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AMLogic S802 / M802 Android 4.4 SDK, Documentation and Reference Schematics Are (Almost) Available

February 19th, 2014 13 comments

We’ve seen in the past AMLogic sometimes pushes some updated GPL software releases on their Open Linux website. So I went to have a look a few days ago, and to my surprise they already had instructions to download and build Android 4.4 for AMLogic M802 (Tablet) and S802 (STB), “user’s guides”, as well as links to reference schematics for the tablets… Nice!!!

AMLogic_M802_Android_SDK_Schematics

AMLogic Open Android Tablet Page Screenshot (Click to Enlarge)

I started with 4.4_ReleaseInfo for “Mbox” (S802), which explains how to get the SDK release on 2014-01-27 (kk-amlogic-20140127):

Unfortunately the joy stopped right there, as you need to send your SSH public key to your representative. I’ve just done that, and sent an email to support [at] amlogic.com, and mbox-android [at] amlogic.com on Sunday, and I have yet to gain access. I’ve found the “mbox-android” email in from Mbox page (similar to screenshot above) in a field right of “reference schematics” column, which has been removed since then. I’ve just noticed you actually need to fill a form with your company details to potentially get approval.

I’ve also found out that links to schematics and “user’s guides” all ask you to “please contact your sales window”, so there’s basically nothing available from this “open source” website, except the GPL source code directory last updated in April 2013, and there’s obviously nothing about S802/M802. There’s also  documentation available publicly or via NDA / SLA depending on the doc. Finally a Tools page is available, but with all information referring to files in the SDK.

The media box reference platform appears to be called “AML-M802 K200” with either 1 or 2GB RAM. and there appears to be two tablets reference designs: M802 K100 and M802 K101. There’s also a TV section for AMLogic T802?, but it’s empty for now.

What to Expect from AllWinner, Rockchip, Mediatek, and Other Silicon Vendors at CES 2014

January 4th, 2014 8 comments

CES 2014 is coming soon, and it will take place on 7 – 10 January, 2014, and we can expect some interesting SoC news. Samsung suggested they will unveil their 64-bit ARM SoC (Exynos 6?) at CES 2014, Nvidia will hold a press conference to “showcase new NVIDIA Tegra mobile technologies, gaming innovations and advanced automotive display technologies”, and Qualcomm has been quiet for now. However, several Chinese SoC vendors, namely AllWinner, Rockchip and Mediatek, have already announced what they will showcase at CES 2014, albeit with few details.

AllWinner at CES 2014

Allwinner announced will showcase their OptimusBoard based on their Ultra Octa Core A80 SoC, as well as 4G tablets powered by Allwinner A31/A31s, and dual-SIM phablets sporting A23 dual core.

AllWinner A80 Development Board

AllWinner A80 Development Board (Click to Enlarge)

Allwinner A80 is an Octacore processor featuring four ARM Cortex A7 cores, and four Cortex A15 cores @ 2.0GHz together with an unnamed GPU offering 2x more performance over previous generations, and supporting OpenGL ES3.0 and GPU compute. This will certainly be a new generation of GPU from either ARM Mali or Imagination PowerVR SGX GPUs.

AllWinner announced the availability (to selected partners) of Android 4.4 KitKat SDK for their AllWinner A31/A31s, and the latest version of Android will be running on 4G tablets using these solutions.

Allwinner has slowly, and discreetly, started to enter the smartphone space last year, and the company will showcase dual-SIM phablets based on Allwinner A23 dual core processor @ 1.5Ghz, with 512MB RAM, and GMS-certified.

Rockchip at CES 2014

The company did not announce anything directly but the sent out invite for CES 2014 giving clues about what to expect.

Rockchip_RK3288_CES2014We’ve found out about RK3288 last July, and it appears Rockchip will showcase their latest SoC during CES 2014. The Cortex A17 mentioned in the picture. above is most definitely a typo, as RK3288 is a quad core Cortex A12 processor coupled with an ARM Mali-T628 GPU. The processor should support H.265, but it’s still unclear if it will use GPU compute or have a dedicated hardware block, as well as 4G LTE.

