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Posts Tagged ‘openwrt’

Zidoo Unveils Poster Wall 2.0 App, High-end Zidoo X20 Pro RTD1296 Media Player Coming Soon

January 12th, 2018 5 comments

Zidoo has some news for their Realtek RTD1295/RTD1296 powered devices such as Zidoo X8, X9S, or X10. First, the company will soon release a firmware update that includes Poster Wall 2.0, an app that display movie posters and information in a concise and eye-pleasing way.

The company is also working on a higher-end player called Zidoo X20 Pro powered by RTD1296 expected to launch in a few weeks, once beta testing is complete, and firmware looks stable enough.

Zidoo X20 Pro RTD1296 Media Player

Zidoo X20 Pro specifications:

  • SoC – Realtek RTD1296 quad core Cortex A53 processor with ARM Mali-T820 MP3 GPU
  • System Memory – 4GB DDR4
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC flash, 2x SATA 3.0 bays for 2.5 or 3.5″ drives
  • Video
    • 2x HDMI 2.0a output ports with HDCP 2.2, 4K 60 Hz
    • 1x HDMI 2.0 input with HDCP 2.2 supporting PiP, stream recording, and UDP broadcasting
    • 1x RCA composite output
    • Decode – HDR10, 10-bit HEVC / H.265 up to 4K @ 60fps, VP9 up to 4K @ 60 fps, H.264 up to 4K @ 24 fps, automatic frame rate switching (23.976 and 29.94 fps supported)
    • Full BD menu function
  • Audio
    • ESS 9038 DAC
    • 7.1-ch HD audio pass-through via HDMI
    • optical and coaxial S/PDIF
    • RCA stereo audio
    • XLR Audio output
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac 2T2R MIMO WiFi up to 867 Mbps, Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 2x USB 2.0 port, 1x USB type C port
  • Misc – RS232 port, IR input port, IR output (blaster) ports, front panel display, power switch
  • Power Supply – Built-in, 100-240VAC 1.3A 50/60 Hz input
  • Material – Smoke-colored aviation aluminum alloy case
  • Dimensions – 46 mm thick (excluding antennas)
  • Weight – 6 kg (package)

Click to Enlarge

The device will run Android 6.0 & OpenWrt (for NAS function) as in the other Zidoo X8/X9S/X10 model, includes media center functions with Poster Wall, SAMBA, NFS, as well as ZDMC, a fork of Kodi 17.4 with improvements from Zidoo.
The device will ship with a remote control, a HDMI cable, an AV cable, a power adapter, and a user manual. The company has not made anything official yet, so I get all the information above from beta testers post here and there. The last link reports Zidoo X20 Pro should launch early February for around 19,000 THB, which converts to $550 US once VAT is removed. However, Zidoo told me they did not know the release date yet, and I did not confirm pricing either.

Zidoo Poster Wall 2.0

What the company has announced however is their Poster Wall 2.0 app that will be part of future firmware for Zidoo Realtek devices. Some of key features include

  • Background stage /dynamic refresh of poster and movie data
  • Sidebar to filter movies by type (Blu-ray, 4K, 3D, Children), and watch status
  • Details information about each movie with summary, video format, actors, etc…
  • Rating system for parental control (e.g. PG-13)
  • Multi-storage devices support including thumbdrives, SATA drives, external USB drives
  • Customization of posters and background images via editing function
  • Four different views of posters.
  • Search function by year, genre, video type, name…
  • Automatic album matching to classify films from the same series (e.g. Star Trek movies / series all stored in the same folder)

You can watch a demo of Zidoo Poster Wall below.

The features should be included in the next firmware update for X9S and X10 (X8 won’t be supported).

OpenWrt & LEDE Projects Merge Announced

January 4th, 2018 5 comments

The LEDE project was created in 2016, as a fork of OpenWrt because of a split among developers, so we had OpenWrt and LEDE projects running side-by-side for nearly two years now. However, there were also talks of reunification in 2017 during an Embedded Linux Conference sessions entitled “OpenWrt/LEDE: When Two become One”.

