Allwinner H6 quad-core Cortex-A53 processor with Arm Mali-T720 GPU was launched in 2017 and made its way into various TV boxes and SBC’s. But last year, we got some news of lower-cost versions of the processor with Allwinner H603 and H6 VC200-OS SoC’s.
So the first time, I read about Allwinner H616, I thought it was yet another variant of little interest. But it turns out H616 is the first processor from the company with a Bitfrost GPU, namely Mali G31MP2, meaning it supports Vulkan, and down the line, it could potentially be supported by Panfrost open-source graphics driver. Another positive for the processor is support for Android 10, while AFAIK other H6 processors are stuck to Android 9.0.
Another advantage is low power consumption leading to lower CPU temperature. It might be a process change or some other optimizations in the silicon, we just don’t know at this stage. The illustration also claims a lower “working RAM occupancy rate”, which probably means they optimized Android 10 for a lower footprint leaving for memory for apps. I’m not smart enough to understand the meaning of “decoding code rate”, unless maybe it refers to faster Java bytecode handling.
We don’t have the full details about Allwinner H616, but there are already some TV boxes based on the processor such as Tanix TX6S and T95 selling for around $22 and up, and we may learn a little more.
Let’s go with Tanix TX6S specifications for reference:
- SoC – Allwinner H616 quad-core Arm Cortex-A53 processor with Arm Mali G31 MP2 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 3.2 and Vulkan
- System Memory – 2GB/4GB SDRAM
- Storage – 8GB/32GB/64GB eMMC flash, MicroSD card slot
- Video Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz
- Video Codecs
- VP9-10 Profile-2 up to 6K @ 30fps
- H.265 HEVC MP-10@L5.1 up to 6K @ 30fps
- H.264 AVC HP@L5.1 up to 4Kx2K @ 30fps
- H.264 MVC up to 1080p60
- MPEG-4 ASP @ L5 up to 1080p60 (ISO-14496)
- WMV/VC-1 SP/MP/AP up to 1080p60
- AVS-P16(AVS+) /AVS-P2 JiZhun Profile up to 1080p60
- MPEG-2 MP/HL up to 1080p60 (ISO-13818)
- MPEG-1 MP/HL up to 1080p60 (ISO-11172)
- RealVideo 8/9/10 up to 1080p60
- WebM up to VGA
- Audio – S/PDIF output, digital audio via HDMI
- 10/100M Ethernet
- 2GB RAM model: 2.4 GHz WiFi
- 4GB RAM models: Dual-band WiFi & Bluetooth 4.0
- USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
- Misc – Power LED
- Power Supply – DC 5V/2A
The box runs Android 10.0 with ALICE UX, and Kodi 18 pre-installed. It ships with an IR remote control, a power supply, HDMI cable, and user manual. An optional keyboard or air mouse is also offered.
T95 has similar specifications including 10/100M Ethernet (no Gigabit) but adds an AV port. At first, I thought the processor may not come with GMAC, but the processor was just discussed on linux-sunxi IRC, and the device tree file from the SDK (not public yet AFAIK) indicates a GMAC is present. Allwinner H616 code name is sun50iw9p1 in the source code.
One person has such as box, and the output resolution is stuck to 720p50 in Kodi 18.5. The problem is “The firmware on your device does not implement the modesetting API, therefore you cannot switch modes” according to fritsch, a Kodi developer. So be aware that since Allwinner H616 + Android 10 is still a relatively new platform, there may be a few bugs or missing features.
Thanks to xnc-hardware for the tip
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.