Linux 5.12 – Main Changes, Arm, MIPS and RISC-V Architectures

Linux 5.12

Linux 5.12 release was expected last Sunday, but Linus Torvalds decided to release one more release candidate, namely Linux 5.12-RC8, to “make sure things are all settled down“, so the latest Linux kernel is now expected this weekend.  Tihs should not yield any significant changes, so we can check what’s new in Linux 5.12, notably with regards to Arm, MIPS, and RISC-V architectures often used in SoC’s found in embedded systems. Around two months ago, the release of Linux 5.11 added support for Intel’s software guard extensions (SGX) and Platform Monitoring Technology (PMT), AMD “Van Gogh” and “Dimgrey cavefish” graphics processors, MIPI I3C host controller interfaces, and much more. Some interesting changes in Linux 5.12 include: Added support for ACRN hypervisor designed for IoT & embedded devices Added support for Playstation DualSense & Nintendo 64 game controllers, as well as Nintendo 64 data cartridges Dynamic thermal power management via a subsystem that allows the power usage of groups of devices […]

Quartz64 Model B SBC revealed, Model A gets hit by production delays

Quartz64 Model B

Pine64 unveiled the Quartz64 SBC powered by Rockchip RK3566 processor a few months ago. More specifically they provided details about Quartz64 Model A at the time, a featured-rich variant with SATA, PCIe, multiple display outputs, etc… During the announcement, Pine64 also indicated a Raspberry Pi-sized Quartz Model B was in the works but did not have a prototype to showcase just yet. In the latest Pine64 April update, the community showcased the new board,  reported software progress, and information about production delays for Model A. Quartz64 Model B Specifications: SoC – Rockchip RK3566 quad-core Cortex-A55 processor up to 1.8 GHz with Arm Mali-G52 GPU supporting OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.2, OpenCL 2.0, Vulkan 1.1, 0.8 TOPS NPU for AI acceleration System Memory – 2GB to 8GB LPDDR4 Storage 128 Mbit SPI Flash optional eMMC module from 16GB up to 128GB capacity bootable SDHC/SDXC MicroSD card up to 2TB Video Output / Display Interfaces HDMI 2.0a up to 4Kp60 2-lane MIPI DSI up […]

Chip shortage and high prices threaten supplies of SBCs and other electronics products

chips shortage

A few weeks ago, we started to hear news about a chip shortage for the automotive industry, but the shortage appears to be affecting all sectors now apparently due to a drought in Taiwan where a reservoir could be a risk of being depleted, and TSMC has been asked to reduce its water usage by 7 percent. I’ve also started to see several companies in the maker market warn about shortages and price increases. Pine64 announced it would only open pre-order for PinePhone, PinebookPro, PineTab, and other products once they could secure stocks of components, and while they hope to be able to do so within this month, there’s no guarantee. (1/2) [PSA] Re. availability of #PinePhone, #PinebookPro, #PineTab, etc., Due to component shortages, component price-increases & related issues, we will only open orders/pre-orders when production is securely underway. We are more cautious than usual, also for your sake (…) pic.twitter.com/0cJA2dQNpC — PINE64 (@thepine64) March 11, 2021 Ameridroid also reported […]

Pine64 unveils Quartz64 SBC powered by Rockchip RK3566 SoC

Quartz64 RK3566 SBC

We may just have written about Geniatech RK3566/RK3568 development board, but as expected, Pine64 has now unveiled more details about Quartz64 SBC powered by Rockchip RK3566 SoC. As we’ll see below, the design is very similar to RK3399 based RockPro64, but the new model adds a native SATA 3.0 port, an integrated battery charging circuitry, an ePD port for e-Ink displays, and supports more memory with up to 8GB LPDDR4 RAM. Quartz64 Model A preliminary specifications: SoC – Rockchip RK3566 quad-core Cortex-A55 processor up to 1.8 GHz with Arm Mali-G52 GPU supporting OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0/3.2, OpenCL 2.0, Vulkan 1.1, 0.8 TOPS NPU for AI acceleration System Memory – 2GB to 8GB LPDDR4 Storage SPI Flash optional eMMC module from 16GB up to 128GB capacity bootable SDHC/SDXC MicroSD card up to 256GB (or is it 2TB?) SATA 3.0 port (multiplexed with USB 3.0) Video Output / Display Interfaces HDMI 2.0a up to 4Kp60 4-lane eDP up to 2560×1600 @ 60Hz 4-lane […]