The good news is that OpenWrt and LEDE projects (re-)unification is now official, and the project will be known as OpenWrt.

Developers will follow the LEDE project rules, merged code is now hosted  @ https://git.openwrt.org/, and mirrored on Github (https://github.com/openwrt/openwrt) using the code base of the former LEDE project together with OpenWrt specific patches that meets LEDE’s code quality requirements. The original OpenWrt codebase has been archived on Github.

The OpenWrt CC 15.05 release series will still receive some security and bug fixes, but older version will not be supported anymore. The LEDE 17.01 release will still get security and bug fix support for both source code and binary releases.  The resources on lede-project.org domain will be soon be moved to openwrt.org subdomains and redirects put in place. However, the developers are still debating about the merger of the forums and wiki, so they will be available on both domains until an agreement is put in place.

We also learned from the announcement that the merged project is represented by Software in the Public Interest (SPI) non-profit organization that will handle donations, manage OpenWrt trademark, and help with potential legal issues.

Via Phoronix

Categories: OpenWRT Tags: lede, openwrt

What’s the Best Android TV Box (2017/2018 Edition)?

December 26th, 2017 17 comments

Since I was often asked which TV box to buy, I wrote a guide entitled “What’s the best Android TV box?” in April 2016. Time has passed, new products have launched, I tested more devices, and got further reader feedback, so it’s time for an update.

There’s still no device that rules them all, and since everybody has different requirements and price points, what could the best Android TV box ever to one person, maybe be a piece of junk to another. Before purchasing a TV box, you should consider what you plan to do with it, and find the device with matches your needs and budget. So first, I’ll provide a list of things to look for – beside the SoC/RAM selection – before selecting three TV boxes that stand out (in no particular order), as well as alternatives worth looking at.

Things to Look for

The list is basically the same as last year, except I added two sections for operating systems, and extra features:

  • Operating System – There was a time when “Android TV box” only meant “Android” “TV Box”, but Google’s own TV box operating system has become more popular, and some companies have also started offering dual OS version with Android/Linux running at the same time, mostly for server purpose. Here are the options you may consider:
    • Official Android TV OS – Pick such device if you want the original experience with leanback launcher, and access to streaming services like Hulu, Netflix an so on. This operating system should come with all/most the licenses needed for streaming, is specially designed for the large screen, and works well with the IR remote control. However, you’ll only be able to easily install apps specifically designed for the TV (e.g. no Chrome browser, unless you sideload it), and the system may not always work well with an air mouse or wireless keyboard/touchpad.
    • Unofficial Android TV OS – Same as above, except some licenses may be missing, so some streaming services may not work as well, or be limited standard resolution
    • Android OS – Most – not to say all – boxes you’ll find in China are running Android operating system made for smartphones with customizations for the big screen. Those devices have good flexibility, since you can install pretty any app from the Google Play store, and they come with a launcher made for the big screen. The downside is that only parts of the interface or some apps will be usable with the IR remote control, so you’ll need to use an air mouse, wireless keyboard, or smartphone app to have good control of the device. Most boxes also lack proper DRM and other licenses, which may restrict the streaming services you may access, or at least the playback resolution.
    • Android + Linux – Dual boot systems have been around for a while, and IMHO not very useful, so what I’m referring to here are systems with two operating systems running at the same time with Android for media playback, and Linux for NAS/server functions. I’ve seen devices with OpenWrt or Debian so far.
  • History of regular firmware updates – If a company provides regular OTA (over-the-air) firmware updates, your device is likely to get better and better overtime. The cheapest TV boxes normally follow the ship-and-forget model, so you can’t expect any improvements, unless some community members offer custom firmware.
  • Support forums – Most reputable companies selling to end users offer support forums. For cheaper boxes, you won’t get any support, except through communities like Freaktab.
  • 4K & HDR Support – If you want to purchase a device that will support 4K videos, and the latest HDR (High Dynamic Range features) you should look for devices with HDMI 2.0a for 3840×2160 or 4096×2160 output up to 60 Hz and HDR. Double check 4K video codecs support (10-bit HEVC/H.265, VP9, H.264), and make sure they can decode the framerate used for your videos. The latter is usually not a problem with H.265, but sometimes it could be for VP9 or H.264 since some systems can only handle 30 fps or 24 fps.
  • 5.1 or 7.1 HD audio pass-through support – In case you own an amplifier or A/V receiver capable of handling Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos, DTS HD Master, DTS HD High Resolution, or DTS:X, you really need to check the reviews on this site or others, as many devices fall short despite claiming support.
  • Automatic frame rate switching – This is the ability of the device to match the monitor refresh rate to the video frame rate to avoid a phenomenon called micro stutter, which makes the videos not as smooth as it could be at regular intervals, and especially noticeable when the video is panning. if this is properly implemented, e.g. 24 fps videos played using 24 Hz on the monitor, then micro-stutter disappears.
  • DRM support for HD and UHD video streaming – If you’re paying for video streaming services like Netflix, you’ll have to make sure they are specifically supported, with Widewine Level 1 DRM necessary, but not sufficient condition for playing the videos at HD or UHD (4K) resolution. Most devices can only stream videos in SD resolution due to the lack of proper DRM and a hard-to-get “Netflix license”.
  • Thermal design and storage performance – Many Android TV boxes have similar specifications, but IMHO, two key design choices are especially impacting the performance between apparently similar devices. Some TV boxes will overheat over time, leading to poor performance after a few minutes, while others with proper cooling will perform the same over hours. Fast storage will ensure the device boots quickly, apps load fast, and the device does not get slowed down while apps are installing or updating in the background.
  • Extra Features – You’d normally not care about those, if all you want is to do streaming, but if you want more from your TV box, you could check for digital TV tuner(s) (DVB-T/T2/C, DVB-S2, ATSC..), the presence of a an internal SATA bay, HDMI input for recording or broadcasting video from another device, etc…

