card 2.0
  • Multimedia via Allwinner Phoenix 3.0 VE Engine
  • Audio Encoding/Decoding
    • MPEG-1,MPEG-2(L1/L2/L3), MP3, AAC-LC, HE AAC V1/V2, APE, FLAC, OGG, AMR-NB, AMR-WB,G.711(u/a) decoding
      • G.711(u/a), AMR-NB, AMR-WB, AAC-LC encoding
      • Karaoke sound effects, supports automatic gain control, voice enhancement and echo/reverberation.
      • 3~5m far field sound acquisition, supports speech enhancement, acoustic echo cancellation and direction of speaker estimation.
      • Dolby Digital/Dolby Digital Plus decoding (option)
      • Dolby DMA2.0 audio effect (option)
      • DTS-HD decoding(option)
      • Dolby Digital/DTS transparent transmission
  • TS Demultiplexing/PVR
    • 4x TS inputs supporting 32 PID each
    • DVB-CSA/AES/DES descrambling
    • PVR,recording of scrambled and non-scrambled streams
  • Security/ DRM
    • Full Disk Encryption(FDE) with support for AES-ECB/CBC
    • 4K bits Efuse (OTP)
    • Protection for JTAG and other debugging port
    • HDCP 2.2/1.4 protection for HDMI outputs
    • Trusted execution environment(TEE)
    • Digital rights management(DRM)
    • Mainstream advanced CA
    • Secure boot, Secure Storage, Secure upgrade
  • Display Processing ((Smartcolor 3.0 DE Engine)
    • HDR10 and HLG HDR processing
    • HDR conversion between SDR
    • Dual independent display support
    • 16 layers, video and UI input layers to overlay
    • 3D video processing and display
  • Audio/Video Interfaces
    • Video Output
      • 1x HDMI 2.0a TX with HDCP 2.2 output
      • 1x CVBS interface , supports PAL/NTSC mode
      • 1x RGB interface up to1920x1080
    • Video Input – CSI camera (DVP)
    • Audio Interfaces
      • Analog audio input/output
      • Digital MIC interface
      • 2x I2S supporting 7.1 channel
      • S/PDIF audio interface
  • Other Interfaces
    • USB – 1x USB 3.0 host port, 1x USB2.0 OTG port, 1x USB 2.0 host port
    • 1x PCIe 2.0 interface
    • 1x SDIO 3.0
    • Ethernet – 1x 10/100 Mbps Ethernet with PHY, 1x Gigabit Ethernet MAC
    • 5x UART, 5x TWI/I2C, GPIOs
    • 2x ISO7816 Smart Card interfaces
    • IR receiver and keypad control interface
  • Misc
    • USB, SD card and flash boot supported
    • Adaptive voltage scaling (AVS)
    • Dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS)
  • Package – 15 x 15 mm BGA451 package

The CPU is not that important in TV boxes and set-top boxes, so there are no changes here except potentially a higher frequency (TBC). The dual shader Mali-T720 GPU should provide 3D performance in the same range as other competing solutions based on Mali-450MP and Mali-T820MP GPU, and includes OpenCL support for GPU compute applications. AFAIK it’s the first Allwinner processor to support HDR, so the company is mostly catching with competitors on the multimedia front. The video decoder supports 4K H.265 and VP9 at up to 60 fps, and 4K H.264 up to 30 fps, as well as 6K up to 30 fps. The processor can also support HD audio formats (as an option), while the transport stream (TS) interfaces to connect one or more more tuners, and Smart Card interfaces make it ideal for set-top box with free or premium content. The addition of USB 3.0 and PCIe will allow for fast storage options, with external PCIe to SATA chips potentially providing better performance than the SATA IP found in Allwinner R40, especially when it comes to write speed.

I found all this information in Allwinner H6 product brief published on linux-sunxi website. There’s no information anywhere else about H6 processor, even on Alibaba, so it will likely take many more months before products and boards are launched with the new SoC.

