The First Amlogic S912 Development Board is Coming Soon with Khadas VIM2

We have a decent choice of Amlogic S905 development boards like ODROID-C2 or NanoPi K2, but I was recently asked whether I knew of any Amlogic S912 development boards. I’m sure Amlogic has one for internal development, but those are hard to get, and probably expensive, and while you could probably get an S912 TV box board those lack I/Os, and software support may truly be a challenge. So I’m pleased to announce that Shenzhen Wesion will soon provide an update to their Khadas VIM Pro board with Khadas VIM2 powered by Amlogic S912 octa-core processor.

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The company will actually offer three variants of Khadas VIM2 boards (Basic/Pro/Max) specifications with highlights in bold showing differences with Khadas VIM Pro board:

  • SoC –  Amlogic S912 octa core ARM Cortex-A53 @ up to 1.5 GHz with ARM Mali-820MP GPU
  • System Memory
    • Basic – 2 GB DDR4
    • Pro/Max – 3 GB DDR4
  • Storage
    • micro SD card and 2MB SPI flash
    • eMMC Flash – Basic: 16GB; Pro: 32GB; Max: 64GB
  • Video & Audio  Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz with CEC support
  • Connectivity
    • Basic – Gigabit Ethernet with WoL support, 802.11 b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.1 via Ampak AP6356S module
    • Pro/Max – Gigabit Ethernet with WoL support, 802.11 b/g/n/ac with RSDB and Bluetooth 4.2 via Ampak AP6359SA module
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports supporting 900mA and 500mA loads, 1x USB 2.0 type C port supporting power and data only
  • Expansion header
    • 40-pin 2.54mm pitch header with USB, UART, I2C, ADC, PWM, I2S, SPDIF, and ISO7816
    • 10-pin FPC connector with I2C and IOs
    • 8 “pin” pogo pads array with USB, I2C, DVB bus, and I/Os
  • Misc – Blue LED, white LED, dual channel IR, power/function/reset buttons, header for RTC battery, fan header
  • Power Supply –  5V to 9V via USB type C, 4-pin VIN 1.25mm pitch header, or pogo pads for VIN (5V recommended for better efficiency); programmable current limit switch up to 4A (Set to 3A by default)
  • Dimensions – 82.0 x 57.5 x 11.5 mm (4x M2 mounting holes)

We can see that it’s not just a processor update with many new features added to the new boards. If like me, you’ve never heard about RSDB, it stands for Real Simultaneous Dual Band, and allows to use both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz at the same time, while for most dual band modules only one frequency can be used at a given time. That’s a clear advantage if you’re going to use the board as an access point.

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The company will provide Android 7.1 Nougat and Ubuntu 16.04 or greater operating systems and SDKs for the board, and work on UEFI support is in progress. The board will be launched last that month, and for now, the only VIM2 specific documentation provided is Amlogic S912 datasheet, but you can be sure there will be a lot more on Khadas Docs page at launch, although I expect many of the instructions available for Khadas VIM (Pro) will still work on VIM2 board.

You’ll find more details on the announcement forum post, such as Linux OpenGL ES not working natively, i.e. without libhybris and Android libraries, and the board has been designed with micro servers in mind with features like WoL and SPI flash for network boot, as well as UEFI support.

Thanks to Geokon for the tip.

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Hoangdinh86
Hoangdinh86
3 years ago

Sadly, no Usb 3.0

Mr Netflixer
Mr Netflixer
3 years ago

without libhybris (GPU drivers) and Android libraries

This is a major problem for Linux/LibreELEC images on the AML S912 – there are hacks out there to provide for GPU video output but this leads to GUI tearing.

KiLLWarez
KiLLWarez
3 years ago

Price?

theguyuk
theguyuk
3 years ago

I was just reading the szwesions 912-development-board page, it notes they have a lite version with s905D but sadly only for ODM

kszaq
kszaq
3 years ago

Linux hardware video decoding works natively, the only thing libhybris is needed for is OpenGL.

blu
blu
3 years ago

I always wondered how HardKernel can provide GLES support without libhybris, and others cannot..

