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Orange Pi Development Boards

H2-RK3229 is a Rockchip RK3229 TV Box with a 2.5″ SATA Drive Bay

January 15th, 2018 5 comments

Rockchip RK3229 is a quad core Cortex A7 for entry-level 4K TV boxes, and usually found in the cheapest TV boxes with factory price (MOQ) starting at around $18, and the bare minimum of 1GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. Sometimes, it’s also found in higher quality models, for example Zidoo X1 II, and some models have more memory and/storage such as R-Box 4K.

So I was a little surprised when I saw H2-RK3229 TV box with comes with 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, and a SATA bay for 2.5″ drives, that’s sold for around $61 shipped on Aliexpress.

H2-RK3229 specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3229 quad core ARM Cortex A7 processor @ 1.5 GHz with  ARM Mali-400MP2
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash. 2.5″ SATA bay, micro SD slot
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K2K @ 60 fps & AV port (composite video + stereo audio)
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Misc – IR receiver, power LED, front panel LCD display
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 17.5 x 11.8 x 3.6 cm

The device runs Android 6.0, and is said to come with 1-year of free IPTV worth $75. I would not count on the latter however, as many not-so-legal IPTV services have been busted by authorities recently.

Rockchip RK3229 does not come with SATA, USB 3.0, nor PCIe interface, so the SATA bay will have been implemented through a USB 2.0 to SATA bridge that could deliver up to around 40 MB/s, if they’ve not messed up. It’s worth noting the SoC comes with three separate USB 2.0 port so bandwidth is not shared.

If you planed to replace Android by Linux to convert it into a simple server, it might be tricky, as there does not seem to be much activity for Linux on RK3229, no development board, and the processor is not even listed on Rockchip open source website.

Via AndroidPC.es

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)

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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).

PICO-APL3 Apollo Lake Pico-ITX Board Comes with an Optional TPM 2.0 Module

January 2nd, 2018 4 comments

AAEON has launched another industrial Pico-ITX board powered by Intel Celeron/Pentium Apollo Lake processors with their PICO-APL3 Pico-ITX single board computer featuring either Celeron N3350 or Pentium N4200 processor together with 2 to 4GB soldered DDR3L memory, and 16 to 64 GB eMMC flash.

The company explains that one of key differences against other similar board is the option for a TPM module / hardware security that would allow applications such as payment processing for retailers or on the go.

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AAEON PICO-APL3 board specifications:

  • SoC
    • Intel Celeron N3350 dual core Apollo Lake processor @ up to 1.10/2.40GHz with 12EU Intel HD Graphics 500; 6W TDP
    • Intel Pentium N4200 quad core Apollo Lake processor @ up to 1.10/2.50GHz with 18 EU Intel HD Graphics 505; 6W TDP
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3L on-board (Option to 4GB)
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash (32/64 GB as option), 1x SATA III port (5V/12V power), M.2 2280 B Key slot for SSD, SPI flash for AMI BIOS
  • Video Output / Display
    • HDMI 1.4b up to 3840×2160 @ 30 Hz
    • Optional internal eDP up to 4096×2160 @ 60 Hz
    • Optional DDI via BIO interface
  • Audio – ALC269 audio codec + audio header
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet via Reaktek RTL8111G PCIe Ethernet controller
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports, 2x USB 2.0 header shared with fan connector
  • Serial – 2x RS-232 serial ports (COM1/COM2)
  • Camera I/F – 2-lane MIPI-CSI connector for optional 2MP camera, 4-lane MIPI-CSI connector for optional 8MP camera
  • Expansion
    • 1x  M.2 2280 B Key slot with PCIe, SATA, USB 2.0/3.0, etc…
    • 1x M.2 2230 E Key slot with PCIe, USB 2.0, etc…
    • I2C, SMBus, I2S
    • 4-bit DIO
    • Optional 80-pin BIO connector for AAEON daughterboards
  • Security – Optional TPM 2.0 module for hardware security
  • Misc – Wake on LAN, Watchdog Timer, fan connector
  • Power Supply – +12V via lockable & Phoenix terminal co-lay
  • Dimensions –  100×72 mm ( PICO-ITX form factor)
  • Weight – 250 grams
  • Temperature range – Operating: 0°C ~ 60°C; storage: -40˚C ~ 80˚C
  • Humidity – 0% ~ 90% relative humidity, non-condensing
  • MTBF –  110,000 hours
  • Certifications – CE,FCC

