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Orange Pi Development Boards

HiKey 960 Android Development Board Gets a 4GB RAM Version for $250

January 13th, 2018 6 comments

Hikey 960 development board is one of the most powerful Arm boards on the market thanks to Huawei/Hisilicon Kirin 960 octa-core processor with four ARM Cortex A73 cores, four Cortex A53 cores, and a Mali-G71 MP8 GPU, fast storage with 32GB UFS 2.1 flash, and 3GB LPDDR3 memory. Like the earlier Hikey (620) board, the board is also an official reference board for AOSP, so you should be able to run the latest Android version, and also play with sensors using Neonkey SensorHub 96Boards mezzanine board.

If you are somehow limited by the 3GB RAM on the board, you can rejoice as Seeed Studio has just launched a 4GB RAM version selling for $249, or about $10 extra. Note that shipping is only scheduled for February 2, 2018, so those are pre-orders.

The rest of the specifications for Hikey 960 4GB RAM version are unchanged:

  • SoC – Huawei Kirin 960 octa-core big.LITTLE processor with 4x ARM Cortex A73 cores @ up to 2.3 GHz, 4x Cortex A53 cores @ up to 1.8 GHz, and a Mali-G71 MP8 GPU @ up to 900 MHz
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR4 SDRAM @ 1866 MHz
  • Storage – 32GB UFS flash storage + micro SD card slot up to 2TB (SD3.0, SRD104)
  • Video Output / Display Interface – 1x HDMI 1.4 up to 1080p; 1x 4-lane MIPI DSI connector up to 3840×2400 @ 60 Hz via HS expansion connector
  • Video Decode – H265\HEVC MP/High Tier, Main/High Tier, H.264 BP/MP/HP, MPEG 1/2/4, VC-1, VP6/8, RV8/9/10, DIVX, H265 up to 4K @60fps
  • Video Encode – 4K @30fps H.265/H264
  • Audio – Via HDMI, Tensilica HiFi 3.0 DSP audio subsystem
  • Connectivity – Dual band 802.11 a/b/g/n/a WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1 with two antennas (TI Wilink 8 WL1837 module)
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 type A host ports, 1x USB 2.0 type C OTG port
  • Camera – 1x 4-lane MIPI CSI, 1x 2-lane MIPI CSI via HS expansion connector
  • Expansion
    • PCIe Gen2 on M.2 M Key connector
    • 40 pin low speed (LS) expansion connector with +1.8V, +5V, DC power, GND, 2x UART, 2x I2C, SPI, I2S, 12x GPIO
    • 60 pin high speed (HS) expansion connector: 4L MIPI DSI, 2L+4L MIPI CSI, 2x I2C, SPI (48M), USB 2.0
  • Misc – LEDs for WiFi & Bluetooth, 4x user LEDs, power button, reset button
  • Power Supply –  8V-18V/2A via 4.75/1.7mm power barrel (EIAJ-3 Compliant); 12V/2A power supply recommended; PMU: Hi6421GWCV530, Hi6422GWCV211, Hi6422GWCV212;
  • Dimensions – 85mm x 55mm
  • Weight – 60 grams

Click to Enlarge

Hikey 960 is purely an Android development platform, as even though there are references to Debian Dekstop/Developer images, there don’t seem to be available for download, so AFAICS there’s no Linux support. Beside information provided in Android developer’s website (linked above), you’ll also find software and hardware documentation on 96Boards Github account.

Geniatech & Arrow Are Working on Tablet Docks for 96Boards Development Boards

December 13th, 2017 1 comment

Geniatech has been working on some interesting tablet docks specifically designed for 96boards compliant hardware platform. They showcased a prototype at Linaro Connect US 2017 with their “almost-96Boards-compliant” Developer Board IV based on Snapdragon 410E which adds an Ethernet port to 96Boards CE specifications.The model showcased comes with a 10.1″ FullHD touchscreen display, and should work with all 96Boards CE edition boards once launched. JinJun Fang, CEO of Geniatech, also mentioned they are discussing with Arrow Electronics, which will manage distributions, about other 7″ and 13″ models.

The video – by Charbax – embedded below was filmed in September 2017, but AFAIK the 96Boards tablet docks have not launched yet, and Geniatech did not reply to request for information, so we’ll have to wait a little longer before launch. Mr Fang also mentioned a new Snapdragon 820 based board coming later-on, maybe Developer Board V?

