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Orange Pi Development Boards

Intel June Canyon (Gemini Lake) NUCs Now Up for Pre-order for $130 and Up

February 13th, 2018 5 comments

This morning, I was informed that Intel had now published product pages for June Canyon NUC kits, mini PC, and board powered by the company’s latest Gemini Lake processors with four models:

  • Intel NUC 7 Essential NUC7CJYSAL – Mini PC with Windows 10 based on Intel Celeron J4005 dual core processor (4M Cache, up to 2.70 GHz) with 32GB flash, 4GB RAM
  • Intel NUC Kit NUC7PJYH – Barebone mini PC with  Intel Pentium Silver J5005 quad core processor (4M Cache, up to 2.80 GHz)
  • Intel NUC Kit NUC7CJYH – Barebone mini PC with Intel Celeron J4005 dual core processor (4M Cache, up to 2.70 GHz)
  • Intel NUC Board NUC7PJYB – Board based on Intel Pentium Silver J5005 quad core processor (4M Cache, up to 2.80 GHz)

We’ve already published Intel June Canyon NUCs’ specifications, so I won’t go through it again in this post, and instead I looked for places where the devices may be for sale. While I could not find them on larger websites such as Amazon, some smaller distributors are already taking pre-order so we can have a good idea about the price:

  • Intel NUC 7 Essential NUC7CJYSAL – $236.52
  • Intel NUC Kit NUC7PJYH – $189.79
  • Intel NUC Kit NUC7CJYH – $131.36
  • Intel NUC Board NUC7PJYB – N/A

The prices above are from Bottom Line Communication. Ground shipping is free to most of the US for orders over $1,000, and they also ship worldwide. I could also find some other shops such as TigerDirect selling NUC7PJYH for $187.99 + $6.99 shipping (to the US), but the board only does not appear to be up for sale/pre-order anywhere yet. More shops should list the devices in the next few days, but it’s good to know price will be similar to the one of Apollo Lake models, as for example, I can see the Barebone Celeron Apollo Lake NUC selling for about $130 on Amazon US.

FOSDEM 2018 Open Source Developers Meeting Schedule

January 23rd, 2018 5 comments

FOSDEM (Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting) occurs every year on the first week-end of February, where developers meet for two days discussing about open source software projects. FOSDEM 2018 will take place on February 3-4 this year with  652 speakers, 684 events, and 57 tracks, an increase over  last year 608 speakers, 653 events, and 54 tracks. There will be 8 main tracks namely: Community, History, Miscellaneous, Performance, Python, Security and Encryption, Space, and Global Diversity CFP Day.

There will also be 33 developer rooms, and since the full schedule is now available, I’ll make a virtual schedule mostly based on sessions from the Embedded, mobile, and automotive, Hardware Enablement, and Internet of Things devrooms.

Saturday 3, 2018

  • 09:50 – 10:15 – Turning On the Lights with Home Assistant and MQTT by Leon Anavi

In this presentation you will learn the exact steps for using MQTT JSON Light component of the open source home automation platform Home Assistant for controlling lights through the machine-to-machine protocol MQTT. Practical examples for low cost devices combining together open source hardware with free and open source software will be revealed. The presentation will provide general overview of Home Assistant, details about the software integration of new devices to it through the MQTT protocol and open source MQTT brokers such as Mosquitto. We will do a code review of an open source Linux daemon application for Raspberry Pi, written in the C programming language and based on the Paho library for MQTT client and the piGPIO library used for pulse-width modulation (PWM) control of a RGB LED strip. We will compare it to an implementation of the same features for the microcontroller with WiFi ESP8266 written as a sketch for the Arduino environment. Furthermore, the presentation will include details about reading data from various sensors and their setup in Home Assistant.

  • 10:25 – 10:50 – Accessing your Mbed device from anywhere using Pagekite by Bert Outtier

When looking at home automation solutions available in the market nowadays, one of the most important and expected features is to be able to control your home automation installation from anywhere in the world using a smartphone app. A vendor of a low-cost home automation solution requested us to add such a feature to their existing IP gateway product, which only allowed for users to control their home automation system with their smartphone while they are connected to their local network at home. We were asked to make it possible to let the smartphone app connect to the IP gateway from anywhere in the world. This vendor’s IP gateway hard- and software was based on the Mbed platform, so they needed a solution that could fit within Mbed.

Since our client wanted an open-source, secure, low-cost and easy to set up solution that he could host himself, we opted to go for Pagekite. However, since Mbed does not support OpenSSL, Linux sockets or libev, the existing libpagekite C library was not an option to start from. So we started to implement a Mbed flavour of the library ourselves, and decided to make it open-source

  • 11:00 – 11:30 – The free toolchain for the STM8 by Philipp Klaus Krause

The STM8 is a popular 8-bit architecture by ST Microelectronics commonly used in household electronics, automotive application and industrial controls. For quite a while there were no free tools, and the irregular architecture makes it hard to support in GCC or LLVM. In recent years free tools for it started to appear and now form a free toolchain that surpassed preexisting non-free ones. The most important part is the Small Device C Compiler (SDCC). New tree-decomposition-based algorithms from recent compiler research have been implemented in SDCC, including a new register allocator particularly suited to irregular architectures with few registers. SDCC quickly surpassed the non-free compiler in standard compliance and OS support and generates substantially faster integer code. Programs can be flashed by stcgal (via a serial link on STM8 devices that have a bootloader) and stm8flash (via the SWIM interface of ST-LINK hardware). OpenOCD and GDB allow on-target debugging via the ST-LINK. IDEs complete the development environment. However, stcgal still needs non-free binary blobs for use with some devices and the ST-LINK has non-free firmware. SDCC still falls short in floating-point performance. While there are some ports of free RTOSes that use the free toolchain for the STM8, more would be desirable.

