How One Line of Code Tripled Allwinner A20 SATA Write Performance

Allwinner A20 SATA Performance Patch

If you’ve been following this blog long enough, you may remember that all linux-sunxi community work aiming at improving u-boot and Linux software support on Allwinner processors started with Allwinner A10 processor found in MeLE A1000 TV box back in 2012, which at the time provided an interesting alternative to Raspberry Pi board that was in short supply at launch time and several months after. One of the most interesting feature found in Allwinner A10 single core Arm Cortex-A8 processor was its SATA interface, and Allwinner A20 was announced a few months later with a dual core Cortex-A7 processor and virtually the same peripherals as Allwinner A10, including SATA. However when I  tested CubieTruck board connected to a mechanical drive, I noticed sequential SATA performance was fine for reads (~180MB/s), but writes were fairly slow at around 36 MB/s. Other people complained about it, and some looked into it, and at one point it appeared the maximum SATA write performance …

Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 Gets a Linux Kernel, Faster File System, Docker Support

Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 WSL 2

Microsoft first introduced Windows Subsystem for Linux in 2016 in order to let developers runs bash command from Ubuntu user space without having to install Ubuntu in a virtual machine or container. It relies on the Windows kernel with a library converting Linux system calls into ones compatible with Windows. Performance is great until you start to involve file systems calls, for example during code compilations, something that’s fairly common for developers… Microsoft has been working on solving this performance issue, and compatibility issues with software such as Docker, and is now close to releasing Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL 2) featuring its own Linux 4.19 kernel instead of the Windows kernel plus a translation layer. WSL 2 uses virtualization technology to run its custom Linux kernel inside of a lightweight utility virtual machine (VM) which takes just 2 seconds to boot. That also means there will be separate (security) updates for the Windows kernel and the Linux kernel …

Giggle Score Says ODROID-N2 Best Value, Raspberry Pi Zero Worst Value

Giggle Score

[Update May 7, 2019: Giggle Score has been updated to use 7-zip to benchmark the boards instead of sysbench, and the “best value” rankings are now quite different] People like to compare single board computers, and usually want to have a simple answer as to which is better than the others. But in practice it’s impossible, because the beauty of SBCs is that they are so versatile and can be used in a wide variety of project, and that means in some cases the “best board” may be completely useless to you since it lacks a critical feature and interface for YOUR project be it H.265 video encoding or a MIPI DSI display interface. Still, it’s still always fun to look at benchmark scores and trying to compare SBCs, and for projects that mostly require CPU processing power it may also be useful. Robbie Ferguson has been developing and maintaining NEMS (Nagios Enterprise Monitoring Server) Linux for single board computers …

ODROID-N2 GPU Drivers, Linux 5.0, and Impressive glmarks-es2 Score

Ubuntu 18.04 Gnome Wayland ODROID-N2

ODROID-N2 was announced last February for $63 (2GB RAM), and $79 (4GB RAM), but Hardkernel was not quite ready to take orders at the time. One of the good news is that the 4GB RAM is now available for pre-order with shipping scheduled to start on April 3. Another good news is on the software side with Hardkernel having released the userland Mali-G52 Wayland driver. It does not work well with Linux 4.9 due to incomplete DRM implementation, but it goes work with Linux 5.0 plus some modifications as further discussed in the aforelinked forum thread. The screenshot above, courtesy of odroid forum member memeka , shows ODROID-N2 running Ubuntu 18.04 + Gnome3 + Linux 5.0 on top of Wayland with GPU drivers providing acceleration as shown by glmark2-es2-wayland test program. The benchmark results are pretty impressive: I’ve never seen such as high score (1,119 points) on Arm hardware. But at the same time, I’ve never run the wayland version …