Via ARMdevices

Gumstix AutoBSP Automatically Generates Device Tree Files for Hardware Designed with Geppetto

December 8th, 2017 No comments

Gumstix launched Geppetto Design-To-Order (D2O) system back in 2013, and at the time you could design complete baseboard for their Overo CoMs right in your Chrome or Firefox web browser, and once complete, order the board from the website. The system is meant to save you time, and “design” here does not mean drawing schematics, and laying out PCBs, but instead selecting board size, and adding ports as needed.

Since then, the company has added support for more modules, and you can now easily build you own baseboard for Raspberry Pi Compute Module, Technexion PICO-IMX6 module, Toradex Colibri SoM, 96Boards Mezzanine, and they even have Beaglebone Black and 96Board CE or IoT connectors, among others. Support for Qualcomm DragonBoard 410c, Atmel (Arduino) , and STMicro platforms is also being worked on. Their latest feature – AutoBSP – automatically generates device tree files for your custom boards, so you can simply copy it to your favorite image and get started as soon as possible.

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I give it a very quick try by going to https://geppetto.gumstix.com/, and opening a pre-designed board, namely RPi Compute LoRa Gateway PoE, and clicked on the AutoBSP button on the right top corner of the browser window. Within a few seconds, I was asked to open or download devicetrees.zip, which containes three files including the device tree, and a README.

The README gives some basic instructions, here and excerpt:

—————————————————–
= Gumstix Geppetto Raspberry Pi Compute =
= Module (1 and 3) designs =
= AutoBSP README file =
= Copyright (c) 2017, Gumstix, Inc. =
—————————————————–

Introduction
————

The Raspberry Pi Compute Module connector module included in your Geppetto design connects the Raspberry Pi Compute Module and Compute Module 3 to your custom expansion board. Gumstix provides a custom Yocto Linux disk image for use with these devices. In order to take full advantage of the hardware embedded in your design, The RPCM’s bootloader uses a device tree overlay, a DTBO, to facilitate communication between the operating system and the expansion board’s hardware. AutoBSP delivers a custom DTB overlay for Geppetto RPCM designs, incorporating the device tree features required by the kernel and many device drivers.

Instructions for the compilation, installation and use of the device tree file, and a list of helpful links, are provided in this document.

Links
—–

– Raspberry Pi CM getting started: https://www.raspberrypi.org/documentation/hardware/computemodule/README.md
– Custom Yocto RPCM disk images: https://catalina.gumstix.com/binaries/7230/
– Custom Yocto RPCM3 disk images: https://catalina.gumstix.com/binaries/7191/

Folder Contents
—————
– devicetree-rpi_cm.dtbo Compiled device tree overlay
– devicetree-rpi_cm.dts Device tree source
– README.txt This file

Installation Instructions
————————-
1. Flash your compute module with a Raspbian image or one of the disk images provided above, as described in the RPCM getting started guide.
2. Copy the DTBO file designed for your expansion board on to a USB drive
3. connect the compute module to the expansion board, the USB drive to the board’s USB port, and a power supply to its power connector
4. From the compute module’s terminal, Copy the DTBO file from the USB drive to the overlays folder in the RPCM’s boot partition.
etc…

In a future update, AutoBSP will also automatically generate network and application code specific to designs, but the company did not elaborate on that part.

I did notice another feature called AutoDoc, which has been there for a while, but still new to me, and it generated the following datasheet (PDF). The 3D model of the board is also available, but this feature had been already implemented in 2013.

So now, Geppetto streamlines not only hardware design and ordering, but also documentation and software support. If you are short in time, and hardware cost is not the biggest issue, the system may be worth looking at, as it may save you time and/or money.

Top 5 Most Powerful Arm SBCs & Development Boards in 2017 / Early 2018

December 4th, 2017 12 comments

Raspberry Pi, Orange Pi, and NanoPi boards among others are all great and inexpensive Arm Linux development boards that do good enough job for many tasks, but they may not cut it if you have higher requirements either in terms of CPU power, GPU capabilities and performance, I/O bandwidth, and in some cases software and support.

So I’ve decided to make a list of 5 single board computers or development boards that I consider to be the most powerful in 2017, early 2018. I have limited the price to $1,000 maximum, the board must be easy to purchase for most people (e.g. you don’t need to be a tier-1 automotive supplier, or operate your own datacenter), and in case the board is not quite available yet, the likeliness of actual launch must be reasonably high. Those criteria for example exclude Intrinsyc Open-Q 835 development kit since it costs $1.149 and the company may not sell to individuals (TBC). Let’s get started. You’ll find more details for each board by clicking on the headings links.

