VIA ALTA DS 4K Digital Signage Player is Powered by Zhaoxin ZX-2000M Quad Core Cortex A17 Processor

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VIA has just announced their latest ALTA DS 4K digital signage player with a “quad core Cortex A17 processor”, which I first assumed must be Rockchip RK3288 processor since it’s one of the few with that processor core. But the processor is actually from a company I had never heard before: Shanghai Zhaoxin Semiconductor that does both x86 and ARM SoCs for various markets.

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But let’s check out the product with VIA ALTA DS 4K Digital Signage specifications:

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  • SoC – Zhaoxin ZX-2000M quad core ARM  Cortex-A17 processor @ up to 1.4GHz with 2D/3G GPU supporting OpenGL ES 3.0, and a video processing unit
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3 @ 1600MHz
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC Flash memory, SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 with CEC support
  • Video Codecs –  MPEG-2, VC-1, H.264 and H.265 video decoding up to 3840x2160p @30fps; H.264 encoding
  • Connectivity – 1x Gigabit Ethernet port (Realtek RTL8211FS-CG), 1x 10/100M Ethernet port, optional 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 ( EMIO-5531 USB module)
  • Audio – WM8960 Audio Codec; 2x 3.5mm audio jacks: Line-out and Mic-in
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x mini USB 2.0 port for COM (Tx/Rx)
  • Misc – Power on/off button with power indicator LED, CIR receiver, antenna hole for Wi-Fi, Kensington lock, Wake-on-LAN, Watchdog timer
  • Power Supply – 12V DC-in
  • Dimensions – 175mm(W) x 25mm(H) x118mm(D)
  • Weight – 500 grams
  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0°C ~ 40°C; storage: -20°C ~ 70°C
  • Operating Humidity – 0 ~ 90% @ 40°C (non-condensing)
  • Compliance – BSMI, CE, FCC, NCC

The player runs Android 5.1.1, and can be placed vertically with a stand holder, or mounted behind a monitor via an optional VESA mount. Beside digital signage, the device is also expected for automated kiosks, check-out counters, and POS systems, and works with the company’s Android Signage Content Management apps. The dual Ethernet ports are designed to connect an IP camera while getting overlay data from the cloud.

ZX-2000M processor seems to be part of ZX-2000 family with M and D parts. While I could not find the differences between the variants, the silicon vendor listed ZX-2000 specifications as follows:

  • CPU – Quad-core ARM Cortex-A17 CPU @ up to 1.6 GHz with 22000 DMIPS
  • GPU – Zhaoxin independent intellectual property GPU with support for 1080p and 4K UI interface; 60 GFlops Smoothly
  • VPU
    • H.265 [email protected] decoding;  H.264 4Kx2K decoding; full format HD video decoding
    • Lossless compression efficiency of video content is above 70%, saving an average of more than 50% memory bandwidth
  • Tuner Support – Built-in two-way DVBC QAM demodulator, supporting a maximum TS stream output of 4-way
  • Security / DRM – SARFT’s downloadable CA; ARM TrustZone; Secure Boot; DRM copyright protection; built-in OTG; Hardware based authentication mechanism preventing illegal software and flashing
  • Process – TSMC’s 28 nm HPM technology

So the amount of information is rather limited, although the claim of a GPU designed in-house is intriguing.

ALTA DS 4K digital signage player can be ordered with or without a wireless module, as well as optional VESA mount, COM cable, and debug cable, but pricing is not publicly available. You may want to visit the product page for more information and documentation, such as the operating guide, and potentially inquire about the solution.

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Nobody of ImportRedneckerzLuc VerhaegentheguyukArnd Bergmann Recent comment authors
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Gaetano
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Gaetano

I’m really wondered they also have x86 solutions.
Do they have a license for that?

Willy
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Willy

This device looks fairly complete and could make powerful RDP terminals, browsers, smart TVs etc. I seem to remember VIA’s previous equivalent designs were a bit expensive though. We’ll see.

Sandbender
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Sandbender

Zhaoxin is a joint venture between VIA and the Shanghai city government. Their x86 chips are covered under VIA’s existing agreements with Intel (the first chips were just rebadged VIA QuadCore & Edens but it seems they’ve introduced some improvements).