Several sites have also reported Rockchip will display a Smart Glass Solution at the conference. The glasses will be based on RK3168 dual core Cortex A9 processor, and support Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS, comes with a microphone and stereo output, as well as 720p display and 5MP camera.

Mediatek at CES 2014

Mediatek has put out a press release detailing what they’ll show at CES 2014, namely:

  • LTE Modem – MediaTek MT6290 is an LTE Release 9 Category 4 modem built on the 28nm process.
  • Mobile SOCs – MediaTek MT8135 quad core  big.LITTLE SoC for high-end tablets, and  MediaTek MT6592 (Launched in November 2013 eight-core Cortex A7 processor.
  • Home Entertainment  – Unnamed SoC for Digital TV market supporting UltraHD (4K2K) video playback and HEVC decoding @ 60Hz. Sampling to begin in Q2 2014.
  • Connectivity – MediaTek MT7621A dual-core 11ac Wi-Fi router platform (already available).
  • Wireless Charging – Unnamed SoC supporting multimode inductive Qi and resonance wireless charging.
  • Wearables – Aster all-in-one solution for wearables.
  • Internet of Things – Cloud applications, video over Wi-Fi (VoW), indoor positioning and smart home automation

Other SoC Vendors

Another Chinese SoC company, Actions Semiconductor, announced they’ll showcase their latest tablet and multimedia solutions based on ATM7039 and ATM7021 SoCs, but without much details.

AMLogic did not announced anything for now, but I’d expect Geniatech based M801/M802 Android set-top box to be demonstrated at CES 2014.

I could not find anything about Broadcom, also some report the company will launch their own 64-bit ARM processor, just like Samsung and Qualcomm are expected to do.

Both Texas Instruments and Freescale have more or less left the consumer’s orientation application processor business to focus on the industrial / embedded part, but TI will showcase some IoT, automotive, audio, and projector solutions at the conference, and Freescale will host an “Exclusive VIP event“, but no details were provided, and nothing about i.MX7 or i.MX8.

AMLogic Processor Roadmap: Quad core Cortex A9 (M8), and 64-bit ARM processors (M9)

December 4th, 2013 16 comments

We already knew AMLogic is about to release a quad core Cortex A9 SoC, previously codenamed AML8726-M8, but recently renamed to M80X family with 4 different SoCs, but the company has now officially announced the new M8 family, as well as M9 that will feature 64-bit ARM Cortex A5X cores with Mali T7XX GPU. Onda V975m, the first tablet based on M802 processor, was also part of the announcement. Price: 999 CNY (~$164).

AMLogic Roadmap

AMLogic Roadmap

The new products line is divided as follows:

  • M801/M802
    • Quad core Cortex A9r4 @ 2GHz with Octo-core Mali-450MP GPU @ 600MHz
    • 4K2K video decoding, Full 1080p decoding (multi-codec), and 1080p H.264 encoding
    • Dual channel DDR3/LPDDR3 up to 4GB
    • 64-bit SDRAM bandwidth
    • HDMI 1.4 up to 4K2K
    • OS – Android 4.4 Kit Kat (Dec. 2013), Google TV version 4
    • BGA package, 28nm HPM
  • M803/M805
    • Quad core CPU with Quad core GPU
    • 1080p H.265 decoding, and 1080p HW encoding
    • Dual channel DDR3/LPDDR3 up to 2GB
    • 64-bit SDRAM bandwidth
    • OS – Android 4.4 Kit Kat
    • BGA package, 28nm HPM. M803 pin-to-pin compatible with M801/M802
  • M9:
    • ARM Cortex A5X CPU (64-bit ARMv8), Mali T7XX GPU
    • 1080p encoding, 1080 H.265 / H.264 decoding
    • Ultra low power

Details about M9 are very sparse for now, and the company focused the event on their M8 family, and especially M802 which is the most powerful SoC of the family, whereas M803/M805 are lower end SoCs.