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

Nice details (at least 2T2R MIMO and 5GHz Wi-Fi, WoL, no brain damaged powering scheme) but why’s there no huge heatsink by default or at least mounting holes for one, what’s that thing looking like a SATA connector on the lower PCB side and how does it work to provide 2 type A USB receptacles, USB2 also on the type-C connector, also on the 40 pin header as well as pogo pins?

Prices will start at $80 or even more?

kszaq
kszaq
3 years ago

@blu
Hardkernel doesn’t have S912 board. Every S905(X) board has GLES support without hybris. S912 GLES in Linux is not possible without hybris because Amlogic did not pay for Mali DDK for Linux, they only have Android license.

Slawek
Slawek
3 years ago

No USB 3.0 and native sata port.
Its a prank Bro !

Gouwa
3 years ago

Hi, everyone, this is Gouwa from Khadas Team.

Any questions about Khadas VIM2 can be asked here or Khadas Forum, and I will try to answer all the questions 🙂 .

The retails price needs to wait for the final launch in the next weeks.

Thanks CNX-Software for the article.

Gouwa
3 years ago

@tkaiser

1) I’m not sure where you figure out, but there is no SATA connector on VIM2.
2) It’s reversion1.0 showed on the picture, only 8-Pin pogo pads on the 1st version, and the final release version will be 20-pin Pogo pads, 7-pin pogo pad for a on-board programmable MCU, and a 6-pins pogo pads for extra power sources.
3) There are two solutions for heat sink: use silica gel directly, or design a specified heat sink for VIM2 which mount at the four M2 screw holes.

Willy
Willy
3 years ago

Looks possibly interesting. It might be difficult to fix a heat sink but it’s nice to see a board with a “wide” range of input voltage. Letts see how much it costs ; for quite some time the NanoPI-M3 has been available with 8 A53 at 1.4 GHz (real), and it seems that octocores of 1.4 GHz or more still remain rare. The low profile form factor is also much appreciated.

@tkaiser: it’s not a SATA connector, it’s the other side of the low-profile ethernet jack.

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@Gouwa
When you run cpuburn-a53 on all 8 CPU cores… how low does S912 throttle down after 5 minutes? Below 600MHz?

And what about the USB2 ports? How many host and OTG ports does S912 provide and how is USB ‘routed’? Can i use USB on all receptacles, GPIO pins and pogo pads simultaneously or not?

Gouwa
3 years ago

@tkaiser As still Sunday here in China, I will do some simple testing tomorrow and update here. I think users should install a heat sink (actually, a 3-level cooling fan is also available on VIM2) when full on all 8 cores. For Amlogic S912, which is different with S905(D/X), the SoC featured with dual channels USB2.0 and one OTG2.0. Yes can be simultaneously. USB details for VIM2: 1) OTG2.0 is on USB-C port 2) one USB2.0 for USB Host port(with 900mA and closed to USB-C port one) 3) another USB2.0 channel is leaved for a four-ports USB HUB, and for… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@Gouwa
Nice to see that you expose one USB host port directly so it has not to share bandwidth (many many other board designs fail with this). Looking forward to some ‘thermal performance’ numbers tomorrow 🙂

Paul
Paul
3 years ago

Gouwa :
Hi, everyone, this is Gouwa from Khadas Team.
Any questions about Khadas VIM2 can be asked here or Khadas Forum, and I will try to answer all the questions ….

Can you give us some typical 802.11n data transfer performance figures in Client mode ?

kszaq
kszaq
3 years ago


I know what you mean and I’m pointing out that hardware video decoding works natively in Linux for S912, like it does for any other Amlogic SoC – using libamcodec.

GLES is the only thing you need libhybris for.

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

Paul : Can you give us some typical 802.11n data transfer performance figures in Client mode ? That’s close to impossible since it depends on so many factors and most of these are external (the environment the device operates in and the antennas used which will add significantly to costs if you choose appropriate ones) 🙂 Maximum throughput numbers can be calculated but always keep in mind that PHY rate is not directly related to any real world throughput, see http://80211notes.blogspot.com/2014/03/phy-rate-and-udp-throughput.html for example. But as soon as distance increases or walls are in between all depends on antennas and TX… Read more »

blu
blu
3 years ago

@kszaq
Ok, I understand. Amlogic need to address that for their own sake. Let’s see when that will happen.

