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

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 […]

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Year 2020 in review – Top ten posts and stats

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 […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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The quest for a blob-free WiFi & Bluetooth stack for BL602 WiSoC

I thought I was done writing about Bouffalo Lab BL602 WiFI & Bluetooth RISC-V SoC for a while after first covering the chip itself, and then an inexpensive BL602 development board this weekend. But the BL602 SDK has shown up in various Github repositories, including Bouffalo Lab’s own bl_iot_sdk repository, and as more people are looking into it, there’s now an effort to develop a fully open-source blob-free WiFi & Bluetooth stack for BL602, and other Bouffalo Lab WiFi and/or Bluetooth wireless chips. Last day we communicate with Bouffalolab, finally they release the SDK of BL602 (RV32 chip of wifi+bt), all code is open, except libblecontroller.a, libatcmd.a, libbl602_wifi.a (while they have all symbol inside)https://t.co/giHsQ4ezXxwe have a fork too https://t.co/FiaAIxLBc8 — Sipeed (@SipeedIO) October 27, 2020 First, Sipeed says the code is mostly open-source except for three libraries: ibblecontroller.a, libatcmd.a, libbl602_wifi.a, all of which are un-obfuscated, and easy to disassemble. Then we have Pine64 that offers free BL602 “PineCone” development boards […]

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BL602/BL604 RISC-V WiFi & Bluetooth 5.0 LE SoC will sell at ESP8266 price point

Hisilicon Hi3861 may be the first RISC-V WIFI SoC we’ve reported on, but due to political uncertainties and security concerns, supplies may not be available outside of China. So alternatives are welcomed, and Nanjing-based Bouffalo Lab (not a typo, 博流智能科技 in Chinese) has recently introduced BL602 and BL604 32-bit RISC-V WiFi and Bluetooth LE SoC for low-power IoT applications that are supposed to compete against ESP8266 in terms of price but with higher performance and additional features. The BL602 will also be integrated into an upcoming Sipeed Longan-series board, and potentially a new IoT board from Pine64. BL602 / BL604 key features & specifications: MCU subsystem – 32-bit RISC-V CPU with FPU with dynamic frequency from 1MHz to 192MHz, L1 cache Memory – 276KB SRAM on-chip Storage 128KB ROM, 1Kb eFuse, and optional Embedded Flash on-chip XIP QSPI flash support  Wireless Wi-Fi 4 – 802.11 b/g/n @ 2.4 GHz Bluetooth 5.0 LE Wi-Fi Fast connection with BLE assistance Wi-Fi Security […]

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PineCube open-source Linux IP camera devkit launched for $30

Pine64 has been a busy company/community with the launch of Linux powered Arm development boards, PinePhone smartphone, PineTab tablet, and Pinebook Pro laptop in the last two years. They also had other smaller projects that got fewer resources due to the launch of the aforementioned products and COVID-19 induced delays, and one of those is PineCube open-source IP camera development kit that finally launched for $29.99 plus shipping. PineCube hardware specifications: SoC – Allwinner/Sochip S3 Arm Cortex-A7 processor @ 800MHz with 128MB in-package DDR3 RAM Storage – 128Mbit SPI Nor Flash and MicroSD slot, both bootable Camera – 5MP OV5640 sensor Audio – Built-in microphone, speaker Display – Optional 4.5-inch RGB LCD screen ( Networking – 10/100M Ethernet with passive PoE and WiFi USB – USB 2.0 Type-A host port Expansion – 26-pin GPIO header Misc – Volume and home buttons Power Supply 5V/1A via micro USB port or GPIO pin 8V-24V passive PoE Optional 950-1,600 mAh 3.7V 903048 lithium […]

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Linux 5.9 Release – Main Changes, Arm, MIPS & RISC-V Architectures

Linus Torvalds has just announced the release of Linux 5.9 on lkml: Ok, so I’ll be honest – I had hoped for quite a bit fewer changes this last week, but at the same time there doesn’t really seem to be anything particularly scary in here. It’s just more commits and more lines changed than I would have wished for. The bulk of this is the networking fixes that I already mentioned as being pending in the rc8 release notes last weekend. In fact, about half the patch (and probably more of the number of commits) is from the networking stuff (both drivers and elsewhere). Outside of that, the most visible thing is a reinstatement of the fbdev amba-clcd driver – that’s a noticeable patch, but it’s basically just mainly a revert. The rest is really really tiny (mostly some other minor driver updates, but some filesystem and architecture fixes too). There’s just a bit more of those kinds of […]

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