  • 11:30 – 12:00 – Building RT Linux distribution with Yocto by Pierre Ficheux

The conference will describe how to use PREEMPT_RT and Xenomai with Yocto build system – building image and SDK – developing simple application – testing performances.

Using RT extension with Yocto is not that easy because linux-yocto-rt kernel is not usable on main embedded target such as ARM (as it works on QEMU target only). Using Xenomai is much more complicated as it needs several steps (patching the kernel, installing user-space libraries, building an extended SDK).

During the conference we will describe how to build a Yocto Linux image using PREEMPT_RT for famous boards such as Pi 3 or BeagleBone Black.

Some Xenomai support is provided by meta-eldk from DENX but it supports only Xenomai 2.6. We will describe meta-xenomai as we maintain it for our customers (available on GitHub). That new meta-xenomai layer is based on Xenomai 3.x and very recent kernel.

Then we will explain how to build a simple Xenomai application based on a periodic task. Finally we will compare performances of both extension (PREEMPT_RT and Xenomai) on same hardware.

  • 12:00 – 13:00 – How to keep your embedded Linux up and running? by Krzysztof Opasiak

Userspace software is imperfect and we all know about this. Running it for 5 minutes seems to be easy but what about days or weeks? This problem already gave server guys a lot of sleepless nights. Nowadays also IoT and embedded Linux world is facing very the same problem. Unfortunately solutions known from server world (Nagios and friends) usually cannot be directly applied.

During this talk, Krzysztof will discuss problems related to monitoring and “healing” embedded Linux distribution. First, most common server approaches will be described. After that, Krzysztof will try to identify key problems of applying this solution to embedded platform. Then Krzysztof will introduce faultd – small but extendable daemon for system monitoring and CPR;). How to use it? What can it do? What are the advantages and disadvantages? All those questions should be answered in this part. Last part is going to be a discussion on a presented idea and experience sharing.

  • 13:05 – 13:30 – A Guided Tour of Eclipse IoT: 3 Software Stacks for IoT by Benjamin Cabé

Whether you’re looking at the constrained devices that make for the “things” of the IoT, gateways that connect them to the Internet, or backend servers, there’s a lot that one needs to build for creating end-to-end IoT solutions. In this session, we will look at the typical software features that are specific to IoT, and see what’s available in the open source ecosystem (and more specifically Eclipse IoT) to implement them. A live demo of the Eclipse IoT Open Testbed for Asset Tracking will allow the audience to see some of the projects (such as Eclipse Kura, or Eclipse Kapua) in action.

  • 13:45 – 14:10 – Tizen:RT A lightweight RTOS platform for low-end IoT devices by Philippe Coval

The Tizen software platform has been designed to target consumer electronics, since 2013 the OS is powering many products on the market (from smart watches to TVs, cameras or even white goods). Even if this Linux based platform is very flexible, the Linux kernel has minimum size requirements, so Tizen can’t be deployed on constrained devices (ubiquitous microcontrollers).

To also target low end devices part of Tizen’s technology was rebased on NuttX RTOS. Seamless connectivity is still provided by IoTivity, while a new IoT features are becoming available to application developers too, this whole stack is Tizen:RT!

This presentation will give an overview of Tizen ecosystem, and explain how to get started with Tizen:RT using QEmu, SDK, finally an IoT scenario will be demonstrated on trusted system on module ARTIK 055s.

  • 14:25 14:50 – Eclipse IoT FOSS Platform for Cloud Based IoT Solutions by Steffen Evers

It is expected that in the next years billions of devices will be connected to the Internet of things (IoT). Many of them will interact with cloud-based solutions to provide additional services on the devices or in the web. To bring IoT to the next level technologies for supporting cross-domain/cross-vendor solutions are needed. There is already a lot FOSS available to provide a technological base for building IoT solutions (e.g. Kubernetes). However, on top of it, software is needed for the connectivity challenges, support of domain-specific protocols, large scale messaging and device management and integration with existing infrastructure. Eclipse IoT aims to address these needs and provide an FOSS IoT framework that makes IoT development fast and simple. In the last year Eclipse IoT has made a lot of progress and the underlying environment in cloud technology has seen a lot of changes. In addition, upcoming challenges like automated driving and connected vehicles have resulted in new projects for better support for the automotive domain. This talk gives you an overview of major Eclipse IoT projects and illustrates its capabilities with a short demo.