Mum
Mum
3 years ago

> micro SD card and 2MP SPI flash

typo here. I assume you mean 2MB (16MBit) SPI flash?

Stephen
Stephen
3 years ago

Did the max memory spec for the S912 change since last year? The spec was 2GB, but the pro/max has 3GB.

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@Stephen
Nothing changed. By googling for ‘S912 3GB’ or something like that you’ll get a lot of TV boxes targeting clueless people.

Gouwa
3 years ago

@tkaiser

As I can’t paste picture here, so I create a topic in Khadas Forum for the CPU thermal testing:
http://forum.khadas.com/t/khadas-vim2-thermal-testing/852

crow
crow
3 years ago

@kszaq
but not with mainline kernel just with the 3.14.29 kernel right?

Paul
Paul
3 years ago

tkaiser : Paul : Can you give us some typical 802.11n data transfer performance figures in Client mode ? That’s close to impossible since it depends on so many factors …. I realise performance depends on many factors, antenna gain, position, if-line-of-sight, distance & interference environment, 802.11 MCSrate etc. However, websites like ‘SmallNetBuilder’ routinely conduct meaningful comparative tests of commercial Wireless Router performance down to N300/$21, showing graphs of transfer rate v distance/attenuation. Such websites usually have a page describing the test environment. To minimise difficult to measure variables of crowded environment, SNB use screened room and simulate Distance using… Read more »

Gouwa
3 years ago

@Paul

Yes, I will do the WIFI performance testing, but still need wait for the final board arriving(few days later).

Will update here then with the WIFI testing details.

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@Gouwa Thank you but Shell yes "yes > /dev/null&" | head -n8 | bash 1 yes "yes > /dev/null&" | head -n8 | bash is not a real test but just a ‘load illusion’. I was asking for cpuburn-a53 for a reason: since this is the heaviest ‘CPU only’ load generator I’m currently aware of. Another pretty nice variant to test for the efficiency of heat dissipation is cpuminer (since once throttling occurs it shows performance numbers — this is not meant as a generic benchmark but only to check for the efficiency of a cooling solution). And I would… Read more »

Gouwa
3 years ago

@tkaiser

Thanks for the professional feedback & suggestions, I will check out the approaches you mentioned to do further testing.

At the same time I will push our team to design a specified heat sink for both VIM and VIM2.

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

Paul : My point is, if websites provide useful comparative test results for boxed routers, (sadly, as yet don’t test cheaper unboxed WiFi boards) Those websites collect absolute numbers within given/reproducable environments to provide listings and graphs (and hopefully some insights too). The only meaning of their absolute numbers for any reader is the ability to do a relative performance ranking afterwards most probably already ignoring some of the prerequisits for those numbers (eg. 3T3R MIMO being basic requirement on both client and AP for the numbers shown). So while such overviews using always the same environment testing through a… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@Paul
Almost forgot since you mentioned ‘Antenna – not expensive from Aliexpress’. I also ordered a few some time ago and did some quick testing immediately thinking having found just another ‘buy cheap buy twice!’ category. But to be honest: I still lack the knowledge to interpret the numbers so I postponed all of this to get more insights first. But since we started to replace 10GbE at customers with 40GbE in the meantime dealing with Wi-Fi feels broken anyway (same with wired networks below Gigabit Ethernet of course).

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@Gouwa Good to hear that you’re exploring a heatsink option. Maybe it would be also an idea to think about two heatsinks with different scenarios in mind: heatsink only and heatsink + fan. For passive cooling the fin distance is important since if too tight convection won’t work. Such a heatsink like on the MACCHIATOBin should work pretty nice with both scenarios and a top mounted fan while classical heatsinks with fins might work better with a lateral fan. When designing a heatsink to be used together with a fan I always would prefer a large and slow rotating over… Read more »

Paul
Paul
3 years ago

Gouwa :
@Paul
Yes, I will do the WIFI performance testing, but still need wait for the final board arriving(few days later).
Will update here then with the WIFI testing details.