Xiaomi Mi A2 Review with Android 9.0 Pie

Mi A2 Review Android 9.0

I had been using Xiaomi Mi A1 Android One smartphone since the end of 2017,  and was mostly satisfied with it thanks to regular (monthly) firmware update, although I was a bit disappointed by the camera overtime. Eventually I had a serious issue with Mi A1’s eMMC flash, and stopped using it at the end of last year, or roughly after one year of service, since the phone became unusable, unbearably slow. Xiaomi Mi A2 and A2 Lite where released last summer, and having seen Mi A2 was getting an Android 9.0 firmware in Q4 2018, I asked GearBest whether they could send a sample to review the latest Xiaomi Android One phone. They accepted, and I posted the first part of the review in early December. However, at this time, I did not get the update, since it was not released in Thailand, but soon enough Xiaomi Mi A2 got upgraded to Android 9.0 Pie. I’ve now been using …

ODROID-N2 Amlogic S922X SBC Coming in April for $63 and Up

ODROID N2

Due to RAM supply issues, Hardkernel canceled RK3399 based ODROID-N1 board last year, and decided to replace it with ODROID-N2 using a “newer SoC .. with faster CPU/GPU cores and native DDR4 support”, but they did not provide any details about the processor, and we speculated it could be the upcoming Amlogic S922X processor. Hardkernel has now formally unveiled ODROID-N2, the first Amlogic S922X SBC to be announced, with 2 to 4GB DDR4 RAM, 4x USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 2.0a video output up to 4K 60p and more. ODROID-N2 SBC specifications: SoC – Amlogic S922X hexa-core big.LITTLE processor with 4x Arm Cortex A73 cores @ up to 1.8 GHz, 2x Arm Cortex A53 cores @ 1.9 GHz, Arm Mali-G52 GPU @ 846MHz; 12nm manufacturing process System Memory – 2GB or 4GB DDR4 RAM @ 1320 MHz Storage – 8MB SPI flash, eMMC flash module socket, micro SD card slot Video & Audio Output – HDMI up to 4K …

MediaTek MT8183 Octa-core Cortex A73/A53 SoC Targets Chromebooks

MediaTek MT8183

MediaTek processors have been found in a few Chromebooks notably in MediaTek MT8173 powered Acer Chromebook R13, but the quad-core Cortex A72/A53 processor hasn’t made it into many models like the hexa-core Rockchip RK3399 “OP1” processor. However, I’ve been informed there are a few patchsets that have been submitted to mainline Linux and V4L2 mailing lists about MediaTek MT8183 octa-core Cortex A73/A53 processor. The latter adds a Digital Image Processing (DIP) driver on MediaTek MT8183 SoC, “which will be used in camera features on CrOS application” and some code related to MT8183 is found in Chromium OS repository, so those clues should confirm the octa-core processor will end up in Chromebooks, with the current MT8183 reference board being named Kukui. There aren’t any product pages for MT8183 on MediaTek website just yet, but by looking at the source code (e.g. Device tree file), and some clues around the web, we can derive the main features of the processor: CPU – …

LIVA Q2 Review – ECS Micro PC Tested with Windows 10 and Ubuntu 18.10

ECS LIVA Q2 Teardown

ECS (Elitegroup Computer Systems) is a Taiwanese company that has been offering mini PCs for several years now. Last year they announced their ‘pocket-sized’ model the LIVA Q. Originally featuring Apollo Lake SoCs it has now been upgraded and renamed as the LIVA Q2 and offers a choice of Gemini Lake SoCs. The distinguishing feature of the LIVA Q series however is the form-factor. Compared with Intel Compute ‘stick’ PCs and Intel NUC ‘mini’ PCs the LIVA Q2 is a ‘micro’ PC. This micro PC is like a minimalist mini PC that includes just the minimum number of useful ports namely a couple of USB ports (3.1 and 2.0) on one side, a micro SD card slot on another and finally an HDMI (2.0) and gigabit Ethernet at the rear. The resultant micro PC is beautifully small consisting of a 70mm (2.76″) square case by 33.4mm (1.31”) tall which can still be mounted on the back of a monitor using …