42 Replies to “Allwinner H6 Processor for 4K HDR Set-Top Boxes Supports USB 3.0, PCIe, and Smart Card Interfaces”

  1. Dual shader mali t720 i think it’s mali t720 MP2 => ~20GFlops
    That’s 50% less than the mali 450MP3 in amlogic s905

  2. @memeka
    The 3D GPU part in the product brief mentions: “Floating point operation greater than 70 GFLOPS”

    I also checked the fill rates in Mali post on Wikipedia while writing the article:

    That’s all for one core. They only give a range for the clock rate, but all are in about the same frequency range.

  3. @memeka
    What are GFlops for a number? How do they relate to reality or use cases? Twice these GFlops means twice the Antutu score in 3D section? Is memory bandwidth involved (see DDR4 above)? Are you talking about OpenGLES or ‘OpenCL 1.2/1.1 Full Profile’?

    I really like to understand this since I’m still a 3D acceleration noob.

    @cnxsoft: Re CPU and ‘no changes here’: I would believe H6 will share something with A63/A6X they’ll release soon so if H6 is also made in 28nm process chances are good that we’ll see a lot better CPU performance too (TBC) and if that’s really T720 here I would suspect it will be the same on the A series (allowing there for GPGPU too). Anyway: I doubt Allwinner changes their software support ‘style’ so without having a look in a BSP these new designs aren’t worth a look from a developers/tinkerers perspective.

  4. @tkaiser
    Yeah, gflops means almost nothing for 3D performance, unless a game also relies on compute performance as well.
    I reality, it’s all down to how a specific app/game performs on a given platform (ie frames per second). Raw numbers mean nothing. Same thing with PC graphics/gaming.

    As fir CPU; hopefully they can clock it reliably at 1.5Ghz+ this time.

  5. @benjamin
    I’ve never used Allwinner H5 until today., and that’s on NanoPi NEO 2 board, so I’m not going to use video decoding.
    Are there some Allwinner H5 TV box around? If so, that would be easy to check.

  6. @cnxsoft

    I might be wrong, but on the ARM pages
    650Mtri/s, 5.2Gpix/s, 80GFlops is for T720 MP8.
    142Mtri/s, 2.6Gpix/s, 40GFlops is for 450MP4.

    The obvious advantage of T720 is OpenGL-ES 3.0 and vulkan compatibility.
    But in terms of performance, T720 is the entry-level mali, and 2 cores is meager, so I don’t expect 3D performance (comparing apples to apples) to be higher than a 4-core Mali 450; compared to T820, I would say performance/core is extremely similar, so depends on competitor’s # of cores.

    A straight comparison is very hard to make, after all you get some numbers there, some other numbers there, and how they all add up depends on application (and driver implementation unfortunately :D). I was talking in a general sense, I’m sure there are tests there T720 MP2 would score higher just like I’m sure in other tests 450 MP4 would score higher.

    E.g. Antutu might score higher for T720 just because it would pass OpenGL-ES 3.0 tests (note: i have no idea how antutu computes final score :D)

    Leaving this aside, the SoC looks like a solid product, and would be for example a great upgrade to odroid c2 (which tops my preference for aarch64 atm) – better VPU, USB 3.0, PCIe 2.0 (although I doubt you can to SATA over PCIe, probably just wifi), DDR4, SPI, similar GPU but vulkan-compatible — ASSUMING THE SOFTWARE SUPPORT FROM ALLWINNER ACTUALLY ENABLES ALL OF THIS.

    Quick question for those that know – allwinner supports drm/kms?

  7. On the subject of Midgard variants, it appears T820 is in the same class as T720 – virtually-identical shader cores, but with more features/tweaks in the 4th gen Midgard vs 3rd gen, and halved ROPs. I can attest that T720MP2 is a perfectly usable mobile GPU – it’s in the MT8163(A/B) found in the Aquaris M10, which enjoys a solid GLES 3.1 stack, and a OCL 1.2 Full profile stack (hypothetically – I’m yet to test in the ubuntu touch environment).