NVIDIA Jetson TX2 Developer Kit – Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision

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The developer kit is comprised of a mini ITX carrier board taking Jetson TX2 system-on-module powered by an Tegra X2 hexa core processor (2x Denver +
4x ARM Cortex A57) with a high-end 256-core Pascal GPU (desktop class with OpenGL 4.5 support), 8GB RAM, 32GB storage, and more.

The company provides a Linux for Tegra and JetPack 3.0 SDK to leverage the board deep learning, artificial intelligence, and computer vision capabilities.

NVIDIA Tegra TX2 developer kit sells for $599 on NVIDIA store or Arrow Electronics.

Hikey 960 – AOSP Development Platform

Hikey 960 is a development board that complies with 96Boards CE specifications, and features Huawei/Hisilicon Kirin 960 octa-core big.LITTLE processor with four ARM Cortex A73 cores @ up to 2.4 GHz, four Cortex A53 cores @ up to 1.8 GHz, and a Mali-G71 MP8 GPU. The board is further equipped with 3GB LPDDR4, and 32GB UFS 2.1 flash storage.

The board will be especially interesting to Android developers since it is officially supported by AOSP, and you can work on the latest Android version with a powerful development platform.

Hikey 960 is sold for $239.99 on Seeed Studio, or Amazon.

SolidRun MACCHIATOBin – A Networking Workhorse

MacchiatoBIN mini-ITX board may come with a powerful Marvell ARMADA quad core Cortex A72 processor clocked up to 2.0 GHz, but what makes it stand apart are its storage and networking ports with three SATA 3.0 interfaces, and multiple Gigabit, 2.5 Gbps and 10 Gbps network interfaces. The board ships with 4GB RAM by default, but its DDR4 DIMM supports up to 16GB of memory.

Solidrun/Marvell MacchiatoBIN board can be purchased on Solidrun website for $369 to $518 depending on options (RAM, power supply, micro SD card).

Dragonboard 820c – Linux, 96Boards Compliance & Ecosystem

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DragonBoard 820c is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad core Kryo processor with Adreno 530 GPU, 3 GB LPDDR4, and 32 GB UFS Flash. The board complies with 96Board CE Extended specifications, and include Gigabit Ethernet and an mSATA/mPCIe slot not found in smaller boards.

Contrary to Hikey 960 above supporting Android only, the Qualcomm board supports Linux (Debian, Open Embedded, Yocto Project) on top of Android, and also benefits from 96Boards ecosystem in terms of software support, and hardware expansion boards called Mezzanine products.

The board was first spotted in May 2016, and it is now available yet, which has understandly lead people to suspect a case of “Vaporware“, but Bill Davies, responsible for Arrow’s DragonBoard program, very recently responded that he expected the board to start selling in “weeks”, not “months”. Linaro engineers have also been working on the platform, even having some fun with a video game arcade project. So we can probably expect it early next year.

GIGABYTE Synquacer – 24 Cores for your Arm PC

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GIGABYTE Synquacer macro-ITX board won’t beat any single thread records with its SocioNext SC2A11 ARM Cortex A53 processor, but considering there are 24 of those, the board could perform well with workloads that can utilize all 24 cores in parallel.

What really make this board “powerful” however is its flexibility, as it’s an ATX motherboard – compatible with 96Boards Enterprise specifications – that will be sold either as a standalone board, or in a PC tower. You’ll be able to add up to 64GB memory via its 4 DIMM slots, SATA hard drives and SSDs to its two SATA connectors, and add off-the-shelf PCIe cards. It will mostly serve as a development platform to test and support PC accessories, and be a first step in bringing an Arm development computer that can challenge x86 solutions.

The system was first expected in December of this year, but the latest news states shipping is expected to start in January 2018, and reservations can already be made on Chip One Stop.

I’d expect some of the boards here to be dethroned by Arm Cortex A75 solution or other custom ARMv8 cores by the end of 2018. If you disagree with the list, and what are included another board, let us know in the comments section taking into account the limitation expressed in the introduction.

iMX7-96 “Meerkat” ARM Cortex A7/M4 Development Board Launched for $109

October 27th, 2017 No comments

If you have really good memory, you may remember that Freescale was working on a 96Boards compliant i.MX 7 development board in 2015 that was supposed to be released in Q4 of that year. Yesterday the board was finally launched and demonstrated on 96Boards OpenHours.

i.MX7-96 board (aka Meerkat) is powered by an NXP i.MX 7 dual core ARM Cortex-A7 + 1x Cortex M4 processor, coupled with 512MB RAM, and complies with the Consumer Edition (CE) of 96Boards specifications.

