[This is a huge, compiled collection basically finished in September, 2012. Contains updates till November, 2012. It was published in early December, 2012. A new USD 99 Allwinner blog was launched on Nov 30, 2012 based on this compilation. Please read the two entry posts of that as well: The upcoming Chinese tablet and device invasion lead by the Allwinner SoCs and $40 entry-level Allwinner tablets–now for the 220 million students Aakash project in India in order to understand very quickly that It’s a Strategic Inflection Point of enourmous consequences, and not only for the ICT industry.]
Or it is first time that we can see globally that China is on a different, significantly more effective price/performance/functionality trajectory of its own than anybody else. Even the latest challengers to the already fading Wintel empire will be affected by this. We should therefore understand: 1. The new challenge—2. The learnings from similar fundamental shifts in the history of ICT—3. The current market for this new industry trajectory—4. The initial advantage that made possible this trajectory—5. The most significant new customer value which will assure its global victory in the end—6. The current way of thinking of the established client device players.—7. Possible further hardware advances sustaining this new trajectory.
Inside PRC the situation is even more dramatic. Below you could see 3 market leading products on the mainland China market as was indicated on Sept 25 by vast and quite sophisticated marketplace information of PConline, the largest portal in the PRC specialising in IT product-related content, in terms of advertising revenue. The type of SoC used in those products is shown in blue ink. A13 and A10 are from Allwinner Technology, while RK3066 is from Fuzhou Rockchip Electronics. Both are quite successful SoC companies founded in China. Information about these tablets will be given in section 3. The Teclast & Window tablets shown below are also available globally for $120 and $215 respectively.
Update: All three tablets essentially have kept their position up to now (Dec 3). The price of Teclast P75D even went down to ￥499 i.e. $80 at one of the dealers, three of the dealers have price between ￥594 and ￥599, i.e. between $95 and $96, while 5 others still selling it for ￥699 i.e. $112 by today’s exchange rate. This is showing clearly that the $99 pricing for the HAIPAD i7 is realistic even in terms of the hottest tablet of such kind on the mainland China market which has ￥646 i.e. $104 across all of its dealers on PConline.
At the same time the unchanged ￥259 i.e. $41.5 price of Andorra A713 clearly shows the fact that for a non-IPS 7” tablet with the Allwinner A13 SoC, essentially a constrained to 512M RAM version of A10 with no HDMI output, there is a well established entry-level price in China. Note that the A713 tablet has a capacitive multi-touch (5-point touch) screen, so it is not a kind of cheap resistive screen variety of tablets.
This whole story will end in section 7. with the even more dramatic development of a PCMCIA card (or as was renamed PC Card) format package called EOMA-68 (see: Embedded Open Modular Architecture), which contains a whole computer with an Allwinner A10 SoC, 1GB of RAM, 1 to 16 GB of NAND Flash etc. All this for a target price of $15. Almost all interfaces available of the Allwinner A10 SoC have been made available on the 55x85mm credit-card-sized card, including both Transport Streams, SIM Card, PATA, the 24-pin Camera Interface, both 24-pin LCD Interfaces, VGA, Composite Video (CVBS), SPDIF, AC97, I2S, GPS, CAN-Bus, Infrared, and many more. This is in addition to the standard EOMA-68 Interfaces of Ethernet, I2C, SATA, LCD 24-pin RGB/TTL, USB2 and 16 GPIO pins.
While this is a FLOSS-related initiative rooted in UK, the hardware part is fully based on mainland China companies, including Allwinner Technology. What is the benefit for the FLOSS-people could be much more for the Chinese industry network already moving along a much faster and more effective trajectory than the outside world. To me it can go as far as a SoC vendor like Allwinner Technology will be able to produce these type of cards as well which will significantly enhance the possibilities and worldwide competitiveness of the hundreds of independent manufacturers is Shenzhen, Zhuhai and elsewhere in PRC. As a consequence the consumer equipment prices could go down even more and/or functionaly, as well as quality, could be risen even more.
Meanwhile the SoC and subsequent Android tablet competition is intensifying very-very fast inside PRC as evidenced by this latest Overview of the latest/best 7″ Tablets out of Shenzhen China [Charbax YouTube channel, Oct 28, 2012]:
Finally there is an even stronger newcomer, Nufront already on the Chinese SoC market, also posing the greatest challenge to Allwinner for the next year as it stands on Nov 1. We are talking about the Taishan platform with:
The NS115 mobile computing chip, a dual-core ARM Cortex™-A9 MPCore™ processor up to 1.5GHz and Mali™-400 MP GPU implementation, features 1080P HD encode/decode and support of Android 4.0
which justifies a whole section of its own to describe the whole strength of:
8. The Nufront challenge coming from inside
All those finding are compiled into this very large composite post on my trend-tracking blog here, which has the following sections with final names reflecting better the individual section contents as:
- The new challenge
- A proper recollection of what happened to Intel’s memory business
- The market and industry situation reflecting this new inflection point
- The Allwinner advantage 全志
- The wireless display and 2160p (“Quad HD”/4K) outlook
- Are the established client device players recognizing this strategic inflection point or not?
- Possible further hardware advances sustaining this new trajectory
- The Nufront challenge coming from inside
Please go through those compiled sections at least by reading the emphasized texts which I’ve put everywhere to make fast reading possible.
Note as well that section 2. is also on a new blog of mine, USD 99 Allwinner, as an expanded version standing on its own and made accessible from every post there via It’s a Strategic Inflection Point page.
Finally, on this new blog you will find the USD 99 Allwinner page as well which, besides providing the rationale for the naming and the existence of that blog, will summarize my current (Dec. 1) opinion about the mobile device market for 2013, especially the threat which may force Microsoft and Intel to adjust their current strategies radically.
1. The new challenge
HAIPAD I7 IPS 1024*600 Multitouch Screen with Android 4.0 Dual Camera 1080P HDMI [Merimobiles.com, Sept 10, 2012]
$269.99Your Price: $99.99 [with free shipping worldwide]
[when it became available in April’12 it was briefly $137.99 already]
[more tablets of this kind coming to the market too, e.g. the $99 Dragon]
Haipad i7 Android ICS 7” capacitive IPS Thin Tablet Review – Allwinner A10 Merimobiles ColonelZap [SchlumpfiHB YouTube channel, April 15, 2012]
– 1 Year, click here for details
– Allwinner A10 1.2 GHz
– Android 4.0.3
– 1GB DDR3 Ram, 8GB Nandflash built in
– Extend Memory up to 32GB via micro sd card
– 7 inch IPS 5 points Capacitive Multitouch
– Stereo Speaker
– 3.5MM headphone jack
– Supports: AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, QCP, MP3, WMA, WAV, MIDI, M4A
– 1280*720P HD 30 fps, 1080P,720*480 D1 30fps
– Real-time Video decode
Front 0.3MP camera,
Features and highlights: – Allwinner A10
– 8GB Nandflash
– 3D G- Sensor
– 802.11b/g,support WAPI
– Capacitive touching panel multi-point( 5 point touch)
– OTG and host expand
– USB2.0 data transfer
– Micro 5pin USB
– Supports mouse, external keyboard
– HDMI output
– Multilanguage support
– Excellent Ebook reader
– Weather on line
– Web Browser
– Slim body
– Sound Card:AC97
– standby time:36 hours
– working time:4~5hours (play video online)
Regarding the multimedia capabilities I will suggest to go through a review of a similar tablet: MPMan MID74c (NATPC Primatab 7″) tablet review part 3: multimedia and HD video playing capabilities (Boxchip Allwinner A10) [ARCHTABLET NEWS, May 25, 2012]. Two videos are included there as well!
As you can see this process was well visible much earlier, in the beginning of Q2 2012 at the latest. Besides the September milestone of reaching the $99 cost with such a high-quality IPS tablet, another impetus for me to write this post was a last Sunday’s article titled Hardware is dead [VentureBeat, September 15, 2012]:
I go to China every four or five months for work. I have to visit all the corporate headquarters in Beijing and Shanghai, but the highlight of every trip is the day I spend at Hua Qiang Road North in Shenzhen. Pretty much every piece of electronics we use today is sourced and manufactured within 100 miles of Shenzhen, and Hua Qiang is the city’s electronics shopping district.
On my last trip, in July, I met a ‘procurement’ consultant, and he told me which of the 50 mega malls in the area to visit to buy tablets.
In the US, when we talk about tablets we usually mean the iPad and increasingly the Kindle devices, but beyond that there is not much else in the market. I had heard that tablets in China had already reached low price points. You can buy a reasonable Android phone for $100 retail, and I wanted to see if I could find a $150 tablet. This consultant pointed me to a mall filled with hundreds of stalls selling nothing but tablets. I walked into the middle of the scrum to a random stall. I pointed to one of the devices on display and asked, “How much for this one?” 300 kuai. My Mandarin is a bit rusty, so I had to ask again. Slowly, the stall owner repeated renminbi 300 yuan.
If this were a movie, the lights would have dimmed and all the activity in the room frozen. 300 renminbi is US $ 45. And that was the initial offer price given to a bewildered foreigner in China, no haggling. I felt a literal shock.
I bought the device and did some more research. This was a 7-inch tablet, Wi-Fi only with all the attributes of a good tablet. Capacitive touchscreen. Snappy processor. Front facing camera. 4GB of internal memory and an expandable memory slot.
I later found out that these devices are now all over the supply chain in Shenzhen. At volume, say 20,000 units, you can get them for $35 apiece. My device ran full Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and had access to the full Google API, including Gmail, Maps, YouTube and Google Play (not quite sure how that works either).
Once my heart started beating again, the first thing I thought was, “I thought the screen alone would cost more than $45.” My next thought was, “This is really bad news for anyone who makes computing hardware.”
My contacts in the supply chain tell me they expect these devices to ship 20 million to 40 million units this year. Most of these designs are powered by a processor from a company that is not known outside China —
All Winner[Allwinner]. As a result, we have heard the tablets referred to as “A-Pads.”
When I show this tablet to people in the industry, they have universally shared my shock. And then they always ask “Who made it?.” My stock answer is “Who cares?” But the truth of it is that I do not know. There was no brand on the box or on the device. I have combed some of the internal documentation and cannot find an answer. This is how far the Shenzhen electronics complex has evolved. The hardware maker literally does not matter. Contract manufacturers can download a reference design from the chip maker and build to suit customer orders. If I had 20,000 friends and an easy way to import these into the US, I would put my own name on it and hand them out as a business cards or Chanukah gifts.
I think this leads to an important conclusion: No one can make money selling hardware anymore. The only way to make money with hardware is to sell something else and get consumers to pay for the whole device and experience.
I thought discovering the A-Pad was pretty exciting. So I was dismayed to find that the week after I got back from China, a device that looks a lot like my A-Pad was on sale at Fry’s Electronics for $79. No brand listed. The process has already begun.
Jay Goldberg is a financial analyst with an investment bank. He has been working with tech companies for ten years. Prior to that he lived and worked in China for almost 10 years.
A morale of this story is not the one written in the title of the article, i.e. it is not true at all that “hardware is dead”, rather we are witnessing again an old phenomenon first discovered by Intel’s Andy Grove back in the 80’s and coined with a term “[strategic inflection point]”. With no proper representations in places like Wikipedia (don’t confuse with mathemetical concept only included there) you better search the web with the phrase:
“Andy Grove” “inflection point” Japanese “memory chips”
For me the best quote for my initial purposes here is from the permitted excerpt of Andy Grove’s famous Only the Paranoid Survive [Sept 1, 1996] book, reformatted for more immediate recognition of the intended meanings as follows:
I’ll describe what a strategic inflection point is a bit later in this book. For now, let me just say that a strategic inflection point is a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change. That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end.
You can be the subject of a strategic inflection point but you can also be the cause of one. Intel, where I work, has been both.
In the mid-eighties, the Japanese memory producers brought upon us an inflection point so overwhelming that it forced us out of memory chips and into the relatively new field of microprocessors.
The microprocessor business that we have dedicated ourselves to has since gone on to cause the mother of all inflection points for other companies, bringing very difficult times to the classical mainframe computer industry.
Having both been affected by strategic inflection points and having caused them, I can safely say that the former is tougher.
Next I should give a brief explanation for “changing fundamentals of a business”. As is obvious from the recollection given below (section 2.) there were certain assumptions on which Intel’s original DRAM business was based upon. These assumptions were questioned by its Japanese competitors entering the lucrative DRAM market, first time winning against Intel in 1979 with better manufacturing yields and then by 1982 in terms of overall manufacturing competence as well. Equally important was that Intel was not able to remedy the situation although the symptoms were well recognized and seemingly effective actions were taken as well.
Please study that recollection first and then the sections which follow after that and which describe the observable facts about this very latest strategic inflection point. You will be able to both understand the current situation properly (unlike the investment analyst quoted above) as well as to predict the possible outcome of this inflection point for the ICT industry as whole (with the highest probability possible at all). I wish you good reading!
From the brief understanding of the new challenge as given above I should also paraphrase my remaining points of study as:
2. A proper recollection of what happenned to Intel’s memory business
3. The market and industry situation reflecting this new inflection point
4. The Allwinner advantage
5. The wireless display and 2160p (“Quad HD”/4K) outlook
6. Are the established client device players recognizing this strategic inflection point or not?
7. Possible further hardware advances sustaining this new trajectory
2. A proper recollection
of what happened to Intel’s memory business
Exerpts about the factual evidence are taken from the following scientific article:
A PROCESS MODEL OF STRATEGIC BUSINESS EXIT: IMPLICATIONS FOR AN EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE ON STRATEGY [Robert A. Burgelman, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 17, 193-214 (1996)] (available here for download)
Table 1. Key events in the evolution of DRAMs at Intel: 1970-85
E1. Intel introduced the first 1K (kilobit) dynamic random access memory (DRAM) in volume. The product used the new metal-oxide semiconductor (MOS) process technology. This process technology was relatively slow but less power consuming than the standard bipolar process technology. Intel was the first successful mover in DRAMs.
E2. Intel introduced 4K DRAMs. Intel captured more than 80% of the 4K DRAM market in 1974.
E3. The first competitive challenge came from Mostek, a new startup. Mostek focused on user-friendliness of DRAMs in the 4K DRAM generation.
E4. Intel introduced a standard 16K DRAM. Intel captured more than 35% of the 16K DRAM market in 1976.
E5. The competitive challenge from Mostek and others continued. By 1979, Intel’s market share in standard 16K DRAM was less than 5%.
E6. High demand for EPROMs created a shortage in Intel’s manufacturing capacity. For the first time, DRAM manufacturing capacity was shifted toward the higher-margin EPROM products.
E7. Intel introduced the first 5-volt ‘single-power-supply’ 16K DRAM. Single-power supply greatly simplified the user’s design and production tasks. In 1979, Intel was the only supplier of single-power-supply 16K DRAMs and captured a price premium of double the industry average for three-power-supply 16K DRAMs.
E8. Intel expected the 64K DRAM generation to be introduced later and to be based on single power supply. Fujitsu introduced a standard 64K DRAM in 1979 and captured a large market share.
E9. The single-power-supply 16K DRAM remained a small-niche product.
E10. Intel fell behind in manufacturing yields relative to top Japanese producers of DRAMs (Prestowitz, 1988: 46).
E11. Intel’s 64K DRAM with ‘redundancy’ entered production. Redundancy involves adding an extra column of memory elements so that, in the event of a process-induced defect, the auxiliary column could be activated. This allows a defective memory chip (at testing) to be reprogrammed before shipment and to increase yields. Intel expected that ‘redundancy’ would help overcome its disadvantage in manufacturing yields relative to the Japanese, and that the 256K DRAM generation would be based on the redundancy process technology.
