Cortex A8 in TQFP? sure Allwinner A13

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Allwinner is Chinese SoC manufacturer, they released Allwinner A10 processor end of last year and wiped out the competition.

A10 is Cortex A8 processor running on 1.2Ghz but could be overclock up to 1.5Ghz.
The features are impessive: support for up to 1GB RAM, USB2.0 OTG, USB2.0 HOST x2, HDMI1.3/1.4., LCD, CVBS-OUT, VGA-OUT, SATA,Line-In, Headphone, 10/100M Ethernet, Camera Sensor Interface x2, support for SDIO WIFI, GPS, Gyroscope, Light Sensor, Bluetooth, Compass.
Can boot from NAND FLASH, SD/MMC Card, USB

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as you can see A10 is highly integrated chip and only needs one power supply managment IC AXP209 and Ethernet PHY to make computer.Soon after the launch it wiped all competition and if you now search ebay you will see that it dominates the 7″ tablet PCs as price/performance ratio.

A10 is around $7 for 5 numbers purchase and around $12-14 for smaller quantities.

In April 2012 Allwinner released the A13 strip down version of A10 which is same but without SATA interface and HDMI, targeting purely the Tablet market. The new chip is $5 if you by any chance decide to buy one million chips from Allwinner and can be purchased for $10 in smaller quantities.

You can learn a lot for A10 from http://rhombus-tech.net/ web site (where I first learned for A10 from).

The best of all is that A13 comes in … eLQFP176 package as you can see on the picture above. This is the first Cortex A8 device running at 1Ghz in this package. Which makes it perfect for next …you guess right OLinuXino 🙂

So I’m waiting first samples of A13 to be on my desk next week and Allwinner promised to send me more info for A13 in May so we can start the new A13-OLinuXino board development.

The best of all is as A13 is very highly integrated we will be able to release the new 1GHz board in the same price around EUR 30, but this time with 256 or 512MB of RAM and 1GHz processor.

What is the trade off with A13? There are few actually:

1. A13 is not in industrial temperature range, which limits it use to 0-60C applications  EDIT: A13 is in industrial temperature range
2. A13 have no ANY official documentation, you can read more for the Chinese SoC business model at: http://lists.phcomp.co.uk/pipermail/arm-netbook/2012-March/002881.html
in short they sell 10 millions of chips per month and do not care than they can sell 1000 more or less if they release proper documentation

So after all iMX233-OLinuXino will be still live and kicking even after the launch of the big brother with A13 in applications where -25+85C temperature range and noise immunity is necessary. Also the absence of documentation with A13 means there will be no linux support for the handy GPIOs, ADCs, SPI, I2C, etc.  like you have with iMX233-OLinuXino.

A13-OLinuXino will be more or less higher performance RPi-like toy suitable for home use, 3D graphics and Flash Games. You can play or write code with A13-OLinuXino as you do on your desktop PC and you will have Android 4.0 and Debian Linux images and sources. A13 actually will be like desktop computer in just smaller package.

As you can see on http://lists.phcomp.co.uk/pipermail/arm-netbook/ forum there is active group of developers who work on A10 up to date linux kernel and drivers. SO things may change in the future and proper documentation and complete linux support for A10 / A13 to be available.

The board preliminary specifications and A13 brief info is on our web: www.olimex.com/dev/a13-olinuxino.html and of course we are looking forward for your comments and suggestions as always. We got very valuable advises when developed iMX233 board and we took most of them into consideration, we’ll do the same with A13.

iMX233-OLinuXino first 10 prototypes are ready

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We got the first 10 iMX233-OLinuXino prototypes assembled, our Easter Holidays add some delay, also the plastic box selection mess up with the previously planned release date, but anyway now everything is complete and we have the MAXI version prototypes ready to boot Linux.

Once we verify everything is OK as hardware we will proceed to the first lot of production board assembly in 1-2 weeks. So early in May we may have the first production boards assembled.

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