Pleased to hear that. Can you also advise which way the 2 external Antennae are organised, eg both for WiFi 2.4 & 5GHz, or 1 for Bluetooth, 1 for WiFi 2.4GHz + 1 for Wifi 5GHz etc.

Gouwa
3 years ago

@Paul

The one close to USB port is for WLAN & Bluetooth shared, and the other one is for WLAN only.

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@Paul
Adding to @Gouwa’s answer: you get 2×2 MIMO in both Wi-Fi bands as with all other AP635x with some theoretical potential for interferences on one antenna due to Bluetooth’s adaptive frequency hopping spread spectrum implementation (IIUC).

Paul
Paul
3 years ago

tkaiser : Paul : My point is, if websites provide useful comparative test results for boxed routers, (sadly, as yet don’t test cheaper unboxed WiFi boards) But for your special use case (public AP far away) I doubt you get any meaningful numbers when Khadas does some testings. If I were you I would get the cheapest 3 antenna 2.4Ghz AP allowing to run LEDE/*WRT and able to be configured as client bridge or even wireless repeater. BTW: there’s a good reason to not test ‘cheaper unboxed WiFi boards’ since average readers are not willing to accept reality anyway and… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@Paul Wrt ‘not made for AP mode (crippled firmware limiting max client connections, no beamforming)’ — this was not mentioned with your use case in mind but what happens in general if people see an SBC with better Wi-Fi specs. Many immediately think such a SBC would make up for a great AP which is not the case. Any cheap dedicated router able to run a free OS (LEDE/*Wrt) will do a better job. The only ‘client implementations’ I know of that perform rather well as AP are Atheros mPCIe cards (AR9380 or better — you get them for 10… Read more »

Gouwa
3 years ago

@tkaiser

VIM2 Wi-Fi Performance testing is available here:
http://forum.khadas.com/t/vim2-wi-fi-performance-testing/922

Gouwa
3 years ago

Hi, cnxsoft, we will contact you in these days for VIM2 review 🙂

Paul
Paul
3 years ago

Gouwa : @tkaiser VIM2 Wi-Fi Performance testing is available here: http://forum.khadas.com/t/vim2-wi-fi-performance-testing/922 Thanks for the link to WiFi Performance testing. I didn’t realize you also have Internal Antennas. At first I assumed your 81.5 Mbps on 2.4GHz used some specified External Antennas until I saw your note at the bottom “If with external Wi-Fi antenna should be with better Wi-Fi performance.” Were these results obtained with the ‘Basic’ (AP6356S) or the ‘Pro’ (AP6359SA) ? Can you publish 2.4GHz results using a pair of typical 5dBi External Antennas and let us know which version of the VIM2 is used ? If you… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
3 years ago

@Gouwa Thank you. Output from ‘iwconfig’ on VIM2 and ‘wdhelper’ (or screenshot of settings when you option-click on the Airport menu item) would help to understand settings. I would assume your router only allowed HT20 with 2.4GHz since otherwise iperf would be better? Paul : Can you publish 2.4GHz results using a pair of typical 5dBi External Antennas and let us know which version of the VIM2 is used ? What do you expect? More than 90 Mbits/sec when HT20 with 2×2 MIMO is used in 2.4 GHz band? Better antennas should only make a difference if distance will be… Read more »

Paul
Paul
3 years ago

tkaiser : @Gouwa Paul : Can you publish 2.4GHz results using a pair of typical 5dBi External Antennas and let us know which version of the VIM2 is used ? What do you expect? More than 90 Mbits/sec when HT20 with 2×2 MIMO is used in 2.4 GHz band? Better antennas should only make a difference if distance will be increased. As the link to their test results showed distance to router only 7metres I am sure you are right. But when I looked in Gouwa’s link for the test conditions to get 81.5Mbps, I saw the note “If with… Read more »

Paul
Paul
3 years ago

@Paul
Last question written in a hurry. Using same approach as on my Android phone assumes there is a local UI on the WiFi board – in practice a keyboard & monitor, which I prefer not to. One reason I prefer a low energy consumption, is for economical 24/7 running, so I could connect a KB & monitor briefly to set it up, or maybe there is a boot time config file to execute the commands required to run in WiFi Client mode ?

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