  • 15:05 15:30 – IoT.js – A JavaScript platform for the Internet of Things by Ziran Sun

IoT.js is a JavaScript platform that aims to provide inter-operable services for IoT world. Powered by JerryScript, an ultra-lightweight modular JavaScript engine, the platform is designed to bring the success of Node.js to constrained IoT devices. To address interoperability, IoT.js has provided a Node.js friendly architecture and comes with a subset of Node.js APIs. Since Samsung OSG first presented IoT.js in FOSDEM in 2016, the platform has been through a rapid growth in last couple of years. With a lot active high-quality contributions from the IoT.js and JerryScript open source community, IoT.js has released version 1.0 in July 2017 which presented a rich set of features, hardware and tool supports for developers. In this talk, we are looking at recent developments in IoT.js and share our vision for future plans. The talk is supported by a demo of iot.js running on constrained device seamlessly connects to node.js for third party cloud access.

  • 15:45 – 16:10 – The dark side of Internet of things by Dipesh Monga

With the advent of the Internet of things, monitoring and controlling everything such as coffee maker, lights, TV, Fridge,etc. over the Internet has become a child’s play. But are we really making our lives simpler or diving ourselves in a vast ocean which is getting deeper and deeper? In today’s world where the security of our data of a major concern, the number of websites are always tracking what we search for, what we watch, our location and now when things are limited to only data, adding another dimension i.e. physical entities is really a big question.

From this talk audience will take away an understanding of the privacy concerns related to IoT, and how they may be putting their personal information at risk by connecting my physical entities to the Internet. Is it really safe to connect things to the Internet?

  • 16:30 – 17:00 – Facing the Challenges of Updating Complex Systems by Enrico Jörns

Over the past three years, the growing zoo of Open Source update frameworks made updating an embedded Linux system much easier. But, the availability of a robust update tool solves only one step in the complex chain from a software artifact to an updated and working system on your devices.

Starting with a modern system consisting of a recent bootloader, kernel, init system and update tool, this talk ventures beyond the basic and already solved topics of A/B redundancy, atomicity, or simple update verification.

Enrico will present strategies for creating a robust update chain from automated testing up to full rollout management and show how to solve these challenges with recent Open Source software such as barebox, RAUC, systemd, hawkBit, casync and labgrid. You will learn how to deal with more modular and complex system setups, restricted systems, error recovery, product variants, resigning for deployment, updating the bootloader itself and interaction with verified boot.

  • 17:00 – 18:00 – Multitasking on Cortex-M class MCUs, A deep-dive into the Chromium-EC OS by Moritz Fischer

We’re gonna look at multi-tasking on small Cortex-M class MCUs like the ARM Cortex-M0. After a brief general overview of the Cortex-M0 programming model, exception handling and other basics required, we’ll start our deep-dive into one specific implementation in the Chromium-EC firmware. We’ll look at startup code, how tasks are implemented, how to deal with priorities and peripheral interrupts.

The Chromium-EC firmware is a little (RT)OS that runs (mostly) on ARM cores of the Cortex-M class (M0/M3/M4), and powers Google’s Chromebooks as well as other devices (Project Sulfur SDR). It’s permissive license makes it attractive for (ab)use in other projects, since Kernel and U-Boot integration are already existing.

  • 18:00 – 18:30 –  The Chromium project’s Way to Wayland by Maksim Sisov

Wayland is the most advanced X11-alternative display protocol, shipping today in a variety of desktop and embedded environments. Although the Chromium browser on Linux still defaults to use the X11 window system, there have been efforts to port it to different environments.

This effort happens in various fronts, including the development and stabilization of Ozone, an abstraction layer for graphics and input events, and the transitioning of some ChromeOS-oriented solutions to Linux, for example Chromium’s new “UI service”.

Igalia has been actively contributing to this multi organizational collaboration, aiming at getting a full fledged Chromium browser running natively on Wayland. The work happens on Chromium’s upstream repository so that the greater Chromium community can benefit from it.

  • 18:30 19:00 – GStreamer for tiny devices by Olivier Crête

GStreamer is a complete Open Source multimedia framework, and it includes hundreds of plugins, including modern formats like DASH, HLS or the first ever RTSP 2.0 implementation. The whole framework is almost 150MB on my computer, but what if you only have 5 megs of flash available? Is it a viable choice? Yes it is, and I will show you how.

Starting with simple tricks like only including the necessary plugins, all the way to statically compiling only the functions that are actually used to produce the smaller possible footprint.

Sunday 4, 2018

  • 09:30 10:00 – Programming UEFI for dummies, what I have learned while tweaking FreePascal to output UEFI binaries by Olivier Coursière

With the upcoming end of legacy mode in UEFI firmware on PCs, every alternative and hobbyist operating systems, bare metal programmers and wannabe OS developers will have to deal with UEFI on modern hardware. After presenting the binary format of UEFI applications, I will focus on the use of UEFI APIs through EFI system table and UEFI protocols so you can get started.

