GCW Zero Handheld Console Runs 3D Games via Open Source Vivante GPU Drivers (Etnaviv)

GCW Zero is an open source handheld gaming console featuring Ingenic JZ4770 MIPS processor with Vivante GC860 GPU, 512MB RAM, 16GB internal storage, and a 3.5″ LCD with 320×240 pixels. The device runs Linux (OpenDingux) , and retro games and emulators. GCW Zero had a successful kickstarter campaign, and is now available in a few shops such as ThinkGeek (US), DragonBox (EU) for $150 / 125 Euros. Today, I’m writing about this console, not because of amazing specs, nor price, but because it could be the first  device with an embedded SoC that retails with an open source GPU driver. In September of this year, GCW Zero received a firmware update with Etnaviv GPU driver for Vivante GC860 adding support for 3D games via OpenGL ES support. The video below shows Quake 3 Arena running on the game console with the Etnaviv drivers. Lots of OpenGL ES1 and 2 features are supported as you can see from the release notes …

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Linux 3.9 Release

Linus Torvalds has announced the release of Linux Kernel 3.9: So the last week was much quieter than the preceding ones, which makes me suspect that one reason -rc7 was bigger than I liked was that people were gaming the system and had timed some of their pull requests for just before the release, explaining why -rc7 was big enough that I didn’t  actually want to do a final release last week. Please don’t do that. Anyway. Whatever the reason, this week has been very quiet, which makes me much more comfortable doing the final 3.9 release, so I guess the last -rc8 ended up working. Because not only aren’t there very many commits here, even the ones that made it really are tiny and not pretty obscure and not very interesting. Also, this obviously means that the merge window is open. I won’t be merging anything today, but if you start sending me your pull requests (Konrad already sent …

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Ubuntu Linaro 12.11 with 2D/3D Mali-400 GPU Acceleration on ODROID-X Development Board

A few days ago, Hardkernel released the first version of Ubuntu 12.11 (Linaro) with Mali-400 GPU support for their ODROID boards (ODROID-X/X2, ODROID-U/U2). This is still WIP (Work in Progress), but this is one of the few boards together with Pandaboard, Origen and Snowball that can support 2D/3D GPU acceleration in Ubuntu Quantal. Since I have an ODROID-X development board, I decided to give it a try. There are different ways to install it. I chose the way that is most convenient for me (LCD display instead of HDMI), and likely to yield more performance (eMMC instead of SD Card). The current installation instructions to eMMC are extremely cumbersome and you have to go through 5 main steps: Install Android (yes, seriously) in the eMMC Install Ubuntu in the SD Card Install Ubuntu to the eMMC Upgrade Ubuntu to the latest version Install the Mali drivers In this post I’m going to go through all those steps, and do some …

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A Selection of FOSDEM 2013 Events

FOSDEM is a 2-day (or 3 if you include Friday beer event) event where over 5,000 members of open source communities meet, share ideas and collaborate. It’s free to attend, and there’s no registration, so you just show up to attend. FOSDEM 2013 takes place on Feb 2-3 (yep, this week-end) in Brussels There are 7 main tracks where sessions are organized: Operating systems Open source challenges Security Janson Beyond operating systems Web development Miscellaneous Robotics There are also keynotes and devroom for a total of 488 sessions. Developers rooms that may particularly be of interest to readers of this blog are: Cross Desktop devroom – e.g. Wayland, gstreamer, razor-qt, Qt Project, Plasma Active, etc… Cross Distro devroom – e.g. Linux on Android, suse on ARM, ARMv8, systemd, etc… Embedded and mobile devroom – e.g. Baserock Embedded Linux, Guacamayo (Yocto), Nemo Mobile/ Mer project, arduino… All in all that’s a lot of sessions, and even though I won’t attend, I’m …

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Posibus Peripheral Emulator Powered by Emcraft SmartFusion (Cortex M3 + FPGA) Solutions

According to Wikipedia, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) PDP-8 was the first successful commercial minicomputer, and was introduced in March 1965. Mike Thompson, working at Rhode Island Computer Museum (RICM), has restored a PDP-8/L system that was sold between 1968 through 1971. The system can be expanded with 4K of core, a paper tape reader (PR8/L), and/or a punch (PP8/L) controller. But the tape reader is not available anymore, so Mike decided to designe a Posibus peripheral (Tape Reader) emulator using a board with an FPGA + micro-controller. The easiest way to perform this task was to get an SoC that comes with an MCU and a FPGA to avoid having to create an FPGA <-> MCU interface. This is why he chose Emcraft Linux SmartFusion Evaluation Kit featuring a Microsemi Smartfusion cSOC with a Cortex M3 core and an embedded FPGA. The whole setup is shown below. Three FlipChip interface boards are fitted inside the PDP-8/L, and connected to a Wire-Wrap …

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Board Bringup: You, Me, and I2C – ELCE 2012

David Anders, embedded systems developer at Texas Instruments, explains how to work with I2C in Linux based embedded systems at ELCE 2012. Abstract: Board bring up is one of the most under documented aspects of embedded development. I2C is such a powerful, low-cost, and ubiquitous method of communication, that a basic understanding of it’s usage is essential to the embedded linux developer to quickly bring up and debug embedded designs. This presentation will look at the various software and hardware aspects of working with I2C using simple case studies highlighting the implementation of an EEPROM and a GPIO Expander. Most embedded Linux developers at some point in their career will be handed a piece of hardware that is untested. This presentation intends to provide some information about core tools and methods for bring up of I2C interfaces and assorted I2C based peripheral devices. David Anders has previously presented at Embedded Linux Conference 2012 with “Board Bringup: LCD and Display Interfaces“. …

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Your New ARM SoC Linux Support Check-List – ELCE 2012

Thomas Petazzoni, embedded Linux engineer and trainer at Free Electrons, describes the steps he followed to add a new Marvell SoC to the mainline kernel at ELCE 2012. Abstract: Since Linus Torvalds raised warnings about the state of the ARM architecture support in the Linux kernel, a huge amount of effort and reorganization has happened in the way Linux supports ARM SoCs. From the addition of the device tree to the pinctrl subsystem, from the new clock framework to the new rules in code organization and design, the changes have been significant over the last one and half year in the Arm Linux kernel world. Based on the speaker’s experience on getting the support for the new Marvell Armada 370 and Armada XP SoC support in the mainline Linux kernel, we will give an overview of those changes and summarize the new rules for ARM Linux support. We aim at helping developers willing to add support for new ARM SoCs …

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USB Debugging and Profiling Techniques – ELCE 2012

Kishon Vijay Abraham and Basak Partha, respectively software design engineer and tech lead at Texas Instruments, provide an overview of techniques that can be used to debug Linux USB drivers on the host PC or/and the device itself. Abstract: The widespread integration of USB into embedded applications presents many developers with the challenge of debugging problems, that are difficult to detect and isolate when a USB device misbehaves. This paper discusses about the various USB debugging techniques which includes debugging at the host PC, at the device and in the cable and discuss when each of the above techniques will be handy. This paper will also discuss about the various facilities provided within Linux kernel to aid in USB debugging e.g sysfs, trace points etc. and the various user space tools available to help USB debugging e.g USBMON. This paper also discusses about the profiling techniques at various levels in the usb stack. This paper will be of interest to …

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