M802 quad core processor was compared to Rockchip RK3188, AllWinner A31, Nvidia Tegra 3 and Mediatek MT8382. The most interesting part was that M80X processor use a new version of Cortex A9 core (A9r4) that allows for higher clock speed, and lower power consumption compare to the A9r3 used in Rockchip RK3188.

Antutu_AMLogic_M802_vs_RK3188_vs_A31_vs_Tegra3_vs_MT8382

Antutu Benchmark: AMLogic M802 vs Rockchip RK3188 vs AllWinner A31 vs NVidia Tegra3 vs Mediatek MT8382

As shown above, M802 vastly outperform RK3188 in Antutu thanks to the A9r4 cores with higher frequency, and Mali-450MP6 GPU (132 MT/s, 3,600 Mpixel/s, 54 GFLOPS) that even outperforms PowerVR SGX544MP2 (110 MT/s, 3,000 Mpixel/s, 22.4 GFLOPS). They’ve also shown a slide showing V975m tablet (9.7″, M802) with equivalent and in some cases even lower power consumption than another 9.7″ tablet powered by a quad core Cortex A7 processor.

Beside V975m, another long expected product, Geniatech ATV1800, should become available at the end of the month with M801 (or M802). Many players currently support 4K2K video decoding with 1080p HDMI video output, but AFAIK, the new Geniatech media player will be one of the first (relatively low cost) STB to support 4K2K decoding and 4K2K HDMI output.

Via AndroidPC.es and Padnews.cn (more slides there)

Geniatech ATV1800 Android TV Box To Feature AMLogic Quad Core Processor & Android 4.3

November 6th, 2013 13 comments

A few months ago, we learned AMLogic was working on a Quad core Cortex A9 SoC with the new ARM Mali-450MP6 (8 cores) GPU called AML8726-M8. It turns out AML8726-M8 may not only be one processor, but a family of processors (M801, M802, M803, and M805) according to a recent article in Chinese. This SoC was going to be part of Geniatech ATV1800 Android STB, but specifications were not available. More details have now surfaced.

Geniatech_ATV1800

Geniatech (aka Mygica) ATV1800 Enjoy TV Specifications:

  • SoC – AMLogic M801 or M802 Quad core Cortex A9 @ 1.6 to 2.0 GHz + ARM Mali-450MP6 GPU
  • System Memory –  2GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB NAND + microSD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 1080p, and composite
  • Audio Output – HDMI, Stereo RCA output, and optical SPDIF (TBC)
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, built-in 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, and Bluetooth
  • USB – 4 USB 2.0 host ports
  • Power Supply – 5.0V/2A or 12V/1.5A (depending where you read).
  • Power Consumption – 4 Watts (typical)
  • Dimensions – 168mm(L) x 132mm(W) x 21mm(T)
  • Weight: 402g

I’ve written these specifications based on several pages on Geniatech website, and the available pictures, so you should consider them preliminary, as there may be errors.

The company claims the device runs Android 4.3, the first STB I’ve personally seen with the latest version of Android Jelly Bean. There will also be a custom user’s interface, but you should also be able to access the standard Android UI, and Google Play will be installed. XBMC is also said to be supported. ATV1800 Enjoy TV will come with an HDMI cable, a user’s manual, a power adapter, and an IR remote control with 8 meter range. I’m not sure why they’d include an IR remote instead of a “fly mouse” with an high-end device, knowing how it’s difficult to use Android with a standard remote.

ATV1800_Rear_Panel

There’s no clear information about codec supported by the device, and they just list a few codecs and container formats (MPEG1/2/4, H.264, VC-1, WMV, AVI, MKV, MOV) on Geniatech ATV1800 page, but I’m sure there are more. The specifications list 1080p video decoding, but there’s also an UHD (2160p) logo which probably means the media player will be able to decode 2160p videos, but output up to 1080p.

I understand Geniatech is both a design house for AMLogic and a manufacturer (although actual manufacturing may be outsourced), and they sell devices under their own consumer brand, Mygica, and through partners such as Pivos. Inquiring mind may be able to find Mygica ATV1800 for $199.90 including shipping in Geniatech’s Aliexpress online store, but after contacting sales, they told me the device would only be available around the 20th of December, and the price will be lower.