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iMX7 96 board specifications:

  • SoC – NXP i.MX 7Dual dual ARM Cortex-A7 processor at 1.2 GHz, with Cortex-M4 @ 200 MHz and 2D accelerator
  • System Memory – 512 MB DRAM
  • Storage – micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI
  • Connectivity  – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi + Bluetooth 4.1 LE (LSR Sterling-LWB module)
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 hosts,  1x micro USB 2.0 OTG
  • Camera – 1x  MIPI-CSI
  • Expansion Interfaces
    • 40-pin low speed expansion connector: +1.8V, +5V, SYS_DCIN, GND, UART, I2C, SPI, PCM, PWM,GPIO x12
    • 60-pin high speed expansion connector: 4L-MIPI DSI, USB, I2C x2, 2L+4L-MIPI CSI
  • Misc – 6x LEDs: 4x user controlled, 2x radio (BT and WLAN activity); Power/Reset buttons; 3-pin serial console port
  • Power Supply – [email protected], (inner diameter 1.7mm and outer diameter 4.8mm)
  • Power Consumption – 250 μW standby power
  • Dimensions – 85mm x 54mm

Two Linux images – built with buildroot – are available one headless, and one with XFCE desktop environment. You’ll find hardware design files, source code and documentations on 96Boards’s Github documentation page as well as a separate website. Some basic info can also be found on 96Boards.org.

Click to Enlarge (and see the nice rework…)

iMX7 96 board is a bit different from other 96Boards CE platform, as AFAIK it’s the only one include an MCU class Cortex-M4 core, and it also lack a 3D GPU having only the hardware to accelerated 2D graphics operation like resizing, rotation, or blending.

While Novtech designed the board, it is distributed by Arrow Electronics for $109. i.MX7 96 Board Workshops will be hosted in various locations in Europe (Germany, Poland, UK, and Hungary) in order to “gain practical hands-on experience in combining the Linux Operating System with the Real Time OS of the Cortex M4”.

Dragonwally is a Stereoscopic Computer Vision Mezzanine for 96Boards CE Boards

October 11th, 2017 No comments

Hardware based on 96Boards specifications may not have the number of sales as Raspberry Pi or Orange Pi boards, but there’s heavily used by Linaro member and other developer working on bleeding edge software. More and more companies are designing boards compliant with the standard, and several new mezzanine expansion boards such as Secure96, were showcased at Linaro Connect SFO 2017, and are yet to be show up on 96Boards Mezzanine page.

Another 96Boards mezzanine expansion board in development is Dragonwally, designed for stereoscopic computer vision, currently used with DragonBoard 410c board, and targetting applications such as object recognition,  people counting, access control, or driver identification and safety.

DragonWally DW0 board specifications:

  • MIPI DSI interface with high speed connector
  • 2x 5MP cameras
  • 1x USB port
  • 96Boards CE compliant

The two Brazilian developers working on the project interfaced it with DragonBoard 410c running Linaro Debian, and using OpenCV and Python for computer vision development. To demonstrate the capability of the board, they added a touchscreen display for a demo leveraging Amazon Rekognition API for face recognition and camera distance estimation.

DragonWally board does not seem available yet, nor the source code for the demo above. If you’d like more information, visit DragonWally website, or join 96Boards OpenHours #74 tomorrow.

Rock960 Board is a 96Boards Compliant Board Powered by Rockchip RK3399 SoC

September 29th, 2017 24 comments

So it looks like Rockchip is soon going to join 96Boards family with Rock960 board. Developed by a Guangzhou based startup called Varms, the board will be powered by Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core SoC, and comply with 96Boards CE specifications.

