The Pi's Chinese rival has arrived


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by AndrewS » Wed Jun 13, 2012 11:44 am
Touché!
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by Jim Manley » Thu Jun 14, 2012 5:59 am
I guarantee that you're going to be sorely disappointed with the version of Android on this kind of device - it's the Google TV version, not the latest-and-greatest tablet version. Just because it can be booted into Linux (with who-knows-how-much-work) doesn't mean that everything is just going to work. Hardware drivers are notorious for going wonky if anything at all changes anywhere in an OS stack, and if you're sliding a completely different OS in than what comes on the device, you may be in for a rude awakening trying to get drivers built - support for ARM-based systems is problematic to say the very least.

As has already been noted, apps hard-coded for phones are going to display sideways on an HDTV (don't get a hernia turning your big TV on its side), and a large percentage of Android apps assume a mobile platform with cellular data connection, GPS, accelerometer and compass, etc., etc., etc., that aren't on this kind of low-price device, so the vast majority of Google Play (or Market, or whatever the hell they're calling it this week) apps are going to be useless on these kinds of devices.

The good news is that, with the ~30-watt power consumption of the VIA board (note, no case for it, either), no one will ever have to worry about it being confused with a mobile device.

That all being said, when people dump these after finding out that they're no replacement for a typical laptop/desktop system, either, I'll enjoy picking them up for pennies on the dollar just for fun and to add to my personal historical computing artifact collection, likely to be filed under "Yet Another Computing Evolution Dead End".
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by RichardUK » Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:27 pm
Does it have the market on it? A lot of Chinese Android systems don't as they have to be certified by Google to get it. With no market it is very limiting. I have a panda board that is collecting dust as my build of ICS has no market making it a poor choice for making a TV smart. Side loading apps is a pain.
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by obarthelemy » Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:45 am
I think the bet is that a full Linux will run on it. VIA have confirmed it's not locked-down on purpose, so it should be feasible w/o acrobatics. I read somewhere that the previous Pi-killer of the week, based on an Allwinner A10, just got Ubuntu.
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by rasbeer » Fri Jun 15, 2012 1:30 pm
obarthelemy wrote:I think the bet is that a full Linux will run on it. VIA have confirmed it's not locked-down on purpose, so it should be feasible w/o acrobatics. I read somewhere that the previous Pi-killer of the week, based on an Allwinner A10, just got Ubuntu.


If you mean the MK802, I think it's had 9.04 for a few weeks. But it was just joined by Puppy Linux, Ubuntu 12.04 & Lubuntu 12.04:
http://liliputing.com/2012/06/puppy-lin ... ni-pc.html
http://liliputing.com/2012/06/ubuntu-12 ... ni-pc.html

There still seem to be some wrinkles though...
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by AndrewS » Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:52 am
Yet Another Cheap ARM Board... :| http://liliputing.com/2012/06/gooseberr ... ry-pi.html
http://gooseberry.atspace.co.uk/
(spotted in the comments on the raspi blog)
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by prodata » Thu Jun 21, 2012 11:53 am
Interesting that the component count on the gooseberry looks quite a bit higher than the Pi. Why would that be?

Unfortunately still no sign of any new and really low-power (electrically eg 0.5-1W or lower, but inevitably with some correlation to CPU power) alternatives to the Pi, ie suitable for longer-term battery/solar running for simple compute tasks. Though I think the BB still has the Pi beaten by a limited margin, Andrew? And probably there's an increasing issue about how much power is taken by Ethernet and USB chips/ports relative to CPU power. I guess what might really be needed in this sort of application to minimise power draw are boards with readily accessible code to turn the ports on and off as required.
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by AndrewS » Thu Jun 21, 2012 12:12 pm
prodata wrote:Interesting that the component count on the gooseberry looks quite a bit higher than the Pi. Why would that be?

The gooseberry is built from "off the shelf" parts, i.e. standard A10 CPU, separate RAM, separate flash memory (which the Pi doesn't have), separate peripheral chips, etc. Which gives the natural advantage of being able to swap components around for a higher/lower specced/cost device.
The Pi is built entirely around a highly-integrated System-On-Chip, so all it's peripherals (apart from the RAM) are integrated inside the BCM2835, just like you'd get in a mobile phone :)

Unfortunately still no sign of any new and really low-power (electrically eg 0.5-1W or lower, but inevitably with some correlation to CPU power) alternatives to the Pi, ie suitable for longer-term battery/solar running for simple compute tasks.

