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Rockchip RK3399Pro SoC Integrates a 2.4 TOPS Neural Network Processing Unit for Artificial Intelligence Applications

January 8th, 2018 7 comments

Rockchip RK3399 (aka OP1) SoC was launched in 2016 with an hexa core Arm Cortex A72/A53 processor, Mali-T860MP4 GPU, support for 4K video decoding, and high speed interfaces like USB 3.0 and PCIe, as well as Gigabit Ethernet. The processor is found in Chromebooks, TV boxes, development boards, and other devices.

The company has unveiled an upgraded “Pro” version of the processor at CES 2018. Rockchip RK3399Pro appears to have most of the same features as its predecessor but adds a neural network processing unit (NPU) delivering up to 2.4 TOPS for artificial intelligence and deep learning applications.

The company claims that compared to traditional solution, the computing performance of typical deep neural network Inception V3, ResNet34 and VGG16 models on RK3399Pro is improved by almost one hundred times, and power consumption is less than 1% than A.I. solutions implemented using GPU acceleration.

Based on the information provided in the chart above (source: elDEE on twitter), Rockchip RK3399Pro outperforms other high-end SoCs (for such tasks) including Apple A11, and Huawei Kirin 970, both of which also features an NPU, and even offers better performance than NVIDIA TX2.

RK3399Pro NPU supports 8-bit & 16-bit operations, is compatible with various AI software frameworks and APIs, including OpenVX and TensorFlow Lite/AndroidNN API, and comes with AI software tools capable of handling Caffe/TensorFlow models. An RK3399Pro hardware reference design can also be provided to speed up development, but no details were provided.

Click to Enlarge

 

Via Liliputing

Rockchip RK3288 To Be Phased Out Soon? GPD XD+ Android Console To Get Mediatek MT8176 SoC, 4GB RAM Upgrade

December 7th, 2017 23 comments

[Update: I have now seen an email exchange with ASUS replying that Rockchip RK3288 will still be in production for 5 years, so GPD claims that manufacturing will stop for RK3288 may be incorrect, or misunderstood

Update 2: Rockchip has now confirmed RK3288 will not be phased out. So I’m guessing there may have been info lost in translation with GPD simply not manufacturing their own RK3288 board anymore]

Rockchip RK3288 32-bit Arm processor was first spotted in a company presentation in the summer of 2013, before being announced – with some confusion (Cortex A12 vs A17) – at CES 2014 in January. The quad core Cortex A17 processor had then its moments of glory with inclusion in products such as Chromebooks (2015), and ASUS Tinker board SBC earlier this year.

Another product based on the processor is GPD XD Android game console, but according to a report on reddit, GPD will soon launch an upgraded version call XD+ powered by Mediatek MT8176 Hexa-core Cortex A72/A53 processor with 4GB RAM, mainly because “Rockchip are phasing out sales of the RK3288”. If true, it means most products based on the chip will soon be phased out or upgraded to another solution. How long each product will keep selling will depend on the stocks held by the manufacturer.

GPD XD+ console preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek MT8176 hexa-core processor with 2x Cortex A72 cores @ 2.1 GHz, 4x Cortex A53 cores @ 1.7 GHz, and Imagination PowerVR GX6250 GPU (as used in Xiaomi Mi Pad 3 tablet)
  • System Memory – 4GB RAM
  • Storage – 32GB and up internal storage, micro SD slot
  • Display – 5″ 720p capacitive touch display
  • Video Output – 1x mini HDMI
  • Audio – Dual speaker, via HDMI output, 1x 3.5mm audio jack
  • Connectivity – Dual band WiFi, Bluetooth
  • USB – 1x micro USB port
  • Buttons – Power button, cross button, dual-character button(A/B/X/Y;△/○/×/□), L1/L2/L3/R1/R2/R3, joysticks, Start/Select button, Volume +/-, Back,Android function, Home, Keymapper button
  • Sensor – 3-axis gravity sensor
  • Battery – TBD
  • Power Supply – TBD
  • Dimensions – 155 x 89 x 24 mm
  • Weight – ~300 grams

The device will run Android 7.x, and as you’ll see from the video below some people already got prototypes, with the device achieving 74,500 points in Antutu 6, and a the following Geekbench scores: Single core: 1375; multi core 3529.