Daikon
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Daikon

I would stay away from VIA product, not worth buying.
Their support always mediocre or none.

Mum
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Mum

> Zhaoxin independent intellectual property GPU

Sounds like a whole lot of NOPE for anyone who ever wants unofficial Android updates/Linux support.

Arnd Bergmann
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Arnd Bergmann

I have looked at the available information for the SoC family some more: The product line seems to start at VIA with their vt8505 ARM9 SoC, which was spun out into a company named WonderMedia that was moderately successful with early Android tablets, but them seems to have faded from the market after their dual-core Cortex-A7+Mali450 (WM8860).
VIA later came with with a “VIA Elite E1000” chip, a quad-core A9. The source code for that is available and apparently written by its S3 subsidiary, but the hardware is definitely related to the earlier vt85xx/wondermedia products (e.g. the same MMC controller and USB host that nobody else uses). There is definitely an S3 GPU in this one, but the kernel driver is provided only as a binary, and I have never heard of this chip outside of VIA’s own embedded products.
Based on the specifications, I would guess that this S3/VIA Elite E1000 chip is identical or very closely related with the Zhaoxin ZX-1000, the same way that vt850x and wm850x were. The source code also lists an “Elite E2000”, which never came out under that name, but it seems similar to the ZX-5850 (Quad-core A7).

theguyuk
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theguyuk

S3 GPU go way back in Windows machines with the likes of Savage 3D, they struggled badly against Ati, Nvidia and 3DFX. That’s how they connect to VIA.

Luc Verhaegen
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Arnd Bergmann :
There is definitely an S3 GPU in this one, but the kernel driver is provided only as a binary, and I have never heard of this chip outside of VIA’s own embedded products.

So VIA now have become clear GPL violators. Things certainly have gone down hill with them over the last 15 years. On the other hand, they’ve always seemed quite dense and relatively unwilling to learn in that timeframe.

Redneckerz
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Redneckerz

@Arnd Bergmann
Somehow my comment never appeared so that stinks, so ill reply a bit briefly to your very informative post.

– The Elite E1000 isnt a quad core A9 chip, but a dual core one. Its actually a Zhaoxin ZX-1000

– The Elite E1000 (also known as Elite-1000 and Elite EXXX000) is derived from VIA’s Chrome range of GPU and consists of 64 stream processors. Source: http://site.embeddedworks.net/_ewdownloads/empc709/VIA%20ARTiGO%20A900_datasheet_v140318.pdf

It is actually a pretty powerful combination since a dual core A9 is not much by itself.

– The Elite E2000 is actually the GPU that’s inside this ZX-2000 unit. It contains 256 stream processors, similar to a Tegra X1. Whether these ”stream processors” are similar to Nvidia’s is not known. Source: http://forum.cnews.cz/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6217&start=1250

– VIA unfortunately makes it a bit confusing what their GPU is actually named (Either Elite E1000, Elite-1000, or Elite XXXX000)

Nobody of Import
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Nobody of Import

@Luc Verhaegen

Become? They’ve been that for a long while, to be honest.

Nobody of Import
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Nobody of Import

I tried to convince VIA back over a Decade ago to take Linux MUCH more seriously and I was pretty much blown off by the bizdev guys.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20040108005854/en/Apex-Digital-Introduce-Personal-Gaming-Console-Living

This was Steam before it was Steam. Had they taken it seriously and Linux a bit moreso, they might’ve been something somewhere.

Luc Verhaegen
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@Nobody of Import

I came up with modesetting, and the ideas of structured display driver development, while working on the xfree86 driver for VIA, which started in 2003. To my knowledge, VIA is only a gpl violator with this hardware now, In the arm space, i think they ended up releasing kernel code for the wondermedia chips of 5 years ago. Even though i ended up buying 2 development boards and one craptop with wmXXXX devices (one has mali-m200, which is very rare, yes, i am the lima guy as well), i never looked at kernel or uboot code in detail to determine their gpl violator status there. Very bad, and very shortsighted open source citizens is what they are, but that has been true since 2003.

What arnd describes puts them clearly in the worst of the worst camp now.