As a side note, there’s also another STB called ATV580 Enjoy TV with a quad core processor, and quad core GPU (Mali-400). If there’s no typo in the GPU name, then it could strangely (Geniatech has only worked with AMLogic until now) be Rockchip RK3188, but if they meant Mali-450, it should be based on another AML8726-M8 processor either M803 or M805 both featuring a quad core ARM Mali-450 GPU.

And as another side note, some benchmark results have recently showed up on Padnews.cn where they tested a 9.7″ tablet prototype (AML M802 K100) with 2048 x 1536 resolution and based on M802 processor @ 1.9GHz. The device got 25050 in Antutu 4, which seems to be a pretty decent score, and comparable to what you get with Samsung Galaxy S4.

AMLogic_M802_Antutu

Other benchmarks such as Vellamo, Sunspider, and Nenamark2 2.4, also returned impressive results.

Update: You may also want to check out an interesting article on AndroidPC.es that compares AMLogic M802 3D performance vs Rockchip RK3188 SoC used in CX-919, and shows Mali-450MP6 to be about twice as fast as Mali-400MP4.

AMLogic To Unveil 4 Core Cortex A9 AML8726-M8 SoC with 8 Core Mali GPU

April 28th, 2013 23 comments

Last Thursday, Geniatech announced an upcoming Android Set-Top Box called ATV1800 featuring a quad core AMLogic processor, more memory, and running Android 4.2, and that will support XBMC. They also expect the device to be available in May for 20 to 24 USD more than the dual core version. There are not enough details about the device itself, so I won’t cover it now, but I had never heard about quad core processor from AMLogic. I’ve finally been told it was AML8726-M8 without much details, except it should be available in Q3 2013, which does not seem match May target for Geniatech’s STB. Luckily, a Google search helped a lot, so we already know some of the key features for this new SoC:

  • AML8726-M8_featuresQuad Core Cortex A9 @ 2.0 GHz (20,000 DMIPS)
  • Eight Core “Next-Gen” Mali GPU with 3,000 MPixel/s fill rate, 110MT/s, and 45GFLOPS. The GPU is said to achieve 44fps in Taiji 720p benchmark. It’d take a guess it’s an ARM Mali-450 GPU (Mali-450MP8 [Update: it should be Mali -450 MP6, see comments]). If so, it’s the first time I’ve ever seen this GPU used in an actual SoC.
  • Dual Channel DDR3, LPDDR2, 128-bit memory interface, 64-Bit ECC
  • Multimedia:
    • 4K2K video decoding
    • Dual 1080p video decoding
    • 1080p video encoding
    • Dolby DD, DD+, DS1, and DTS
  • Single and dual channel LVDS
  • MIPI, ISP interface
  • HDMI 1.4b with 3D, HDCP, and CEC
  • 4K2K Video Output
  • 28nm process at TMSC

Pretty impressive, probably the most powerful quad core Cortex A9 out there.

Categories: AMLogic Tags: amlogic, geniatech, set-top box, stb, TV box

Android Set-top Boxes With Digital Satellite TV Receiver (DVB-S2)

April 15th, 2013 18 comments

There are now plenty of Android set-top boxes or HDMI TV sticks, but if you want to watch digital satellite or terrestrial TV, the options are limited. If you already have a satellite receiver at home, you could buy an Android set-top box with an HDMI input such as Huawei MediaQ M310, or use a DVB-S2 USB adapter, but you may need to acquire both the kernel source and DVB driver to compile it for your device. So for now, the last option is currently reserved for ODM/OEM as mentioned on Geniatech store. But today, I’m going to write about an Android set-top boxes that comes with a satellite receiver (DVB-S2). They are all based on AMLogic AML8726-M1/M3, and models include:

Geniatech ATV1100B

Geniatech ATV1100B

Geniatech ATV1100B Key Features:

