Mainline Linux on 64-bit ARM Amlogic SoCs, and TV Boxes such as Wetek Hub / Player 2, NEXBOX A1 / A95X, etc…

We’ve already seen Neil Armstrong, part of BayLibre, worked on adding Amlogic SoC (S905/S905X/S912) to mainline Linux via our virtual schedule for the Embedded Linux Conference & OpenIoT Summit 2017. But at the time, although we could see some activity in Linux 4.10 including support for Nexbox A95X and Nexbox A1, they did provide that much details the work that had been done, but since then, ELC 2017 videos have been released, and BayLibre wrote a short post about 3D Graphics support in mainline Linux. We can see that I/Os, USB host, composite video output, Ethernet, eMMC/SDIO, and PSCI and SCPI features have already been added to Linux 4.10. but some important features have not yet including HDMI, Mali support, Audio, and high speed eMMC modes. HDMI is actually planned for Linux 4.12, which could be released in about 18 weeks if we keep the 10 weeks kernel release schedule we had in the past. WeTek Hub and Play 2 …

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Embedded Linux Conference & OpenIoT Summit 2017 Schedule

The Embedded Linux Conference 2017 and the OpenIoT Summit 2017 will take place earlier than last year, on February  20 – 23, 2017 in Portland, Oregon, USA. This will be the 12th year for ELC, where kernel & system developers, userspace developers, and product vendors meet and collaborate. The schedule has been posted on the Linux Foundation website, and whether you’re going to attend or not, it’s always informative to check out the topics. So as usual, I’ll make a virtual schedule for all 5 days. Monday, February 20 For the first day, the selection is easy, as choices are limited, and the official first day it actually on Tuesday. You can either attend a full-day paid training sessions entitled “Building A Low Powered Smart Appliance Workshop“, and the only session that day: 14:30 – 15:20 – Over-the-air (OTA) Software Updates without Downtime or Service Disruption, by Alfred Bratterud, IncludeOS Millions of consumers are at risk from security vulnerabilities caused …

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Kodi 17 “Krypton” Released, Kodi 18 “Leia” Development Started

Although not officially announced yet, Kodi developers have finally released Kodi 17 “Krypton” which you can download for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Android, and iOS, as well as Raspberry Pi and some other development boards, and several Linux versions specific to TV box such as Nvidia Shield Android TV, Amazon Fire, or WeTek Hub. The most visible changes of the update are the new Estuary and Estouchy default skins, and people who have bought recent Amlogic based Android TV boxes may have already experienced them as several TV boxes shipped with Kodi 17 Beta versions. There’s a long list of changes, but some noticeable ones include: Lots of changes and updated to the Live TV and PVR (Personal Video Recorder) include PVR backend clients addons New Settings user interface Media library improvements with multiple sources support, more filtering & rating options, and better scanning & database performance Audio Engine improvements on most platforms using ActiveAE New default web interface …

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Ten Most Popular Posts of 2016 on CNX Software and Some Stats

The last day of the year is a good time to look back at what the year brought us, and I have to say it has been a fun and interesting year on CNX Software. The TV boxes news cycle has been dominated by Amlogic products, but most products have now switched to 64-bit ARM SoC, with 4K and HDMI 2.0 support, and price have kept going down, so you can now get a 4K TV box for as low as $20, although many people will prefer spending a bit more for extra memory and support. Intel based Bay Trail & Cherry Trail mini PCs have continued to be released with Windows, and in some cases Ubuntu, but the excitement seems to have died off a bit, maybe with the expectation of upcoming Apollo Lake mini PCs that should be more powerful. The year have been especially fruitful in the IoT space with a dramatic reduction in costs and sizes …

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How to Create a Bootable Recovery SD Card for Amlogic TV Boxes

I reviewed Rikomagic MK22 TV box about two weeks ago, and with the firmware I had, online firmware update was not enabled, and the company only released .IMG firmware for Amlogic USB Burning Tool, a windows only tools that’s not well designed, and requires some procedure that vary slightly from boxes to boxes which in some cases forces to buy a male to male USB cable. I’ve now started reviewing R-Box Pro TV box also based on Amlogic S912 processor, online firmware update is not working either, and again I only managed to find .IMG firmware for the box on GeekBuying. However, I’ve been informed that “USB Burning Tool” firmware can now be flashed through a micro SD card, or USB flash drive with all recent Amlogic TV boxes, so I’ve tried this method instead of R-Box Pro, and decided to report my experience in this post following some instructions on Freaktab made by user Calc. I’ll show instructions in …

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Amlogic USB Burning Tool Still Sucks in 2016

[Update November 2016: If you don’t like USB Burning Tool or don’t have the necessary USB cable, you can flash Amlogic IMG firmware to a micro SD card instead] In the first few years when Android TV Boxes/mini PCs started to hit the markets, in the 2012-2014 period, online firmware update was inexistent for the vast majority of the boxes, and if you wanted to update your firmware you had to use some windows tools like USB Burning Tool for Amlogic, AndroidTool for Rockchip, or PhoenixUSBPro / PhonixSuite for Allwinner platforms. All those tools have poor design, for example the window is not resizable, so it’s impossible to your an old netbook (1024×600 resolution), and then you have to install drivers which is easy, for after detection of the box may be hit and miss, and you have to follow a procedure with the right power sequence with a USB cable connected to a USB OTG port (not always properly …

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Hacking ARM TrustZone / Secure Boot on Amlogic S905 SoC

Amlogic S905 processor used in many Android TV boxes and ODROID-C2 development board implements ARM TrustZone security extensions to run a Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) used for DRM & other security features. However, Frédéric Basse, a security engineer, worked with others and managed to bypass secure boot in one Amlogic S905 powered Android TV box, namely Inphic i7, but any other device based on the processor would have made the same thing possible. He explains the steps they went through and how they managed to exploit vulnerability to bypass secure boot in a detailed technical blog post. They first started by looking for info in Amlogic S905 datasheet, but most info about TrustZone had been removed from the public version. So not that much help here except a potential address for BOM Root (ROMBOOT_START   0xD9040000). The next step was to connect the UART pins in order to access the serial console, but he could not read the BootROM from …

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Amlogic S905L Processor Drops VP9 Codec, TS Inputs for Tuners, and the Camera Interface

[Update: I’ve received updated documentation for Amlogic S905X too, and the main differences are only the lack of VP9 codec, and HDMI 2.0b interface] Amlogic has apparently decided to launch yet another quad core Cortex A53 processor with Amlogic S905L, which appears to be based on  Amlogic S905X with built-in stereo audio codec and 10/100M Ethernet PHY & MAC, HDR support, but without VP9 codec, camera interface, nor TS inputs, so it looks like a cost-down version purely designed for OTT/IP TV boxes. The document I have is dated June 2016, before the 1.5 GHz “limit” was discovered on Amlogic processors, and the maximum frequency is rated @ 2.0 GHz in the document. Amlogic S905L specifications (based on S905L Quick Referent Manual): CPU – Quad core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU up to 2GHz (DVFS) with Neon and Crypto extensions, unified L2 cache 3D GPU – Penta-core ARM Mali-450 GPU up to 750 MHz+ (DVFS) 2.5D GPU – Fast bitblt engine with …

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