We would love to hear your suggestions how to improve our Linux images

Tux

Please let us know your feed back https://www.olimex.com/forum/index.php?topic=3468.0 here or in our forum, let’s discuss what do you miss in our Linux images?

There already was discussion about Debian whishlist and we implemented almost all suggestions we hear in the latest images, now we want to hear your feedback on what do you think is best to add as initial scripting, enabled features etc.

Thanks!

Home Automation with Open Source Hardware ARM Linux board A20-OLinuXino and MOD-IRDA+

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A20-OLinuXino is Open Source Hardware Linux computer. It consumes only 2W of energy but runs Debian Wheezy and basically with it you can do anything you can do with your desktop Linux server/machine.

What makes A20-OLinuXino more flexible than your computer is that it have lot of additional hardware resources which you don’t have on your desktop computer – like GPIO ports, I2C, SPI, UARTs etc.

With the low power of only 2W A20-OLinuXino can run 24/7 consuming less than 1% of what desktop x86 server would take as power consumption.

Another advantage is that with the build-in Lipo charger simple LiPo battery can run the OLinuXino for hours if the mains power supply fail, so no need for expensive server UPS.

This makes OLinuXino perfect choice for home automation board. You can easily attach web camera to USB port and make video surveillance server with backup power supply LiPo battery for instance.

Another nice feature is the UEXT connector which allow different modules easily to be connected to A20-OLinuxino.

Now we will show you what you can do with MOD-IRDA+ module which is IR receiver and transmitter. You can receive and transmit IR remote control commands and thus control other home appliances with IR remote controls like: TVs, Air conditions, Radios, Stereo amplifires, and any other home gadgets with IR remotes.

Combining this to the fact that with OLinuXino you have access to Internet and can drive GPIOs and so on with Web interface makes endless possibilities.

In the video below you can see how you can teach OLinuXino to do things when receive commands by IR remote control and how it can play back captured IR remote control commands:

 

Having all sources you can easily adapt these for your next Home Automation project.

A80 Octa core BigLittle SoC from Allwinner will be ready in 2014

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Eva Wu from Allwinner marketing sent me the new logo for A80.

There is no much info about it yet, but it will be 8 core (4xCortex-A15 and 4xCortexA7) and Allwinner is working now on it. Probably it will have 8-16 GPU co-processors too, we hope these to be MALI but there are great chances these to be PowerVR like A31, Eva is silent on this.

This new 8-core SoC will position Allwinner again on top of Rockchip which work on Cortex-A12 and have now RK3188 which is the most productive Chinese SoC with 4-core Cortex-A9.

It’s great to see how these two companies penetrate in such fields where the Western companies dominated just few years ago and now are in the league where the big boys Samsung. Mediatek, Qualcomm etc are playing.

With 8-core the small linux computers will become desktop productivity. Let’s hope Allwinner will keep the SATA, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI like in A20.

ARM in near future – what’s next?

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Now we have Cortex-A9 as mainstream, Cortex-A15 as high-end productivity and Cortex-A7 as low power, budged/entry level.

The Cortex A12 IP has been finalized as of a couple of weeks ago and is now available to licensees for integration. The first designs will likely ship in silicon in a bit over a year, with the first devices implementing Cortex A12 showing up in late 2014 or early 2015.

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So in near future we will have: Cortex-A57 as high-end, Cortex-A53 as entry level and Cortex-A12 as mainstream processors.

More info on Cortex-A12 is available on http://www.anandtech.com/show/7126/the-arm-diaries-part-2-understanding-the-cortex-a12/2

Lies, damn Lies and Benchmarking!

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vs

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Making decent and objective Benchmark test is quite hard almost impossible task.

Why? as the different systems should be put in equal testing conditions.

Good example is the ARM commercial compilers, if you go to the web site of Keil, IAR, etc you will see on their web sites benchmarks which show how their compiler is best as code, speed etc.

How this is done? There is always example which you can make for your specific compiler which to execute faster and to have shorter code than the competitor, so this is cheap trick which less and less novices buy.