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The board comes with an optional heatspreader, heatsink & cooler. The product page does not mention anything about operating system, but if you download the user’s manual there, they explain how to install drivers for Windows 8.1/10. Linux should be working too, as the manual asked to disable “Monitor Mwait” in the BIOS to install a Linux OS.

The board should be available now at an undisclosed price.

 

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More Low Cost ARM Linux NAS Platforms Coming Soon: Popcorn Hour Transformer (XL), ODROID-HC2

December 14th, 2017 21 comments

Last summer, Hardkernel launched ODROID-HC1 Home Cloud 1 taking a single 2.5″ hard drive, and based on a modified version of their popular Exynos 5422 powered ODROID-XU4 board where they removed HDMI, and added a SATA interface (via USB 3.0), but based on the initial announcement, we also knew the Korean company was working on ODROID-HC2 supporting 3.5″ drives instead.

The device is not available yet, but guys at Armbian got an early unit, so we should not be waiting too long. Hardkernel will also have some competition for their ODROID-HC1 NAS, as Cloud Media (and Pine64?) are working on Rockchip RK3328 based Popcorn Hour Transformer & Transformer XL with support for 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives respectively.

Hardkernel ODROID-HC2

ODROID-HC2 (Top) vs ODROID-HC1 (Bottom) – Click to Enlarge

ODROID-HC2 preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Samsung Exynos 5422 octa-core processor with 4x ARM Cortex-A15 @ 2.0 GHz, 4x ARM Cortex-A7 @ 1.4GHz, and Mali-T628 MP6 GPU supporting OpenGL ES 3.0 / 2.0 / 1.1 and OpenCL 1.1 Full profile
  • System Memory – 2GB LPDDR3 RAM PoP @ 750 MHz
  • Storage
    • UHS-1 micro SD slot up to 128GB
    • SATA interface via JMicron JMS578 USB 3.0 to SATA bridge chipset
    • The case supports 3.5″ drives
  • Network Connectivity – 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet (via USB 3.0)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port
  • Debugging – Serial console header
  • Misc – Power, status, and SATA LEDs;
  • Power Supply
    • 12V/2A via 5.5/2.1mm power barrel (2.5A might covered most use case, e.g. adding another USB 2.0 drive)
    • Backup header for RTC battery
  • Dimensions & weight – TBD

Basically everything should be the same, as HC1, except the power supply (12V vs 5V) and of course the dimensions of the metal enclosure, which is still used for cooling.

Tkaiser ran some preliminary tests, and could confirm HC2 is indeed software compatible with HC1/ODROID-XU4 using Armbian OMV image. Power consumption will be higher than for 2.5″ drives with around 5.3W measured while idle with a mechanical drive, and spikes up to 24Watts when the drive is spinning up, but apparently the 12V/2A power supply provided by hardkernel can somehow handle up to 30 Watts. Power consumption drops to 4.3W with an SSD, and 3.9W with no drive at all.

Performance was good at 100+ MB/s sequential read/write performance over the network. The reported SoC temperature will be slightly higher than on ODROID-HC1 because the 12V to 5V converter circuit produce heat that increases the PCB temperature by 3 to 4°C, but it should not be an issue.

Popcorn Hour Transformer

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Popcorn Hour Transformer is quite similar to ODROID-HC1, but Cloud Media also left the HDMI 2.0 output, so it could be used as a Android TV box with hard drive too.

