Archive for December, 2014

Odroid-C1 Preview: $35 Quad-Core SBC in a Raspberry Pi like form factor

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

ODROID announced a very interesting single board computer while I was fighting the flu… the ODROID-C1 for only $35
Image courtesy of hardkernel.com

(click on image for larger version – image courtesy of hardkernel.com)

You can clearly see that the major features are very attractive:

  • quad core Amlogic ARM6 Cortex-A5 (ARMv7) running at 1.5GHz
  • Mali™-450 MP2 GPU (OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1 enabled for Linux and Android)
  • 1GB DDR3 32 bit memory at 792MHz
  • 40 pin GPIO header, 92.75% compatible with the Raspberry Pi Model A+ / B+ (37 of 40 pins)
  • two 10 bit ADC channels (which along with 1.8Vref are the three different pins on the GPIO header)
  • four USB2.0 host ports
  • one micro USB OTG port
  • 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet port
  • eMMC4.5 HS200 Flash Storage slot
  • UHS-1 SDR50 MicroSD Card slot
  • on-board Real Time Clock (with battery connector)
  • IR receiver
  • DC adapter jack to support more current than micro USB
  • Ubuntu 14.04 support
  • Android KitKat (4.4) support

Here is a block diagram:

image courtesy of hardkernel.com

(click on image for larger version – image courtesy of hardkernel.com)
Hardkernel ran a number of benchmarks comparing the ODROID-C1 to the Raspberry Pi, here is a summary of their results:

  • 7.8x faster than Pi for Dhrystone-2
  • 9.9x faster than Pi for double precision Whetstone
  • 4.1x faster for file copy
  • close to 600Mbps on a Gigabit network

(I plan on reviewing the ODROID-C1 in the near future, and I will put it through the wringer)

Basically up to eight times the floating point and integer performance – not too shabby!

In order to keep the price so ridiculously low, two Raspberry Pi features were dropped:

  • there is no camera connector
  • there is no LCD connector

Here is the back of the board – note the eMMC connector and uSD slot:

image courtesy of hardkernel.com

(click on image for larger version – image courtesy of hardkernel.com)

It will be interesting to see how the ODROID-C1 will do in the marketplace – it certainly has a lot of horsepower for the price.

The Raspberry Pi has about four million installed units, and an incredibly active user forum, serving educational users everywhere.

The ODROID-C1 is aimed more at technical users who need more “oomph”, and don’t need dedicated camera/lcd connectors.

I suspect the ODROID-C1 will find a niche – and supporting Ubuntu and Android 4.4 certainly give it different markets than Raspbian.

Related Links

Making a Raspberry Pi based EEPROM Gang Programmer

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

I need to program a lot of  EEPROM’s. Frankly I got scared of the prices I saw for commercial gang programmers that could program the 24LC256 and 25LC512 EEPROM’s I use.

A bit of googling found software I could use to program EEPROM’s with a Raspberry Pi, so I made an eight EEPROM gang programming board!

Raspberry Pi Model A+ EEPROM Gang Programmer @ http://Mikronauts.com

(click on the image for a larger version)

A bit of wiring on a prototyping board, a new shell script, and typing

sudo ./blast.sh

now programs eight EEPROM’s for me! No more programming them one at a time!

Follow the link below for the full article, including schematics, link to the software, gang programming script etc

Making a Raspberry Pi based I2C EEPROM Gang Programmer

Article Index:

  1. Why am I building a gang programmer?
  2. The Hardware
  3. The Software

SinoVOIP BPi-M2 Preview – Quad core Banana!

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

I love the smell of new electronics in the morning :-)

I was checking on the bananapi.com forums earlier today, and I ran across the announcement of the BPi-M2 (which also reminded me that I’d forgotten to post about LeMaker’s Banana Pro)

(the images in this post are courtesy of Google circle postings by SinoVoip staff, presumably they want them widely seen)

image courtesy of SinoVoip

(click on image for larger version)

The board looks pretty good – we can see four USB2.0 ports, which means no need for an external hub for a lot of applications. Note the 40 pin GPIO header, up from 26 pins.

image courtesy of SinoVoip

I am certain more specifications will be released over time – however we can deduce that there must be a USB2.0 hub on board, as there are four exposed USB2.0 connectors, and the A31s chipset only has two USB2.0 ports.

Hmm… I think there is one native USB2.0 port brought out, and the second port goes to a four port USB hub chip – this would account for the observed four USB2.0 ports, and the WiFi adapter on the bottom of the board.