MINIX NEO U9-H Media Hub

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Criteria:

  • Operating System – Android 6.0.1 OS
  • History of regular firmware updates – MINIX normally updates their devices for about a year or so.
  • Support forumsMINIX forums are fairly active, so you should be able to get decent support from MINIX themselves or the community of users there.
  • 4K & HDR Support – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz is supported, with very good support for 4K 10-bit H.265, VP9 and H.264 videos.
  • 5.1 or 7.1 HD audio pass-through support – Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD audio pass-through both working.
  • Automatic frame rate switching – OK (Kodi 17.x)
  • DRM support for HD and UHD video streaming –  Widewine Level 1 & Microsoft PlayReady implemented. However, Netflix can only play up to SD resolution, or possibly up to HD (720p) with a trick, but not full HD, nor UHD since Netflix requires a separate agreement.
  • Thermal design and storage performance – Good cooling thanks to a large heatsink, and very fast internal storage.
  • Extra Features – Separate microphone jack, Kensington lock

Just like MINIX NEO U1 I recommended last year, as long as you don’t need Netflix Full HD or 4K UHD playback, and are happy using their custom launcher and an air mouse, MINIX NEO U9-H should definitely be in your list of devices to consider. Please read MINIX NEO U9-H review for details, taking into account that some bugs may have been fixed since my review in March 2017.

Price: $149.90 and up with NEO A3 Lite air mouse on Amazon US, GearBest, GeekBuying, and other sellers. You can also find the box only (without air mouse) for around $139.90.

U5PVR Deluxe Set-top Box and NAS

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U5PVR Deluxe made it to the top three list because of all the extras like tuners and a 3.5″ SATA drive, and the fact that it runs both Android TV OS (unofficial) and Debian.