Rock960 board preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Rochchip RK3399 hexa-core big.LITTLE processor with two ARM Cortex A72 cores up to 1.8/2.0 GHz, four Cortex A53 cores @ 1.4 GHz, and  ARM Mali-T860 MP4 GPU with OpenGL ES 1.1 to 3.2 support, OpenVG1.1, OpenCL 1.2 and DX 11 support
  • System Memory – 2 or 4GB RAM
  • Storage – 16 or 32GB eMMC flash + micro SD card
  • Video Output – 1x HDMI 2.0 up to [email protected] Hz with CEC and HDCP
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO up to 867 Mbps, and Bluetooth 4.1 LE (AP6356S module) with two on-board antennas, two u.FL antenna connectors
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 3.0 type C port with DP 1.2 support
  • Expansion
    • 1x 40 pin low speed expansion connector – UART, SPI, I2C, GPIO, I2S
    • 1x 60 pin high speed expansion connector – MIPI DSI, USB, MIPI CSI, HSIC, SDIO
    • 1x M.2 key M PCIe connector with support for up to 4-lane PCIe 2.1 (max bandwidth: 2.0 GB)
  • Misc – Power & u-boot buttons. 6 LEDS (4x user, 1x Wifi, 1x Bluetooth)
  • Power Supply – 8 to 18V DC input (12V typical) as per 96Boards CE specs; Battery header
  • Dimensions – 85 x 54 mm (96Boards CE form factor)

The board will support Android (AOSP), Ubuntu, the Yocto Project, and Armbian. The website shows the word “official” for the first three, and lists Canonical as partner. The company will also offer various at least one expansion board, and starter kit based on Seeed Studio Grove system with a mezzanine board with plenty of Grove headers, an LCD display, and various Grove modules like buzzers, relays, buttons, LEDs, temperature sensors, and so on.

Rock960 is both simpler and smaller than other RK3399 boards such as Firefly-RK3399 and VS-RK3399, so I’d expect it to be cheaper, hopefully below $100, once it becomes available. The website is still very much under construction, but you may find few more details there.

Thanks to mininodes for the tip.

Secure96 is a 96Boards Mezzanine Expansion Board To Experiment with Hardware Based Security

September 28th, 2017 12 comments

With the Internet of things booming and taking a more important role in our lives, security will become more and more critical. So far, it has often been an afterthought with modems & routers frequently shipping with default username and password, and getting security right is really hard, as shown by the recent CLKSCREW attack that somehow leverages DVFS to break ARM TrustZone security, and that “is not a software bug, nor a hardware bug, it’s a fundamental part of the energy management design”, so most ARM platforms are vulnerable. Optimal security normally combines software and hardware, so having a platform to experiment with different HW security solutions would be useful, and that’s what Secure96 Mezzanine board for 96Boards aims for.

Secure96 expansion board specifications:

  • Security ICs
    • Microchip Atmel ATSHA204A SHA-based CryptoAuthentication crypto element device
    • Microchip Atmel ATECC508A crypto device with ECDH (Elliptic Curve Diffie–Hellman) key agreement
    • Infineon SLB 9670 TPM 1.2/2.0
  • Storage – EEPROM
  • USB – micro USB port connected to FTDI chip
  • Expansion – 4-pin for I2C, 40-pin header to connect to 96Boards

Launched in 2011, ATSHA204A is used for symmetric authentication with a random number generator, a unique 72-bit serial number, I2C/SWI host interface, 88 bytes used for configuration, 512 bytes used for data, and 64 bytes of OTP storage. It can be used for accessory (battery, cartridge, …)  authentication, secure boot, data integrity verification, and session key exchange. Joakim Bech, Tech Lead for Security Working Group at Linaro, has already published some code to leverage that chip, currently (& temporarily) posted on his own Github, but will be moved to Linaro repo later on.

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ATECC508A shares many of the feature of the first chip, but adds asymmetric key pairs. Sadly it requires an NDA to get the datasheet and TRM, It’s supported by the Atmel CryptoAuthLib, so it might be possible to study the code to better understand it. He has not done work on the software part yet for this part. Note that I previously reported about a demo for secure IoT connectivity using ESP8266 + ATECC508A.

Infineon SLB9670 TPM has just been tested with Intel TSS TPM 2.0 resource manager, and the tpm2.0 tools, but again, no software has been implemented for this chip on Secure96 board yet.

Going forward the rough plans are to:

  • Finalize the ATSHA204A implementation
  • Create a library for the ATSHA204A implementation
  • Offline implementation to mimic device behavior (in a Trusted Application in a TEE)
  • Use IC(s) for secure boot on a 96Boards IoT device
  • Get the specification and implement support for ATECC508A
  • TPM chip – Try it out using IMA in Linux & use it to store SSH credentials

You may want to flick through the Linaro Connect presentation slides for more details.

The video has also been uploaded, but the audio is not that clear. Since there’s still quite a lot more work to do, Secure96 mezzanine is not for sale yet. [Update: You can purchase the board on Amazon for $31.99]. Visit 96Boards Mezzanine products page for details.