E12. However; Fujitsu and Hitachi entered with a standard 256K DRAM in 1982 and captured a large market share.
E13. Intel was now far behind in manufacturing competence relative to the Japanese.
E30. COO Andy Grove felt strongly that the burgeoning logic (microprocessor) business needed to get more resources
E34. The General Manager of the Components Group stepped down and was reassigned to another business area. Andy Grove assumed direct operational control over the DRAM exit process. He assigned two senior managers to immediately and fully implement the DRAM exit decision.
E35. The decision was reached to close Fab 5 for DRAM production. Fab 5 was to be transformed into a process technology site for microprocessors. Animosity and mistrust between manufacturing and process technology personnel flared at Fab 5.
E36. Andy Grove went to Portland to speak to the group: ‘Welcome to the Mainstream Intel’. That is, Intel the ‘microcomputer company’.
Intel’s initial success in the 1K (kilobit) DRAM (1971-73) was due to the ability of its technologists to come up with a process technology that allowed production yields sufficiently high to beat magnetic core memory, which was the industry standard of the day, in the market (E1). Process technology was therefore viewed by Intel management as the firms’ ‘distinctive competence’ (Selznick, 1957) on which its ability to differentiate its products and get a premium price depended (E7, E11, E18, E22). Having maintained leadership in the 4K DRAM generation (1972-76) (E2, E3), Intel’s process technologists came up with the first 5-volt single-power-supply 16K DRAM in 1979. Intel process technologists decided to focus on the single-power-supply 16K DRAM because they projected a relatively long life cycle for the 16K generation due to the technological challenges posed by the 64K generation (E18). They also believed that the single-power-supply process would eventually dominate the memory industry. They considered it too risky to tackle both the 64K DRAM generation and the single power supply in the same product.
While it is usually difficult to observe distinctive competence independent of the successful product with which it is associated, and the risk of tautology is high, Intel’s pattern of strategic actions offers the opportunity to make independent observations. When changes in the DRAM industry structure shifted the basis of competition from process technology to largescale precision manufacturing, Intel continued to rely on process technology to compete in four successive product generations. The first independent observation concerned the 16K DRAM generation. But, as documented below, inertial deployment of process technology competence was also observed in the 64K, 256K, and 1 Meg (megabit) product generations. Paradoxically, the distinctive competence that provided Intel with its initial competitive advantage became a source of failure later on.
Falling behind reinforces the impetus process
Falling behind in the market made it difficult for the DRAM business managers to compete with Intel’s other businesses for resources. Business managers had tried to reposition Intel’s single power-supply 16K DRAM as a niche product that would fetch a higher unit price (‘2x’). They had expected that eventually the whole 16K market would have to go for single-power-supply. This did not happen for the 16K generation, however, and further impetus for exit was gained when the strategy to reposition Intel’s DRAMs as niche products failed (E9; Cogan and Burgelman, 1990).
Intel was already late in the 64K generation and Japanese companies had entered the DRAM market in 1979. In addition, Intel’s 64K product design was flawed and expected to result in uncompetitive low manufacturing yields (E10). The DRAM process technology group responded by introducing a new process technology called ‘redundancy’, as a way to overcome the low yield problem (E11). This new process, however, had a major defect which showed up late in its development. Intel introduced its 64K DRAM with redundancy only in 1982. These delays were fatal for Intel’s strategic position in the 64K generation. A former General Manager of the Memory Components Division (during the early 1980s) said that he took a 1-week trip to see the Intel sales engineers and explain that Intel would be late. He said (Cogan and Burgelman, 1990: 15):
“The sales force was very disappointed in the company’s performance. Any sales force wants a commodity line. It’s an easy sell and sometimes it’s a big sell. That trip was perhaps the most difficult time in my whole career. When I announced we would be late with the product, the implication was that Intel would not be a factor in the 64K generation.”
Having assessed that they were behind in the 64K generation, the DRAM process technology group took another gamble. They had come up with yet another innovative process technology—complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS)—which was to eventually supersede the standard n-channel MOS (NMOS) technology. They decided to apply the CMOS technology to a new 64K DRAM product as well as in the 256K generation (E16). This raised the difficult question for the memory components division about how to effect the transition from NMOS to CMOS. The NMOS products had been made at the Chandler (Arizona) facility, but that capacity had been shifted to microcontrollers based on the maxmize margin-per-wafer start rule. In early 1984, the decision was made to phase out the NMOS line (E17).
The former General Manager of the Memory Components Division (during the early 1980s) said that the new business strategy was to reposition Intel in DRAMs. The idea was to create a niche market with premium pricing for 64K and 256K CMOS products, so that Intel could maintain a memory presence while accelerating back into an overall leadership position at the 1 Meg (Megabit) generation. But for both the 64K and 256K DRAM products, the innovative solution did not produce competitive advantage. The large majority of customers for the 64K generation were looking for standard products of high quality (few defect devices) at low prices. Japanese companies provided what customers wanted at very low prices. The Japanese had introduced standard 256K DRAMs in 1982 (E12), and Intel had fallen far behind the Japanese in manufacturing yields (E13). Intel entered with its CMOS 256K product only in 1984, and it remained a small niche product. The former General Manager of the Memory Components Division (during the early 1980s) said that standard DRAMs were being sold at less than half of the price Intel was asking, and the improved performance of the CMOS chips just wasn’t worth it to most customers. Intel’s repositioning effort resulted in completely losing strategic position in the DRAM market. Intel’ s market share shrunk from more than 80 percent in the 4K DRAM generation in 1974 to less than 1 percent in the 256K DRAM generation in 1984 (Cogan and Burgelman, 1990). Repositioning thus failed to reestablish Intel as a key player in the industry. Also, prices for the niche products were lower than expected, making it harder for DRAMs to compete with other products for Intel’s scarce manufacturing resources.
The Director of Technology Development observed that Intel’s DRAM business had entered a ‘death spiral’. In the face of strong competition from Japanese manufacturers, business managers’ focus on the more profitable products and technology development’ s preoccupation with leading-edge processes contributed to missing the
DRAM mainstream market. This led to cutbacks in manufacturing capacity and budgets which made it even more difficult to compete. This manager, in an interview in October 1988, anticipated a similar vicious circle (‘death spiral’) for EPROMs, which had also become a commodity product, and correctly foresaw the decision to exit from EPROM manufacturing, which happened in 1991.
For Intel’s top management, the strategic context of DRAMs had always been very clear. DRAMs had very strong legitimacy. DRAMs was the business that ‘made Intel’, as one senior manager put it, and some top managers, including the CEO, viewed DRAMs as a core business and one that served as technology driver on which the learning curve of the company depended. It was not easy for top management to admit that the legitimacy of DRAMs was vanishing. And it was difficult to decide to exit from DRAMs even though objective analysis seemed to suggest that this was the appropriate course of action in light of Intel’s strategic alternatives.
3. The market and industry situation
reflecting this new inflection point
Let’s see first the latest market data by one global analyst companies, IDC:
Source: IDC Expects Smart Connected Device Shipments to Grow by 14% Annually Through 2016, Led by Tablets and Smartphones [IDC press release, Sept 26, 2012]
According to the latest information from China the tablet market is quite underestimated by IDC:
How many tablets does China make, how big is the Chinese market?
80 percent of media tablets made in China are exported
Unit: Million of units
Source: Chinese industry estimates
as China alone will be delivering 50 million tablets this year and the overall Chinese estimate is 155 million units vs. 120 million per IDC:
By volume, the Android tablet sector has grown to an estimated 80 million units, outpacing the 75 million iPads sold by Apple thus far, according to estimates by Rockchip [marketing] vice president Feng Chen.
as reported by Junko Yoshida, ex-editor in chief of EE Times who now has a strong emphasis on China as “a roving reporter”:
in China Fabless: Rockchip rattled by Android tablet wars [Sept 25, 2012]
Just nine months ago, Fuzhou Rockchip Electronics, a developer of apps processor for tablets, looked almost invincible. …
… since then, the Android-based media tablet market has gotten far more competitive. By volume, the Android tablet sector has grown to an estimated 80 million units, outpacing the 75 million iPads sold by Apple thus far, according to estimates by Rockchip [marketing] vice president Feng Chen.
At the beginning of 2012, the target price of a 7-inch capacitive screen media tablet featuring Cortex-A8 was $99. That price has since dropped to around $65, due largely to Allwinner, a red-hot Chinese fabless company that has flooded the tablet market with its own turnkey system. … Rockchip’s situation vividly illustrates the challenges most Chinese fabless chip companies now face.
During a recent interview with EE Times here, Rockchip’s Chen said, “This is a new world war we’re fighting.” … Indeed, nearly every apps processor [sic, SoC] vendor here is in a rough spot because “the time-to-market requirement has gotten much shorter,” he noted. “Worse, catching the market rhythm or cycle — at the right time – has become much harder.”
“… now, as end-product cycles get shorter, we do everything from designing a chip to developing a board and software that goes around the hardware — literally within a couple of months,” he explained.
In March, for example, Rockchip started to design its RK3066, a dual-core Cortex A9 chip with a quad-core Mali-400 GPU. By April , it hustled to showcase sample tablets based on the chip at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair. By May, the company began shipping the new apps processor to its customers.
Note regarding the timing of RK3066 SoC development:
– The initial version of RK3066 datasheet brief is dated Oct 30, 2011. the 1.0 version of it February 15, 2012.
– The RK30xx platform was announced on Feb 27, 2012 with information that “Dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor with up to 1.4GHz speed, implemented with Artisan Processor Optimization Pack (POP)” and that “Samples of the Rockchip RK30xx platform will be available in March 2012.”
Unlike other startups here, Rockchip has been profitable from the start. But as the tablet battle heats up, it also needs to find a way to move to the next level. “We are fighting a world war. We need the world’s top talent.”
The company also needs access to capital. Without it, Rockchip can’t even think about mergers or acquisitions. Organic growth alone won’t get it to the next level, Chen acknowledge, saying he expects consolidation in the Chinese fabless sector but “no Chinese companies want to give up.”
Lastly, Chen said, “We need to be clear on the market” so that Rockchip can choose its battles.
Another of her observation:
– Yoshida in China: How Nokia failed, MediaTek won [Sept 26, 2012]
Earlier this month when I sat down for breakfast here with Feng Chen, vice president of China fabless company Rockchip, he abruptly asked if I knew the “80-3-2 rule.” I had never heard of it.
The subject came up as we were discussing the global media tablet market. Chen, who noted that this is his personal theory, not Rockchip’s, explained: If you design a system (or chip) with performance of at 80 percent compared to the best-in-class product on the market, and if you offer it at one-third the price, you can double the sales volume of your system (chip).
Chen used the media tablet market as an example. Many Android-based tablets with relatively less performance than Apple’s iPad, will eventually exceed sales of iPad in volume, he argued.
In other words, don’t over-engineer it.
Android, along with outsourcing and faster product turnarounds are the key elements that make the 80-3-2 rule possible. The rule also offers a mechanism for getting products in the hands of consumers.
Source: IHS iSuppli
Does the 80-3-2 rule make sense? Sort of.
The chart above illustrates the theory’s flaw: While Apple gets all the profits generated by the iPad, sales revenue for the Android camp is divvied up by many me-too Android tablet and chip suppliers. Presumably those companies, all subscribing to the 80-3-2 rule, are fiercely undercutting one another, further reducing their margins.
So, the 80-3-2 rule is simplicity itself, but it doesn’t look sustainable to me.
Chen’s theory reminded me of something else. The Economist carried a story about “frugal innovation.” The article cited companies like General Electric and India’s Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) that developed new products like a hand-held electrocardiogram (by GE) and a water filter (TCS).
“Instead of adding ever more bells and whistles, they strip the products down to their bare essentials,” embarking on “frugal innovation,” or as it is sometimes called, “reverse innovation,” the Economist explained.
According to the Economist, “Frugal innovation is not just about redesigning products; it involves rethinking entire production processes and business models. Companies need to squeeze costs so they can reach more customers, and accept thin profit margins to gain volume….”
Therein are the dots we can use to connect to Chen’s theory. His 80-3-2 rule also addresses the issue of how a company finds a way to develop a product and a business process to squeeze costs, gain volume and reach millions of new customers.
(Full disclosure here. The Economist article was first pointed out to me by a U.K.-based engineering executive who works for Taiwan’s chip giant MediaTek. He was explaining how MediaTek’s recent success has a lot to do with “frugal innovation.” MediaTek, virtually unknown 10 years ago, is now a power house with huge market share in the Chinese smartphone and media tablet markets.)
MediaTek has fundamentally changed the playbook for the chip industry here, especially for smartphones and tablets. More chip suppliers for smartphones and tablets who are competing with MediaTek are now expected to provide similar “turnkey systems” that MediaTek delivers, rather than just reference designs.
Technology development, especially in the electronics industry, has historically been one-dimensional. It all pretty much comes down to how your engineering team makes a system operate faster, run more apps and features, while consuming less power.
Frugal, or reverse, innovation and the 80-3-2 rule both suggest that it’s time to rethink innovation in more in multi-dimensional terms.
I can think of two good examples for how ignoring reverse innovation costs companies. … Nokia … Japanese LCD TV manufacturers like Sharp …
Her latest report continues with Yoshida in China: ‘Shanzhai’ clouds tablet data [EE Times, Nov 8, 2012]
NEW YORK – The global tablet market may be a lot bigger — perhaps as much as 50 percent bigger — than previously thought depending on how you measure the increasing numbers of “Shanzhai” tablets produced in China.
Loosely translated, “Shanzhai” means white box, as in, no label. These tablets manufactured in China are distinguished from “knockoff” products, which the original Chinese term “Shanzhai” suggests.
Earlier, I wrote about the global market for tablets during the third quarter of this year. According to estimates, shipments reached 27.8 million units.
Several industry sources based in Beijing and Shenzhen responded with notes saying that the math behind the industry estimates didn’t add up. The Chinese observers argue that most estimates ignore the size of the white box tablet market.
Factoring in the number of apps processors shipped by Chinese fabless companies and tablet displays from its panel vendors, the number of white box tablets made in Shenzhen during the third quarter could total as high as 18 million units, Chinese sources claimed.
Add those to the branded tablets sold by Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Asus and Lenovo and the global tablet market in the third quarter jumps to 42.5 million units. That’s 52 percent more than the global total estimated by IDC in 3Q.
This huge gap makes me wonder what other Chinese consumer electronics products are uncounted or under-counted.
One thing to take into account is Chinese fabless chip company Allwinner Technology — how it operates and and how it has taken advantage of the growing white box market.
The applications processor vendor has substantially expanded its market share over the last 18 months, primarily based on the strength of its turnkey system that has been described as “super easy to use” by Chinese industry sources. The solution allegedly makes it a snap for practically any white-box vendor to make media tablets and ramp up production in a Shenzhen minute.
According to sources in Shenzhen, Allwinner holds as much as 60 percent of the white box market and shipped 3.5 million apps processors in August alone. Allwinner is said to have shipped 5 million apps processors in October, generating $30 million revenue (at a $6 average selling price). If true, wow!
The momentum behind white box tablet production in Shenzhen is building. Chinese sources now believe shipments have climbed from 6 million units in August to 9 million in October.
Who’s buying all these tablets?
A source in Beijing describes them as “tablets shipped by no-name brands at about $50.” The end market is not necessarily China, but “mostly emerging economies including Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, South America and Africa, etc.” He added that Chinese consumers “have similar tastes and demands as those living in the developed world. They don’t really buy these low-end tablets. They buy iPad or Samsung.”
If true, we may need to rethink not just the size of the booming tablet market, but the consumer revolution triggered by the tablet market well beyond China’s border.