Criteria:

  • Operating System – Unofficial Android TV 5.1 OS and Debian running at the same time. Android TV 7.1 is now also available, as well as a dual boot image with Enigma2.
  • History of regular firmware updates – The company has released several firmware updates since the review. Previous model was U4 Quad Hybrid – Launch: January 2016; last firmware update: November 2016. So a little under a year of firmware updates.
  • Support forums – Available on SmartSTB forums (Somewhat active), or Google+ (not so active). The device is not as popular as MINIX models, so you’ll have less users involved.
  • 4K & HDR Support – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz is supported, with very good support for 4K 10-bit H.265, VP9 and H.264 videos in Media Center app (but Kodi 17.x support needed some work)
  • 5.1 or 7.1 HD audio pass-through support – Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD audio pass-through worked in Media Center app.
  • Automatic frame rate switching – OK (Media Center app)
  • DRM support for HD and UHD video streaming –  Support for Widevine L1 DRM and Netflix HD/4K (Not in my June 2017 review, but see comments)
  • Thermal design and storage performance – Excellent internal storage performance, and no noticeable issue with cooling (See teardown for design)
  • Extra Features – SATA bay for a 2.5″ or 3.5″ drive, dual DVB-T/T2 tuner

If you live in a country where DVB-T/T2 is supported (or various combination or DVB-T/T2/C, ATSC, DVB-S2 if you purchase an additional tuner board), and plan to use the Linux NAS features, U5PVR Deluxe looks certainly like a good candidate. However, if you mainly want to watch video streams from Netflix, Hulu, and other premium services, and use Kodi, there should be other devices that better fit your needs.

Price: $229.99 including shipping on Aliexpress.

Nvidia Shield Android TV (2017 Edition)

NVIDIA has launched a smaller version of their popular Shield Android TV earlier this year, and while I have not reviewed the device myself, it’s one of the most popular Android TV box on the market.

Criteria:

  • Operating System – Official Android TV 7.0 (Upgrade to Oreo likely)
  • History of regular firmware updates – Nvidia has been providing upgrades since 2015 for the original model (around 6 times a year)
  • Support forums – Active SHIELD Android TV board on Nvidia Geforce forum.
  • 4K Support – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz is supported with support for 10-bit H.265, VP9 and H.264 video playback @ 60 fps.
  • 5.1 or 7.1 HD audio pass-through support – Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD audio pass-through supported
  • Automatic frame rate switching – OK for Kodi and Plex at least.
  • DRM support for HD and UHD video streaming – Netflix HD & 4K officially supported, as well as Amazon Video
  • Thermal design and storage performanceGood storage performance, and I only read reports of isolated issues with overheating (i.e. not a design issue).
  • Extra Features – N/A

NVIDIA TV box also features the most power GPU of any TV boxes, so it’s also an excellent 3D gaming console. Availability is still an issue, although the company has launched the model in some more countries this year. This also means the device can be pretty expensive once you factor shipping, custom duties, and other fees (e.g. forward shipping) if you purchase it from a country where the device has not officially launched. Just like other devices running Android TV OS, not all apps will be available from the Play Store.

Price: Around $200 on Amazon US.

Other Alternatives

The three devices are not the only ones to consider, and other alternatives could meet some people requirements.

  • Above $100
  • Below $100
    • Xiaomi Mi Box US – Good officially Android TV option if you want to stream video from services like Vudu+, Hulu, YouTube, Netflix… and don’t care about playing games, and very high performance for other tasks
    • Mecool M8S PRO+ – Sub $40 box based on Amlogic S905X SoC with 2GB RAM/16GB storage that supports unofficial Android TV 7.1 firmware, Netflix up to 1080p. [Please note warning about eMMC flash version in the linked post]
    • Various low cost Amlogic S905/S905X TV boxes compatible with LibreELEC (Kodi Linux distribution). Note that stock Android firmware on those boxes may not be very good, so better only consider them to run LibreELEC supported by the community

I hope this guide will help some to decide on which model to buy. Feel free to comment if you think another model should be part of the top 3, or the list of alternatives.

SolidRun MACCHIATObin Single Shot Networking Board Launched for $269 and Up

December 20th, 2017 7 comments

Earlier this month, I listed SoliRun MACCHIATObin networking board as one of the top 5 most powerful ARM boards in 2017/2018, thanks to its fast quad core Cortex A72 processor, support for up to 16GB RAM, three SATA interfaces, and network connectivity options with several Ethernet copper/SFP interfaces up to 10 Gbps.

