Armbian History, Infrastructure, and Progress Report

Armbian-Services

Many of us rely on Armbian Debian and Ubuntu images for our cheap Arm development boards since they usually offer better support than vendor supplied firmware images. The community has just updated Armbian website, but the thing that caught my eye in the announcement was a link to a 45-minute presentation by Igor Pečovnik, working full-time on the project, that details the history about Armbian, and provides a relatively recent progress update as it was made at BalCCon – Balkan Computer Congress in November 2017. I’ve embedded the video further below, but first I’ll provide summary of the key point made during the presentation. It all started with Cubieboard (A20) as Igor was trying to fix some issues, and learn how to improve software support on the board. Several people joined his efforts on Cubieboard forums, and eventually Armbian website launched in mid 2014 running on the Cubieboard then ODROID-XU4 board as interest and traffic increased. The main motivations of …

Allwinner Unveils A40i/A40pro and A60i/A60pro Industrial & Military Grade Processors

Allwinner-A40i-A40pro-A60i-A60pro

Allwinner A20 dual core Cortex A7 processor was/is one of the most popular Allwinner SoCs thanks to its low cost, the availability of interfaces such as SATA, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 1.4, and multimedia support with H.264 encoding and decoding. The company has now introduced new processors that build upon A20, but working in industrial and military temperature ranges, and compliant with various standards (TBD). Allwinner A40i & A40pro The first two models are quad core Cortex A7 processors with A40i being the industrial version, and A40pro the military grade one. Both share most of the same specifications: CPU – 4x Arm Cortex A7 @ 1.2 GHz GPU – Mali-400 MP2 Memory I/F – DDR2/DDR3/LPDDR2/LPDDR3 up to 3GB RAM Storage I/F – 32-bit NAND, eMMC, SD card, SPI NOR flash, SPI NAND flash, 1x SATA Video Engine Decoder – Multi-format decoder up to 1080p60 Encoder – H.264 encoder up to 1080p45 Video I/F Output – 1x HDMI, 4x TVOUT, 2x 4-lane …

Linux 4.16 Release – Main Changes, Arm and MIPS Architectures

Linus Torvalds has just released Linux 4.16: So the take from final week of the 4.16 release looks a lot like rc7, in that about half of it is networking. If it wasn’t for that, it would all be very small and calm. We had a number of fixes and cleanups elsewhere, but none of it made me go “uhhuh, better let this soak for another week”. And davem didn’t think the networking was a reason to delay the release, so I’m not. End result: 4.16 is out, and the merge window for 4.17 is open and I’ll start doing pull requests tomorrow. Outside of networking, most of the last week was various arch fixlets (powerpc, arm, x86, arm64), some driver fixes (mainly scsi and rdma) and misc other noise (documentation, vm, perf). The appended shortlog gives an overview of the details (again, this is only the small stuff in the last week, if you want the full 4.16 changelog …

C.H.I.P, PocketCHIP & Voder’s Maker Next Thing Co. Is Still Up and Running (Correction)

[Update: Next Thing Co. CEO (Dave) contacted me to inform me the company was not closed, but there was just several unfortunate events: DNS problem with the site leading to the blog issue Next Thing Co Facebook page was closed months ago (due to too many requests from different sources) The Google Maps listing is not managed by Next Things Co themselves. I’ve left the rest of the post unchanged. (except the last sentence) ] Next Thing Co. introduced the $9 C.H.I.P computer powered by Allwinner A13/R8 in 2015, and worked with Free Electrons (now Bootlin) to bring mainline Linux to the platform. They also launched PocketCHIP portable Linux game console based on the module, and lateron introduced C.H.I.P Pro WiFi + BLE module based on Allwinner GR8 processor, and found in their Voder (previously Dashbot) car dashboard assistant. I’m actually still using a C.H.I.P board as a printer server, but this morning I was made aware that Next Thing …