Pine64 mailbag – PinePhone postmarketOS Edition, PineCone BL602 board, and Pinecil soldering iron

Pine64 PinePhone, PineCone, Pincecil

Pine64 community was pretty busy last year with the launch of several products. Recently I’ve received a couple of packages with some of those products, namely PinePhone Community Edition: PostmarketOS, PineCone WiFi & BLE IoT board based on BL602 RISC-V SoC, and Pinecil soldering iron also based on a RISC-V chip for control, but this time GD32V generic-purpose MCU. I’ll most show what I have received without going into too many details, except for PinePhone which I have already set up and used for one hour or so. PineCone BL602 board I received PineCone at the end of last year in a separate envelope with the board only. There’s not much to it with the BL602 processor offering WiFI and Bluetooth, a USB-C port for programming and power, and a few I/Os. The board is interesting as it is the first RISC-V IoT board with wireless connectivity built into the chip. There’s an SDK, but it’s not yet an easy-to-use […]

Year 2020 in review – Top ten posts and stats

CNX Software Year 2021

It’s this time of the year when we look back at what happened, and what may be next. 2020 did not pan out as planned in more ways than one, but there were still some interesting developments. Based on 2019 announcements, 2020 was promising to be an exciting year for Amlogic and Rockchip with the expected launch of RK3588 and S908X high-end processors for 8K capable devices,  but we’ll have to wait for 2021 for this to happen. Instead, the most interesting processor of the year from the Allwinner, Amlogic, and Rockchip offerings was probably Amlogic S905X4 processing adding AV1 hardware decoding. As pointed out in our “RISC-V 2020 highlights” post, it was a fairly eventful year for RISC-V architecture, although there’s still a long road ahead, especially for application processors. We had seen some general-purpose and Bluetooth RISC-V MCUs in 2019, but 2020 saw the launch of the first WiFi IoT RISC-V chips with ESP32-C3 and BL602, Alibaba making […]

PinePhone KDE Community Edition smartphone with Plasma Mobile now up for pre-order

PinePhone KDE Community Edition

PinePhone Linux phone first launched as an early adopter phone without any OS when the “Brave Edition” was first introduced in November 2019. Since then Pine64 launched variant with different Linux mobile OS including PinePhone Community Edition: UBports, the PostMarket Edition that also added support for mobile/desktop convergence with a model with more RAM and storage, as well as a USB-C Dock, and more recently there was a batch with PinePhone Manjaro Community Edition. If you haven’t already gotten your hand on one of the earlier models, you’ll be glad to know the PinePhone KDE Community Edition is now available for pre-order for the same $149.99 price tag for the phone only or $199.99 with the convergence package. PinePhone comes with Allwinner A64 quad-core Cortex-A53 processor that been around for many years. It’s not a performance beast, but it’s well supported by the open-source Linux community, and affordable. For $150, you’ll get 2GB RAM and 16GB storage, while the $200 […]

Pine64’s PINECIL RISC-V soldering iron launched for $25

PINECIL RISC-V soldering iron

We’ve previously mentioned PINECIL RISC-V soldering iron during Pine64’s release of PineCube open-source IP camera development kit, and the good news is the soldering iron is now available for $24.99 on Pine64 store together with optional sets of gross or fine soldering tips compatible with the one used with TS100 model The soldering iron is powered by GigaDevice GD32VF103TB 32-bit RISC-V general-purpose microcontroller and features a small display and two buttons for user interaction, as well as changeable tips. It can be powered by a USB-C power adapter or a 12 to 24V power brick such as the ones you’d found with laptops. PINECIL soldering iron key features and specifications: MCU – GigaDevice GD32VF103TB 32-bit RV32IMAC RISC-V “Bumblebee Core” @ 108 MHz with 128KB flash, 32KB SRAM Display – 0.69-inch OLED monochrome display with 96×16 resolution Tip – 106mm long, Type B2 Temperature range – 100°C to 400°C; reaches operating temperature in 12 seconds. Expansion – GPIO & JTAG breakout […]