The problem with powerful boards is that they can be expensive, and the original MACCHIATOBin (Double Shot) board sells for $369 and up. The good news is that SolidRun has just launched a cheaper version called MAACHIATOBin Single Shot with a quad core Cortex A72 processor limited to 1.6 GHz (instead of 2.0 GHz), and the two 10 Gbps interface are only accessibly through SFP cages, and not Ethernet copper (RJ45) ports anymore.

MACCHIATOBin Single Shot is based on the same PCB as the original version of the board, and the rest of the specifications are just the same:

  • SoC – ARMADA 8040 (88F8040) quad core Cortex A72 processor @ up to 1.6 GHz with accelerators (packet processor, security engine, DMA engines, XOR engines for RAID 5/6)
  • System Memory – 1x DDR4 DIMM with optional ECC and single/dual chip select support; up to 16GB RAM
  • Storage – 3x SATA 3.0 port, micro SD slot, SPI flash, eMMC flash
  • Connectivity – 2x 10Gbps Ethernet via copper or SFP, 2.5Gbps via SFP,  1x Gigabit Ethernet via copper
  • Expansion – 1x PCIe-x4 3.0 slot, Marvell TDM module header
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 2x USB 2.0 headers (internal),  1x USB-C port for Marvell Modular Chip (MoChi) interfaces (MCI)
  • Debugging – 20-pin connector for CPU JTAG debugger, 1x micro USB port for serial console, 2x UART headers
  • Misc – Battery for RTC, reset header, reset button, boot and frequency selection, fan header
  • Power Supply – 12V DC via power jack or ATX power supply
  • Dimensions – Mini-ITX form factor (170 mm x 170 mm)

They just did not solder the 10 Gbps Ethernet connectors and related chips, and used some ARMADA 8040 SoCs that may not have passed QA @ 2.0 GHz, but work fine up to 1.6 GHz.

The board supports mainline Linux or Linux 4.4.52, buildroot 2015.11, Ubuntu 16.04.03 LTS, OpenWrt, and more. Software and hardware documentation can be found in the Wiki.

Just like it’s predecessor, the board ships with either 4GB or 16GB DDR4 memory, an optional 12V DC/110 or 220V AC power adapter, and an optional 16 GB micro SD card. The changes made bring the price down to $269 for the 4GB RAM version of the board, exactly $100 cheaper than the original “Double Shot” version.

Thanks to Blu for the tip.

MatchBox LoRaWan Gateway Review – Part 1: Unboxing and Teardown

November 30th, 2017 14 comments

Last spring, I wrote about MatchX.io MatchBox LoRaWAN gateway with GPS, WiFi, and Ethernet connectivity. The gateway is equipped based on a Mediatek WiFi module running Linux (OpenWrt/LEDE), Semtech chips for the LoRa part, and support up to 65,535 nodes, such as the as well as MatchStick, MatchModule, and MatchCore sensors provided by the company.

I’ve just received MatchBox gateway for review, but I’m still waiting for 920-925MHz LoRa nodes as they are going through the FCC certification process, and I also have to wait for clarifications regarding local regulations. So in the meantime, I’ll check out the gateway hardware.

MatchBox LoRaWAN Gateway Unboxing

The gateway is shipped with a power supply, power cord, two antennas, an installation guide,…

Click to Enlarge

as well as three screws and pegs to wall mount the gateway and power supply, and in case you want to install the gateway on a pole, as shown below, for greater range (up to 20km LOS), a clamping collar is also provided.

The power supply has 100-240V 50/60Hz input, and 24V DC / 0.5 output. It includes on two Ethernet ports, the “PoE” port to connect to the gateway, and the LAN port which you can connect to your broadband or 3/4G router.

One hand of the router includes two antenna connects for GPS and LoRa.

Click to Enlarge

On the picture above above we can see the model (MX1702) has FCC certification, and since the company is based in Berlin (hence the photo with the television tower above), CE certification has also been passed, but another model number (MX1701) is used due to the different frequencies.

