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

RK3188 USD 12 Quad Core Cortex-A9 running at 1.8Ghz

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RK3188 is Quad Core Cortex-A9 processor running at up to 1.8 GHz produced on 28 nm process, with Quad core Mali 400 @ 533 Mhz.

This SoC  was released just few months ago but took the tablet and Android devices market by storm like this was done one year ago by A10 from Allwinner.

The competition between these two companies Rockchip and Allwinner is with long traditions. The result is incredible productivity combined with rock bottom low prices as the stake is million devices Android market.

RK3188 is build on 28 nm process which allow it to work reliable up to 1.6-1.8Ghz although overclocing up to 1.92Ghz with proper cooling is reported here: http://liliputing.com/2013/06/rockchip-rk3188-chip-overclocked-to-run-at-1-92-ghz.html

If you look at ebay now there are lot of RK3188 devices at very competitive prices.

With so many RK3188 devices it’s just matter of time Linux community around Rockchip to be formed same as the Linux-Sunxi community around Allwinner chips.

There are already several blog posts for Ubuntu running on RK3188 http://liliputing.com/2013/06/ubuntu-up-and-running-on-android-min-pcs-with-rk3188-chips.html

and Linux sources http://liliputing.com/2013/06/linux-source-code-for-rockchip-rk3188-devices-now-available.html some very basic functionality also hit mainline.

More links: http://www.omegamoon.com/blog/ and https://github.com/aloksinha2001

IRC channel at freenode #linux-rockchip is set where RK3188 Linux developers chat.

Unfortunately there is almost no info for RK3188 on internet.

The only RK3188 brief is available which I put on Github https://github.com/OLIMEX/OLINUXINO/tree/master/HARDWARE/RK3188-PDFs .

Rockchip seems much more closed than Allwinner. While Allwinner already learned that Open Source community just help them to sell more Chips by providing Linux support for free, Rockchip is still one year behind and do not see any benefits from Linux and Open Source.

If you look at their web site there are no e-mails (actually there is one e-mail which they do not answer at all) and just few phones for distributors in different Chinese sites.

As the chip is new, it still have not hit the stocking distributors in Shenzhen too.  So how you buy chips?

Not easy! I asked Chinese friend to call these phones and ask for sales person – he did but from Rockchip ask him for the Chinese name of the sales person he want to contact to connect him?!? hmmmmm, typical Chicken-Egg problem – to buy chips you have to contact sales person, but you cant contact him if you do not know him :)

Tom Cubie (aka hipboi) who made Cubieboard wrote on irc channel that  visited Rockchip and learned that Rockchip targets to sell 50 millions RK3188 chips this year, no wonder they are not interested in selling chips to some smallish Western customers who will just bother them with GPL sources and endless technical support questions.

Also interesting info which Tom shared is that the volume price of RK3188 is USD $12.00 ( or $3 per 1.8GHz Cortex-A9 core !) now this is the reason for the so low cost of RK3188 devices. Sure this price will be not for mortal non-Chinese who buy less 100 Kpcs, but whatever margin above it have in the sales chain it will be still much more below th $40 price for the 1Ghz 4 core iMX6 for instance.

SO RK3188 is really interesting Chip and if we can obtain more info we would be definitely interested to release OLinuXino with it.

After some days bothering Rockchip on the phone and presening Olimex we seems to break the ice.

The key was to show them the A10, A10S, A13, A20 boards we did already for Allwinner.

Rockchip sent us NDA to complete and now we are waiting their HQ to approve us and eventually to give us access to more info so we can complete board with RK3188.

Crossing fingers this to happen soon ;)

STM32-H407 PROTOTYPES ARE READY

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STM32-H407 is our new board with STM32F407ZGT6 168Mhz Cortex M4 microcontroller with 1MB of Flash, 192KB RAM.

This is OSHW design and once we validate the design the CAD files will be uploaded on GitHub.

STM32-F407 board have:
– Input DCDC power supply which allow operation from 6-16VDC source
– USB-OT
– USB host
– micro SD card
– Reset and User buttons
– Arduino platform
– UEXT connector
– JTAG connector
– 4 full 32-bit Ports with the external memory bus for add-on modules

Here you can see STM32-H407 loaded with SHIELD-EKG/EMG:

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After the prototype validation we will move this board for production and it will be available around end of May. The preliminary target release price is EUR 29.95

PASCAL is STILL ALIVE :-)

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For those who remember with sentiment the old days of Turbo Pascal there is one good news.

Although Pascal lost the battle as programming language of choice mostly because of the Linux fame, Prof. NIklaus Wirth continued the language development with the project Oberon.

Some of Prof. Worth books which were used by generation for teaching of structural programming are now available for free download: Algorithms + Data Structures = Programs, Theory and Techniques of Compiler Construction.

CFB Software has released Astrobe Oberon language development IDE for LPC Cortex M3 family, so you can now program your LPCxxx microcontrollers in Pascal-like language.

These devices are supported for the moment: LPC1343 / 1313 / 1759 / 1758 / 1756 / 1754 / 1752 / 1751 / 1769 / 1768 / 1767 / 1766 / 1765 / 1764 / 1763.

And there is BSP for Olimex LPC-P1343 and LPC-1766-STK

On this video you can see program written on Oberon working on LPC2378-STK so Astobe Oberon supports ARM7 too.

Here is the Oberon language definition by Niklas Wirth.

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