Onda V18 Pro Tablet Review – Part 2: Android 7.1 Firmware

Onda V18 Pro is one of the first tablet powered by Allwinner A63 processor allowing for low-cost tablets with high resolution 2K displays (2560×1600). I received a sample from GearBest, and I already checked out the hardware and run Antutu 7 benchmark in the first part of the review entitled “Onda V18 Pro (Allwinner A63) 2K Tablet Review – Part 1: Unboxing, First Boot, and Antutu 7 Benchmark“. I’ve now spent more time with the tablet browsing the web, watching YouTube videos, reading books, playing games, and running some more benchmarks, so I’ll report my findings in this second part of the review. General Impressions I’ve found the tablet’s high resolution 10.1″ display to be very good for reading books or browsing the web, albeit the latter feels a bit slower than on Xiaomi Mi A1 smartphone (my main phone). As we’ll see later on, 3D graphics is not that good, so some games that work fin on my phone, …

Onda V18 Pro (Allwinner A63) 2K Tablet Review – Part 1: Unboxing, First Boot, and Antutu 7 Benchmark

Announced last June, Allwinner A63 is the latest tablet SoC from the company, with a quad core Cortex A53 processor and a Mali-T760MP2 GPU capable of driving 2K displays. One of the first tablet to feature the SoC is Onda V18 Pro with a 10.1″ 2560×1600 high resolution display, 3GB RAM, 32 or 64GB internal storage, and the capability to play 4K H.265/H.264/VP9 videos (obviously downscale to the display resolution). I was interested in checking it out, and GearBest sent me a sample of the 32GB flash version. I’ll do a two part review, starting with unboxing, and first boot where I’ll run CPU-Z and Antutu, before publishing the rest of the review in a few weeks once I got to use it more and performed more tests. Onda V18 Pro Unboxing The tablet comes is a white “V-series” box, Onda likely uses for all their VXX tablets.They just differentiate between models with a sticker, in my case reading “Dark …

Bootlin Wants to Bring Allwinner VPU Support to Mainline Linux (Crowdfunding)

I wrote about Free Electrons several times in the past due to their work on porting Arm SoCs to mainline Linux. Free Electrons is no more. But don’t be sad, as it’s not because they closed shop, but instead they changed their name to Bootlin due to trademark trolls. Free Electrons Bootlin intensively worked on Allwinner processors, for example working with Next Things Co. to add CHIP board to mainline Linux, or more recently adding support for OpenGL ES in mainline Linux, albeit with closed-source user space binary blobs. The company normally work with partners for their work, but for their latest initiative aiming to bring Allwinner VPU (Video Processing Unit) to the official Linux kernel there’s asking funding from the community through a Kickstarter campaign. For those who do not know, the VPU is the IP block within the SoC used for hardware video decoding of codecs such as MPEG2, MPEG4 or H264.Bootlin already showcased a demo with Cedrus open …

Pine64 ClusterBoard is Now Available for $100 with one Free SOPINE A64 System-on-Module

We’ve previously reported Pine64 had developed “Sopine Clusterboard” for a specific project with support for up to seven SOPINE A64 SoMs powered by Allwinner A64 quad core Cortex A53 processor. At the time (August 2017), it was unclear whether the company would sell to the solution publicly, but they’ve now gone ahead and launched Pine64 ClusterBoard for $99.99 plus shipping, including one free SOPINE A64 module for a limited time. PINE64 ClusterBoard specifications: SoM Slots –  7x SO-DIMM slot for SOPINE A64 modules Connectivity 1x Gigabit Ethernet port (RJ45) All SoMs are connected via Gigabit Ethernet using 7x RTL8211E transceivers and RTL8370N network switch (See diagram below) USB – 7x USB 2.0 port, one per SoM Expansion – Headers for each SoM with UART (serial console), I2C, key ADC, GPIOs, SPI, RESET/POWER 5V and GND Misc – RTC, reset button, optional EEPROM connected to RTL8370N Power Supply 5V/15A via power barrel jack ATX connector 2x battery slot for RTC battery backup, …