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The other end of the gateway has a cover revealing the PoE port, a USB 2.0 port for storage, a USB type C port for debugging, and a Link LED. Installation is easy, as you just to plug a standard Ethernet cable – although a shielded one is recommended – into the PoE ports of the gateway and the power supply.

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Put back the cover to protect the ports of the gateway from elements and insects. You could also use another Ethernet cable to connect the gateway to your router, but using WiFi is also possible.

MatchBox Gateway Teardown

At this stage, I normally open the device to check out the hardware design, but an enclosed letter asked me not to because the enclosure of rated IP65 and ultrasonic welded to it may not be waterproof anymore after I reassemble it.

The letter also explain how to register the gateway with its serial number at https://matchx.io/cloud using the cloud services in Europe,  North America, Oceania, Korea, Japan/SEA (South East Asia), or India, so the service is basically available worldwide, provided your country allows it.

So instead of tearing it down myself, I asked the company to send some high resolution photos of the board.

Click to Enlarge

A Hi-Link HLK-7688A module is used on the board for WiFi with two u.FL antenna connectors (ANT4 and ANT3), and a PCB antenna. That module should be based on Mediatek MT7688A MIPS processor, but MatchX reports the processor is actually MT7628A. Both SoCs are very similar, but the latter supports 2×2 MIMO.

LoRa functionality is implemented with four Semtech chips:

  • SX1301 Base Band Processor for Data Concentrator for Long Range Communication Network
  • 2x SX1257 RF I/Q Multi-PHY Mode Transceiver 860-1000MHz
  • SX1272 long range, low power RF Transceiver 860-1000MHz with LoRa Technology

LoRa circuitry is then connected to ANT2 u.FL connector.

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On the other side of the board, the most notable part is Ublox MAX-7Q GNSS module supporting GPS/QZSS, GLONASS, and connected to ANT1 antenna connector.

You’ll find more details on Matchx.io website, and on MatchBox User Guide which provide more technical details, and explains how to get started. I’ll try that next time around.

Gateworks Newport SBCs Powered by Cavium Octeon TX 64-bit ARM SoC are Designed for Networking Applications

November 11th, 2017 3 comments

Gateworks is a US based company that provides embedded hardware solutions to mobile and wireless communications markets such as their NXP i.MX6 powered  Ventana single board computers, including Ventana GW5530 SBC with compact form factor making it suitable for robotics projects and drones.

The company has now launched a new family of single board computers with Newport boards based on Cavium Octeon TX dual and quad core processors, and targeting high performance network applications with up to 5 GbE copper Ethernet ports, 2 SFP ports for fiber.

GW6300/GW6304 SBC – Click to Enlarge

Eight boards from 4 board designs using the dual or quad core version of the processors will be launched in sequence until Q2 2018, but let’s first have a closer look at Newport GW6300/GW6304 boards’ specifications since they are available now:

  • SoC
    • GW6300 – Cavium Octeon TX CN8020 dual core custom ARMv8.1 SoC @ 800 MHz
    • GW6304 – Cavium Octeon TX CN8030 quad core custom ARMv8.1 SoC @ 1.5GHz
  • System Memory
    • GW6300 – 1GB DDR4 (default); optional up to 4GB
    • GW6304 – 2GB DDR4 (default); optional up to 4GB
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash (4 to 64GB option), micro SD socket, 1x mSATA 3.0 (See expansion)
  • Networking – 2x Gigabit Ethernet ports (RJ45)
  • GNSS – Ublox ZOE-MQ8 GNSS GPS Receiver with PPS (optional on GW6300, standard on GW6304)
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports up to 5 Gbps
  • Expansion
    • mPCIe socket 1 – PCIe or GW1608x expansion, USB 2.0
    • mPCIe socket 2 – PCIe or mSATA, USB 2.0
    • mPCIe socket 3 – PCIe or USB 3.0, USB 2.0, SIM