  8. @Spemer

    PCIe 2.0 is 500MB/s, so 2xSATA is ok on it, and if you get a bridge that supports port multipliers then you can add more. But not all PCIe support SATA (unfortunately), so I guess we have to see 🙂

  9. @Theguyuk
    Nice, but too bad that because of the low profile Ethernet port, the case is not compatible with NanoPi NEO 2. Not a big problem since they just have to change the panel on one side. That’s quite OT…

  10. @Spemer
    Well, it’s PCIe so it’s up to the board maker to make use of it. An el cheapo NAS thingie will combine this with an ASM1061 (single PCIe lane) or if H6 even provides a 2nd line then an ASM1062 (both IC provide 2 SATA ports but ASM1062 will not be that much of a bottleneck when 2 SSD are connected since there’s more bandwidth between host and controller). Since it’s PCIe you could also connect a Marvell 88SE9215 (4 SATA ports and able to interact with good/fast port multipliers) or even 8 port SAS HBAs with tons of disks behind SATA Expanders. But why?

    In theory a PCIe2.x lane is capable of 5 Gigatransfers per second (GT/s) but uses the rather inefficient 8b10b encoding (just like SATA) so you end up with a theoretical maximum of 500MB/s data. But… is the SoC able to cope with that or not? This needs tests, it’s also unknown how many lanes this design provides and whether drivers sucks or not (think of DMA here). So let’s talk again in 2018 🙂

    BTW: there’s always a lot of confusion about PCIe vs. SATA when it comes to embedded devices. Maybe that’s due to something different: the mechanical interface of both mSATA and mPCIe. Those share the same connector, you find some devices that allow to switch between mSATA and mPCIe and some not (eg. Marvell’s ESPRESSOBin, there the mPCIe connector is mPCIe only that means you can not connect SATA devices directly but of course simply insert a mPCIe card with ASM1061). And then mPCIe pinout defines pins for both PCIe and USB and there exist some implementations that use only the USB pins.

    But we’re talking here about SoC capabilities. If it’s PCIe you can attach a PCIe SATA controller to it for sure. How performance will look like no one knows (now).

  11. If this is not an april’s fool, then this will be a great soc for thinkering. I hope there will be some moles digging through the bsp junkyard…

    Cedrus and tamil will work 2025+ 😉

    Edit: tried edit function, works well 😛

  12. @tkaiser
    Read your post. Have Arabian members any interest in using their technical ability and experience to constructively feedback suggestions and improvements to Friendlyelec, so the Nas cummunity benefit?

  13. So, now that the 1st day of April is over… Is this real, or what? 😉 Sounds too good to be true. I can see Orange Pi PC 3 Plus One with real SATA, PCI express slot and USB 3.0 for $20 or so.

    1. This is not an April fool’s joke. This processor will be launched in the coming months. I’ve already seen it running on a 52″ flat screen and it looks really sharp.

    1. @Fossxplorer thats one of the langs i doubt id be able to learn, no matter how often i hear it here…
      I also had to grin when i first heard of this driver.

  14. If chinese had some brain they could make proper Linux drivers and give people proper support and sell 10+Mil units without problems.

  15. But its only got 2 gigs of max ram right? USB3, Gigabit, Emmc, Even a lain of pcie express 2.0 very nice features but why so little addressable memory space.

  16. This chip is in the H6 line which mean no LCD interface. H5 is BGA347. So why is the H6 BGA451? It isn’t free to add 104 pins to the package. Maybe they have added SO-DIMM support?

  17. Anyone have a real price for H6? It is listed on Taobao for $9.80 but no one is going to buy it for that price given the A64+PMIC combo is less then $4.50. I’d hope the real price is less than $5.00.

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