NAND Flash upgrade from 4GB to 8GB

flash

We used to use H27UBG8T2BTR in all our OLinuXino and SOM boards with  NAND flash. Hynix stopped 4GB NAND manufacturing back in 2014, fortunately there were huge stock supplies in Asia and we kept buying this part until recently, now this stock is gone and these ICs are either not in stock either some refurbished pulls from old boards with unknown quality, so once we couldn’t find these at official Hynix distributors we decided to move to another ICs.

Our first attempt was to use the bigger version H27UCG8T2ETR-BC but after losing months trying to make uboot working with these we gave up. The problem? There is ZERO information about this flash and zillion of combinations of block sizes and parameters, which we have no time to test all.

Fortunately Micron’s MT29F64G08CBABAWP is supported by Allwinner uboot and Livesuit and relatively easy to find.

I write relatively as memory prices are CRAZY last months, both RAM and Flash, here is the price trend from Hong Kong IC memory stock exchange:

memory

With these rising prices all official distributors and manufacturers slow down their sales waiting for bigger prices, if you ask officially Micron for quote they can’t give you price and say – allocation, minimum delivery time 20 weeks, good luck 🙂

What we found is that all Android images work well with Micron 8GB part, the Linux images we had to work with 4GB will not work with the 8GB parts as the Allwinner Android uboot (which is used if you want to boot from NAND) has bugs and 1 out of 10 times will fail to boot if the memory is bigger than 4GB (32 bit arithmetic bug? nobody knows as this is binary blob) and mainline uboot has no NAND flash support, so if you want to boot Linux from NAND Flash the solution is to make small 16MB FAT16 partition for the Allwinner uboot to boot then you can use second partition with EXT4 format and there will be no problems.

To make things more complex we use eMMC Flash for some of our boards (A20-OLinuXino-LIME2 and A64-OLinuXino) which are in industrial temperature grade.

To separate eMMC from NAND Flash we add letter ‘e’ or ‘n’ in the board names.

A20-OLinuXino-LIME2-e4GB means LIME2 with 4GB eMMC Flash memory

A20-OLinuXino-LIME2-n8GB means LIME2 with 8GB NAND Flash memory

eMMC memory works like SD card, it’s faster than NAND and has wider operating temperature range.

We upload end of this week new Linux images which will work on both old 4GB and new 8GB boards.

New product in stock: 7000 mAh LiPo battery with JST connector

LIPO7000

BATTERY-LiPo7000mAh is re-chargable Lithium Polymer battery with over voltage and under voltage protection circuit and JST connector for all our OLinuXino, OLIMEXINO, PINGUINO, Duinomite boards.

This battery when attached to OLinuXino OSHW computers will allow them to run without external power supply for all day long. Normally OLinuXino consumption is between 0.2 and 0.5A depend on workload this means with this battery fully charged they will work between 14-35 hours stand alone.

Note that these LiPo batteries are considered dangerous for transportation and we can ship them only with ground service like DPD, UPS Standard, TNT Economy, which limits the shipping options to just EU.

Beware of Pseudo Open Source Hardware EKG/EMG fakes of our shields by Duinopeak company

KZB_0039-EKG-EMG-SHIELD-kit-1-500x500

We got support question for Arduino EKG/EMG shields which do not work correctly.

We did the initial questions to make sure they use correct drivers and software, and it seems the customer did everything correctly but couldn’t get correct signals but only noise. Then we asked him to send us picture of how he is connecting the boards.

To our surprise we got picture with blue mask boards. All our EKG/EMG boards are with red mask, so we found these guys easily. All their contribution back was to remove Olimex from the silkscreen and to put their name on the boards, although they keep the OSHW logo they didn’t put their CAD files available for download, which is not great loss as they didn’t contribute at all except to change text on the boards.

On top of this probably they didn’t even test the boards as the one in this particular customers didn’t work.

What is most annoying is that they link all our files to their web page, so mislead people that they buy our boards.

What happens with Arduino project?

arduino-logo-circle-thumb

 

Arduino is always pointed as example for successful Open Source Software and Hardware project.

With thousands of contributors and millions of users this project is bespoken leader among microcontroller development.

No one remembers the tools used before Arduino.

There were few attempts to fork it for other platforms like Maple for STM32, Energia for MSP430, MPIDE for PIC32 but they never managed to make enough critical mass outside the main Arduino project and then simply were absorbed in Ardino IDE when it got possibility to merge different processor platforms. That was the end of all forks.

