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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.

AMLogic Releases U-Boot and Updated Linux Kernel Source Code

November 22nd, 2012 14 comments

AMLogic released kernel 3.0.8 source code for AML8726-MX a few months ago, and yesterday they provided an updated tarballs with the kernel, and for the first time, AFAIK, released the source code for U-Boot.

There are 4 new files apparently generated from the (internal) git repository in AMLogic:

  • common-2012-11-20-git-b687495906.tar.gz  (108M) – This is the same kernel 3.0.8 release has last time, but with updated code.
  • m1-kernel-android-2012-11-20-git-5d0f6b8e93.tar.gz (103M) – This looks like an older kernel 2.6 for AML8726-M1 only.
  • uboot-master-2012-11-20-git-9b50e9a295.tar.gz (16M) – U-Boot 2010.06 possibly to use with the older 2.6 kernel. Only for M1 & M3 platforms.
  • uboot-next-2012-11-20-git-b0e532795a.tar.gz (40M) – U-Boot 2011.03 for use with M3 and M6 platforms.

I’ve already explained how to build the kernel in the previous post, so I’ll focus on U-Boot this time.

Ubuntu 12.04 arm-linux-gnueabi- toolchain fails to build U-Boot (uboot-next), so you’ll have to install Sourcery toolchain instead:

wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com/download/linux/ARM/gnutools/arm-2010q1-188-arm-none-eabi-i686-pc-linux-gnu.tar.bz2
tar xjvf arm-2010q1-188-arm-none-eabi-i686-pc-linux-gnu.tar.bz2

You’ll also need the ARC toolchain, and you’ll have to build it from source (Unless you still use Ubuntu 9.04) since there are no binary packages. First download the source code:

wget http://sourceforge.net/projects/arc-linux/files/ARC%20GNU%20Toolchain/ARC%20GNU%204.4/arc_gcc_rel4.4.tar.gz/download -O arc_gcc_rel4.4.tar.gz
tar xzvf arc_gcc_rel4.4.tar.gz
cd arc_gcc_rel4.4

Install some dependencies:

Build the ARC elf32 toolchain:

Where ARC_GNU is the path where you extract the ARC toolchain source code, and INSTALLDIR your chosen installation directory. After a while, the ARC toolchain should be installed in ~/edev/amlogic/arc-4.4-elf32 (INSTALLDIR). Add both Sourcery and ARC elf32toolchains to your path:

Extract the source code, and get a list of supported platform:

The listed directories correspond to the list of supported platforms. I used uboot-next in the example above, but the method is the same for uboot-master. I haven’t looked into the details and differences of each platform.

Finally select one platform to start the build, for example:

After a few minutes, U-Boot binary should be in build/u-boot.bin. To find out how to use it with the board, further reading in Amlogic U-Boot page should be helpful.

Via: J1nx Hackable Gadgets

Crowdfunding Initiative to Open AMLogic AML8726-M3 STB Source Code

October 31st, 2012 22 comments

J1nx (Peter Steenbergen) has spend a lot of time together with XBMC developers to try to bring XBMC (Linux) to ARM based set-top boxes, and initially AllWinner A10 processor seemed like a good candidate, unfortunately due to the lack of proper video engine libraries for Linux, progress on this SoC has been extremely slow. Then when Pivos and XBMC announced Pivos Xios DS set-top box based on AMLogic aml8726-M(1) would support XBMC natively, and the kernel and bootlooader (u-boot) source code was made available both on Pivos github account and AMLogic open source website, AML8726 series of processors appeared to be an ideal solution for this purpose.

Instead of AML8726-M (aka AML8726-M1) which is limited to 512 MB, it was decided instead to use a faster processor AML8726-M3 that supports 1 GB RAM. The STB of choice is based on “MBX – f16ref” which should be some kind of development board. You would think that since a lot of source code is already it should be feasible to simply use the existing source to run it on this hardware. However, some hardware config files (e.g. def_config) are missing, and attempts to reverse-engineer the configuration has failed. This is mainly a problem for u-boot, and to lesser extend for Linux.

This is why j1nx has decided to contact several Chinese manufacturers who would be willing to release the full source code for their STB based on AML8726-M3. After several week, he managed to find one, but there’s a condition: ordering 500 pieces. This is where crowdfunding comes into play with “Open up the AMLogic box” campaign on Indiegogo, where you can either donate or commit funds to buy a STB with the following specs:

  • Amlogic-8726M3 Cortex A9, CPU Max 1GHz.
  • Mali-400 GPU
  • 1 GB memory
  • 4 GB flash storage
  • WiFi: 802.11b/g/n
  • 10/100Mbps LAN
  • 2 USB
  • Cardreader slot
  • Coaxial Jack / Optical Socket / HDMI Socket
  • Remote control

Getting the box via Indiegogo will cost $99. You may think it is expensive, but since it is imported into Europe, it will already include VAT, import duties and shipping. With taxes around 35%, this is equivalent to $74 if you buy through websites such as Aliexpress and Dealextreme assuming individual buyers also pay VAT and import duties. It may also be the small price to pay to get a better XBMC ARM Linux media player.

If the campaign is successful, you’ll get the following:

  • The Set Top Box with external wifi antenna
  • A populated UART connector on the inside
  • FULL software build system
  • Linux kernel sources and drivers
  • The U-Boot bootloader system sources including the proper def_config file.

The UART board (debug board) can be connected the same way as it is in the Mele A1000/A2000, and no soldering is involved.

If you have questions/comments, you can post them below or directly in j1nx’s blog.

Droid Stick A2 – AMLogic AML8726-MX Dual Core Android 4.1.1 mini PC

October 10th, 2012 45 comments

Since it was first announced in August, Rockchip RK3066 dual core mini PCs have been popping up everywhere, and AFAIK those are currently the only low cost (sub $100) dual core Android TV Sticks available. But according to a recent Kimdecent announcement, this is about to change with the release of the Droid Stick A2 based on AMLogic AML8726-MX Dual Core Cortex A9 processor with 1GB RAM and 4 to 8 GB Flash running Android Jelly Bean.

Kimdecent Droid Stick A2

Here are Droid Stick A2 specifications:

  • CPU – Amlogic AML8726-MX Dual Core Cortex A9 @ 1.5 GHz
  • GPU – Mali400 Dual Core, 2D/ 3D/ OpenGL ES2.0/ OpenVG1.1.
  • System Memory – 1 GB RAM
  • Storage – 4/8 GB Nand Flash + microSD card slot (up to 32GB)
  • WiFi – 802.11b/g/n
  • Video Output – HDMI (1080P)
  • Video Decoding – Supports up to  [email protected]
  • Video Encoding – Supports encoding in H.264. [email protected], [email protected]
  • USB – 1xUSB 2.0, 1x Mini USB
  • Misc. ports – 1xMic, 1x Infra receiver port

For Linux lovers this device should potentially be a much better option than Rockchip RK3066 since AMLogic did release the kernel source for their dual core processor, and native (Linux and Android) XBMC support should be possible, unless there is much difference between AML8726-M3 and AML8726-MX on the video decoding front.

The device is not yet listed on Kimdecent aliexpress shop, as the device is in the final stages of development and should be available within 2 to 3 weeks. No pricing information is available at this time.