I think it all depends what level of "simple compute tasks" you need to run in a solar application (including what IO interfaces you need), and what tradeoff you want to make with CPU speed / power consumption.
For truly low-power you'd use a microcontroller-based system (and sleep modes as much as possible), but that gives you much less processing-power, and you have no OS so you have to do "the whole thing" yourself. And last time I looked at microcontroller dev boards with on-board ethernet, they cost more than an entire Raspi! But again, horses for courses... ;)
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by jamesh » Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:31 pm
It looks like a tablet motherboard being sold as a SBC.
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by IntnsRed » Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:43 pm
If there's one thing we know about technology, it is that it will change.

One of the interesting aspects to RPi and the entire micro-micro SBC segment will be in keeping things up to date and how the RPi evolves. This makes me wonder what the RPi's priorities, core fundamental concepts, and, if you'll forgive the marketing speak, its "road map" for the future is.

I'd like to see more RAM, but that's a tradeoff that impacts power requirements and, of course, price. I don't know how those tradeoffs are being calculated.

I see RPi's appeal being:

  • Low cost. (The under-$50 segment seems a nice place to be.)
  • Oriented towards kids (of all ages), education and experimentation.
  • Free software/software-libre based, from the BIOS on up. (IMHO, a Linux-based OS is ideal.)

Of course, there are other appeals -- ability to be hooked to a TV, low power requirements, etc.

But there will definitely be competition in this area. Does anyone know of any links/info on future directions/plans for the RPi?
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by carl_retrotext » Thu Jun 21, 2012 3:56 pm
There is this one too....

but you have to know what you need by the looks of it.

http://www.olimex.com/dev/pricelist.html
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by jamesh » Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:06 pm
IntnsRed wrote:If there's one thing we know about technology, it is that it will change.

One of the interesting aspects to RPi and the entire micro-micro SBC segment will be in keeping things up to date and how the RPi evolves. This makes me wonder what the RPi's priorities, core fundamental concepts, and, if you'll forgive the marketing speak, its "road map" for the future is.

I'd like to see more RAM, but that's a tradeoff that impacts power requirements and, of course, price. I don't know how those tradeoffs are being calculated.

I see RPi's appeal being:

  • Low cost. (The under-$50 segment seems a nice place to be.)
  • Oriented towards kids (of all ages), education and experimentation.
  • Free software/software-libre based, from the BIOS on up. (IMHO, a Linux-based OS is ideal.)

Of course, there are other appeals -- ability to be hooked to a TV, low power requirements, etc.

But there will definitely be competition in this area. Does anyone know of any links/info on future directions/plans for the RPi?


The Foundations future plans haven't been published I'm afraid.
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by AndrewS » Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:07 pm
IntnsRed wrote:This makes me wonder what the RPi's priorities, core fundamental concepts, and, if you'll forgive the marketing speak, its "road map" for the future is.

In one of the MakerFaire videos Eben said he wants to keep the RaspberryPi a "consistent platform" for quite a while, i.e. no RAM-upgrades etc., so that maximum compatibility with both old and new models is ensured.
As a charity, I guess they don't need to chase the "new upgrades! extra shininess!" (enforced obsolescence) that Apple etc. do ;)
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by AndrewS » Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:09 pm
jamesh wrote:The Foundations future plans haven't been published I'm afraid.

...but they still include a camera add-on? 8-)
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by IntnsRed » Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:53 pm
In one of the MakerFaire videos Eben said he wants to keep the RaspberryPi a "consistent platform" for quite a while, i.e. no RAM-upgrades etc., so that maximum compatibility with both old and new models is ensured.


Yes, that makes sense; it has to have some stability to generate some amount of mass and for people to write/collect/port software to.

As a charity, I guess they don't need to chase the "new upgrades! extra shininess!" (enforced obsolescence) that Apple etc. do


This is the gotcha, for two reasons. The first is, as mentioned, technology will march on. But since the target is education, teachers are pitched to incessantly and tend to run in cyclical trends of jumping on bandwagons as the next new thing in education catches a certain level of mindshare. At least that's the way it is here in the US; perhaps things are different and less trendy and commercialized in UK education. (Hey, a guy can dream, can't he?! :lol: )
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by rasbeer » Sat Jun 23, 2012 3:46 pm
Yet another Chinese ARM TV-stick?

I think this is the first dual core one, but I'm not sure if it has a GPU. (Would 1080p video be possible without a GPU? :? )
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by AndrewS » Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:35 pm
rasbeer wrote:Yet another Chinese ARM TV-stick?