The lack of recognizable brand names makes it that much harder to track unit shipments. Plus, chip shipment figures can be inflated or double-counted. Then there is China’s vast gray market.
Even taking all of those factors in account, the explosion of tablets in emerging markets is no mirage – and it might be spreading much faster than any one imagined.
For example, one source in Shenzhen estimates that annual shipment of white box tablets this year could hit 50 million units.
With all that she (Junko Yoshida) came closest from the West to understand the new ICT phenomenon rooted in China. Now let’s look at what others have come to so far:
The overall tablet market trend is illustrated by IHS iSuppli via the tablet display shipments as follows:
then it is described in Global Tablet Display Shipments to Soar by 56 Percent in 2012 [IHS iSuppli press release, Sept 17, 2012] as:
… [the first part of the press release is essentially giving information which is represented by the diagram above] …
LG and Samsung Dominate Tablet Display Shipments
LG Display and Samsung Display were the main suppliers of tablet displays in the first quarter with 42 percent and 38 percent shipment market share, respectively. Both are market leaders because they make the liquid crystal display (LCD) panels that are used in the iPad, which continued to dominate the media tablet space with a commanding 58 percent of all tablets shipped in the first quarter.
[LG Display holds 70% of iPad panel shipments [DIGITIMES, Sept 20, 2012]: while Samsung Electronics, Sharp and Chimei Innolux (CMI) have all been seeing decreasing shipments … CMI will make up less than 5% of overall iPad panel shipments by the end of the third quarter in 2012.]
Aside from supplying Apple, LGD also furnishes display panels to Amazon and Barnes & Noble, while Samsung provides panels to its internal tablet division. Investments are being made by the two major tablet panel suppliers in capacity allocation and technological improvements to supply high-performance tablet panels and to develop wide-viewing-angle technologies like in-plane switching (IPS) and fringe-field switching (FFS). Both LGD and Samsung Display are also looking to convert amorphous-silicon fabs into making oxide silicon panels to help improve tablet panel resolution, power consumption and overall performance.
Panel Manufacturers Enter the Tablet Panel Fray
Other LCD panel suppliers also are jumping into the fast-growing tablet market. In particular, Japanese suppliers such as Sharp, Japan Display and Panasonic are actively targeting the tablet panel market by dedicating capacity at their Generation 6 and Generation 8 fabs in order to make tablet panels.
Together the capacity allocation this year for small and medium displays by the Japanese is expected to increase 164 percent from last year’s levels, reaching 5.5 million square meters in 2012. Of particular interest is the oxide silicon capacity at Sharp, which has been supplying panels from its G8 fab for the latest iteration of the iPad—also called the new iPad. Another company, Panasonic, is likely to produce 7.x-inch and 8.x-inch tablet panels during the second half of this year.
For their part, LCD suppliers based in Taiwan, such as AU Optronics and ChiMei Innolux, reportedly are adjusting their business models—some to focus on tablets for the education sector, and others to supply tablets for the white-box market in China.
It is believed that AUO may be one of the suppliers qualified to supply the smaller iPad’s 7.85-in panels.
But unlike Tier 1 tablet display makers LGD and Samsung Display, Taiwanese panel suppliers primarily target the Chinese market that is geared more toward lower-priced tablets. To meet lower price points, display specifications are usually dialed down compared to Tier 1 products. Displays targeted at the white-box tablet market in China mainly employ the more basic twisted nematic (TN) LCD, not the wide-viewing-angle LCD technologies of IPS and FFS.
Regardless of the display technology and market segment, display suppliers are making sure they align their strategies to serve this fast-growing market.
Chimei Innolux to Win 40%-50% Share of White-brand Tablet PC Touch-panel Market [CENS, Aug 15, 2012]
Chimei Innolux Corp., the largest thin film transistor-liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) panel manufacturer in Taiwan, is expected to win a 40% to 50% share of the global market for white-brand tablet PC applications, according to the company.
Some 40 million to 60 million white-brand tablet PCs are expected to be shipped this year, similar to the total shipments of Apple`s iPad.
Major market research firm DisplaySearch recently forecast that some 121 million tablet PCs would be shipped worldwide this year, and the annual volume would increase to 416 million units in 2016, in conjunction with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28% over next five years. Apple would continue to be the market leader in next five years with a market share of 60%, while white-brand counterparts are expected to enjoy high growth due to their advantageous pricing.
Jeff Hsu, Chimei Innolux`s vice president, pointed out that demand for white-brand tablet PCs from emerging markets has been quite strong this year. In addition to sales in China, many Chinese white-brand tablet PC makers also export products to other nations. So, the annual demand for touch panels for white-brand tablet PCs this year is expected to reach some 60 million units, with 7-inch models as the mainstream and followed by 10-inch ones. Chimei Innolux aims to ship more than 25 million touch panels for white-brand tablet PCs, accounting for 40% to 50% of the application market, Hsu said.
Hsu also added that this year, the mainstream touch-panel type in tablet PC application has shifted from resistor to capacitive, which is expected to benefit many Taiwanese suppliers with more advanced technology. Jtouch Corp. of Taiwan, for example, is stepping up boosting production capacity of its new touch-panel factory in Hunan Province of China. The firm`s large-sized touch panels are expected to account for more than 20% of its revenue this year. Mutto Optronics Co., Ltd. recently also won big-ticket orders for tablet PC touch panels, and expected to see a 30% sequential revenue growth in the third quarter.
Google recently pushed its Nexus 7 tablet PC priced for only US$199, and the company immediately sold out one million units. A white-brand tablet PC with 7-inch screen is often priced for about US$100 only, and such more affordable device has won very hot market responses in Latin America, Southeast Asia etc. Currently, monthly tablet PC shipments in China are between three million and four million units.
However in Tablet PCs will have good sales in the third quarter [Micdigi from China, July 19, 2012], from a knowledgeable source in Shezhen:
In the first quarter of 2012, the manufactures have good business, but in the second quarter they have so worse business.
As they have produced so many products in the first quarter, they have large stock of goods that they have to mark down price to sell them.
In the second quarter of 2011, the tablet PCs has good sales. But in this year, it is so cold.
In the third quarter, tablet market will rebound.
VIA chips was the winner in all the chip manufactures last year.
But in this year, Allwinner with high cost/performance chips gets the winner.
Most of Shenzhen tablet manufactures export to other countries. Because Chinese do not like knock off tablet PCs or SurperPad tablet PCs, they like brand ones.
In the third quarter, the tablet market will rebound and the fourth quarter will be the boom season.
I think the manufactures must get ready for the fourth quarter.
They had better prepare products with high cost performance.
This is one of the reasons why Nexus 7 not yet allowed to enter China market [Sept 11, 2012]:
While the Nexus 7, the tablet co-developed by Google and Taiwan-based vendor Asustek Computer, has been witnessing booming sales in major markets around the world, it is difficult for the model to be available for sale in the China market because the China government has not yet approved its import, according to industry sources in Taiwan.
The China government’s negative attitude is interpreted as a response to Google’s announcement of withdrawing from the China market in March 2010, the sources pointed out. It is difficult for the Nexus 7 to enter the China market, even through sale of Asustek’s marketing network there, the sources indicated.
Without the Nexus 7 in the market, China-based white-box vendors of tablets are under much less competitive pressure, the sources indicated. This is because the Nexus 7 has the advantage of Google’s and Asustek’s brand image with commensurate product quality and is expected to be strongly competitive with 8GB Android 4.0 tablet models in the 7- to 9-inch range launched by China-based white-box vendors, including Ainol, Onda, Teclast and Cube, at US$149, the sources pointed out. In addition, the Nexus 7 will bring competitive pressure on tablet PC models of equal specifications offered by Samsung Electronics and China-based vendors Lenovo and Hasee Computer in the China market, the sources indicated.
Without the China market, the cumulative global sales volume of Nexus 7 will reach an estimated 3.5 million units at the end of 2012, the sources noted.
Tablet Shipments to Surpass Notebook Shipments in 2016 [NPD DisplaySearch press release, July 3, 2012]
Total Mobile PC Shipments Exceed 800M Units by 2017
Tablet PCs, such as Apple’s iPad, are expected to be the growth driver for the mobile PC market over the next few years. Tablet shipments will surpass notebook shipments in 2016, according to the latest NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report. Overall mobile PC shipments will grow from 347M units in 2012 to over 809M units by 2017.
While notebook PC shipments are expected to increase from 208M units in 2012 to 393M units by 2017, tablet PC shipments are expected to grow from 121M units to 416M units in this period, for a compound annual growth rate of 28%. A key driver for tablet PC growth is adoption in mature markets (including North America, Japan and Western Europe), which will account for 66% of shipments in 2012 and remain in the 60% range throughout the forecast period. Tablet PC shipments into mature markets will grow from 80M units in 2012 to 254M units by 2017.
Figure 1: Worldwide Mobile PC Shipment Forecast (000s)
Source: NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report
“Consumer preference for mobile computing devices is shifting from notebook to tablet PCs, particularly in mature markets,” said Richard Shim, senior analyst at NPD DisplaySearch. “While the lines between tablet and notebook PCs are blurring, we expect mature markets to be the primary regions for tablet PC adoption. New entrants are tending to launch their initial products in mature markets. Services and infrastructure needed to create compelling new usage models are often better established in mature markets.”
Figure 2: Emerging and Mature Market Tablet Shipments (000s)
Source: NPD DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report
Building upon convenience-oriented features including instant-on capability, long battery life and extreme portability, tablet PCs are expected to evolve in form factor and performance, making them a compelling alternative to notebook PCs. Tablet PCs are expected to incorporate multi-core processors, increasingly stable operating systems, growing app libraries and higher resolution displays.
In addition, notebook PCs are also evolving to meet the challenge from tablet PCs. Thinner form factors, higher resolution displays and touch functionality features are expected to increase. The notebook PC market will remain the largest part of the mobile PC market during the forecast period, accounting for 60% of mobile PC shipments in 2012, declining to 49% by 2017.
Digitimes Research: China tablet SoC developers enjoy robust shipment growth in 2012 [DIGITIMES Research, Nov 20, 2012]
There has been a surge in demand for tablet-use SoC solutions in the China market thus far in 2012, benefiting local IC design companies such as Allwinner Technology, Rockchip Technology and Amlogic, according to Digitimes Research. The tablet-IC market in China is dominated by local SoC developers, which mainly adopt the ARM architecture enabling a low-cost and easy-to-design platform.
Shipments of China makers’ branded and white-box tablets destined for the local market are forecast to reach about 15 million units in 2012, while those destined for overseas will climb to as high as 44.15 million, Digitimes Research said. In total, shipments of China makers’ branded and white-box tablets are estimated at nearly 60 million units in 2012, Digitimes Research indicated.
China’s white-box tablet companies will account for 81% of the overall units shipped in 2012, Digitimes Research said. Shipments of China’s brand-name tablet companies are set to reach only about five million units in 2012, Digitimes Research added.
Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and South America are the key markets which China-based tablet exporters will target in 2012, Digitimes Research noted. The exporters, mainly white-box makers, have their products sold through local distributors and telecom carriers in the target markets. [8%]
Allwinner will unseat Rockchip as the top developer of tablet SoCs in 2012. Allwinner is forecast to ship a total of 22 million chips in 2012 [37%], while Rockchip‘s shipments will total 12.5 million units [21%], Digitimes Research said. Amlogic will rank third with shipments of 5.5 million units [9%], followed by Taiwan-based VIA Technologies with 4.5 million units [8%], according to Digitimes Research.
Source: Digitimes Research, November 2012
Non-Apple tablets to drop to US$150-200 upon release of upcoming 7.85-inch iPad [DIGITIMES, Sept 18, 2012]
Tablets priced US$199-400 are expected to drop in price to US$150-200 in order to help non-Apple tablet makers stay competitive when Apple releases its reported 7.85-inch iPad, according to industry sources.
The sources are predicting that Apple will have a big influence on the 7-inch tablet market just like it currently has with its 9.7-inch iPad series and competitors will need to drop their tablet prices as well as provide more value-added features for the devices, said the sources.
If major tablet makers were to drop product prices they would most likely not incur losses as many makers make a substantial amount of profits from 3G plans with telecommunication providers, added the sources.
The sources still haven’t confirmed an exact release date for Apple’s 7.85-inch iPad but are expecting it will be early in the fourth quarter.
MediaTek’s Q3 sales expected to beat company’s guidance [Focus Taiwan, Sept 16, 2012]
… Bill Lu, a Morgan Stanley analyst in Hong Kong, expected MediaTek to ship over 200 million smartphone chips in 2013 by offering a more complete solution to Chinese handset. …
Another upside factor for MediaTek is growing interest in “white-box” tablets in emerging markets, which could approach 100 million to 150 million units in 2013 and drive up MediaTek’s revenue if the company can tap into the supply chain, Lu said.
A white-box tablet is a model without a registered brand name, which is usually sold more cheaply than branded tablets to gain traction among price-sensitive consumers.
Global shipments of white-box tablet PCs to reach 40 million units in 2012, say chip designers [DIGITIMES, July 25, 2012]
Forecast global shipments of white-box tablet PCs in 2012 have been upward adjusted from 30 million units originally to 40 million units due to growing demand in emerging markets including China, India, Thailand and Latin America, according to Taiwan-based design houses of ICs used in tablet PCs.
An estimated 10 million white-box tablet PCs were shipped globally in 2011, and shipments increased to 18 million units in the first half of 2012, the sources indicated.
Vendors/makers of white-box tablet PCs currently cluster in Shenzhen and Dongguan, southern China, the sources noted. A large portion originally made netbooks and have stepped into tablet PCs as chips and the Android operating systems have matured, the sources said.
White-box tablet PCs are primarily competitive in price with models launched by own-brand vendors, with retail prices standing at US$59 for 7-inch models and US$149 for 10.1-inch models, the sources indicated.
China white-box vendors showcase tablets at HK fair [DIGITIMES, April 16, 2012]
Many China-based white-box vendors are showcasing 7.0-inch tablet PC models at shipment prices of US$65-80 and 10.1-inch models at US$100-110 at the 2012 Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Spring Edition) taking place during April 13-16.
These white-box vendors include Dream Technology, Aocos, PCTX, HKC, Onn and Onda.
These tablet PC models are equipped with chipset solutions mostly developed by China-based Allwinner Technology, Android 4.0, Wi-Fi modules, 4GB built-in memory, 800×480 or 1,024×600 16:9 touch screens, plastic casings. In addition, 9.7-inch tablet PCs equipped with IPS touch screens and metal casings are priced at US$130-140.
If these tablet PC models are also equipped with 3.5G modules, shipment prices will increase by US$45 on average, according to white-box vendors.
White-box vendors indicated that they have reached combined shipments of three million tablet PCs a month.
China-based white-box tablet PC makers ramping up shipments, say sources [DIGITIMES, April 13, 2012]
China-based white-box tablet PC makers have ramped up their combined shipments to three million units a month recently, and total shipments of tablet PCs by all makers are expected to top 50 million units in 2012, market research firm eMedia Asia has estimated.
In Guangdong province alone, hundreds of small- and medium-size businesses have entered the development and production of tablet PCs on an OEM, ODM or OBM basis, according to industry sources.
With the availability of Android 4.0 platform, white-box makers have rolled out tablets in 7-, 8-, 9.7- and 10.1-inch sizes with specifications catered to customer’s demand, said the sources, adding that the models target markets in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Latin America.
The white-box makers are able to deliver a 10.1-inch model, which runs on Android 4.0 and has a display resolution of 1024 by 600 and 4GB built-in storage, at FOB prices of about US$100-110, indicated the sources.