Or perhaps the WiFi adapter goes to a direct port and the four accessible ports are from the hub? Testing will tell…

image courtesy of SinoVoip

(click on image for larger version)

I’d have preferred if the four USB2.0 ports were on the same side of the board… but I am not about to complain about having four ports instead of two!

image courtesy of SinoVoip

(click on image for larger version)

The four mounting holes seem to match the ones on the original Banana Pi – perhaps this is why the IR receiver is in the same place as on the original BPi, and why the extra USB ports are on the side!

Note what appears to be a DC power jack in the lower left side of the board.

image courtesy of SinoVoip

(click on image for larger version)

You can see the push-push micro SD card socket on the top right, and below it, the WiFi module. It looks like there is a provision for an SMC WiFi antenna connector.

(click on image for larger version)

Yes! There is a proper DC power supply jack above, on the lower left!

Personally, I far prefer such a jack to powering the boards with a micro USB connector as they can handle more power.

Note the stereo audio + video jack on the top right.

There was some disappointment expressed on Google+ at BPi-M2 not having a SATA port, and not having USB3.0.

While I’d love to have Sata and USB3.0, the A31s does not directly support Sata or  USB3.0, so I don’t see any point in adding it on board as it would have to go through USB2.0 interface, greatly limiting its bandwidth.

I am not very familiar with the A31s, if it support some sort of external bus, or even a single PCIe lane, perhaps it would be possible to hook up a high speed USB3.0 phy to, or a Sata interface.

I can see many uses for the BPi-M2, and I am looking forward to evaluating it (and writing a review like the one I did for the Banana Pi)

For those applications that require a higher bandwidth Sata interface than can be accommodated with a USB2.0-Sata bridge, the original Banana Pi and LeMaker’s upcoming Banana Pro may be a better choice.

Those applications that need higher compute performance, the quad core A31s based BPi-M2 may be a better choice.

Banana Pro – LeMaker’s upcoming improved Banana Pi

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

I can’t believe I forgot to post about the Banana Pro earlier!

(actually, I can. Between urgent work, projects & family, I did not get to post about it when it was announced – even though I meant to)

image courtesy of LeMaker.org

(click on image for larger version)

On top of the board, you can see the 40 pin GPIO header, with pinout compatible with the Raspberry Pi Model B+

On the bottom of the board, you can see the integrated WiFi module on the bottom of the board.

It looks like the mounting holes are in the same relative positions as on the original Banana Pi

The rest of the features appear to be identical to the original Banana Pi (you can read my extensive review of the Banana Pi by clicking on this link)

Specifications

SoC Allwinner A20
CPU ARM CortexTM-A7 Dual-Core @ 1.0GHz
GPU ARM Mali400MP2
Complies with OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1
SDRAM 1GB DDR3 (shared with GPU)
Power 5V @ 2A via MicroUSB (DC in Only) and/or MicroUSB (OTG)
PMU AXP209

Features

Display Supports multi-channel HD display:
HDMI 1.4 (Type A – full)
Composite video (PAL and NTSC) (via 3.5 mm TRRS jack shared with
audio out)
LVDS/RGB/CPU display interface (DSI) for raw LCD panels
11 HDMI resolutions from 640×480 to 1920×1080 plus various
PAL &NTSC standards
Video HD H.264 2160p video decoding
Mutil-format FHD video decoding, including Mpeg1/2, Mpeg4, H.263, H.264
H.264 high profile 1080p@30fps or 720p@60fps encoding
On board Network 10/100/1000Mbps ethernet (Realtek RTL8211E/D)
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n XXXXX
Camera Parallel 8-bit camera interface
On board Storage MicroSD (TF) card, SATA 2.0
Audio outputs HDMI,analog audio (via 3.5 mm TRRS jack),
I2S audio (also potentially for audio input)
Audio input On board micphone
USB 2 USB 2.0 host, 1 USB 2.0 OTG (all direct from A20 chip)
Low-level perpherials 30×GPIO, some of which can be used for specific functions
including UART, I2C, SPI, PWM, CAN, I2S, SPDIF.
LRADC, ADC, LINE-IN,FM-IN,HP-IN.
Buttons Reset button
Power button
U-boot button
Leds Power status led (red)
Ethernet status led (blue)
User defined led (green)
Other IR reciever, Bluetooth (optional)

Software

OS Android 4.2
Bananian
Raspbian
Lubuntu
OpenWRT
ArchLinux
OpenSuse
Fedora
Gentoo
Berryboot
Applications XBMC
Scratch
Arduino
Game emulation
Homw server
Dimensions 92mm x 60mm
Website LeMaker: www.lemaker.org

I look forward to reviewing a Banana Pro once I get my hands on one!