The physical aspect of XD+ looks exactly the same as XD, but performance should be quite better with the Cortex A72 cores and PowerVR GPU in the Mediatek SoC, and some games did run better on the new model in the video above. Some games also only work with 64-bit Arm, so more games will be supported.

GPD XD+ is expected to start selling in Q1 2018 with some resellers mentioning January, while other telling the February-March timeframe is more likely. It will all depend on results of testing of the beta units, and other potential production delays.

I contacted Rockchip to try to get more information about the timeline of RK3288 end-of-life status, but I did not get an answer in time for this article. I’ll update it if I get an answer.

Via Liliputing

Amlogic S905X vs Rockchip RK3328 vs Allwinner H6 Processors – Benchmarks & Features Comparison

November 27th, 2017 46 comments

Rockchip, Amlogic and Allwinner are all battling for the lower and mid range segment of the TV box market, so it may be interesting to compare their solutions. We won’t look into the ultra low-end market with 32-bit ARM Cortex A7 processor, but instead compare some of the recent quad core 64-bit ARM Cortex A53 processor for 4K HDR TV box from the company with respectively Amlogic S905X, Rockchip RK3328, and Allwinner H6 SoCs.

We’ll compare some of the benchmarks obtained with Android TV boxes, as well as other features like video support, USB and Ethernet interfaces.

Benchmarks

Let’s start with results for popular Android benchmarks: Antutu 6.x, Vellamo 3.x, and 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme v1.2 with results obtained from 3 TV boxes: Mini M8S II (Amlogic S905X), A95X R2 (Rockchip RK3328), and Zidoo H6 Pro (Allwinner H6). A score is highlighted in green is there’s a clear winner, and in red for a clear loser.

Amlogic S905X Rockchip RK3328 Allwinner H6
CPU (1) Quad core Cortex A53
@ 1.51 GHz
Quad core Cortex A53
@ 1.51 GHz
Quad core Cortex A53
@ 1.8 GHz
GPU (2) ARM Mali-450MP3 ARM Mali-450MP2 ARM Mali-720MP2
Antutu 6.x
Overall 33,553 33,117 40,467 / 36,957 (2)
3D (1920×1080) 3,099 1,475 6,292 / 2,782 (2)
UX 12,365 16,426 13,360
CPU 12,438 10,486 16,395
RAM 5,651 4,730 4,420
Vellamo 3.x
Metal 910 937 930
Multicore 1,491 1,464 836 (3)
Browser 1,855 (Browser) 1,943 (Chrome) 2,546 (Browser)
3DMark – Ice Storm Extreme v1.2
Total score 4,183 2,252 3,951
Graphics score 3,709 1,871 3,643
Physics score 7,561 7,814 5,608

(1) Those are the frequencies reported by CPU-Z, and the actual maximum frequency may be different. For example, it appears Allwinner H6 can only run at 1488 MHz in a sustained manner, and possibly only reach 1.8 GHz during short bursts (TBC).
(2) Allwinner H6 is the only SoC to include a GPU supporting OpenGL ES 3.1, which means it is the only one to complete Marooned 3D graphics test (Antutu 3D test has two 3D benchmarks), and the other boxes just got zero since it did not run. So I’ve included two scores for overall and 3D Antutu results: actual score / score minus Marooned benchmark.
(3) Vellamo multicore had a warning on Zidoo H6 Pro, so it may not represent the actual performance of the device.

Allwinner H6 has a slight advantage, but during use it will be really hard to notice the difference between TV boxes with one of those processors, and other factor like RAM capacity and storage performance will have more influence.One exception is 3D performance, as Rockchip RK3388 is clearly slower here, and I could notice it while playing games.