Shipments of tablet PCs by China-based makers totaled 14 million units in 2011, eMedia Asia said.
Suggested further reading: Here is a recent set of briefing documents produced by Seasize Technology Co., Ltd, formed in 2007 in Shenzhen China with roots in trading of electronic goods for export as early as 2005, see: Support [Seasize, Aug 20, 2012]
CHINA TABLET PC SOURCING GUIDE (English) [Aug 8, 2012]
This is a guide to purchasing (“sourcing”) from China, and working with Chinese factories. It will probably be most helpful to people like me – entrepreneurs developing a new product or starting a new business that need to obtain parts and raw materials from China. It is written humorously, but hopefully there is some useful advice.
CHINA TABLET PC WHOLDSALES MARKET 2012(English) [Aug 7, 2012]
This article is provided by Seasize Technology- professional tablet PC manufacturer in Shenzhen,China, exclusively to customers. You may share this information to your friends and colleagues. Seasize should not be held responsible for any information that may be misleading or incorrect.
CHINA TABLET SOLUTIONS INTRODUCTION(English) [Aug 8, 2012]
This article is provided by Seasize Technology- China popular tablet pc solutions:chips company&chips introduction. The performance of a tablet model is determined by the tablet solution. To select and source the right tablet products, you have to know the difference among tablet solutions and identify the right tablet designers and manufacturers.
which are giving a kind of industry insider’s view into the complex world of the Chinese ICT goods market.
How relevant is it? A year earlier Company Introduction [Sept 5, 2011] described Seasize Technology’s business as:
After years of development, Seasize technology already has a strong domestic procurement and export capacities. We are committed to provide affordable and quality digital video and GPS navigation products. Our company persist the principle of: Customer first, quality first not only meets the needs of customers and has been recognized by customers.
Since its inception, the company mainly engaged in two major product lines: digital audio playback systems and GPS navigation devices,
Digital audio and video aspects of the products covered MP3/MP4/MP5 players, digital TV set-top box, digital television etc.
GPS navigation devices contain : GPS navigator, GPS tracker, networking version of GPS, GPS navigation and digital TV combo products, and the recently launched GPS navigation function with Internet personal terminal device (MID).
Based on trade in the same time, has been developing its own brand and own technology products, after years of effort, the company has filed multiple patents in the country, and has registered the brand. Dependent on many years of trading experience and technology accumulation Seasize Technology already has more advanced ability to enter this industry. It can be expected in the near future that we will get a place in the relevant fields, and access to long-term development.
Its new profile [May 27, 2012] stated a subsequently changed description as:
After years of development, we have grown up into a strong company which enjoys many advantages from procurement, production and export. We have passed ISO9001:2008 certificate in year 2011 and established a standard quality system that will ensure our delivery of quality product to our customers. Our product lines include two areas: digital audio&video products and GPS-related products. We are committed to provide our customers with cost-effective solutions, whose value has been seriously balanced against its prices.
and then there is a SOURCING GUIDE-Android Tablet pc,tablet pc,wifi tablet pc,google tablet pc,tablet pc review,wholesale tablet pc [Aug 8, 2012] page which was quite probably the marketing campaign page for the above documents with leads generated via registrations for each, with more direct indication of the China Tablet Solutions Introduction [Aug 8, 2012] as well as another one of Risks of Doing Business in China.
Seasize therefore is definitely trying to expand its purchasing business as well, so its documents could be valuable, even sufficiently authentic for those people who are potential partners of Seasize. As such these documents might describe the purchasing situation over there for everybody else as well. For Seasize’s track record of activities see: Seasize Technology Co., Ltd.: Newsletter Archive [May 31, 2011 – Aug 7, 2012 and beyond].
4. The Allwinner advantage 全志
珠海 Zhuhai 全志科技 Allwinner Technology (150 ~ 499 employees) — 148 campus hirees only for 2013 (click here for a full content) recruited with a roadshow held in:
– 西安 Xi’an: at 西安交通大学 Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU) on Sep 18; at 西安电子科技大学 Xidian University on Sept 21
– 哈尔滨 Harbin: at 哈尔滨工业大学 Harbin Institute of Technology on Sept 25
– 武汉 Wuhan: at 华中科技大学 Huazhong University of Science & Technology (HUST) on Sept 22.
– 广州 Guangzhou: at 华南理工大学 South China University of Technology (SCUT) on Sept 17, at 中山大学 Sun Yat-sen University TBD
– 成都 Chengdu: at 电子科技大学 University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC) on Oct 11.
= US$ 1,113
Company Overview of AllWinner Technology Co., Ltd.
AllWinner Technology Co., Ltd. engages in mixed-mode SOC technology research and VLSI design. The company’s products are used in high-definition television and digital photo frame markets. It also provides support services. The company was founded in 2007 and is based in Zhuhai [Guangdong province], China.
From: AllWinner Technology Selects ARM Cortex CPU and Mali GPU Technologies To Bring Integrated SoC To Android OS-Based, Connected Consumer Devices [ARM press release, April 12, 2011]
AllWinner Technology Co., Ltd was founded in 2007, and is engaged in mixed-mode SOC technology research and VLSI design. AllWinner Technology is dedicated to be the major leader in the HD media field, to excel in low-power VLSI design, advanced technology and innovative architecture; to be the pulse of the consumer market, with a unique understanding of self-developed core technologies. Through functionality, performance and cost advantages of integrated products and the industrialization of the operational capabilities of the market to provide customers with leading designs and services from SOC products to comprehensive solutions.
From: Zhuhai sez daily: Gan Lin investigated in high-tech zones “two little two two high” enterprise [Allwinner press release, June 10, 2010]
… Gan Lin, Party Secretary of Zhuhai city … accompanied by director of the CMC Qiu Shi, successively investigated the Kingsoft Park (Jinshan Software Park) project site, Xuan Garment Co., Ltd. Design Center, BOXlight (Po Wright) Medical Technology Inc., Tin Shui Power Technology Limited, Allwinner Technology Co., Ltd. and Bioenergy Limited. …
Zhuhai Allwinner Technology Limited is committed to becoming a leader of application requirements in the area of key technologies for HD multimedia and communication networks, radio and television networks, and the Internet “triple play”; specializes in low power VLSI design capacity of independent research and development of core technologies, has completely independent intellectual property rights. According to the General Manager [Chairman and CEO] of the company, Zhang Jianhui (张建辉), the Allwinner company was established in 2007. In the first two years to April 2009, the company had been working hard on technology R & D and did not earn a penny, then launched two categories for the introduction of a series of nine full HD network integrated smardescriptiont chips in order to become one of the leading manufacturer of ultra-large-scale system-on-chip and embedded software technology.
The roots of the Allwinner Technology:
May I ask [about] Zhuhai [珠海] Victory Technology [全胜 科技] – How can I like it? [http://laoyaoba.com in Chinese, Oct 23, 2010]
Looking for a job, this company has come to our school, a little want to go, but I don’t know how on Earth is this company, [since there is] almost no information on the Internet, looking for an insider look, appreciate it!
… The entrepreneurial team of Zhao Guangmin[赵广民先]’s [Zhuhai] Actions Semiconductor Co., Ltd. was brought over after Zhao’s unfortunate, untimely death. The Zhang Jianhui[张建辉]-led team, however, is still very strong in the Chinese semiconductor industry. It began to grab the PMP [Personal Media Player >>> MP3 etc.] market share last year, and it is estimated that [its] revenue this year should be around $ 30 million ….
The life and spiritual heritage of the legendary Chinese IC design industry leader Zhao Guangmin [Baidu in Chinese, Aug 27, 2007]
… In early 2006, Zhao Guangmin left Actions, where had been working for a number of years, and with a number of like-minded partners co-founded Victory (Zhuhai) Microelectronics Co. as chairman with aspirations to win a new peak. …
Actions pass the sudden departure of founder, investors have been excluded [VentureData.org, April 4, 2006], the picture of Zhao Guangmin below is from this source which is the Chinese origin of this material below:
Led the company successfully landed on the Nasdaq after 4 months, founder of Zhuhai Actions Semiconductor Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as “Actions”), Zhao Guangmin [then vice chairman of the company] suddenly announced his resignation.
Zhao Guangmin the early 1980s graduated from Xi’an Jiaotong University, has a number of Semiconductor companies in the office. Zhao Guangmin founded in December 2001 and served as general manager [not CEO] of Actions. Actions a total investment of $ 10 million, primarily engaged in the development of VLSI design and test production. Taiwan-funded by the holding of shares in which Zhao Guangmin unknown.
Under Zhao Guangmin leadership, relying on keen to capture the opportunity to MP3 chips, Actions to achieve rapid development. In 2002, Actions Semiconductor sales only 1.08 million yuan [US$ 130K]; in 2003 sales increased to
4,000 million[US$ 4.3 million – see the chart later]; in 2004 sales soared to more 460 million [US$ 55.5 million], net profit up 200 million yuan [US$ 24.1 million].
At the same time, Actions also introduced more than a dozen proprietary chip. In 2004, the company was selected as the China Semiconductor Industry Association, the annual top ten IC design companies. To the fourth quarter of 2004, Actions in the global chip market share in the first MP3.
November 30, 2005, to Actions as the main Action Semiconductor Co.Ltd (Nasdaq: ACTS) in the U.S. Nasdaq market, the first phase of financing $ 72 million. Since listing, the market responded well to the Actions, and there have been investment banking analyst cut its rating to “buy.”
Actions with the same period of rapid development and to the patent dispute. Zhao Guangmin issue in the mail two days before departure, the U.S. International Trade Commission a preliminary ruling, Actions part of the audio processor infringes two U.S. SigmaTel’s patents. SigmaTel is the world’s leading mobile phones and digital audio players, chip vendors, the company early last year to the U.S. District Court in Austin, sued Actions Semiconductor infringed its patents.
“Now I can not say anything, but to leave and certainly nothing to do with the lawsuit.” Zhao Guangmin side of the phone hesitantly.
Zhao reasons for leaving, Actions official answer is “retired.” One of the company staff responsible for media relations, said, “Although less than the retirement age, but Zhao fame in this industry has made the decision to retreat is also very natural.”
However, close to Zhao Guangmin the industry does not think so. He said that Zhao’s departure and the investors.
The source said, as early as Actions Prior to listing, to facilitate investment in the idea of a replacement company executives. Public information, Zhao Guangmin general manager of the term of Actions of August 2005, is the company going public push. Zhao’s successor as general manager, is working with many years experience in the semiconductor industry, China Taiwan nationals Yenan Hong.
On this course, after listing a media interview, Zhao Guangmin stunned: “In order listed, and sometimes take their cut first!”
According to Zhao said, in order to make more in line with investors Actions taste, Actions update prior to listing a number of board members and executives. Most of these people in the chip industry has a deep background and is familiar to foreign investors, including former vice president of operations SMIC Chiu Tsz Wan.
Interestingly, in the Actions of the prospectus, as the founder of Zhao Guangmin not appear in the list of shareholders, executives, Zhao’s team did not name.
… [Till] June 2005 Zhao Guangmin has been Actions’ general manager, [then] since June
to becomevice president, and in November the company officially listed [that] Zhao Guangmin had [been] transformed into a vice chairman. … In fact, although Zhao Guangmin since 1993 aswas general manager of Zhuhai Actions, but he hashad no control of the company, the company hashad been in a firm grip on the hands of equity investment in Taiwan.
Note that Actions is a still existing company keeping its description as under Zhao Guangmin’s leadersip: About Actions [Sept 6, 2005]
… Actions has successfully put into market some products, such as digital audio/video SOC chip and its total solution, a series of IC for digital potential meter, SOC chip for TV entertainment products and its total solution, … etc, since the first day it was found. All Actions’ products are under the protection of intellectual property law, and have been gradually showing their competitive power after directly joining the international market.
With management and techniques accumulated, high-tech and product positioning, precise market position, strong innovative power, Actions sustains fast improvement and development. In 2003, Actions was identified as one of the top 10 fastest growing IC design companies within the China area by the China semiconductor association; the same situation will happen again in 2004 as well.
Actions’ latest product developed under his leadership: Actions Introduces New Video Technology — Advanced Media Video （AMV） [Actions press release, April 10, 2006]
… provides comprehensive mixed-signal system-on-a-chip solutions for portable consumer electronics, today introduced a new generation of video technology, Advanced Media Video-AMV3.0. This new technology supports a higher degree of picture resolution (QCIF i.e. 176 x 144), a better display of motion picture than the AMV1.0 and 2.0 technologies, and is capable of converting SWF files and other regular movie formats. This technology was developed specifically to be the video engine for Actions’ new 9 series SoCs.
The history of Actions’ audio and video technology can be traced back to 2004, when Actions introduced two video technologies, MTV1.0 and MTV2.2, ahead of a majority of its competitors. This breakthrough innovation of Actions had risen the technology playing field of the entire digital music industry to a higher level.
“Although our current 9 series SoCs require conversion software to enable playback, our next generation of SoC products, embedded with a MIPS core, will support direct streaming video playback. With the benefits of a MIPS core, the data processing speed will be much faster,” continued Mr. [John] Lee [Senior Product Manager of the company].
“The advancement of our MIPS core technology will remain consistent with our development in AMV4.0. Furthermore, based on the MIPS platform, both the design house and the manufacturer will be able to freely take full advantage of their expert technology, thus providing them with a favorable position in a fiercely competitive market,” concluded Mr. Lee.
Here is the “Proven Management Experience and Expertise” slide (#11) from the May 2006 Corporate Overview of Actions presentation. Note that this was immediately after the departure of Zhao Guangmin and there were three managers from the original founding team, neither of them with executive power (as evidenced by EDGAR submissions), and only Shao Chuan (Shawn) Li is still with Actions as a director of the board (since September 2005) but more importantly as Chief Technology Officer (since the establishment of Actions in December 2001), while Zhang Jianhui was the head of Multimedia Division and as such he was the topmost manager with core innovation competency, and it was no surprise that he left Actions when Zhao Guangmin established his next venture, Victory (Zhuhai) Microelectronics Co. which after his death became the current Allwinner managed by Zhang Jianhui. (There is no information about Gong Hui.) Note as well that at the time of that presentation Actions had 280 employees; 210 engineers with IC, system, and software capabilities.
It is quite remarkable that after Zhao Guangmin’s departure Actions went into decline as visible from the chart showing the revenues generated by the company. With $150M in 2005 Actions was the second-largest China-based fabless company. Employing not less than 280 people in 2006 the new Taiwanese executive duo of Nan-Horng Yeh as CEO and David Lee as CFO (both educated in the United States) have completely failed. This is all despite of their strategy to move into midrange products by developing mobile TV SoCs via licensing core technology from U.S.-based Mavrix Technology. See: SoC firm finds fertile ground in China [EDN, Aug 22, 2006]. This licensing decision led only into an industry sideline with stronger external reliance on MIPS processor cores (originally selected by Zhao Guangmin in July 2005 as the vice president, but for fast internal development) and a subsequent, necessary acquisition of Mavrix as licensee in 2010. Paradoxically Mavrix’s CEO, Dr. Zhenyu Zhou became even the CEO of Actions in December 2011. Only David Lee has still a high-level position with the company as chairman of the board. The future outlook for Actions is also rather uncertain as only a single analyst had any interest in the company’s Q2 2012 Results Call [Aug 7, 2012].
What a contrast with Zhao Guangmin’s new company which became after his death today’s Allwinner. Here is the Commemorate [what] Zhao insisted: a win-win situation, team together and do things realistic [Aug 24, 2007] by his deputy (??) and effective successor in charge of his Victory Microelectronics Co., Ltd., Zhang Jianhui:
Zhao went away from us, the circle of friends chatted about Zhao, and so far we are still unable to accept that this is a fact. Remembered Zhao, in addition to in the legendary entrepreneurial experience at Actions, we talk about the most, is the insistence of Zhao and low-key.