  • SoC – AmLogic AML8726-M1 ARM Cortex A9 @ 800MHz
  • System Memory – 1GB RAM
  • Storage – 2 to 32GB flash memory (optional) + SD card
  • Digital TV – ISDB-T / ATSC / DVB-T / DVB-T2 / DVB-S / DVB-S2 / DMB-TH standards
  • Connectivity:
    • Ethernet – RJ45 10/100M
    • Wi-Fi – Built in 802.11b/g/n module
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4a (Up to 1080p), CVBS
  • Audio Output – HDMI + Line out via RCA
  • USB – 3x external USB ports
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A

Digital TV support will depend on the country you live, and even your exact location, so when you buy, you’d better make sure you’re using the correct standard. I’ll give a short description for the 7 digital TV standards mentioned above:

  • ISDB-T – “Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting – Terrestrial” – Used in Japan and Brazil
  • ATSC – “Advanced Television Systems Committee” – Used in North America (USA, Canada, Mexico)
  • DVB-T – “Digital Video Broadcast – Terrestrial” – Used in Europe, India, South East Asia, Oceania, and a few other countries.
  • DVB-T2 – “Digital Video Broadcast — Second Generation Terrestrial” – Used in a subset of countries using DVB-T. Read “Market Adoption” in Wikipedia to know which country used the second generation of the standard.
  • DVB-S – “Digital Video Broadcast – Satellite” –  Accessible worldwide. MPEG2 codec, standard definition broadcast.
  • DVB-S2 – “Digital Video Broadcast – Satellite – Second Generation ” – Accessible worldwide. MPEG4 codec, support for both standard and high definition broadcast. Backward compatible with DVB-S (As I understand it).
  • DMB-T/H – “Digital Multimedia Broadcast – Terrestrial/Handheld” – Now called DMBT. Used in Greater China and Laos. Some middle east countries are experimenting with the standard.

For Satellite support, it’s pretty easy as DVB-S and DVB-S2 are supported worldwide. A few years ago, I needed 2 different dongles to support DVB-T and DMB-T/H, so I’m not sure if the STB can only support a subset of standards, or there’s just one tuner supporting all standard in ATV1100B.

One person has acquired an STV-502 media player, and dedicated one website (dvbdroid.info) to the device with links to the user’s manual, firmware files, DVBPlayer application, and the short video demo below.

At this point, you may think (or not): “Hey! I want one!”. I’ve spent one or two hours looking around for this type of device, but finding the exact model you want is nearly impossible, and searching for “dvb-s2 android” in Aliexpress just return 4 devices without any feedback. STV-502 is available from one manufacturer in Alibaba, with minimum order quantity of 1 piece, so this may also be an option. However, if what you’re looking for is an Android media player supporting DVB-T, there are nearly 500 devices to choose from, with prices starting around $80 including shipping.

Droid Stick A2 mini PC Recovery with AMLogic’s Hardware Flash Tool

March 28th, 2013 9 comments

In some circumstances, for example by installing the wrong firmware or doing something wrong by playing god (as a root user), it’s possible to brick your device. This happened to me with one of my Droid Stick A2 mini PCs based on AMLogic AML8726-MX. I changed some files in /system/etc/permissions directory, lost Wi-Fi access, and even  replacing my changes with the backup files would not solve the problem. It also changed some permissions in the system, and it was not possible to restore the firmware the usual way. At the end of last month, dbtablets left a comment with download links to “Amlogic USB Burning tool”, but  I only decided to give it a try today, and after some efforts I was successful. Just make sure you only use this method as last resort, i.e. a standard firmware upgrade does not work, and you’re about to throw your device in the trash bin, because you could brick your device if the “resources” file is not for your hardware. The same method should work with other AMLogic AML8726-XX devices but you would have to get the correct resources file from the manufacturer.