  • 10:00 – 10:30 – Rustyarm AKA A project looking at Rust for Embedded Systems by Benedict Gaster (cuberoo_)

Rustyarm is a project in the Physical Computing group at the University of West of England looking at application of Rust on embedded micro controllers. UWE Sense is a new hardware and software platform for IoT, build with ARM micro controllers, Bluetooth LE and LoRaWAN, which runs a software stack written completely in Rust. While UWE Sense is a close to the metal implementation, UWE Audio, a new hardware platform for studying high performance audio using ARM micro controllers, uses Rust to implement a monadic reactive graph, supporting both an offline compiler and and Embedded DSL. UWE Audio uses safe Rust, for example, describing domain clock as generic associated types, providing both compile time guarantees that multiple streams will not be incorrectly sequenced at different sample rates, and the ability to dynamically compile for different parts of the system.

In this talk I will provide a high-level overview of the Rustyarm project, including how using Rust has made this project interesting, but also enabled providing guarantees with respect to the audio scheduler, for example. However, Rust has some short comings in the embedded domain and we provide details on some of these and what we and the wider community are doing to address them. As an example of Rust’s application in the embedded domain we present early work on UWE Audio and hardware and software platform for building digital music instruments, which as already noted is programmed with solely in Rust.

  • 10:30 – 11:00 – How to build an autonomous robot for less than 2K€ by Miika Oja (PuluMan)

Telepresence, Delivery Boy, Security and Follow Me in one PULUrobot. PULUrobot solves the autonomous mobile robotics complexity issue without expensive parts, without compromise. By fearless integration and from-scratch design, our platform can do SLAM, avoid obstacles, feed itself, and carry payload over 100kg, for less than 2000EUR.

Application ecosystem can be born around it, as we offer a ready-made Open Source (GPLv2) solution in a tightly coupled HW-SW codesign. Pulu Robotics Oy was founded in July, 2017, in Finland, to solve our own needs, with an efficient team of three. No one had prior knowledge on robotics.

By studying the market and other startups, we realized the common mistake is to use “robotic modules” as building blocks. They are highly expensive, provide little bang for buck, often are inefficient, and require complex software middleware (such as ROS) as the glue inbetween. Due to our combined background in mechanical, electrical, software and manufacturing design, we took the approach of designing as much as possible by ourselves.

We are now selling the very first generation of robots for the early adopters, hoping to give a kick start to the open source community as soon as possible. Behind the curtains, we are focusing on the development of our next 3D sensor system, which will replace the current scanning 2D lidar with a 360×90 degree full 3D distance data, and do it for the same price we currently pay for the Scanse 2D lidar used in the first small-scale production batch.

  • 11:00 – 11:30 – … like real computers! Making distributions work on single board computers by Andre Przywara

Installing an operating system on single board computers (SBCs or “Fruit-Pis”) is very board specific and requires a lot of hand holding. If at all, standard distributions support only a small number of them explicitly, which leads to a lot of board specific images and distributions. This talk will show how this situation can be improved, to the point where off-the-shelf Linux (or BSD) distributions can be installed on those boards, without those distros knowing about each and every one of them. Key ingredients are standardized firmware interfaces like UEFI, stable device trees and on-board memory like SPI flash. This should make using ARM based SBCs as easy as using (x86) PCs today: like “real computers”. On top of this, ways to simplify and speed up mainline Linux kernel support are explored. Enabling kernel support for new SoCs usually takes a while, especially if the effort is driven by the community. This delays distribution support, up to a point where a certain SoC or board might become slightly dated when it’s finally supported. Using more device tree features and less hardcoded kernel data would reduce the code required to support new SoCs, ideally reaching a point where new SoCs could be at least booted with existing (distribution!) kernels, just by providing the proper device tree blob. This talk describes the idea and gives an example by looking at what can be done on Allwinner SoCs.

  • 11:30 – 12:00 – Booting it successfully for the first time with mainline by Enric Balletbo Serra

While things have gotten a lot better, new hardware bring-up sometimes still feels like pulling teeth. With the right methodology, tools and techniques, a significant amount of time, energy (and sanity) can be saved while enabling a new board to run Linux. In this talk, we’ll discuss the phased process involved in new board bring-up and the challenges it can pose, from reviewing initial schematic design to the successful upstreaming of any necessary bootloader and kernel patches. We’ll also provide some examples of the process based on a board that was recently made compatible with mainline.

  • 12:00 – 12:30 – SITL bringup with the IIO framework, bootstrapping a x86 based drone platform by Bandan Das

This talk aims at an introduction to using the Industrial IO(IIO) framework to initialize sensors and acquire data to feed to a Software in the Loop (SITL) interface of drone software such as iNav/Cleanflight. Most flight controller boards are based on low power ARM microcontrollers and the flight controller software is not usually based on Linux. However, with the availability of increasingly powerful boards with onboard sensors and multicore processors, using a Linux based flight controller software can be used to our advantage. Experimenting with onboard devices and scheduling algorithms can lead to interesting applications with minimal porting overhead to new architectures.

The talk starts with a quick overview of the IIO framework and using it to initialize the drivers for the onboard sensors of the Intel Aero platform, a x86 based flight controller board. Although, not tied to the Aero board in any way, this talk will use this board as an example to describe the onboard sensors and acquire data from them to successfully run a minimal SITL instance. The talk aims to explore how the IIO framework exposes data from these sensors and how users can utilize these interfaces followed by a demo of the setup.