Speaking of the insistence of old Zhao, when Zhao won the Zhuhai Special Economic Person of the Year in 2004, in an interview he said: “As long as you choose the right direction, be sure to persist in walking, did not insist on was not successful.” It is this insistence on belief and perseverance of action which created Zhao’s unusual success story.
First, Zhao insisted on the concept of win-win, through the development of core IC products to add value for the customer, and industry chain downstream supporting enterprise vertical and horizontal, building win-win business model among enterprises, resulting in overall lead between the company and the customer.
Zhao served as general manager of Actions by virtue of more than 10 years accumulated of IC design and enterprise operating management experience. He led there a well-trained professional operating team to share common goals, to carry out efforts with hard work, to get global semiconductor industry attention via achievements. This made Actions from an unknown small company, in just a few years, China IC design industry’s first to become a globally known enterprise. The MP3 multimedia master chip R & D accounted for more than 50% of the world market share. This led to billions of dollars via the quick formation of the MP3 industry chain in China, prompting mainland China to become world’s major export base of MP3 which has brought tremendous development and benefits to the consumer electronics industry [here].
This was for the first time as a mainland China IC design company established itself in the field of global consumer electronics products, mastered and mass provided the core technology products with international advanced level. Actions’ operating income grew significantly from a few million yuan in 2002 to 1.2 billion yuan in 2005, [thus] creating rapid growth of more than 100 times for the Actions Semiconductor in three years only, and [then] eventually prompting the success of Actions to be listed on NASDAQ.
Second, Zhao insisted on the need to uphold the integrity of the fundamental values [which] can be established between the team and the customer, [on the] long term sustainable growth of business culture, [that] the strength of the team is always greater than the power of any individual.
In the early venture days of Actions Zhao personally wrote a column for the internal publications, talked about the issues of development ideas and the reform of corporate culture, and also to encourage other executives to write articles for publication. Fixed each Wednesday [?his?] commuting leadership talked about the exchange of business issues, to develop common thinking habits and language of communication – because every time before this would open, the kitchen will cook a pot of noodles as participants of dinner, affectionately called “noodles will”.
This will sometimes be open until two o’clock at night, and the truth is argued more and more out; companies and departments use the monthly regular meeting with employees face-to-face communication. After a year passed, not only everyone has made great progress, but he also formed a fully functional teamwork of high degree of homogeneity and quality, great combat effectiveness of entrepreneurial backbone of the team, and subsequently laid a very good foundation to the success of the company.
Third, Zhao insisted on doing anything seriously, down-to-earth. He used to say that a 99.99% working IC is still not working. Design paradoxes are in place, it is where the BUG. In 1995 I and old Zhao did cooperative research and development projects for the first time. I was responsible for the system design, Zhao for the circuit design. There was no RTL coding method as now, the circuit was built by human hand structures. Zhao’s design adhered to repeated scrutiny and carefully optimized design logic based on clear, simple drawing. Sometimes he explained to me where is the circuit of the collar, which is the heart of the circuit and the limbs, old Zhao could meander, and the favorite circuit design is input ready.
It is quite unfortunate that China’s IC design industry has lost an outstanding leader, and friends lost an honest, down-to-earth best friend. However, true to Zhao’s spirit, I believe in increasing prosperity and burgeoning growth of Chinese IC design, offering useful lessons and inspirations, and I believe this will also correspond to Zhao’s heartfelt wishes and expectations.
Mr. Zhao Guangmin may rest [in peace] .
Author: Zhang Jianhui, Victory Microelectronics [全胜] Co., Ltd. (Zhuhai), general manager, for the friends and colleagues of Zhao Guangmin years
For more information see Mr. Zhao Guangmin Memorial page [Aug 29, 2007] of eMedia Asia Global resources. Note from there that he entered the university in 1977 which is the first year of entry after the Cultural Revolution when only exceptional people were able to enter the universities. More explanation about that phenomenon see in Yoshida in China: Cultural rev survivors leap forward [EE Times, Oct 1, 2012]
Allwinner’s close cooperation with ARM Holdings started with Victory Technology selects ARM processor for ultra-low-power high-definition network video applications [joint press release available only in Chineese on eetrend.com and elsewhere, Feb 9, 2010]
ARM926EJ-S processor to achieve high-definition video processing while reducing power consumption by up to 50%.
Zhuhai Victory Technology Co., Ltd. (referred Victory Technology) and ARM [(LSE: ARM); (Nasdaq: ARMH)] today jointly announced: Victory Technology licensed the ARM926EJ-S ™ processor for its IC design for ultra-low-power high-definition network video applications. These applications include: home Internet video streaming via the Internet, cable television and wireless network high-definition video player and other network video equipment.applications include: home video streaming via the Internet, cable television and wireless network high-definition video player and other video devices on the network.
Victory CEO Zhang Jianhui said: “In addition to the well known high-performance and low-power characteristics, another important feature of the ARM ® processors is versatility, they can bring better scalability, reducing the workload and difficulty of development, and shorten time to market. These features help us design IC products for the fast-changing Internet video applications, and are very important. ARM has always spared no effort to promote innovation through its strong product planning, which provides an opportunity for us to further cooperation in the future. The resources required to design the system is very rich around the ARM ecosystem, and we are very confident in each other’s cooperation capability that it will be successful.”
With more and more Chinese consumers having broadband access at home or on the move, China’s Internet video applications market is developing very rapidly. With rich experience in the field of video processing technology, as well as a deep understanding of the market, combined with ARM’s top high-performance, low-power processor technology Victory Technology has the capability to meet the standards and local consumer demand to develop IC products for the high-definition Internet video equipment. Through the use of excellent performance at low power consumption of ARM926EJ-S processor as well as Victory Technology’s ultra-low-power design techniques, the company hopes that its new chip can achieve 50% of energy consumption savings versus the similar products on the market, without sacrificing performance needed for HD video streaming on the Internet.
Brief English content appearing about the same on Sept 26, 2012:
Gan Lin, Party Secretary of Zhuhai, Visited Allwinner Technology
Gan Lin, Party Secretary of Zhuhai, accompanied by several other leaders, visited Allwinner Technology on June 10, 2011.
During the visit, Gan gave Allwinner Technology credit for its independent R&D and spirit of leadership in technology. He pointed out that Allwinner Technology should continue embracing innovation to boost its competitive edge and accelerate the development of strategic emerging industry.
A10 won “The Most Promising Award” on the Sixth “China Chip” Ceremony [Allwinner press release, in Chinese: Dec 31, 2011, reproduced in English: Sept 26, 2011]
Allwinner Technology A10, xPad SoC of High Integration and High Definition, has won “The Most Promising Award” in China IC Industry Promotion Conference 2011, also the sixth “China chip” ceremony held in Jinan on December 16th.
The China Chip hosted by the Software and Integrate Circuit Promotion center (CSIP) of Information Industry Ministry, is a rather influential ceremony among domestic IC enterprises, experts, as well as other manufacturers involved in the industry chain. More than three hundreds enterprise representatives attended this ceremony.
On the basis of striking video codec technology, DVFS, multi-core multiplexing technology, and advanced 55nm process, A10 outruns other competing solutions in its high integration, and outstanding multimedia and network processing capability. It supports 3D video playback, 2160P ultra-HD video decoding and 1080P HD H.264 video encoding, multi-screen, and integrates full-format audio codec engine, rich A/V outputs such as HDMI, LVDS, VGA, TVOUT, etc, and memory interfaces such as DDR3, DDR2, LPDDR1, NAND flash, etc, plus its edge in BOM and power consumption, it becomes one of the most favored solutions after marketing for several months, and is honored “the most promising” solutions in this ceremony.
Zhang Jianhui, General Manager of Allwinner Technology, said that this award bears testimony to the efforts Allwinner has made in the past few years, and will definitely encourage Allwinner to come up with better solutions to meet customer demand, and carry forward the IC industry.
Allwinner Technology and ARM working together to get to market quicker [ARM’s Multimedia blog, June 19, 2012 – in Chinese on Oct 4, 2012]
The dynamics of the mobile device industry can be seen in the rise of tablets and in particular the growth in Android based tablets. This new form factor has grown to an expected 100M shipping volume in 2012 with this being projected to exceed 200M by 2016 – when Android tablet shipments is expected to be over 50% (Source: IDC). This new form factor and pace of change have opened up opportunities for new companies to offer specific System on Chip (SoC) businesses a chance to address this market. Allwinner Technology Co., Ltd.is one of these. Over the last 12 months Allwinner Technology has become one of the major China Android tablet SoC chip vendors, with many of the Android tablet OEM system makers adopting our chip and system solution. A key
industry analyst in China expects 40M Android tablets to ship in the China grey market in 2012, and it is expected that 60% of the share will be from Allwinner Technology.
This rapid time to market has been achievable through the close working relationship and usage of ARM Intellectual Property (IP). Allwinner Technology uses a combination of the ARM CortexTM-A8 and ARM MaliTM-400 MP. This combination enables Allwinner Technology to balance the required performance needs for tablet applications with the power consumption boundaries of a mobile device. By working with ARM for both CPU and GPU elements Allwinner Technology have been able to maximize the benefits of both high performance with low power consumption that ARMs years of knowledge in the mobile device market brings to new entrants to the market.
Allwinner Technology has gone from the licensing [in April 2011] of the Mali-400 to production silicon in 7 months . This speed of execution has been enabled by the close linkage between the CPU and GPU from a design perspective, the RVDS [toolchain, the legacy solution for software development on older ARM processors replaced by the new ARM Development Studio 5, DS-5] and ARM DS-5TM toolchain [comprises tools such as the best-in-class ARM C/C++ Compiler, a powerful Linux/Android™/RTOS-aware debugger, the ARM Streamline™ system-wide performance analyzer and real-time system model simulators, all conveniently packaged in a user friendly integrated development environment (IDE) based on the Eclipse] and the out-the-box quality software drivers which are all supported by localised support teams. All these elements combined have enabled Allwinner Technology to move swifter and in an agile way to address the needs of this market and we look forward to working with ARM going forward.
Guest Partner Blogger:
Jack Lee, CMO, Allwinner Technology Co., Ltd.
ARM gaining traction in GPU IP market [DIGITIMES, June 22, 2012]
… ARM has expanded its GPU licensee base at a fast pace, according to Kevin Smith, VP of strategic marketing at the firm’s media processing division. Taking the China market as an example, ARM’s Mali GPUs are currently shipping in over 70% of graphics-enabled digital TVs, 50% of Android tablet PCs and 20% of Android phones, said Smith.
ARM’s partners are forecast to ship more than 100 million Mali GPUs in 2012, up over 100% from 2011 levels, Smith indicated. The anticipated shipment rise – driven by brisk demand for Android smartphones and tablets, and China’s growing smart-TV market – will boost ARM’s presence significantly in the global GPU-IP market this year, Smith added.
ARM’s Mali GPUs are targeted at smart TVs, handsets and tablets, which require high-definition graphics and higher picture fluency, Smith stated. The product line has been enhanced to meet various customer needs such as high-resolution images, multi-game offerings and energy saving, Smith said.
Combining with ARM’s CPU platform, the Mali GPU technology comes with additional features such as power efficiency, Smith noted. The combination is able to generate a complete multi-IP solution, Smith said.
In addition, Smith indicated that ARM’s solutions are able to help system customers speed up time-to-market. For example, it took less than half a year for both China-based AllWinner Technology and Rockchip Electronics to launch their integrated CPU-GPU SoC solutions targeting the local tablet PC market, Smith said.
New ARM DS-5 v5.9 Toolchain Provides Developers With an Integrated Processor and GPU Software Optimization Platform For Mobile Gaming [ARM press release, March 5, 2012]
ARM today released the latest edition of the ARM Development Studio 5 (DS-5™ v5.9) toolchain with additional support for graphics analysis on ARM Mali Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). The toolchain can be downloaded by developers today, enabling them to achieve integrated optimization across the whole system, including both the applications processor and GPU. The ARM DS-5 v5.9 toolchain provides significant benefits to semiconductor suppliers and OEMs, as well as mobile application and game developers, by enabling improved system visibility and decreased time-to-market. In particular, the ARM Streamline™ Performance Analyzer, within the DS-5 toolchain, allows developers to design more interactive interfaces and immersive game play for end users whilst extending battery life. This will enable next generation user experiences for use on smartphones, tablets, smart-TVs and set-top boxes.
The launch of the updated toolchain addresses the increasing demand for high-performance graphics development. Such advanced visual computing capabilities will deliver next generation smartphone and tablet applications where console-like gaming graphics, 3D User Interfaces (UI) and Augmented Reality (AR) will be the norm. Multicore systems, such as these, benefit from optimization of intensive tasks where integrated applications processor, GPU and memory subsystem designs can be configured to achieve the highest levels of performance and energy-efficiency.
By using the ARM DS-5 v5.9 toolchain, developers can quickly and easily locate system performance bottlenecks across the Cortex processors, Mali GPUs and System IP, enabling the creation of faster applications and accelerating the software development cycle.
… [additional information: Developing Top Performing Graphics Applications for Android Made Easy [ARM’s Software Enablement blog, March 7, 2012] and
ARM Launches Free Toolkit For Android Application Developer Community [ARM press release of the DS-5 Community Edition, Nov 28, 2011]]
The first Allwinner A10 tablets came to the market from a number of vendors in November 2011. See just these reports by Micdigi from China:
- SurperPad With Allwinner A10 Trend—LingyunF1 [from Lingyun Technology] [Nov 22, 2011]
- MOMO8 [from Ployer] Business Version Based on Allwinner A10 [Nov 24, 2011]
- L-Y F1 [from Shenzhen Lingyun, with IPS screen] Based On Allwinner A10 [Nov 28, 2011]
In December more tablets of that kind came to the Chinese market as Micdigi reported:
Recently, Allwinner tablet PCs are so popular. 7-inch capacitive screen tablet based on Allwinner [Cortex-]A8 solution sells for only $80.
Now I will introduce a tablet based on Allwinner A10 from Shenzhen HongYuXing.
Based on Allwinner A10 processor, Q780 is launched [Dec 8, 2011]
Allwinner A10 has so good cost performance that it is the most suitable chip for entry level tablet PCs.
Q780 from Shenzhen Xlong is launched.
Allwinner A10 tablet—PC741 [from Shenzhen Inote] [Dec 12, 2011]
Now the tablet chips are like a hundred flowers in bloom, like ten thousand horses galloping ahead. Allwinner A10 appeared late in the market but they came back. At present most of the tablet PCs from China are based on Allwinner A10 chips.
Q701 based on Allwinner A10 [Dec 16, 2011]
With cheap price and powerful performance for video playback, Allwinner A10 processor is popular in the world.
Q701 is introduced Allwinner A10 processor.
Then the events unfolded as follows:
- The tablet PC based on Allwinner A10 sells for about $65 [Jan 9, 2012]
- Tablet chips competition analysis in 2012 [Feb 28, 2012]
Based on high cost performance, Allwinner A10 has good sales after the Spring Festival. The chips with high cost performance are welcome.
AMLogic based on A9 core is a high-end chip, which is introduced by SONY and Philips.
RockChip chips became cheaper and cheaper since Allwinner released A10.
As the first chip of Allwinner, A10 is released with cheap price, which makes it has good sales. Allwinner is a famous company in MP3 times so that Allwinner has a strong customer base.
In addition, A10 has few bugs since it is released. The performance of other chips is not stable in the beginning, such as RK2808 and VIA8505.
