A10s-OLinuXino-MICRO progress

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About the hardware:

We made two versions of the A10s prototypes – Rev.A with all components on top and Rev.B with decouplung capacitors on bottom near the BGA chip (both versions are on GitHub).

Then assembled both versions, none of Rev.A worked, so plasing the decouplung capcitors under the BGA is mandatory for the board to work correctly.

From Rev.B the boards work but not stabile, from time to time DDR memory crash and board freezes, this is because we decided that A10s is similar to A10 and the resistor matrixes on the DDR are not mandatory. What we see is that in Linux A10s have same processor ID as A13 which makes us to believe that A10s and A13 are same silicon die just with different ports wired to the different packages TQFP and BGA. The same unstability we see on A13 when try to remove these resistor matrixes, so in the new REV.C we have to keep them.

Another change we will do in Rev.C we are working on now is to add NAND flash on board, which will be optional i.e. we will offer boards with and without NAND assembled.

One bad feature of A10s with the BGA package is that it overheats significant when work at 1Ghz, same we see on the A10 MK802 dongle we have the processor IC overheats up to 60-70C so you cant touch it with finger even at ambient temperature.

A13 do not have such issues as it have big metal pad on bottom side which we connect to large GND ground plane so A13 never ever got temperature higher than the temperature it operates, this makes A13 much more suitable for industrial and automotive applications.

A10 and A10s overheat and we should think for proper heatsink which we to assembly on top of the BGA to dissipate this heat they generate.

As you can see from the picture we added heat sink to A10s as without it it freezes after some hours of work.

The new Rev.C will be ready by the end of February for more extensive testings, this will delay the planned mass production with few weeks.

About the software:

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Android 4.0.4 image generated with A10S-SDK from Allwinner is working fine, but do not support Ethernet by default.

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Angry Birds works well on HD screen:

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You can see here in action Angry Birds on A10s  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fD3IImqEprI

The Android video player is pretty good at HD playback http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB-eQeKXlTQ

for some reason XBMC on Android works worse http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_579b3by1JA

Linux support patches are submitted to Linux-Sunxi so A10s software support have no issues.

A10S-OLinuXino-MICRO first prototypes work fine

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A10S-1

A10S-3

These who follow our blog know that in November we learned for the very new A10S processor from Allwinner https://olimex.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/new-exciting-processors-from-allwinner-a10s-cortex-a8-with-hdmi-and-a4x-cortex-a7-4-cores/ and start working on board with it.

A10S is like A13 but have also HDMI and 100 Mbit Ethernet, which makes it perfect for small Linux computer.

In December we routed the boards, but as we had already problems with A10 prototypes this time we didn’t want to give chance for errors so we routed two revisions – Revision A with all components on top and Revision B with some decoupling capacitors on bottom for better de-coupling.

The blank PCBs were produced in January and we assembled them. There are some silly mistakes we did and we will fix in Revision.C but generally boards functions and works as expected.

Dimitar Gamishev had to fight with several issues on the software side. Needless to say Allwinner A10S SDK didn’t generate working image, when I asked Allwinner about it they said they sent me version 1.0 which have bugs and now they have version 1.4 which have no bugs 🙂 we are waiting their new SDK to arrive, but meantime Dimitar had his hands itching to play with the board so he start to implement the linux support with what he had.

1. the PMU was changed to AXP152 instead of AXP209 this is reduced version with less voltage outputs but generally (with attempts and errors we found on which address it responds and fortunately most of the commands for AXP209 worked for AXP152 too, just on differnt address and with one additional register)

2. Ethernet is not supported in original Allwinner SDK as they target Android TV dongles which have WIFI, First our contact was uncertain if the Ethernet is implement at all, but I told them that it’s in the datasheet, so they asked the right person at Allwinner and confirmed that there is Ethernet but they never used it :). Dimitar took A10 Ethernet driver and after playing a while the Ethernet got alive.

3. HDMI and Audio were also implemented.

Dimitar did this for few days with the the first prototype. Sure the Linux support is far away from perfect but at least we could validate the design.

Here is the console log http://pastie.org/5735893

What’s next? We have to fix all silly mistakes we saw on the first prototype – like console UART shared on same ports as the second SD card 🙂

We wanted to make rock bottom low cost boards but now we re-consider that having NAND on board is good if you want to run Android 4.1 (yes Allwinner have Jelly Bean SDK for A10S which we wait to arrive)

Then we will run initial small batch form of Developer Edition and we will spread among the developers for additional testing before we proceed with mass production.

The Revision A and B CAD files are on GitHub, the Linux software support is to be updated to linux-sunxi repository.

New exciting processors from Allwinner: A10s Cortex-A8 with HDMI and A4x Cortex-A7 4 cores

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A10s is very new processor from Allwinner. It’s basically A13 + HDMI and Ethernet (later is not 100% confirmed to work as the Allwinner aim is to capture the IPTV market with it so they said never tested if Ethernet will work but confirmed the Ethernet is there 🙂

We got samples and A10s-SDK which unfortunately again is with binaries and not GPL sources, but according to Henrik Nordstrom (a.k.a. hno at #olimex IRC channel) Linux-sunxi sunxi5 should work with A10s.

We work now on the schematic of A10s-OLinuXino with these specs:

  • A10S Cortex-A8 1GHz
  • 512MB RAM DDR3
  • micro SD-card connector
  • SD-MMC card connector for SDMMC WIFI card / second MMC card for storage
  • Ethernet 100MBit
  • HDMI output
  • USB host, USB-OTG
  • UEXT
  • LCD connector (same as A13 so will work with A13-LCD7 and A13-LCD4.3 LCD displays)
  • GPIO connectors
  • JTAG
  • Audio Line-IN, Audio-Out

As price A10s is positioned between A10 and A13 i.e. lower cost than A10 but higher than A13. As we are at very early stage of the design we can’t say when exactly we will have A10s boards.

Also these are not very suitable for production at home 🙂 as A10s comes in 0.65 mm pitch BGA package which requires 0.2 mm drilled vias for escape and not all factories can reliable manufacture such PCBs, so we have to carefully evaluate where the blank PCBs to be manufactured as these specs exceed our blank PCB production technology limits.

Another exciting preliminary information we got from Allwinner today is that in December they will announce their new Quad core A4X Cortex-A7 processor.
They didn’t gave any other details than the specs and samples will be available mid December, but I guess this is their answer to the Rockteck recent dual core RK3066!

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