Preliminary specifications for Transformer based on photos, and OMV forums:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3328 quad core Cortex A53 processor with Mali-450MP GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB or 4GB DRAM
  • Storage
    • micro SD slot
    • Support for eMMC flash modules used in ROCK64 board
    • SPI NOR flash
    • SATA interface via USB 3.0 to SATA bridge chipset
    • Support for 2.5″ drives
  • Network Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K 60Hz with HDR support
  • Audio Output – Via HDMI, and 3.5mm audio jack
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports
  • Misc – Power button, IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A via power barrel jack
  • Dimensions & weight – TBD

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Transformer should be 100% compatible with ROCK64 development board, and based on latest info from #pine64 IRC channel, launch is planned for January, with Transformer XL coming a few months later. Cloud Media already listed Transformer for $95.90$115.90, but accessing further information requires a password. Since the product has not been launched, prices may just be placeholders while designing the website.

In somewhat related news, Pine64 is working on a Rockpro64 board powered by Rockchip RK3399 SoC which will be demo’ed at FOSDEM 2018, and this may eventually lead to a Transformer Pro media NAS if there’s demand for it.

Vorke Z3 Rockchip RK3399 TV Box Gets Android 7.1 Firmware

November 29th, 2017 1 comment

Earlier today, I discovered Cloudnetgo CR19 TV Box based on Rockchip RK3399 SoC and equipped with an external SATA port sold on GeekBuying. At first, I thought it was something completely new, but soon remembered that I had reviewed a very similar device: Vorke Z3.

At the time of the review however, the device was pre-loaded with Android 6.0, and while performance itself was clearly at step up compared to other TV boxes, video playback was rather poor, and there were too many bugs to my taste. Then I realized that the new device came with Android 7.1, and a quick search revealed Vorke Z3 had also received an Android 7.1 firmware upgrade late September.

That will be old news for some owners, but if you’ve gotten frustrated by your device while running Android 6.0, it may be worth checking out Android 7.1. If OTA firmware update from Android 6.0 to Android 7.1 is not supported, you can download RK3399_R99_SDK-V1.0.1_AP6356S_Android7.1_%E6%A0%87%E5%87%86_20170914.153421.img, and flash it using Rockchip firmware upgrade instructions (AndroidTool).

In case you own another RK3399 device still stuck with Android 6.0, it may be a good idea to check whether an update to 7.1 to available.

ACEPC AK1 Celeron J3455 Mini PC Review – Part 1: Unboxing, Teardown, and First Impressions

October 17th, 2017 43 comments

Karl here. Today we are going to look at the ACEPC AK1 mini PC. Here are some of the specs pulled from ACEPC’s website. The feature that is most notable to me is the included 2.5” hard drive compartment.

Hardware

CPU:Intel Celeron J3455
GPU:Intel HD Graphics 500
RAM:4GB DDR3L
ROM:32GB eMMC
WiFi:Ac3165 Dual Band2.4G/5G
LAN: Ethernet RJ45 10/100/1000M
Bluetooth: BT V4.0

Interfaces

USB port:2xUSB 3.0;2xUSB 2.0;1xType C;support USB disk and USB HDD
Card reader: TF Card (up to 128GB)
HDMI Port: HDMI 1.4
Microphone audio: 3.5mm Microphone jack x1

Unboxing & Teardown

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Looks like an mSATA connector inside but not listed on spec? – Click to Enlarge

Some close-up photos to get a better look at the chips, and overall hardware design.

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First Boot – Storage / Task Manager

Storage after first boot:

Storage after update:

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Thermal Testing with Prime 95

Cooling seems adequate. Below is a picture of Prime 95 after 5 minutes. I am glad to see it staying at about 2 GHz considering the base frequency is 1.5 GHz. After stopping, it loses 30° Celsius immediately and after 30 seconds back to around 50° Celsius.