The agents who have ordered VIA chips go to order Allwinner A10. VIA will release VIA8850 next month [but mass production just started in June, see later] which is based on A9 core. The performance is not different from A10. It means that it does not have any advantage.
VIA8850 will be cheaper than Allwinner A10. Allwinner will release A13 to compete with VIA8850 so that VIA will get in a difficult position. [Was more expensive the the A13 when mass production started in June, see later]
MTK will release MTK6575 which is the upgraded version of MTK6573, based on dual-core, 1GHz frequency and A9 core. The chip with excellent call function is mainly introduced by smart phone. It is also suitable for tablet PCs.
AMLogic will release AMLogic M6 and RockChip will release RK30XX. They are all dual-core chips.
[for RK30XX and the earlier RK29XX and RK28XX see MWC 2012: Fuzhou Rockchip Electronics [this same ‘Experiencing the Cloud’ blog, March 13, 2012] where it is stated: Samples of the Rockchip RK30xx platform will be available in March 2012]
At present, there are few new products in the market, but many new products will be released in May.
- The Allwinner A10 PCBA from Crownho sells for about $27 [March 7, 2012]
As Allwinner A10 solution is so cheap, it is introduced by most of Chinese tablet PCs.
The Allwinner A10 PCBA from Shenzhen Crownho sells for about $27.
With this PCBA, the cost price of the tablet will be less than $64, such as DA701 [tablet] based on capacitive screen, which sells for about $63.5.
- 7-inch Allwinner A10 tablet [from Shenzhen HongYuXing] sells for about $59 [March 10, 2012]
- 7-inch tablet [from Shenzhen Hystom] with [Cortex-]A9 core [inside its Amlogic 8726 SoC] and capacitive screen sells for $54 [March 10, 2012]
INSERT ABOUT THE CURRENT AND FUTURE SoC COMPETITION
Competitive SoCs from Chinese vendors that were available in March’12 or came soon after March’12:
Amlogic 8726-MX (dual core), 8726-M3; Rockchip RK3066(dual core), RK2918Source: http://www.eeworld.com.cn/xfdz/2012/0725/article_14042.html
(A10 $7, A13 $5)
Among those competitors the Rockchip RK3066 (dual core) became a market leader in China on its own as was already shown in the very beginning by the example of Window N90 Dual Core II 2 (16G) leading the dual core market in China:
No surprise therefore that this is also a kind of leading product on the global market as shown by Merimobiles:
$399.99 Your Price: $214.99 (with shipping)
First Review – Window N90 Dual Core II 2 – RK3066 IPS – Purchase at: Merimobiles.com [MrTasselhof YouTube channel, May 24, 2012]
while the Benchmarks Review – Window N90 Dual Core II 2 – RK3066 IPS – Purchase at: Merimobiles.com [MrTasselhof YouTube channel, May 24, 2012] is:
and the global dual-core competition represented by Merimobiles as follows:
Since a multiple core Cortex ARM based Allwinner SoC will come just after those SoCs (“processors” – as named wrongly) shown in the table above, given the credentials of Allwinner presented in this post I dare to predict that the next-generation in the “A series” SoCs from Allwinner will beat the Rockchip RK3066 (or RK30XX in general) and others. There was just one concrete rumor recently: Ampe Allwinner Cortex-A7 Quad-core Tablet is Coming [ChinaEshops.com, July 12, 2012]
Rockchip and AMLogic dual-core tablet come out to snatch the tablet PC market while AllWinner dual-core tablet keeps in silence. Although Allwinner A10 & A13 still hot in the middle-low end market. Rockchip RK3066 and AMLogic AML8726-MX has already listed for two months from the beginning of May. Now these two chip still mainly occupy the china dual-core tablet PC market. Freescale’s quad-core tablet PCs begin to launch, even Tegra3 quad-core. Obviously, allwinner may it is late for launch dual-core, but it doesn’t mean that Allwinner will give up dual-core tablet. Allwinner will launch Quad-core chips in August. Latest news report that AMPE will launch a new 10.1 Inch IPS Tablet PC equipped with allwinner quad-core processor.
According to latest report the allwinner quad-core is using ARM Cortex-A7 structure. …
max says: August 8, 2012 at 8:43 pm
any news on this.
chinaeshops says: August 31, 2012 at 5:11 pm
Sorry, it is coming soon.
As a matter of fact the Cortex-A7 was meant to be a companion ship for the Cortex-A15, all targeted for 28nm TSMC technology which is in extremely tighty supply at least till the end of the year. On the Cortex-A7 Processor—Related Products page we can find (among other things) that:
ARM Physical IP Platforms deliver process optimized IP, for best-in-class implementations of the Cortex-A7 processor at 40nm and below. A set of high performance Processor Optimization Packs (POPs) containing advanced ARM Physical IP for 28nm technologies to enable rapid development of leadership physical implementation supports the Cortex-A7 processor. ARM is also working early to assure a roadmap to 20nm optimizations. Optimization packs support ARM’s strategy of offering specifically targeted Physical IP to enable Partners to achieve tuned implementations of ARM cores. ARM is uniquely able to design the optimization packs in parallel with the Cortex-A7 MPCore processor architecture, enabling the processor and physical IP combination to deliver workstation class performance in a mobile power envelope while facilitating rapid time-to-market.
But according to the later ARM Expands Processor Optimization Pack Solutions for TSMC 40nm and 28nm Process Variants [ARM press release, April 16, 2012] Cortex-A7 PoP became available for both “TSMC 40LP” and “TSMC 40 LP high speed options” type of process technologies (where LP stands for “Low Power”). This practically means that Allwinner can indeed deliver by this time its next-gen SoC at 40nm.
1. Quad-core tablets large chaos department: Allwinner quad-wide prototype will debut in November [Bolopad.com, Oct 3, 2012]
Before beginning I have to say to you: “I’m sorry”. Because last week we happily told everyone interested in quad-core prototype that it appeared in September, and it is not far from the days of mass production. But yesterday your editor suddenly received a mysterious call to be informed that the Allwinner quad-core prototype can’t come in September, it is estimated to be out in November to meet with you. I really wanted OOXX to be cursed to death (thought better of course).
2. Exclusive: Allwinner quad-core processors code-named A15X coming soon [Bolopad.com, Sept 18, 2012]
All right, now that the product finally appeared, we at Bolopad are also excited and highly interested in the quad-core chip code-named A15X (don’t get me wrong, this A15X has nothing to do with
AppleA15 [rather Cortex A15 wrongly percieved by many to be in the A6 SoC of the iPhone 5]). Now the related PCBA layout began to take shape, the chip samples came out and so on. Last reportedly bounced because the Allwinner quad-core is dependent on [Cortex] A7 architecture build, but as 40nm and 32nm was short of the desired effect, the 28nm tapeout eventually came in to achieve the desired results.
END OF THE INSERT ABOUT THE CURRENT AND FUTURE SoC COMPETITION
NOW BACK TO THE CADENCE OF
ALLWINNER A10-RELATED EVENTS & INFORMATION:
An even bigger market push started when Allwinner A10 with the Android 4.0.3 Software Development Kit was officially launched on March 10, 2012. From the press release:
TSMC’s 55 nanometer “half generation” derivative of the 65-nanometer process technology directly miniatures 90%, including input/output and analog circuits, for customer provides competitive advantage with single die cost significantly reduced, while can also save power consumption by 8% at the same speed of operation.
As it was reported later in Taiwan: Allwinner Technology Introduces New SoC Platform on TSMC 55nm Process [CENS, March 29, 2012]
Allwinner Technology Co., Ltd., a leading supplier of high-definition media semiconductor solutions headquartered in
Shanghai[Zhuhai, as the contact address is: Block 1 Software Park, Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province, B6, four], recently released a new system-on-chip (SoC) platform based on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.’s (TSMC’s) 55nm process technology.
The platform, codenamed A10, employs advanced SoC design technology to integrate central processing unit, graphic processing unit, high-definition multi-frame video engine, 3D multi-screen engine, and high-speed video interface module on a chip.
Equipped with Allwinner’s Android 4.0.3 Software Development Kit, A10 consumes fewer energy to achieve higher computing efficiency on mobile devices.
Using TSMC’s 55nm process technology, A10 is able to deliver quality dynamic voltage frequency scaling (DVFS) performance and brand new video management capability on mobile computing devices, and extend battery lifespan of the devices.
TSMC’s 55nm process shrinks geometry of integrated circuits, including I/O, on chips by 90% as compared with chips with 65nm process, considerably cutting down cost of every single chip and saving electricity on a chip by 8% relative to competing chips.
Allwinner General Manager Zhang Jianghui pointed out that TSMC has been a reliable partner supporting Allwinner in product production, quality and lead time.
Allwinner Technology-A10 [product page, April 13, 2012]
In A10 Allwinner used 55nm technology, the integrated chip has four times full HD [i.e. the 2160p “Quad HD”] video decoding technology, smart power management system CoolFlex, HD multi-screen display processing and output, efficient and high-speed system architecture, mixed analog-digital high-speed signal design and integration of advanced technology, and integrated, smart power balance, and more items of leading technology. A10 is mainly used in tablet PCs, high-definition players, smart phones, network set-top boxes, smart TV machines.
With A10, Allwinner Technology will drive SoC into a brand new era of connected Smart HD which can enhance the application of connected HD SoC as well as user experience of electronic multimedia products. A10 is offering MULTI-CHANNEL decoding and 1080p encoding, MULTI-CHANNEL display with independently developed advanced frame, as well as MULTI-CHANNEL Analog TV Decoder Interfaces. What’s more, power consumption can be much lower than its competitors during 1080p decoding process.
– HD Video Decoding (Super HD 2160P/3D Film)
– Support all popular video formats, including VP8, AVS, H. 264 MVC, VC-1, MPEG-1/2/4, …
– HD Video Encoding (H.264 High Profile) [datasheet: 1080p@60fps]
– Support encoding in H.264 format
– USB2.0 Port
– CSI, TS
– SD Card3.0
– 10/100 Ethernet controller
– CAN Bus, Built-in SATA2.0 Interface
– I2S, SPDIF and AC97 audio interfaces
– PS2 , SPI , TWI and UART
– MULTI-CHANNEL HD displays
– Built-in HDMI
– YPbPr, CVBS, VGA
– LCD interfaces: CPU, RGB, LVDS up to Full HD
– NAND FLASH
– SPI NOR FLASH
– SD Card
– Graphic( 2D/3D)
– VPU(Super HD)
High-performance processing and multimedia capabilities
Outstanding Super HD 2160p/3D Film video decoder makes bunds of creative application possible
High level of integration enables you to launch products in less time, with less effort and at a lower total system cost
Further development Kits, including OS BSP( Android2.3.4, Linux2.6,WinCE6.0)
2160p [Wikipedia, excerpted on Sept 18, 2012]
2160p is the shorthand name for 4K UHDTV, a video mode planned to appear in future HDTV products. It has a resolution of 3840×2160 (8.3 megapixels in the 16:9 aspect ratio) and is one of the levels of Ultra-high-definition television. The number 2160 stands for 2,160 lines of vertical display resolution, while the letter p stands for progressive scan or non-interlaced. In a progressive image, the lines of resolution of the image go from the top of the screen to the bottom.
2160p is also called “Quad HD” since it displays four times the number of pixels of the highest HDTV standard resolution, 1080p (a standard which is also known as “Full HD“). The only planned higher definition format for television is 8K UHDTV.
Phillips has made a 3D Quad HDTV with a native resolution of 2160p.
In June 2012, Toshiba launched the world’s first 3D TV without glasses with 9 parallax images which passed through special lenticular lenses to deliver 3D effect with glasses-free on a 55″ Toshiba Regza RZ1 Quad Full HD TV, 3840x2160p resolution. Due to delivered 9 parallax images at the same time, so the 3D image will only be seen as HD 720p (1280×720) —> 3840×2160 = 9x1280x720.
Sony plans Quad HD TV to launch between 2012 and 2020. Holographic Versatile Discs and Blu-ray Disc may be used for 2160p video, since it theoretically has a storage capacity of up to 10 Terabytes.
Using 55nm technology, Allwinner Technology’s A10 SoC chip integrates full HD video decoding technology, multi-screen display processing, various analog-digital I/O interfaces, and a high-speed efficient ARM core with intelligent power management. The A10 is used in a number of consumer products such as tablet PCs, high-definition players, smart phones, network set-top boxes and mobile media hubs but with the availability of excellent development tools, the A10 is positioned to expand that list.
• HD Video Decoding (Super HD 2160P/3D Film)
Support all popular video formats, including VP8, AVS, H. 264 MVC ,VC-1, MPEG-1, 2,4, …
• HD Video Encoding (H.264 High Profile)
Support encoding in H.264 format
1080p @ 60 fps
720p @ 100 fps
MULTI-CHANNEL of HD displays
Built-in HDMI v1.3/v1.4
LCD interfaces: CPU, RGB, LVDS up to Full HD
• THREE USB2.0 Port (OTG/HOST/UTI)
UTI Digital TV(TS over USB)
• CSI(2), TS(2)
• SD Card3.0(4)
• 10/100 Ethernet controller
• CAN Bus, Built-in SATA2.0 Interface
• I2S, SPDIF and AC97 audio interfaces
• PS2 (2), SPI (4), TWI (3) and UART (8)
• On board NAND FLASH
• SPI NOR FLASH
• SD Card
• Graphic( 2D/3D, Mali400 MP)
• VPU(Super HD 2160P/3D)
Support text in EPUB, PDF, FB2, PDB, CHM, HTML, TXT
Support coding format in ANSI/ASCII, UTF-8, UTF16-BE, UTF16-LE, GB2312, EUC-KR, SHIFT-JIS, Windows-1250/1251, Support Chinese, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Russian, Japanese, and Korea
• ARM Cortex-A8 at 1.2 Ghz without cooling
• 32KB I-Cache/32KB D-Cache
•256KB L2 Cache
• MALI 400 MP GPU
• ARM NEON general-purpose SIMD engine
•DDR3 SDRAM, 32-bit 16G bits Memory Capacity
• SLC/MLC/TLC/DDR NAND
8 flash chips, ECC 64bits
Memory Capacity up to 64GB/chip
• Trustzone Technology and DRM
• Supports DES, 3DES AES encryption/decryption
• Support SHA-1, MD5 message digest
• hardware 64-bit random generator
• 128-bit EFUSE chip ID
• Flexible built-in power options
• Intelligent Power Select allocates power safely and transparently among USB, external AC adapter, Li-battery and application loads
• adaptive and USB-compatible PWM charger
• Very high performance processing and multimedia capabilities
• Hardware acceleration enables very low power consumption for HD video and graphics
• High level of integration makes you can launch product in less time, with less effort and at a lower total system cost
• Optimized Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) creates high First Pass Yield (FPY) in mass production
• OS Board Support Packages for Android, Linux and WinCE
NEW Allwinner Technology-A10s [product page, Sept 26, 2012]
Allwinner Tech has expanded its processor lineup to include a new ARM Cortex-A8 chip A10s which is even more competitive for HDMI Dongle with higher performance (ManyCore Structure), better compatibility of Streaming Video Protocol/local multimedia formats, lower power consumption, and lower total system cost. As the brains of Android 4.0.4, A10s makes multitasking smoother, apps loading more quickly, and anything you use responds instantly. What’s more important, A10s is available in BGA336 package with Audio Codec, and HDMI integrated.