  • 12:30 – 13:00 – Rapid SPI Device Driver Development over USB by Stefan Schmidt

On the quest for a cheap and easy way to connect some simple SPI devices to my laptop it was surprising to not find anything suitable available. The idea is neither new nor innovative and surely there must have been something already.

Maybe the use-case was to special. To connect the SPI device to a Linux laptop over USB in order to develop a SPI kernel driver for it and having a rapid development and test cycle. None of the solutions to access the SPI device over libusb in userspace would work for me. I needed a SPI master controller in kernelspace to work with the variety of devices and kernel subsystems.

After some research I settled on the MCP2210 chip. With its cheap and easy to get development boards and an out-of-tree driver as a good start. Maybe it is also something others are looking for and it is surely worth demonstrating and explaining.

  • 13:00 – 14:00 – Implementing state-of-the-art U-Boot port, 2018 edition by Marek Vasut

This presentation is a practical guide to implementing U-Boot port to a new system from scratch. U-Boot is the de-facto standard bootloader for embedded systems, there is plenty of U-Boot ports, yet vast majority of those are implemented in sub-optimal way. This talk first explains the U-Boot internals, the driver model (DM) and it’s interaction with device tree (DT), as understanding these is vital to understanding the implementation of core subsystems. The core subsystems are explained in detail afterward to allow developers implement drivers the intended way without hacks and workarounds. Unfortunately, not all systems have plenty of resources, but U-Boot caters for those as well. The final part of the talk discusses the U-Boot SPL, the preloader which initializes the hardware, DRAM and starts U-Boot and finer parts of this procedure, which tends to have plenty of pitfalls.

  • 14:00 – 15:00 – Image capture on embedded linux systems by Jacopo Mondi

Image capture is one of the most broad and complex fields of today’s computing applications. Capturing and displaying images with an embedded platform poses additional challenges, introduced by the rapidly increasing complexity of dedicated hardware blocks often found on modern Systems On Chip designed for mobile and industrial computing. Using real world examples of image sensors, connection buses and processing blocks this presentation provides an overview of current industry standard technologies with an introduction to Video4Linux2 kernel framework for driver development and its userspace APIs.

  • 15:00 – 16:00 – ARM64 + FPGA and more: Linux on the Xilinx ZynqMP by Luca Ceresoli

The Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ MPSoC (aka ZynqMP) is a powerful and complex chip featuring 64-bit cores, 32-bit realtime cores, a large FPGA, a GPU, video codecs and dedicated power management and security units.

The main topics covered will be:

  • Overview of the hardware.
  • Available software support from Xilinx and from the community.
  • How the peculiar CPU+FPGA design effectively allows to design “your own SoC”, with the technical steps to implement this with Linux.
  • Why booting is nontrivial on this SoC and the currently available ways to boot Linux.
  • Handling the H.264/H.265 hardware codecs.
  • GPU support issues.

Focus will be given to how much open source technologies can be used with the ZynqMP SoCs, why this matters, and the current status of open source resources with respect to the alternatives.

  • 16:00 – 16:50 – New GPIO interface for linux user space by Bartosz Golaszewski

Since linux 4.8 the GPIO sysfs interface is deprecated. Due to its many drawbacks and bad design decisions a new user space interface has been implemented in the form of the GPIO character device which is now the preferred method of interaction with GPIOs which can’t otherwise be serviced by a kernel driver. The character device brings in many new interesting features such as: polling for line events, finding GPIO chips and lines by name, changing & reading the values of multiple lines with a single ioctl (one context switch) and many more. In this presentation, Bartosz will showcase the new features of the GPIO UAPI, discuss the current state of libgpiod (user space tools for using the character device) and tell you why it’s beneficial to switch to the new interface.

FOSDEM 2018 will take place at the ULB Solbosch Campus in Brussels, Belgium, attendance is free of charge, and no registration is required.

Libre Computer Renegade SBC Features Rockchip RK3328 Processor with up to 4GB DDR4 RAM (Crowdfunding)

December 5th, 2017 39 comments

After Amlogic S905X based Le Potato board, and the on-going Kickstarter campaign for  Tritium Allwinner H2+/H3 boards, Libre Computer has now launched an Indiegogo campaign for their Renegade SBC (Single Board Computer) powered by Rockchip RK3328 SoC.

The board follows Raspberry Pi 3 form factor like the two previous models, and three versions of the board are offered with 1, 2 or 4GB RAM, making Renegade SBC a direct competitor to Pine64 ROCK64 board.