      Click to Enlarge

    • Connector for 2x RS232 or 1x RS232/422/485 serial port
    • Digital I/O, I2C, and SPI headers
    • CAN 2.0B bus header via Microchip MCP25625  (optional on GW6300, standard on GW6304)
  • Security – Tamper switch support, optional Maxim DS28C22 Secure Authentication and Encryption
  • Misc – Real Time Clock with battery backup, voltage and temperature monitor, serial configuration EEPROM, programmable watchdog timer, programmable fan speed controller, programmable shut-down and wake-up,
  • Power Supply
    • 8 to 60V DC via barrel jack
    • Ethernet Jack Passive PoE with Input Voltage Range: 10 to 60V
    • Ethernet Jack 802.3at PoE with Input Voltage Range: 37 to 57V
    • Input Voltage Reverse and Transient Protection
  • Power Consumption
    • GW6300 – 6W @ 25°C typ.
    • GW6304 – 8W @ 25°C typ.
  • Dimensions – 105 x 100 x 21 mm (Compatible with Ventana GW5300 SBC)
  • Temperature Range – -40°C to +85°C
  • Weight – 96 grams

GW6300/4 Board Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The company provides OpenWrt and Ubuntu board support packages (BSP) for the boards. The company sells the board standalone, but also as a development kit (GW11042) with U-Boot bootloader, OpenWrt Linux BSP, Ethernet/ Serial/USB cables, passive PoE power injector and power supply, and a JTAG programmer. More technical details about software and hardware can be found in the Wiki.

Octeon TX Block Diagram

Octeon TX processors are specifically designed for networking applications, include networking acceleration engines & hardware virtualization, and can deliver IPSec performance of 8Gbps with only 2 cores.

If Newport GW6300/GW6304 SBCs do not match your requirements, Gateworks have 6 more SBCs planned with different form factors and various combinations of Ethernet ports.

Newport Family Matrix – Click to Enlarge

As you can see from the table above, some boards are available now, with a rollout of other versions planned until Q2 2018. Price for GW6300/GW6304 boards is not publicly available, but you can request a quote, inquire for customization options, and find more details on the product page.

UniElec U7621-06 MediaTek MT7621 Router Supports OpenWrt, Padavan, and PandoraBox Firmware

October 13th, 2017 22 comments

UniElec U7621-06 is a router / gateway based on Mediatek MT7621 dual core/Quad Thread processor, and offered either as a board only or complete system with optional WiFi and/or LTE PCIe modules.

While the board is said to run OpenWrt or firmware based on Mediatek Linux SDK , the company also mentions the board runs Breed bootloader that can be used to  upgrade the firmware through a web interface. UniElec claims the router supports alternative firmware such as Padavan or PandoraBox.

UniElec U7621-06 specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek MT7621 dual-core, quad-thread MIPS1004K processor @ up to 880MHz
  • System Memory – 256MB DDR3 (optional 512 MB)
  • Storage – 16MB NOR Flash (optional 8/32/64MB), 1x SATA 3.0 port, 1x micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity – 5x Gigabit Ports (4x LAN, 1x WAN)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Expansion
    • 2x “normal” mPCIe for 802.11ac or 802.11n WiFi module
    • 1x mPCIe connector for LTE or mSATA module
    • 1x 30-pin GPIO connector
  • Debugging – 1x 4-pin Serial Debug Port
  • Misc – Reset buttons, LEDs (power, LAN, LTE, 2x user), watchdog timer
  • Power Supply – [email protected]
  • Power Consumption – 8 Watt (Max)
  • Dimensions – 188.5 x 128.5 x 25 mm (aluminum alloy case)
  • Certifications – CE & FCC Certified, RoHS Compliant
  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0ºC to 55ºC or -20-85°C; Storage: -40ºC to 90ºC
  • Humidity – Operating: 5% to 95%, Storage: Max. 90%

There’s a short discussion thread on 4PDA where they should some boot log, and other information (in Russian).

Most people who read this blog will know about OpenWrt, but I had never heard about Padavan, nor PandoraBox firmware.

The first is an open source project hosted on Bitbucket that aims to “improve the rt-n56u and other supported devices on the software part, allowing power user to take full control over their hardware”. This refers to ASUS RT-N56U router powered by Mediatek MT7621 SoC. The project is actually just called rt-n56u, and Andy Padavan is the developer.