Features

But SoC performance is only one side of the equation, so let’s have a look at some of the features from the SoCs, which may or not be implemented in some TV boxes. For reference I also included USB 2.0 or 3.0 storage (HDD NTFS partition), and Ethernet performance numbers. Those numbers may vary a lot with further software optimization, configuration tweaks, so they should only be used for reference. I used the same TV boxes as for the benchmark section, except for Gigabit Ethernet relying instead on iperf results from ROCK64 development board (RK3328) and K1 Plus (Note S905, no X, for reference only, but in my experience all Fast Ethernet interfaces have about the same performance), and NEXBOX A95X for the USB storage performance.

Amlogic S905X Rockchip RK3328 Allwinner H6
Video
– 4K 10-bit HEVC Up to 60 fps
– 4K VP9 Up to 60 fps
– 4K H.264 Up to 30 fps (8-bit only) Up to 30 fps (8-bit and 10-bit) Up to 30 fps (8-bit only)
USB 2.0 / 3.0 USB 2.0 USB 3.0 USB 3.0
– A1SD Bench (R/W) 37/37 MB/s 94.52/90.73 MB/s 59.07/42.12MB/s
Ethernet 10/100M only Gigabit Ethernet MAC Gigabit Ethernet MAC
– iperf (full duplex) 91.6/91.8 Mbits/s 815/344 Mbits/s 758/350 Mbits/s
RAM Capacity (Max) 2GB 4GB 2GB
Misc  TS, Smartcard interface TS, Smartcard interface, PCIe

I did not include audio, as all those SoC are supposed to support Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD audio codec pass-through. but implementation varies a lot between devices.

Amlogic S905X is the weakest of the lot based on the two tables above, but it’s also the cheapest SoC among the three, and in my experience, one with the best support in Kodi, for example. Rockchip RK3328 is not much more expensive, and have many benefits, except when it comes to 3D graphics performance, but it usually only matter if you plan to play games on the platform, the GPU is usually good enough for user interfaces. Allwinner H6 has more interfaces, a Mali GPU with OpenGL ES 3.1 and OpenCL support, and lightly more interfaces. The few devices that are based on the Allwinner processor are currently quite more expensive with all other features being equal.

 

Rockchip Has Setup an Official Open Source Website with Software & Hardware Documentation, Source Code

August 3rd, 2017 27 comments

As a young engineer, I first understood the importance of good documentation thanks to an incomplete Holtek MCU datasheet that made us waste weeks of development, and the value open source software thanks to Sigma Designs’ SDK that was full of binary blobs with our applications often crashing inside those, leading to software development delays, especially since we had access to limited support. More recently, if you ever worked with the most popular Chinese processors found in ARM Linux development board, usually made by Allwinner, Amlogic, or Rockchip, you must have gone through roadblocks due to a lack of documentation and software support. So far, Allwinner is purely relying on linux-sunxi community and “leaks” of their documentation and SDKs, while Amlogic has had their “open linux” microsite  for several years, but you won’t find complete documentation like technical reference manual, schematics, and part of the source code requires you to sign an SLA. I’ve heard people who signed the later, still have problem with accessing the source due to lacking username/password though. But that’s still better than nothing, and probably explains why Amlogic is the has been the preferred ARM target for Kodi in recent years.  The company also contracted Bay Libre to add support for Amlogic processors in mainline Linux.

Rockchip was very much like Allwinner at the beginning, but as the company worked with Google on Chromebooks, they started to push code to mainline linux and u-boot, and last year, they also created a Rockchip Github account and Wiki on Wikidot, where you could find some information about the processors. The company has now launched their own open source microsite on their own website: opensource.rock-chips.com. The new website will replace Wikidot Wiki for new processors, and for now they have hardware documentation for RK3288, RK3328 and RK3399, including the technical reference manual, datasheet, and a “guide” to design schematics and PCB layouts. The later mostly consists of PDF schematics of their reference platform. That’s progress, but I don’t understand why an SoC company would not release the full hardware design for their own board.

You’ll find links to source code for u-boot, Coreboot, ARM Trusted Firmware, and Linux on the website, as well as software development guides and tools, including a Linux porting guides, BSP module user  guides, graphics and multimedia user guides (GPU/VPU/ISP), and tools like Rockusb abd Rkdeveloptool.