All these commercial compilers usually show GCC as slowest and less optimized compiler, needless to say they have run these tests with questionable options :-) real tests show that almost all ARM compilers produce about same code, the variations are few percents, also most of commercial compilers would fail to do the job where GCC shines, i.e. to compile and link HUGE projects like GB sources of Linux Kernel, so the focus which compiler to use should be on what additional value these compilers have around them, i.e. what flash loaders, processor support, demo examples are available which to kickstart your development.

So if we benchmark same architectures, on same code and same compiler with same settings it’s possible to have something relevant, but how do we benchmark different architectures?

Let’s face it – this is not possible to be done objectively and the recent debates for AnTuTu fake benchmarking for Intel new processors prove it.

In June, The Reg reported analyst firm ABI Research’s claim that it had pitted a Lenovo K900 smartphone based on Intel’s Atom Z2580 processor against a brace of devices build around ARM system-on-chip (SoC) components and found that not only did the Intel part perform better, but it also drew less power.
Jim McGregor of analyst firm Tirias Research smelled something fishy, and after investigating, he now says the surprise showing by Intel had less to do with the chip itself as it did with inconsistencies in the AnTuTu benchmark used to conduct the tests.
McGregor’s first clue was that different versions of the benchmark produced wildly different results.
“Going from the 2.9.3 version of the AnTuTu benchmark to the 3.3 version, the overall AnTuTu scores increased 122 percent, and the RAM score increased 292 percent for the Intel processor, while the scores for the Samsung processor increased only 59 percent and 53 percent, respectively,” McGregor wrote in a blog post at EE Times. “This was just from a change in the benchmark test, not the processors.”
Versions of AnTuTu for ARM chips are built using the open source GCC compiler. But beginning with version 2.9.4, AnTuTu for Intel is built using ICC, a proprietary optimizing compiler designed by Intel itself.
Working with AnTuTu and technology consulting firm BDTI, McGregor determined that the version of the benchmark built with ICC was allowing Intel processors to skip some of the instructions that make up the RAM performance test, leading to artificially inflated results.
AnTuTu released version 3.3.2 of the benchmark on Wednesday to address the problem, and according to McGregor, it negates Intel’s artificial advantage. Intel’s CPU and Overall scores are now about 20 per cent lower than they were with the previous build, and the RAM score is around 50 per cent lower.

It’s still questionable if these new results are valid as AnTuTu didn’t explain what changed in the benchmark – the result AnTuTu is IMO totally compromised as reliable source for benchmarking, switching to Intel compiler smells of corruption ;)

more on this subject:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/07/12/intel_atom_didnt_beat_arm/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/06/14/intel_clover_trail_plus_benchmark_comparison_with_arm/

http://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?section_id=36&doc_id=1318857

http://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?section_id=36&doc_id=1318894

http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-57593426-92/debate-sparked-about-benchmark-for-intel-arm-chips/

Next Generation ARM processors on 20 nm process will hit 3Ghz in 2014

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TSMC reports that they will produce first 20 nm ARM processors in 2014 and this will align with the new Cortex-A57 64 bit ARM processors. At the moment the 28 nm speed barrier is 2.3Ghz and Snapdragon 800 and Tegra 4i (Grey) which will be in production later this year will stop at this number. RK3188 is also build on 28 nm process but is limited to 1.8Ghz.

With 20 nm TSMC predict 30% speed increase or about 3Ghz while the total power consumption compared to 28 nm process is expected to be reduced with 25%.

http://www.tsmc.com/english/dedicatedFoundry/technology/20nm.htm

Amazing project with SHIELD-EKG-EMG

Gustavo Brancante posted on our forum this amazing project https://www.olimex.com/forum/index.php?topic=1496.0
He is controlling mechanical hand with signals received from his own ARM and sensed with our SHIELD-EKG-EMG https://www.olimex.com/Products/Duino/Shields/SHIELD-EKG-EMG/
The project is open source and Gustavo is looking for collaborators, the code is posted at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/inmoov/vI1sG6WvnQc

Video

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