The tools are only available for Windows XP or 7. Here are the steps to follow (in theory):

  1. Download “Hardware flash.rar” which contains the burning tool, the USB drivers, and the “resources” file, a zip file with the SPL, the bootloader, uImage and update.zip, which is specific to Droid Stick A2. There’s also a word file with instructions.
  2. You’ll need to short two pins on the board, so open Droid Stick A2 casing to access the board.
  3. Extract Hardware flash.rar in a directory of your choice, enter Hardware Flash/Hardware flash of amlogic directory, and click on ImageBurnTool.exe to start the program.AmlogicBurningTool
  4. AMlogic_burning_tool_load_resourcesIn the top menu click on the first item on the left drop down menu to load the resources file. I had to do this in a netbook with 1024×600 resolution, and following the great “flash tools” tradition, the window cannot be resized, so I could not see the top menu. In that case, simply press “Alt” then “Down Arrow” and “Enter” to access the popup menu to load resources.zip
  5. Connect the mini USB to USB cable to your Windows PC but not to Droid Stick A2 yet, short TP14 as shown below, and only then connect the mini USB cable to start your device. N.B.: Some other devices have a recovery button so that you don’t need to open the case.
    Droid_Stick_A2_Recover_TP14
  6. Windows should then detect a new device (M6-CHIP), and ask you to install the drivers. To be honest, I’m not sure what you have to do at this point (as I did this many times), but I think you can just press cancel, as the burning tool will install the drivers automatically (in theory) and you should eventually see a “WorldCup device” in the hardware manager.
  7. wipe_out_chinesePort 1 line should show the device is connected in the burning tool. Check the option to erase the flash (as shown on the right), and click on the start button (开始) on the top right of the window to start erasing the flash. For me the process connected to both Port 1 and Port 3, it failed on Port1, but was eventually successfully on Port 3.
  8. Disconnect and reconnect the USB cable from your PC, it should start upgrading the firmware automatically, and having a while you should see “Success” in the window. Again, for me Port 1 failed, but Port 3 worked OK.

Once this is done, connect Droid Stick A2 to your HDMI TV, and it should start normally with a relatively recent firmware (30th of January 2013). Apparently the method above worked just fine for some people, but it did not work for me, as the system refused to install the drivers (Step 6). I tried in a virtual machine Windows 7, and a netbook running Windows XP SP3, and the drivers refused to install either automatically thru the burning tool, or manually with the drivers in Hardware Flash/Hardware flash of amlogic/AmlogicusbBurningdriver directory. So I decided to look for alternative drivers, and found another version of the burning tool in Slatedroid. So I download the file (AML_Flash_tool.rar), extracted it, and instead of starting ImageBurnTool.exe, I clicked on ImageBurnTool-sp3.exe as my netbook runs Windows XP SP3. AML_Flash_tool.rar only contains the burning tool, so I used resources.zip for Droid Stick A2 from the first rar file. The program managed to install the “M6-CHIP” drivers automatically, but then the procedure would fail during steps 7 or 8, as SPL would not load for some unknown reasons. After several retries however, the procedure went through successfully (don’t ask me why) and I could recover my device, although as mentioned previously it ended with an error on Port 1, but successfully on Port 3.

How To Root Droid Stick A2 mini PC

February 4th, 2013 5 comments

Droid Stick A2 mini PC does not come rooted, so here’s a simple rooting guide for the device. First, make sure you’ve installed the latest firmware, then follow the instructions below (Source: ARMTvTech):

  1. Copy update_Superuser.zip to the root of a micro SD card.
  2. Insert the microSD card to Droid Stick A2, and power the device
  3. Go the Apps menu in Android, and launch “Upgrade” app.
  4. Select Local Upgrade
  5. Select update_Superuser.zip
  6. Select Reboot And Install Package
  7. Let the update go through, and let it boot to Android.

You should now have root access. This method deleted old version of su and Superuser.apk, copies su to /system/bin & Superuser.apk to /system/app, and changes permissions on those files. It may also work on other AMLogic AML8726-M1 / M3 / MX based devices. If you are interested in knowing exactly what it does, unzip update_Superuser.zip, and open /META-INF/com/google/android/updater-script.

For some reasons, the first time I tried, it failed to create a symlink to su, and after the first boot I got the Android Home Screen for phones, without access to mouse or keyboard. A reboot recovered access to the proper user interface and access to mouse and keyboard. My second try with the steps described above finally succeeded to root the device.