Renegade SBC specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3328 quad core Cortex A53 processor with ARM Mali-450MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1, 2, or 4 GB DDR4
  • Storage – eMMC 5.x flash module socket (8 to 128 GB) + micro SD card slot
  • Video & Audio Output – HDMI 2.0a up to 4K @ 60 Hz with HDR10 and HLG support, 3.5mm AV port (composite video + stereo audio)
  • Video Codec – 4K VP9, H.265 and H.264, 1080p VC-1, MPEG-1/2/4, VP6/8
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 ports, 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Expansion Headers
    • 40-pin (mostly) Raspberry Pi compatible GPIO header with PWM, I2C, SPI, GPIOs
    • 3-pin ADC Header with 2x analog inputs, GND
  • Debugging – UART header pins
  • Misc – IR receiver; button
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port
  • Dimensions –  85 x 56 mm

The specifications are very close to the ones of ROCK64, but one important difference is that the Libre Computer board uses DDR4 memory instead of LPDDR3, so some 4K HDR videos may play better on the latter (TBC). However, based on the information provided in the product page, Renegade appears to be missing the 128Mbit SPI flash (mostly useful for network boot), comes with less I/O pins, and uses a micro USB port for power instead of a power barrel jack, so you’d have to make sure you use a low resistance USB cable to avoid any power issues.

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The board will run Linux distributions and Android 7.1 Nougat, but images for this board are not available for download yet. Support is provided via LoveRpi forums, and the Linux source code for all Libre Computer boards will be found on Github (now only for Amlogic AFAIK).

A pledge of $35 should get you Renegade 1GB board, $50 Renegade 2GB, and $70 Renegade 4GB. The company also offers rewards with various accessories including heatsink, active cooling case, 5V/2.5A power supply, and a micro SD card (8 or 32GB). Shipping adds $7 to $10 to the US depending on the perk, and $9 to $14 to the rest of the world. Delivery is planned for January 2018. For reference, ROCK64 board sells for $24.95, $34.95 or $44.95 with respectively 1, 2 or 4 GB LPDDR3 RAM, to which you add around $12 shipping.

Top 5 Most Powerful Arm SBCs & Development Boards in 2017 / Early 2018

December 4th, 2017 12 comments

Raspberry Pi, Orange Pi, and NanoPi boards among others are all great and inexpensive Arm Linux development boards that do good enough job for many tasks, but they may not cut it if you have higher requirements either in terms of CPU power, GPU capabilities and performance, I/O bandwidth, and in some cases software and support.

So I’ve decided to make a list of 5 single board computers or development boards that I consider to be the most powerful in 2017, early 2018. I have limited the price to $1,000 maximum, the board must be easy to purchase for most people (e.g. you don’t need to be a tier-1 automotive supplier, or operate your own datacenter), and in case the board is not quite available yet, the likeliness of actual launch must be reasonably high. Those criteria for example exclude Intrinsyc Open-Q 835 development kit since it costs $1.149 and the company may not sell to individuals (TBC). Let’s get started. You’ll find more details for each board by clicking on the headings links.

NVIDIA Jetson TX2 Developer Kit – Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision

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The developer kit is comprised of a mini ITX carrier board taking Jetson TX2 system-on-module powered by an Tegra X2 hexa core processor (2x Denver +
4x ARM Cortex A57) with a high-end 256-core Pascal GPU (desktop class with OpenGL 4.5 support), 8GB RAM, 32GB storage, and more.

The company provides a Linux for Tegra and JetPack 3.0 SDK to leverage the board deep learning, artificial intelligence, and computer vision capabilities.

NVIDIA Tegra TX2 developer kit sells for $599 on NVIDIA store or Arrow Electronics.

Hikey 960 – AOSP Development Platform

Hikey 960 is a development board that complies with 96Boards CE specifications, and features Huawei/Hisilicon Kirin 960 octa-core big.LITTLE processor with four ARM Cortex A73 cores @ up to 2.4 GHz, four Cortex A53 cores @ up to 1.8 GHz, and a Mali-G71 MP8 GPU. The board is further equipped with 3GB LPDDR4, and 32GB UFS 2.1 flash storage.

The board will be especially interesting to Android developers since it is officially supported by AOSP, and you can work on the latest Android version with a powerful development platform.

Hikey 960 is sold for $239.99 on Seeed Studio, or Amazon.

SolidRun MACCHIATOBin – A Networking Workhorse

MacchiatoBIN mini-ITX board may come with a powerful Marvell ARMADA quad core Cortex A72 processor clocked up to 2.0 GHz, but what makes it stand apart are its storage and networking ports with three SATA 3.0 interfaces, and multiple Gigabit, 2.5 Gbps and 10 Gbps network interfaces. The board ships with 4GB RAM by default, but its DDR4 DIMM supports up to 16GB of memory.

Solidrun/Marvell MacchiatoBIN board can be purchased on Solidrun website for $369 to $518 depending on options (RAM, power supply, micro SD card).

Dragonboard 820c – Linux, 96Boards Compliance & Ecosystem

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DragonBoard 820c is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad core Kryo processor with Adreno 530 GPU, 3 GB LPDDR4, and 32 GB UFS Flash. The board complies with 96Board CE Extended specifications, and include Gigabit Ethernet and an mSATA/mPCIe slot not found in smaller boards.

Contrary to Hikey 960 above supporting Android only, the Qualcomm board supports Linux (Debian, Open Embedded, Yocto Project) on top of Android, and also benefits from 96Boards ecosystem in terms of software support, and hardware expansion boards called Mezzanine products.