All this amazing progress would not be possible without Arduino being Open Source and the help of the thousands contributors.

With the success came the money and as always they were subject to disputes and all we know for the battles inside the Arduino team in the court.

Last year the problems have seemed to be resolved and Arduino Foundation was created and this was announcement as “new beginning”, but meantime some bothersome things were noticed by Open Source community.

All hardware projects listed on arduino.org are announced to be open source hardware, but none of them comply with OSHW definition. The sources are with status “coming soon” years after their release, or where these sources are available there are hidden black boxes which actually spoil the whole idea to allow other people to study, modify, improve and reproduce the design.

Makezine has published article this month with some bothersome facts about Federico Musto who seems to own major shares in the new formed Arduino foundation.

Wired also published article on this issue https://www.wired.com/2017/04/arduinos-new-ceo-federico-musto-may-fabricated-academic-record/

Meantime Philip Torone from Adafruit posted message on OSHW mailing list with list of boards on Arduino.org with problems in OSHW compliance

So many people now ask themselves the question: Is Arduino project hijacked and turn in to Closed Source Project and how this will affect the Arduino community in future?

iCE40HX8K-EVB OSHW FPGA board is in stock

iCE40HX8K-EVB-1

iCE40HX8K-EVB is upgrade of our iCE40HX1K-EVB with more logic cells FPGA so bigger Verilog projects could be synthesized.

GPIO1 34 pin bus is same as iCE40HX1K-EVB and all DAC, ADC, IO, etc modules are compatible, on top of this there are plenty of additional GPIOs on 4 40 pin 0.05″ step connectors.

512KB fast SRAM is on board, with iCE40-IO board you  can connect VGA monitor and PS2 keyboard, so you can make your own custom CPU (for instance RISC-V) computer with monitor and keyboard.

 

 

ESP32-PRO new IoT board with 4MB external RAM, 4MB external Flash, external crypto engine, LiPo charger

PRO

What you see above is our attempt to make ESP32 board with 4MB RAM. Reading the ESP32 datasheet this is quoted as the maximum possible external RAM possible to attach.

It’s named ESP32-PRO and here is the Github repo for it.

We encounter lot of problems while designed it, thanks to Rudi from ESP32.de for the tips and help. As there is the usual mess with the documentation and lot of unclear stuff.

We saw in the new WROVER-KITS we got that the module which is used is not WROOM, but WROVER and inside it has pSRAM.

The pSRAM is working on 1.8V and share same data pins as the Flash so we had to find 1.8V Flash also.

Another issue is that in the documentation pSRAM clock and data are reversed for unknown reason, but at least the software which run on WROVER module has these correctly set 🙂 so we had to ignore the Espressif datasheet and user manual info.

On top of this in the documents never mention that GPIO12/MTDI must be pull high if the power supply is 1.8V neither their reference design show this.

At least now having OSHW board with all correct settings will help other to not struggle all obstacle like us on the road to add external RAM.

We had to go to bare ESP32 chip as the RAM signals are not available on WROOM neither WROVER modules, this will lead to paid certification which we still do not know how much will be, but will have to add to the sale price of this module, so price is yet unknown but will be fair 🙂

As Rev.0 of the ESP32 chip has issue with cache for external RAM, we try to communicate with Espressif if we have to expect other bugs and issues with Rev.1 using external pSRAM, will keep you updated.

Beside the ESP32 we add PIC32MX270F256DT, this is nice processor with USB-OTG which will allow ESP32 to connect to both USB hosts and to act as USB-host and read for instance external USB Flash or take pictures from USB Webcam etc.

Why not AVR? Because AVRs are in trap of their own success. For the price of PIC32MX270F256DT which has 64K RAM, 256K Flash and USB-OTG you can buy ATMega32u4 which has only 2K RAM and 32K Flash and just USB device.

PIC32MX270F256 opens much more possibility with plenty of Flash and RAM.

 

Duinomite MINI, MEGA and eMEGA back in stock

DuinoMite-Mega

Duinomite-MINI, MEGA, eMEGA boards were made specially to run BASIC on PIC32 processors, but are well packed with features boards, so people were using them not only with BASIC interpreter but also programming them in C.

There were not high runners, so at one point we were selling just few per month and when the blank boards were out of stock we had hesitated if to run them again or not, with the time lot of people signed for notification when back in stock so we decided to run small batch of all these three and re-stock.

Now we got them back in stock.

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