Goal

One of my goals for the second part of this review is to use it in the living room as a silent PC and mini server. I want to stream games from my new rig via Steam in Home Streaming and/or Nvidia GameStream. I want to also test it as a Plex server. Plex is testing out some hardware encoding on its beta software and I will be installing it on this box. I used Emby for a long time, but got to a point I had to reboot daily. Home automation server and Minecraft server should be a cakewalk. I have installed Steam and Moonlight chrome plugin, and tested them for a few minutes. Both work as expected but Steam is the clear winner at 25% CPU usage. It would be really great if I could both stream a game and live encode TV from my antenna. I think it won’t be a problem but need to test. My in-laws canceled pay TV a while back and they stream live TV from our antenna through the Plex app on Mi Box. They are even more rural than we are, and get no channels unless they erect an outside antenna.

First Impressions

This is subjective but I do like the way it looks. Has enough IOs. I wrote this article on it and other than typing on Logitech K400(ugh), it was uneventful. The expansion for a 2.5” hard drive is a great feature in my opinion. I just added a hard drive taken from a laptop. I have only tested out Ethernet at this point. I am in my lab and testing WiFi here is unfair to any device. If you would like to see any specific benchmark/test please let me know in the comments below.

I would like to thank Gearbest for sending ACEPC AK1 for review. It is currently on sale for $149.99 [Update: coupon USBLOG9 drop the price further to $147]. The device is also sold on Amazon US for $199.99, and it can be found under other brands like Unistorm, WooYi, Findarling, etc.. on Aliexpress.

iWave Systems iW-RainboW-G25D is a SMARC 2.0 Compliant Snapdragon 820 Development Kit

October 15th, 2017 No comments

iWave Systems previously launched iW-RainboW-G25S single board board powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor. The company is now back with a new Snapdragon 820 development kit called iW-RainboW-G25D that complies with SMARC 2.0 SoM specifications.

The kit include a SoM with 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, WiFi and Bluetooth connected to a SMARC compliant baseboard, and optionally features a 5.5″ AMOLED touch screen display.

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iWave Systems iW-RainboW-G25D development kit specifications:

  • APQ8096 SMARC iW-RainboW-G25M SoM:
    • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 (APQ8096) quad core Kryo CPU with Adreno 530 GPU @ 624MHz, Hexagon 680 DSP @ 825 MHz (no  modem)
    • System Memory – 3GB LPDDR4 RAM
    • Storage – 32GB eMMC Flash, micro SD slot
    • Connectivity
      • PCIe to Gigabit Ethernet + PHY
      • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi + BT4.1 Low Energy (BLE)
      • GPS/GNSS receiver
    • 314-pin MXM 3.0 edge connector as per SMARC 2.0 specifications
  • SMARC Carrier Board
    • Storage – M.2 slot (back), SATA, SD card slot (back), SPI flash
    • Display – 5.5″ HD AMOLED MIPI DSI display with capacitive touch
    • Video Output – HDMI
    • Audio – 3.5mm audio IN or OUT jacks
    • Camera – 8MP MIPI CSI camera connector
    • Connectivity – 1x Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45)
    • USB – 2x USB 3.0 host port, 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port, 1x USB 3.0 type C port
    • Expansion
      • 1x PCIe x1 slot
      • 1x MiniPCIe slot (multiplexed with PCIe slot and one USB 2.0 port; selectable with switch)
      • 1x UART port (full function)
      • 3x 80-pin I/O Expansion connectors with USB, GPIO, MIPI CSI, MIPI DSI,  SLIM BUS, I2C, UART, SPI, HAD/I2S, etc…
    • Misc – RTC with backup battery, DIP switch
    • Debugging – 1x micro USB Port
    • Power Supply – 12V DC
    • Dimensions – 120mmx120mm (Nano ITX form factor)
  • Operating Temperature – 0°C to +70°C

Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The company provides support for Android 6.x Marshmallow, and expects the kit and SoM to be used to develop various types of applications including augmented & virtual reality, 4K digital signage, media streaming, connected home & entertainment, high end wearables, drones, secure POS, video analytics.

iW-RainboW-G25D SMARC development kit appears to be available now with or without display. For further details and potentially inquire about pricing info, visit the product page.

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.