They also have a dedicated email address opensource [at] rock-chips.com for people who want to provide feedback about the website. This kind of initiative with a public release of hardware and software documentation and source code, benefits both customers, especially smaller companies, and Rockchip themselves, since they may not need to deploy as many field application engineers (FAE) to sort out issues, and their customers have better chances of successfully completing their projects.

How to Install RKMC “Kodi for Rockchip” App in your TV Box

July 3rd, 2017 6 comments

I’ve started playing with Vorke Z3, an Android 6.0 TV box based on Rockchip RK3399 , and saying that Kodi 17.3 – installed from the Google Play Store – is not working so well is an understatement. The other Rockchip TV boxes I’ve recently reviewed with Android 6.0.1 such as Yundoo Y8 and A95X R2 are all using TVMC, a fork of Kodi 16.1 specifically designed for Rockchip devices. However, there’s no source code for that app, but a Rockchip engineer is maintaining his own fork of Kodi, with the code and some binaries libraries released on Github. The project is called RKMC.

Click for Original Size

I did install the app, but I misunderstood part of the instructions at first, and the device would not boot anymore. I lost many hours of work, as I had to reflash the firmware. So I’ll show how I installed it in Vorke Z3 TV box. You could compile it from source, but James also provides binary files for easy installation.

First we’ll need to download RKMC apk and a patched library available for RK3399, RK3368, RK3288, and RK322x processors.First go to RKMC-Build to either download rkmcapp-armeabi-v7a-debug.apk with some add-ons, or rkmcapp-armeabi-v7a-debug-tiny.apk without add-on. With hindsights, I’d recommend the later, as we can see in the screenshot at the top of this article, the first apk mostly includes piracy add-ons that are illegal in most places, and now not working anymore due to the recent crackdown on piracy services with those Kodi add-ons.

Then you’ll want to download librkmcplayer.so  for your processor and operating system, in my case RK3399 and Android 6.0. You’ll also see libmpp.so and libvpu.so in that directory, please ignore those as that’s how I bricked the TV box.

Now that we have our two files, we can run the following commands in a terminal in Ubuntu, but it should work in Windows for Linux Sub-system, or in a Windows command prompt by replacing adb by adb.exe in the commands.

The last command takes around 30 seconds, so be patient. Replace TVBOX-IPADDRESS with the actual IP address, or you can skip this step if you are using a USB type C to USB cable connected between your computer and the device.

We’re done, and you should see RKMC app in the list of apps.

Click to Enlarge

After a few quick tests, I have to say I also have mixed results with this app, but your mileage may vary. I’ll provide a more detailed report in Vorke Z3 review.

 

MQMaker MiQi & ASUS Tinker Boards Get Linux 4.11 with 3D Graphics Acceleration

May 2nd, 2017 8 comments

One day after the release of Linux 4.11, developer Miouyouyou” has released Linux 4.11 for Rockchip RK3288 platforms such as MQMaker MiQi and ASUS Tinker boards with some patchsets for ARM Mali r16p0 kernel drivers, ARM fbdev, and to improve performance.

The kernel has been tested with the Mali User-space r12p0 drivers for fbdev and wayland written for Firefly-RK3288, and some OpenGL ES 3.1/3.2 samples could successfully run on the board. 3D graphics acceleration does not work in X11 however.

Miouyouyou also plans to add support for Rockchip VPU code, as well as ARM gator, and document how to use ARM DS-5 Streamline for OpenGL ES 2.x/3.x debugging.

If you have a MiQi or Tinker board running Debian, you can try the kernel by adding beta.armbian.com Debian repository to your apt source file, and installing the following packages:

Via linux-rockchip G+ community.

Rockchip Introduces Three Tablet SoCs: RK3126C, RK3326, RK3366, and RK3368H Processor for 2-in-1 Laptops

April 19th, 2017 5 comments

Rockchip has launched four more processors at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair 2017, with three SoCs specifically targeting tablets namely RK3126C, RK3326 and RK3366, and one SoC, RK3368H modified from RK3368, designed to provide a lower cost alternative to RK3288 and RK3399 for 2-in-1 hybrid laptops and tablets.