I think this is the first dual core one, but I'm not sure if it has a GPU. (Would 1080p video be possible without a GPU? :? )

The GPU is listed as a "powerVR SGX530" :)
No idea if that's good or bad though...
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by jamesh » Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:09 pm
Not as good as a Videocore4. You would usually need a GPU for 1080p30 - or a very fast Arm core.
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by Jim Manley » Mon Jun 25, 2012 6:27 pm
Comes with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), "upgradable" to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) - I'll believe that when I see it.

512 MBs of RAM "upgradable" to 1 GB. Yeah, I won't be holding my breath to see how long it takes for that to happen. I'll bet they will only enhance the product six months to a year, or more, down the line, and won't upgrade any units in the field. This stuff has to be ball-grid array, like the Pi, or surface mount at the very least and, therefore, cost-prohibitive to actually upgrade. It wouldn't even make financial sense to have a swap-out program in the future to allow trade-in of an earlier model for a later model.

Even if it is a dual-core CPU, how much of the software can actually make use of the second core? While it's obvious where their bread is buttered, Intel recently commented on how the extra cores in most mobile devices go to waste because the software wasn't developed for a multi-core environment (and those extra cores eat batteries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which is a big no-no in mobile operation). I believe we have entered an era in consumer electronics reminiscent of when all cars suddenly started sporting fins for no practical purpose :lol:

30 days before shipment occurs - and that's after you spend over $31 for "express" shipping? Despite the egregious distributor markups for the Pi, $111+ is a lot stiffer than the $46 it cost to obtain my Pi.

Thanks, but, no thanks.
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by rurwin » Tue Jun 26, 2012 6:38 am
Jim Manley wrote:While it's obvious where their bread is buttered, Intel recently commented on how the extra cores in most mobile devices go to waste because the software wasn't developed for a multi-core environment (and those extra cores eat batteries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which is a big no-no in mobile operation)

Their bread is buttered on the other side.
Europe's first "Intel Inside" smartphone has been unveiled by the telecoms firm Everything Everywhere.
The handset is powered by Intel's single-core Atom Z2460 processor and runs Google's Android system.

Intel-based smartphone unveiled by Orange for UK and France
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by jamesh » Tue Jun 26, 2012 8:02 am
Nothing wrong with multiple cores. In fact, the market is going to go very multiple over the next few years. Because, contrary to Intel assertions, you can save power by going multi core. Software isn't a problem - even if an individual app isn't multithreaded, multiprocessing means you still get a speed up with multi cores. (different apps on different cores). Take the Videocore, that has 2 main cores plus lots of other smaller cores. No problem with power management there. Main CPU's are going the same way.
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by rasbeer » Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:12 am
Jim Manley wrote:30 days before shipment occurs - and that's after you spend over $31 for "express" shipping? Despite the egregious distributor markups for the Pi, $111+ is a lot stiffer than the $46 it cost to obtain my Pi.

Thanks, but, no thanks.

LOL - same here. I'm looking forward to a playing in a Linux sandbox with lots of other newbies. Only 9 weeks to wait. :D

I did find other sellers for that one on Aliexpress, possibly with better shipping deals, under different keywords, which I've forgotten now... :? I also dropped a line to cnx-software, he mentioned that it uses the NEC EV2 - 533 MHz for each core, "which they always convert to 1.2 GHz...".

A couple more have surfaced in the last few days on:
cnx-software (mentioning that the MK802's power supply doesn't comply with the A10 chip's specs &
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by rasbeer » Tue Jun 26, 2012 10:48 am
Can't edit my previous post; I just realised cnx-software wrote up the dual core one about a month back (linking to a vendor with more reasonable shipping).
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by jamesh » Tue Jun 26, 2012 11:05 am
rasbeer wrote:Can't edit my previous post; I just realised cnx-software wrote up the dual core one about a month back (linking to a vendor with more reasonable shipping).


I'm truly stunned they claim this is a 1GHz device when it's in fact a twin core 533Mhz device. That's misselling of the highest order! They are NOT the same.
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by pygmy_giant » Tue Jun 26, 2012 11:28 am
I will stick with my Pi thank you very much.

This is because:
1) It's not mis-sold with phoney stats (no pun intended)
2) I can easily program it
3) I can easily interface it with my own home-made periferals

Just because its got a cutesy green robot on it does not make it any good in a robot project.
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