Padavan 3.4.3.9-099 Web Interface on UniElec U7621-06 – Click to Enlarge

The second is developed by a team of Chinese developer, and support various Mediatek routers. I could not find the source code, but we know it’s based on OpenWrt. You’ll find firmware for over 30 routers and evaluation boards, including PandoraBox-PBR-M1 firmware, that according to screenshots provided on Aliexpress, is the one compatible with UniElec U7621-06.

PandoraBox PBR-M1 Firmware – Click to Enlarge

The router is sold on Aliexpress, with price starting at $41.90 with the board only without WiFi or LTE support, nor enclosure, and up to $124.80 with an MT7615 4×4 802.11ac Wave2 PCIe module, and metal enclosure. Between the two extremes, there are various options for WiFi modules, with or without enclosure. If you need LTE or mSATA, you’d have to source a compatible module separately. The manufacturer’s product page does not have much more information.

Thanks to Danman for the tip

Banana Pi BPI-W2 is a Features-Packed Realtek RTD1296 Development Board

September 27th, 2017 32 comments

I’ve reviewed several Realtek RTD1295 platforms with Zidoo X9S and Eweat R9 Plus, and I was generally impressed by the storage, Ethernet, and WiFi performance. 4K video playback was good too, as long you don’t have any 4K H.264 videos at 30 fps or more. Most devices would also run Android and OpenWrt side-by-side bringing the best of both operating for respectively apps & multimedia, and server functions. HDMI input – with PVR, time-shifting and PiP functions – was also a bonus, However so far, nobody cared to design a maker board powered by RTD1295 processor. Since then we’ve learned Realtek was working on RTD1296 processor with even more Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, and SATA interfaces, and SinoVoIP has now designed a board based on the SoC called Banana Pi BPI-W2.

Banana Pi BPI-W2 preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Realtek RTD1296 quad core Cortex A53 processor with ARM Mali-T820 MP3 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR4 RAM
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash (option for 16, 32 or 64GB, 2x SATA 3.0 interfaces, 1x M.2 slot,  micro SD slot up to 256GB
  • Video I/O – HDMI 2.0a output up to 4K @ 60 Hz, HDMI 2.0 input (1080p60 max video recording resolution), mini DP output
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, mini DP (TBC), 3.5mm audio jack
  • Video Playback – HDR, 10-bit HEVC/H.265 up to 4K @ 60fps, H.264 up to 4K @ 24 fps, VP9 up to 4K @ 30 fps, BDISO/MKV, etc…
  • Connectivity
    • 2x Gigabit Ethernet
    • SIM card slot (requires PCIe modem)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 ports, USB type C interface (no info on supported features)
  • Expansions
    • 1x PCIe 1.1 slot
    • 1x PCIe 2.0 slot
    • 40-pin “Raspberry Pi” GPIO header
  • Debugging – 3-pin UART connector
  • Misc – Power, reset and LSADC keys; RTC battery connector; IR receiver; fan header
  • Power Supply – 12V /2A via power barrel connector
  • Dimensions – 148 x 100.5 mm (same dimensions as Banana Pi R2 board)

The PCIe slot are likely to be used for 802.11ac WiFi and cellular (2G. 3G, 4G) modules. The board supports Android 6.0 + OpenWrt, and the company claims it can also run Debian 9, CentOS 64-bit, Ubuntu 16.04, and Raspbian distribution, currently with Linux 4.1.35, but slated to be updated to Linux 4.9. Realtek RTD1295 SoC is also partially supported in Mainline Linux.

SinoVoIP often announces boards many months before the board is released. For example, Banana Pi BPI-R2 was first unveiled in January 2017, and only launched in July. So I’d expect Banana Pi W2 (BPI-W2) to start selling sometimes in 2018. You may find a few more and less accurate details about the board on Gitbook. Note that Shenzhen Xunlong has been working on their own “Orange Pi Home RTD1295DD board“, and I don’t know the status, but company tends to announced the board the day they are launched.