The board was first spotted in May 2016, and it is now available yet, which has understandly lead people to suspect a case of “Vaporware“, but Bill Davies, responsible for Arrow’s DragonBoard program, very recently responded that he expected the board to start selling in “weeks”, not “months”. Linaro engineers have also been working on the platform, even having some fun with a video game arcade project. So we can probably expect it early next year.

GIGABYTE Synquacer – 24 Cores for your Arm PC

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GIGABYTE Synquacer macro-ITX board won’t beat any single thread records with its SocioNext SC2A11 ARM Cortex A53 processor, but considering there are 24 of those, the board could perform well with workloads that can utilize all 24 cores in parallel.

What really make this board “powerful” however is its flexibility, as it’s an ATX motherboard – compatible with 96Boards Enterprise specifications – that will be sold either as a standalone board, or in a PC tower. You’ll be able to add up to 64GB memory via its 4 DIMM slots, SATA hard drives and SSDs to its two SATA connectors, and add off-the-shelf PCIe cards. It will mostly serve as a development platform to test and support PC accessories, and be a first step in bringing an Arm development computer that can challenge x86 solutions.

The system was first expected in December of this year, but the latest news states shipping is expected to start in January 2018, and reservations can already be made on Chip One Stop.

I’d expect some of the boards here to be dethroned by Arm Cortex A75 solution or other custom ARMv8 cores by the end of 2018. If you disagree with the list, and what are included another board, let us know in the comments section taking into account the limitation expressed in the introduction.

Compact Renesas RZ/G1C based ARM Linux Single Board Computer Exposes 100 Expansion Pins

November 23rd, 2017 9 comments

iWave Systems has released a new business card sized single board computer (SBC) with iW-RainboW-G23S, which looks somewhat similar to a Raspberry Pi 3 board, but is equipped with Renesas RZ/G1C single or dual core ARM Cortex A7 processor, up to 2GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, and provides plenty of I/Os through 3 headers for a total of 100 pins.

Target applications include HMI & access control, industrial control, healthcare devices, point of sale, IoT, home & office automation, and white goods & appliances.

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iW-RainboW-G23S board specifications:

  • SoC – Renesas RZ/G1C Dual/Solo ARM Cortex-A7 processor @ 1.0 GHz with PowerVR SGX531 3D GPU
  • System Memory – 512 MB DDR3 (expandable up to 2GB)
  • Storage – 2MB SPI Flash  (expandable), 8GB eMMC Flash (expandable), and micro SD connector
  • Video Output/Input – 1x HDMI output port,  1x CVBS input RCA jack, optional 1x CVBS output RCA jack/header
  • Video – HD encode/decode
  • Connectivity – 100/1000Mbps Ethernet
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Expansion Headers
    • 40-pin connector 1 compatible with Raspberry Pi 3 header with 1x UART, 1x SPI, 2x SPI, 17x GPIOs
    • 40-pin connector 2 with 1x LVDS, 1x CAN, 2x I2S/SSI, 2x UART (with CTS & RTS), 1x UART (without CTS & RTS), 1x I2C, 1x PWM
    • 20-pin connector 3 with debug UART, 1x UART (without CTS & RTS) or 1x I2C, 1x 8-bit parallel camera interface (VIN0), 1x PWM
  • Misc – JTAG header, SPI flash programming header, Reset switch, RTC controller with coin cell battery (optional)
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A with optional power input lockable header
  • Dimensions – 85mmx 56mm
  • Temperature Range – -20 to +85° C
  • Compliance – REACH & RoHS Compliant;  CE, FCC certification in progress

We don’t have a whole lot of information about software support except the company provide a Linux BSP based on the not-so-recent Linux 3.10.31.  Renesas recently announced a Super Long Term Kernel with 10-year of support based on CIP Linux 4.4 for RZ/G processors,  starting with RZ/G1M, and plans for other RZ/G1 SoCs in the future, so hopefully RZ/G1C will be covered eventually, but there’s no guarantee. [Update: RZ/G1C support is coming in H1 2018]

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The board is available now at an undisclosed price, and will procurable for at least 5 years. More details may be found on the product page.

QNAP QBoat Sunny IoT Mini Server Board Officially Announced with Annapurna Labs AL-314 ARM Processor

November 15th, 2017 13 comments

We first had a glance at QNAP QBoat Sunny at CES 2017. At the time, QNAP IoT development board was powered by an Intel AnyWAN GRX750 dual core Atom based processor with 2GB RAM, 4GB flash, three Gigabit Ethernet ports, some mSATA slot and so on.

The company has now officially announced the board, but with a twist, as the Intel processor has been replaced by Annapurna Labs (now part of Amazon) AL-314 quad core ARM Cortex-15 processor instead, and left most of the other features pretty much unchanged.