CPU / GPU
– ARM Cortex-A8 Core
– 32KB D-Cache / 32KB I-Cache
– 256KB L2 Cache
– Mali-400 3-D Engine
– HD Video Decoding
– 1920 * 1080 @ 30fps
– Support VP8/6, H.264/H.263, WMV9/VC-1, WMV7/8, MPEG-4/2/1, Xvid, etc
– HD Video Encoding
– Support encoding in H.264 format up to 1920 * 1080 @ 30fps
– HDMI 1.4
– 1080P Output
– NAND Flash
– SPI Nor Flash
– SD Card
Ultra-low System Power Consumption
– 15 ~ 20% lower than competitors
– LCD Interfaces: CPU, RGB
– DDR2/DDR3: Up to 533MHz
– 16 bits/32 bits Data Bus
– MLC / TLC / SLC / EF-NAND
– ECC 64-bit
– Support NAND of 4xnm, 3xnm, 2xnm …
– Support NADN of Samsung, Toshiba, Hynix …
– USB2.0 OTG, USB2.0 HOST (OHCI / EHCI)
– SD Card V.3.0, eMMC V.4.2
– SPI, TWI and UART
– TS Port
– integrated Audio Codec
– MIC/FM/LINEIN Input
– Graphic (3D, Mali400 MP)
– VPU (1080P)
– BGA336, 14mm*14mm
Optimum multimedia and processing abilities
Lower power consumption of HD videos and graphics due to hardware acceleration
Lower power consumption of HD videos and graphics due to hardware acceleration
Total solution, including OS BSP (Android 4.0.4 UP)
And A10s is definitely coming to the market as per this [Sept, 21, 2012] discussion thread
Today I found a seller on on a website selling new model of Android TV stick, it claims adopting new A10S chip & support DLNA function that is just what I want, is that a good deal?
Allwinner Technology-A13 [product page, April 13, 2012]
Allwinner Technology has expanded its processor lineup to include a new ARM Cortex-A8 chip A13 which is even more competitive for Android tablets with higher performance (ManyCore Lite), lower power consumption, and lower total system cost. As the brains of Android 4.0. 3, A13 makes multitasking smoother, apps loading more quickly, and anything you touch responds instantly. What’s more important, A13 is available in eLQFP176 package with Audio Codec, and 2 Points R-TP integrated.
CPU / GPU
– ARM Cortex-A8 Core
– 32KB D-Cache / 32KB I-Cache
– 256KB L2 Cache
– Mali-400 3-D Engine
– HD Video Decoding
– 1920 * 1080 @ 30fps
– Support H.264, H.263, VC1, Mpeg1/2/4, Divx 3/4/5/6, Xvid, VP6 / 8, AVS etc
– HD Video Encoding
– Support encoding in H.264 format up to 1920 * 1080 @ 30fps
– NAND Flash
– SPI Nor Flash
– SD Card
Ultra-low System Power Consumption
– 15 ~ 20% lower than competitors
– Smart Backlight: auto adjust backlight acc. to the image display
– LCD Interfaces: CPU, RGB
– DDR2/DDR3: Up to 533MHz
– 16 bits Data Bus
– Memory capacity up to 512MB
– MLC / TLC / SLC / EF-NAND
– 2 flash chips, ECC 64-bit
– Support NAND of 5xnm, 4xnm, 3xnm, 2xnm …
– Support NADN of Samsung, Toshiba, Hynix …
– USB2.0 OTG, USB2.0 HOST (OHCI / EHCI)
– SD Card V.3.0, eMMC V.4.2
– SPI, TWI and UART
– integrated Audio Codec
– 4-wire resistive TP interface
– 2 points and gesture detection
– Graphic (3D, Mali400 MP)
– VPU (1080P)
Optimum multimedia and processing abilities
Lower power consumption of HD videos and graphics due to hardware acceleration
Much faster, easier and cost efficient product launch due to the high integration
Further development kits, including OS BSP (Android 4.0.3 UP)
Note that Allwinner is operating in a world-class environment as you could easily see from the below picture of their office building taken from their brief intro page [April 13, 2012]:
全志科技 Allwinner Technology has been committed to the IC design industry, is one of a handful of domestic enterprise engaged in system-level ultra-large-scale mixed analog-digital chip design the SoC and intelligent power management. Our main products are intelligent terminal application processor chip, smart power management chip.
With excellent R & D team and technical strength, the company’s products to achieve industry-leading levels of high-definition video codec, a high level of integration, low power consumption, rapid market expansion, has become a domestic Tablet PC application processor chip, high-definition player application processor chip as well as one of the mainstream supplier of intelligent power management chip market, has a clear lead.
New content replacing the above on Sept 26, 2012:
Allwinner Technology, one of the domestic companies in integrated circuit design industry, is dedicated to the design of mixed analog-digital VLSI SoC and smart power management SoC.
Depending on its excellent R&D capability, Allwinner Technology has
beenled the industry in terms of its HD video codec, high integration and low power consumption, etc. As a result, it is gaining more market share, and has become one of the domestic mainstream suppliers of tablet processors, HD player processors, as well as smart power management SoC.
Note therefore that Allwinner’s roots are in the video (multimedia) related chips as also shown by their latest pre-A10 SoC product (introduced in August’11) for that market, the F1C100 (another SoC, the more focussed F20 introduced in August’11 for portable video players, living room computers etc. has even better, 1080p full HD decode technology; as well as the very latest F10 introduced in April’12 for HD players and lower end –relative to A10—car multimedia), described on its product page as:
With advanced independently developed video decoding technique, F1C100 becomes the ONLY processor in the market that can decode video in all formats based on ONLY 4MB NOR FLASH and 16MB SDRAM. In the mass production of final products, NOR bootloader burning is much easier and faster compared with NAND FLAHS ‘. Last but not least, F1C100 supports two-point touch which can improve the using experience of end-users.
New F10 content replacing the above on Sept 26, 2012:
The F10 is an advanced HD video CODEC processor with unparalleled competitive edges in integration, video compatibility and cost efficiency, which have been widely verified by mass production of dozens of applications. End-users are overwhelmed by its capability to serve banquet for the eyes.
F1C100’s datasheet [initial version, March 31, 2011] is providing the following, more precise description:
and for the video engine of their own design in particular:
With this intellectual property they were able to upscale to a market leading 2160p functionality in the A10 (vs. the 720p in the above F1C100) while using a less upscaled IP for the 1080p in A13. So they can even have a scaleable video engine IP of their own.
In the A10 datasheet or here [initial version, Aug 22, 2011] the following description is giving some hint regarding the company’s strategic intent to remain in the forefront of video acceleration technology:
It is quite notable that neither on the product page nor in this datasheet Allwinner is giving further information about their video engine. Even in the functional block diagram of datasheet the video engine (VE) is simple put into a central box with Cartex-A8 and the Mali GPU:
CedarX is Allwinner’s multimedia decoding technology. It is composed of several parts, including:
- A hardware video decoding unit
- Proprietary libraries to communicate with the hardware unit
- Glue code to use those libraries on an actual system with video playback capabilities (e.g. Android)
Efficient use of system resources when decoding multimedia.
Allows small ARM systems to playback high resolution/bitrate multimedia content, which wouldn’t be possible using software-only decoding.
The proprietary libraries have no clear usage license.
The android glue code is implemented as a “media player” (parallel to stagefright) instead of as OMX components.
This media player has limitations when it comes to playing back content pointed to by Android URIs and some web-based content.
There is no glue code for any other multimedia frameworks on GNU/Linux systems. The use of OMX would’ve rendered this a non-issue, with existing projects like GstOpenMAX.
On June 15 2012 Iain Bullard started reverse engineering the proprietary libraries.
Some leading tablets (single core) as of April, 2012 per Merimobiles (with an office in Canada)
(Haipad I7 is now $99, the price of Ployer Momo9 is unchanged, see: HAIPAD I7 IPS 1024*600 Multitouch Screen with Android 4.0 Dual Camera 1080P HDMI [Merimobiles.com, Sept 10, 2012], Haipad’s latest 7-inch ICS tablet Haipad i7 gets FCC clearance [Merimobiles blog, March 6, 2012], from Shenzhen Haina Electronic Co., Ltd “founded in 2003 as a high-tech company specializing in laptops and other digital mobile devices”)
The Allwinner A10 based tablets came to the global market from quite a number of vendors as shown by the following table (=50) compiled from two related threads from SlateDroid.com (note that global arrival of A10-based product started in Jan’12):
Comprehensive List of Allwinner
„2nd generation” A10 tablets (with 1 GB or more):
Ainol: Novo Elf, Novo Aurora
Bmorn V11 Extreme
Gemei: G9, Gemei G2
Ployer Momo11 Bird
Onda: Vi40 (8g, 16g, 32g/ 10” screen), Vi10 elite, 1GB Ram, 8 GB Flash, 1024×600 LCD
Teclast: P85 (8″ screen), A10
Later/OTHER devices (not verified, just put on the thread, THOSE WITH LINKS are from the Adding new Allwinner A10 CPU Devices THREAD [Jan 19-Sept 17, 2012]):
ICOO: D50 deluxe edition, D80W
iNote: V4, A8, A8-2, A-8-3
Onda Vi40 Flagship
Yarvik Xerios TAB464
Note that there were only couple of Chinese vendors with multiple Allwinner A10-based tablet offerings, namely: Ainol, Ampe, Bmorn, Eken, Gemei, ICOO, iNote, Onda, Ployer, Sanei, Teclast (i.e. just 11 out of 50).
There is a much shorter and later started list of Allwinner A13-based tablets on SlateDroid.com, see: List of Allwinner A13 CPU Devices [from Aug 1, 2012]
Then from April to August there were the following events unfolding in China as per Micdigi reports:
- Allwinner A13 tablet PCs begin to appear in market [April 28, 2012]:
A13 is cheaper than A10 with only 512M memory and 800×600 resolution but without Bluetooth and HDMI. Allwinner A13 can be only used for 7-inch tablet PC and 8-inch tablet PC, it does not support 10-inch tablet PC.
Contrasted with VIA8850 and RK2906, A13 with low cost will have strong market competitive capability. The price of 7-inch tablet with A13 and capacitive screen will be less than $48 in May.
- The [7-inch] tablet PC [from Shenzhen Haipad] based on A13 solution sells for $47.5 [May 8, 2012]
- The [7-inch] A10 tablet PC [from Shenzhen Zhongjiweiye] based on 1G memory and 8G storage sells for about $52 [May 23, 2012]
- The [7-inch] A13 tablet [from Shenzhen VAYEE] sells for 299 RMB [$47] [May 25, 2012]
- The tablet PC based on RK2906 is cheaper than A10 tablet PC [May 25, 2012]:
Rockchip has released RK2906 chip to defeat Allwinner A10. The chip is not different from RK2918 but it can only used for 7-inch tablet and 8-inch tablet.
The tablet based on RK2906 comes from Shenzhen DavidMid.
- The Allwinner A13 PCBA from Shenzhen SMIT [State Micro Technology] [May 25, 2012]: [SMiT, Official website: http://www.smit.com.cn/] [“slot-in screen” is rather “embedded capacitive screen”: 内嵌电容屏]
The two sample tablet PCs from SMIT are based on slot-in screen and flat screen. The price of the slot-in screen is less $8 than the price of the flat screen.
The price of the PCBA sells for about $19, the tablet PC based on A13 solution, slot-in screen and capacitive control sells for about $47.
… The slot-in screen does not have external glass and interaction sets that it is cheaper. But the experience is not different from the flat screen. …
Remark: Embedded Touchscreen Technology and Market Analysis [Displaybank, March, 2010]
The embedded touch technology is divided into In-cell and On-cell technologies. Conventionally, only the In-cell technology which was exclusively developed by panel makers drew attention, but it entailed issues in technology and cost regarding a mass production by satisfying the touch function demanded by customers and market. The on-cell technology lies at a grafting point between the conventional touch industry infra and LCD panel industry that it tends to mutually supplement the two industries in terms of performance and function.
The embedded touch technology which includes above On-cell and In-cell technologies is ideal since it reduces thickness and weight as well as it overcomes shortcomings of the conventional add-on type: reduced transmittance, lowered readability due to contrast ratio decrease, and thick bezel width. Based on above advantages, related makers continue with the technology development. The market is yet insignificant, but it is expected to show high growth rate comparable to the Touch market’s growth.
– On-cell Touch Screen Panel Slims Down Mobile Displays [Electronic Design, June 10, 2012]
– TOUCH TECHNOLOGY IN SMARTPHONES EXPLAINED [FlatpanelsHD, Sept 19, 2012]
- Q780 based on Allwinner A10 solution and 7-inch screen [from Shenzhen Xunlong] sells for 29X RMB [$46.x] [June 28, 2012]
- The volume production of VIA8850 chip will start in this month. [June 25, 2012] In last year, VIA8650 has controlled most of the market share. As the new chip is released so late, Allwinner and Rockchip get more market share.
- Structure of VIA8850 competition [June 29, 2012]
VIA8850 based on Cortex-A9 core is powerful than VIA8650. VIA8650 is so worse that some famous manufactures in China have not made their tablet PCs to introduce VIA8650 chip, such as Ramos, Window and TOBE.
VIA8850 will come with cheap price and powerful performance. It will be mainly used for SuperPad tablet PCs. It is said that VIA will release another chip for big-brand companies.
Actually it is same with VIA8850, but it has different name.
As VIA8650 chip is so worse, Infotmic [X200] 7-inch chip, Allwinner A10, Allwinner A13 have got most of the market share.
Could VIA8850 chip get more market share in this year?
1. There are so many Allwinner A10 tablet PCs that the competition is so fierce. Some manufactures do not make any money. They will not continue to release A10 tablet PCs. Maybe they will release VIA8850 tablet PCs.
2. VIA8850 based on Cortex-A9 core is [more] powerful than Allwinner A10 based on A8 core and A13 based on A8 core. With the resource of HTC, the system optimization of the VIA8850 tablet PC is excellent. It not only has powerful performance but also has cheap price.
3. VIA is a famous chip company in the world. They have good marketing channel.
Allwinner has released the A10 chip for about half a year. They have earned so much money including the investment cost and the profit.
VIA must do their best to earn the investment cost. The cost of VIA8850 is [more] expensive than Allwinner A13.
Allwinner has advantage in the price war.
- The tablet PC based on VIA8850 [from Shenzhen Vayee] sells for $299 RMB [$47] [July 6, 2012]
- Most of Shenzhen tablet manufactures export to other countries. Because Chinese do not like knock off tablet PCs or SurperPad tablet PCs, they like brand ones. [July 19, 2012]
- The 7-inch tablet PC based on Infotmic [X200] solution [from Shenzhen Wave] sells for 199 RMB [$32] [July 21, 2012]
Configurations: Infotmic solution, 256M memory, 4G storage, 7-inch resistive screen with 800×480 resolution, front facing camera, Android2.3 OS.
Infotmic X200 series are based on ARM11, 1GHz frequency, supports 1080P video decode.