The company only provided limited information with regards to the tablet SoCs specifications:

  • RK3126C quad core processor supporting 1080p video decoding and HD (720p?) displays for entry-level tablets
  • RK3326 quad core ARM Cortex A35 processor with a quad core Mali GPU, DDR3/LPDDR memory interface, 1080p60 H.264, MPEG-4/-2 video decoding, and 1080p30 H.264 video encoding
  • RK3366 quad core ARM Cortex A53 processor with a quad core Mali GPU, DDR3/LPDDR memory interface, USB 3.0 interface, and 4K H.265 video decoding

All three processors will be running Android 7.1. I could not find any tablets based on the processor yet, so we may have to wait a few more month.

We have more details about RK3368H processor since it’s an update of RK3368 processor, and a tablet was showcased at the event.

Rockchip RK3368H key specifications:

  • CPU – Octa-core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ 1.5 Ghz
  • GPU – Imagination PowerVR SDX6110 GPU @ 600 MHz
  • Memory I/F – 32-bit DDR/LPDDR
  • Display I/F  – Full HD Display supported
  • Video – 4K H.265 and H.264 video decoding
  • Ethernet and HDMI port “reduced” (likely meaning removed) for lower costs
  • 28nm process

The processor can run Android 7.1 operating systems, including desktop optimized version such as Remix OS, Phoenix OS, or Light Biz OS. The company claims the tablet shown above gets around 48,000 points in Antutu benchmark. Netbook Italia also posted a video of the tablet (in Italian) showing it’s made by Chiptrip, but they have not updated their MID page with the new tablet just yet.

Via AndroidPC.es

LibreELEC is Now Running on Ugoos UT3+ (Rockchip RK3288) TV Box

February 23rd, 2017 6 comments

Rockchip RK3288 may have launched over two years ago, but the quad core 32-bit processor is still much more powerful than many 64-bit platforms on the market, and ASUS selected the processor for their upcoming – and not officially launched – Tinker Board. The processor was found in several Android TV boxes, but people also installed Linux on the devices, and ported Kodi 14.2 Linux to RK3288 with hardware video decoding back in 2015. The news here is that Omegamoon has recently started working on LibreELEC 8.0 port for RK3288 with a Linux 4.4 kernel, and tested it on Ugoos UT3+ TV box.

Click to Enlarge

Full HD movie playback is said to be smooth, Ethernet, and sound work, but WiFi still needs to be worked on.

Omegamoon has released an update.img firmware which can be flashed with upgrade_tool in Linux, or AndroidTool in Windows, replaces whatever operating system you have on the eMMC flash, and works only on Ugoos UT3+ at this time.  If you own another Rockchip RK3288 device, it’s a bit more complicated. First, you need a computer running Linux, make sure you get a working kernel with the right device tree file, and download this tarball with system and kernel images, and somehow manage to boot it up on your device as explained here.

If you want to contribute to the development of LibreELEC on Rockchip RK3288 processor, you can retrieve the code from github, and run the script build_rk3288_ugoos-ut3s.sh to build LibreELEC from source, and generate a flashable firmware image. If you happen to own PopMetal development board, build_rk3288_popmetal.sh script might work, but has not been tested.

Separately, Marc Rissewijck, who worked on the initial Kodi port for RK3288, has also published a Kodi debian package (kodi_v0.2.deb) very recently, so if you have a RK3288 hardware platforms running running Ubuntu or Debian, this might be worth a try. I could find a reference in #linux-rockchip IRC logo, explaining the changes:

<mac-l1> hi guys. just made a first kodi .deb package for vpu/mpp including zerocopy/eglimage to test. can somebody check if it works?
<mac-l1> just download http://www.mac-l1.com/kodi/kodi_v0.2.deb and dpkg -i the deb package and then apt-get install -f

If you are like me, and have no clue about MPP, it stands for Media Process Platform, and appears to be a new method to handle video decoding on Rockchip SoCs.