QBoard Sunny board specifications:

  • Processor – Annapurna Labs AL-314 quad core ARM Cortex-15 processor up to 1.7 GHz
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3L
  • Storage – 512MB NAND flash, 2x M.2 2260/2280 SATA slots for SSDs (Key M)
  • Network connectivity – 3x Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB – 2x USB 3.1 Gen1 ports
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio out jack, 3.5mm audio in jack
  • Expansion
    • 1x M.2 Key A 2230 for Wi-Fi/Bluetooth
    • 40-pin connector, for I2C, UART, SPI, SDIO, GPIO
  • Misc –  Debug console via 3.5mm jack; RTC battery; status and user LEDs; power & system reset buttons; pin connector for 4-wire fan
  • Power – 12V/3A
  • Power Consumption – 9.49 Watts with SSD idle; 13.31 Watts in operation
  • Dimensions – 144 x 126 x 33.5 mm (with heatsink base)
  • Weight – 490 grams
  • Environmental Conditions – 0 to 35˚C, 5 to 95%, non-condensing, wet bulb temperature: 27˚C

The board runs QTS Lite 4.3.3 embedded Linux operating system, supports features like Wake on LAN, scheduled power on/off, and automatic power on after power recovery.

Annapurna Labs does not appear to be the kind of company that release SoC documentation publicly, and I really wonder why they even bothered to setup a website. They (or somebody else) did add support to Alpine SoCs in Linux 4.6, but I’d still assume you’d have to relies on QNAP for the OS and low level software, and just take care of the application on top, praying the lower level feature(s) you need is/are well supported.

Qboat Sunny ships with an Ethernet cable, a quick installation guide, a 36W AC adapter and power cord, a wall mount kit, an M.2 screw kit, and two M.2 SSD heatsinks. The promo video below explains why you may want to use the board in your (IoT) projects, for example using it instead of public cloud services to save money.

The company claims the board is available now at an affordable price. The only thing is I’ve not been able to find the price… At CES 2017, there was talk about a $100 to $120 with the Intel version. [Update: MSRP is $169/€159]. More details may be found on the product page.

Thanks to TLS for the tip.

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

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    • 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.

SanStar WS-3A Medical Board Runs Android 5.1 on Rockchip RK3288 SoC

September 12th, 2017 2 comments

Warp United, a “Chinese Health 2.0″/point-of-Care medical technology company based in Shenzhen, launched Warp 3 medical recorder – an Android powered handheld device supporting various  vital signs and ultrasound medical modules – earlier this year,  and the company has now just introduced SanStar WS-3A motherboard powered by Rockchip RK3288 quad core Cortex-A17 SoC, and running Android 5.1 in order to allow engineers to develop and connect their own medical modules via the various interfaces of the board, and create their own medical products.

SanStar WS-3A medical motherboard specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3288 quad core Cortex-A17 processor @ 1.8GHz with an ARM Mali-T764 GPU with support for OpenGL ES 1.1/2.0 /3.0, OpenVG1.1, OpenCL, Directx11
  • System Memory – 2GB or 4GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB eMMC flash, micro SD slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output / Display I/F
    • HDMI 2.0 up to 3840 x 2160 pixel
    • embedded DisplayPort (eDP)
    • 10-bit dual LVDS, MIPI DSI, 1x backlight header, 1x I2C interface for touchscreen
  • Audio – audio input, output, MIC interfaces, HDMI out.
  • Connectivity
    • Isolated 10/100M Ethernet interface
    • Dual band  802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
    • SIM slot for support for cellular networks via 4G LTE, 3G, 2G modules
    • Optional GPS module : -159dBm, 1575.42MHz, 20 channels, positioning accuracy <10m
  • USB – 7x USB host, 1x USB OTG
  • Serial – 2x RS232
  • Expansion – 4x custom I/O ports, mini PCie interface
  • Camera – USB/MIPI camera up to 13MP
  • Sensors – Support for 3-axis G-sensor, gyroscope, compass
  • Misc – IR receiver; 3x user keys; 1x 12V cooling fan header; 3x LEDs for power, status, and user; RTC with battery; watchdog timer
  • Power Supply – 12V @ 3A-5A via power barrel connector
  • Dimension – 145(L) x 90(W) x 22(H) mm
  • Weight – 99.27g
  • Conformity
    • ISO 13485:2003 Medical devices – Quality management systems – Requirements for regulatory purposes
    • EN 60601-1: 2006 + A1: 2013 Medical Electrical Equipment – Part 1: General Requirements for Basic Safety and Essential Performance
    • EN 60601-1-2:2007 Medical electrical equipment – Part 1-2: General requirements for basic safety and essential performance – Collateral standard: Electromagnetic compatibility – Requirements and tests
    • EN 60950-1:2006+A11:2009+A1:2010+A12:2011 Information technology equipment – Safety –Part 1: General requirements

Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The board runs Android 5.1, and support up to two independent screens, or one 4K screen. The best way to find out what’s possible with the board is to check out what the company has done with Warp 3 medical recorder system comprised of a 7″ RK3288 tablet communicating with Volans 3 Vital Sign Module to gather ECG, heart rate (HR), respiration (Resp) rate, temperature (Temp), SpO2, pulse rate (PR), and non-invasive blood pressure (NIBP), as well as various “Urxa 3” ultrasound modules. Software includes an interface to display all those metrics on the tablet, as well as support for cloud based mobile health (mHealth) and EMRs (electronic medical records).

SanStar WS-3A single board computer is available now at an undisclosed price. Visit Warp United’s SanStar WS-3A product page for further details.

Via LinuxGizmos