- The 7-inch tablet PC based on Allwinner A13 solution [from Shenzhen Shenzhen Jinsuoai] sells for 25X RMB [$39.X] [July 28, 2012]
Recent examples of tablets:
$39 AllWinner A13 Tablet (100K bulk) by Hott at IFA 2012 [Charbax YouTube channel, Sept 2, 2012]
$46 AllWinner A13 by OMG at IFA 2012 [Charbax YouTube channel, Sept 2, 2012]
And here is an earlier $55 AllWinner Boxchip A13 Tablet Factory Tour [Charbax YouTube channel, May 27, 2012] to understand why and how the workforce is able to assembe the tablets at such a cheap price:
Some important information mentioned in the video:
– World’s Thinnest 9.7” [IPS] Pad
– Only 8.9 mm
– Built-in 3G (can be also without it)
– WiFi + Bluetooth
– VIMICRO??? or Longcheer 2918/3066
– the WiFi only version is US$115-120 depending on quantity
– 8” Pad
– Built-in 3G
– Dual Camera
– Rockchip 3066 dual core
– US$172 with 8GB and 3G
?MID-973?: a 9” tablet with Allwinner A13 is said to cost US$73-74
30K tablets sold per month, can sell upto 50K per month
On their product microsite (see below) the tablets shown currently have the following SoCs and parameters:
– Allwinner A10 (Cortex A8@1.5GHz): MID-501 and MID-702 (both 512MB DDR3 and 7” 800×480 with Android 4.0.4)
– Allwinner A13 (Cortex A8@1.0GHz): MID-438 (7” 262×480 and Android 4.0.3), MID-703 (7” 800×480 and Android 4.0.4) both with 512MB DDR3
– VIMICRO882 (Cortex A8@1.0GHz): MID-706 (512MB DDR3 and 7” 800×480 with Android 4.0)
– all the those are with capacitive touch screens, NAND FLASH 4GB/8GB/16GB / 32GB (optional), AMD graphics acceleration, full support for OpenGL ES2.0 (AMD Z340) and h.264 720P HD 1080i
Jinpin Xing Technology Co., Ltd., Shenzhen – Tablet PC – Products – [as of Sept 18, 2012]
深圳市金品兴科技有限公司 – 平板电脑 – 产品介绍
AAPPAA –About us [Aug 19, 2011]
AAPPAA, founded in 2005, is an established manufacture of smart digital products with super perfect design in MP3/4/5, Mini Speaker products field. We design and produce super perfect quality products, many of them are original which we ship to wholesale customers all over the world. Given the wide array of geographic regions across which we distribute product, we work closely with our customers and retail partners to ensure the AAPPAA team remains innovative and competitive in a constantly evolving market sector.
AAPPAA’s Success: AAPPAA’s success can be attributed to close collaboration with our global set of customers and partners combined with internal efforts to continually improve our productivity, design creativity and quality management initiatives. Through the years, AAPPAA has experienced tremendous growth while also enhancing the personal lives of our customers, and the well being of our loyal employee base. AAPPAA employs 60+ people with an average employment tenure of nearly 3 years a fantastic achievement amidst China’s explosive growth that has offered a continuous list of new opportunities of a young, energetic workers.
AAPPAA’s Manufacturing Capacity: AAPPAA’s 1500 square meters of manufacturing space and 60+ workers are based in Shenzhen China. We operate multiple production lines with SMT machines, hot plastic packing machines as well as high & low temperature age and vibration testing units. Production capacity exceeds 110,000 units per month. In addition, AAPPAA’s products are CE, FCC, RoHS certified.
Address: 5F, Nankeng No.2 Industrial Park Abuilding, Bantian Town, Longgang District, ShenZhen City 518129, China
Tel : +86-755-83579180 Fax:+86-755-83579189 E-mail: email@example.com
5. The wireless display and 2160p (“Quad HD”/4K) outlook
Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast™: Your Content – Now Showing on Screens Everywhere [WiFiAlliance YouTube channel, Sept 18, 2012]
What you see here is the Hardware + software optimization done by NVIDIA for Miracast. Since Allwinner is using its own video processing unit (VPU) which is said to be the fastest relative to the video engines of its Chinese SoC competitors (e.g. Amlogic) we can expect a similar to the NVIDIA’s kind of software optimization for the Allwinner VPU. (Take also into consideration “the company’s strategic intent to remain in the forefront of video acceleration technology” as it was proven in the “Allwinner Advantage” section before.)
In other respect a separate 3d party WiFi chip is coming into the play, and there is already quite a number of those chips already to be designated Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast™ :
Easy-to-use, multi-vendor wireless display has arrived: Wi-Fi Alliance® launches Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast™ [Wi-Fi Alliance press release, Sept 19, 2012]
Wi-Fi Alliance® today announced the launch of the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast™ certification program. Miracast devices provide simplified discovery and setup, so users can quickly transmit video content from one device to another. Industry analysts predict annual shipments of Miracast-certified devices to exceed one billion units within the next four years.
Miracast users can do things like view pictures from a smartphone on a big screen television, share a laptop screen with the conference room projector in real-time, and watch live programs from a home cable box on a tablet. Miracast connections are formed using Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Direct™, so access to a Wi-Fi® network is not needed – the ability to connect is inside Miracast-certified devices.
“Wi-Fi users around the world want to experience multimedia on the device of their choice – no matter what brand – and Miracast is the breakthrough they have been waiting for,” said Edgar Figueroa, CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. “We have been delighted with the level of enthusiasm and support among our member companies for this new offering.”
Miracast supports protected content streaming, enabling devices to stream feature films and other copy-protected materials. To protect premium content, Miracast uses a wireless adaptation of the trusted content protection mechanisms widely used today for cabled interfaces like HDMI® and DisplayPort. In addition, the latest WPA2™ security protections are automatically enabled on every device, making the transport of all multimedia content private.
“Miracast builds on Wi-Fi Direct with a compelling application,” said Brian O’Rourke from IHS iSuppli Research. “This is a big step forward in a market migration from single-vendor display solutions, into an offering from a wide array of vendors. With more than 1.5 billion Miracast devices expected to ship in 2016, the program is poised to have broad adoption.”
The technology underlying Miracast was developed in Wi-Fi Alliance by a diverse group of mobile and consumer electronics manufacturers and silicon vendors to standardize methods for simplified video sharing. Based on the Wi-Fi Alliance Display Specification, products bearing the Miracast brand interoperate across vendors, making it easy to enjoy video on screens throughout the home or office.
The first products to be designated Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast, and which form the test suite for the certification program, are:
Broadcom Dualband 11n WiFi
Marvell Avastar USB-8782 802.11n 1×1 Dual-band Reference Design
MediaTek a/b/g/n Dualband Mobile Phone Client, MT662X_v1 and DTV Sink, MV0690
Ralink 802.11n Wireless Adapter, RT3592
Realtek Dual-band 2×2 RTL8192DE HM92D01 PCIe Half Mini Card and RTD1185 RealShare Smart Display Adapter
The first consumer products certified since testing opened to vendors include the LG Optimus G smartphone, Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone and Samsung Echo-P Series TV.
More information, including a list of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast products, the Wi-Fi Alliance Display technical specification, white paper, and more is available at www.wi-fi.org/miracast.
Broad industry support for Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast
“As a Wi-Fi market leader, Broadcom is honored to be one of the primary certification solutions for the Wi-Fi Alliance Miracast™ program and is committed to driving new Wi-Fi standards,” said Dino Bekis, Senior Director, Wireless Connectivity Combo Group at Broadcom. “The standardization of this technology will enable consumers to easily and seamlessly share content across the ever-growing landscape of connected devices.”
“Users clearly expect that they should be able to move their content and applications freely at home, at work, in the classroom, and on the go,” said Joe Van De Water, Director of Consumer Product Marketing at Intel. “Intel has seen tremendous user enthusiasm for Intel® WiDi, and as a member of the Wi-Fi Alliance, we support enabling this usage more broadly and are excited to announce WiDi as one of the first Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast solutions.’’
“We celebrate the launch of the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast™ program,” said Hyunghoon Oh, Head of LG Mobile Communication R&D Division. “Miracast brings an exciting advancement in the way devices deliver display applications.”
“The Wi-Fi Alliance’s Miracast certification program will allow for easy sharing of video content, regardless of vendor,” said Bart Giordano, Director, Wireless Marketing at Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. “We have included Miracast in our solutions, and are honored to have been selected for the program’s test bed.”
“The video streaming applications enabled by Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast™ are key to the growth of the Wi-Fi ecosystem encompassing Consumer Electronics, Personal Computing, and Mobile devices.” said Mr. SR Tsai, General Manager of Wireless Connectivity & Networking Business Unit at MediaTek. “We are honored to have our Android mobile platforms, Digital TV, as well as our connectivity solutions for Windows platforms selected for the Miracast test bed.”
“Miracast on NVIDIA Tegra will bridge the distance between mobile devices and high-def TVs, providing customers a rich – and cable-free – multimedia experience,” said Matt Wuebbling, Director of Product Marketing at NVIDIA. “We have embraced Miracast and are working with our OEM partners to bring its amazing possibilities to market.”
“We are happy to have been involved in developing the Miracast program and to be one of the first companies to receive certification,” said Jessy Chen, Vice President and Spokesman at Realtek. “The solution will greatly expand the market for easy-to-use interoperable wireless display connectivity.”
“As a leader in N-screen technology, Samsung has introduced AllShare Cast (based on Miracast), which is incorporated into most of Samsung’s high-end smart mobile devices including the GALAXY S III, GALAXY Note 10.1, and GALAXY Note II, “ said Hankil Yoon, Senior Vice President of Product Strategy Team, Samsung’s Mobile Communication Business. “We will continue to support the program, and plan to offer more Miracast-certified devices to our customers going forward.”
“Sony Mobile is pleased to support the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast™ certification program. We continuously strive to deliver new exciting user experiences and Miracast™ technology will enhance our ability to offer consumers seamless connectivity to move their content freely between smartphones and other screens,” says Nikolaus Scheurer, Director Marketing Planning for Sony Mobile Communications.
“Miracast will play an important role in enabling true seamless media streaming, gaming and content sharing between mobile screens and large displays,” said Ram Machness, director of marketing, Wireless Connectivity Solutions, Texas Instruments Incorporated. “Our OMAP™ platform, DaVinci™ video processors and WiLink™ connectivity products will offer Miracast-certified source and sink solutions to provide a rich experience for our customers’ end products.”
About the Wi-Fi Alliance®
The Wi-Fi Alliance is a global non-profit industry association of hundreds of leading companies devoted to seamless connectivity. With technology development, market building, and regulatory programs, the Wi-Fi Alliance has enabled widespread adoption of Wi-Fi worldwide.
The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ program was launched in March 2000. It provides a widely-recognized designation of interoperability and quality and it helps to ensure that Wi-Fi-enabled products deliver the best user experience. The Wi-Fi Alliance has completed more than 15,000 product certifications, encouraging the expanded use of Wi-Fi products and services in new and established markets.
Wi-Fi®, Wi-Fi Alliance®, WMM®, Wi-Fi Protected Access® (WPA), the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED logo, the Wi-Fi logo, the Wi-Fi ZONE logo and the Wi-Fi Protected Setup logo are registered trademarks of the Wi-Fi Alliance. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™, Wi-Fi Direct™, Wi-Fi Protected Setup™, Wi-Fi Multimedia™, WPA2™, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint™, Passpoint™, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast™, Miracast™, Wi-Fi ZONE™ and the Wi-Fi Alliance logo are trademarks of the Wi-Fi Alliance.
All other company and product names mentioned are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of their respective owners.
For Chinese vendors the WiFi-related MediaTek chips are the most accessible and affordable, so I am including the additional MediaTek press release as well:
MediaTek Interlinks Mobile Devices and TVs for Wireless Display MiracastTM Applications [MediaTek press release, Sept 19, 2012]
MediaTek Inc., a leading fabless semiconductor company for wireless communications and digital multimedia solutions, today announced that its 802.11a/b/g/n Dual-band Mobile Phone Client (MT662X), 802.11n Wireless Adapter (RT3592) and DTV Sink solutions (MV0690) have all been selected as part of the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED MiracastTM test bed. As the benchmark to drive interoperability testing for the newest Wi-Fi program, MediaTek’s Miracast-certified solutions allow mobile devices to wirelessly stream multimedia content, such as video and games, onto big screen DTVs without a connection to an access point.
“We congratulate MediaTek on achieving selection to the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED MiracastTM test bed,” said Wi-Fi Alliance CEO Edgar Figueroa. “MediaTek’s participation in the development of this program has been instrumental in the achievement of industry-wide certification.”
In a typical MiracastTM usage scenario, one device acts as the source (the transmitting device sending out the content) while the other becomes a sink (a receiving device displaying the content). Thanks to the new Wi-Fi test program and MediaTek’s proven technologies, interoperability and user experience of Miracast applications can be guaranteed.
“We are partnering with MediaTek to provide consumers with high-performance, affordable smartphone solutions that incorporate the latest Miracast Wi-Fi display technology for the home and on the go, “ said Dr. Ji-Yang Wang, COO at TCL Communications Technology. “MediaTek’s industry-leading technologies, cross-platform advantages across home and mobile, and ‘hands-on’ approach to design and support, are essential in creating products that helps us deliver a compelling user experience and differentiated offering.”
“The video streaming applications enabled by Wi-Fi CERTIFIED MiracastTM are key to the growth of the Wi-Fi ecosystem encompassing Consumer Electronics, Personal Computing, and mobile devices.” said Mr. SR Tsai, General Manager of MediaTek’s Wireless Connectivity & Networking Business Unit. “Having our Android Smartphone, Digital TV, as well as our connectivity solutions for Windows platforms selected for the MiracastTM test bed is a strong testament to the breadth and quality of MediaTek’s Wi-Fi technology.”
MediaTek offers a broad portfolio of high-performance SoC and wireless connectivity solutions for the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, PCs, DTVs, Blu-ray players and AP/routers. The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED MiracastTM MediaTek solutions included in the test bed are:
• MT662X a/b/g/n Dual-band Mobile Connectivity Combo
• RT3592, Ralink 802.11n Wireless Adapter
• MV0690 DTV Sink
The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED MiracastTM MediaTek solutions have entered mass production and are shipping in commercially launched devices.
* Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries.
Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Direct™: Personal, portable Wi-Fi® that goes with you anywhere, anytime [Wi-Fi Alliance, Aug 15, 2010]
As far as the 2160p (“Quad HD” or 4K) technology is concerned, which is already on our footsteps, I would first recommend to watch the below demo video available on YouTube in QUAD HD resolution. You should “simply” select the “Original” quality in full screen viewing mode, and if your monitor has sufficient resolution than you could get the proper experience (do not forget that your Internet connection should be sufficiently fast in terms of guarranteed dowload speed as well). If not than correspondingly less:
IT005 QUAD HD 4K – Italy travel guide Bird watching [VOXLIBERTUM YouTube channel]
Then please watch another video which is showing what the leader in this TV technology, Toshiba was showing on the recent IFA 2012 fair in Berlin:
Toshiba 4K Quad-HD 3840×2160 TVs with CEVO Engine upscaling/processing from 55″ to 84″ [Charbax YouTube channel, Aug 30, 2012]
The reporter (Nicolas Charbonnier alias Charbax) did an excellent job with this video, as well as the Toshiba guy showing him around. Even his English is very good and enjoyable. Note that from [02:10] and “Glassless 3D” is shown and explained quite extensively, then highly zoomable Google Maps in 3D etc. Charbonnier is doing during all this an excellent job zooming with camera so one can really grasp the 4K and 3D experience quite well even in a normal viewing environment of your monitor. THANKS!
– Toshiba unveils the first large-screen glasses-free 3D TV in Asia
[Toshiba Singapore press release, May 3, 2012]
– Toshiba Brings New Generation of TVs and PCs to the Philippines Announces New Brand Ambassador [Toshiba Philippines press release, June 20, 2012]
– RZ1 SERIES NEW! Glasses-Free 3D TV [Regza Asia microsite, June 4, 2012]
– Toshiba Regza RZ1 [Toshiba Regza YouTube channel, May 31, 2012]
You can also watch Charbonnier’s shorter report about Sony 84″ 4K TV KD-84X9005 with 4K X-Reality Pro [Charbax YouTube channel, Sept 2, 2012] which came after Toshiba to the market and said to be widely available for Christmas.
Finally: Status of the TV Display industry by Paul Gray, Director of European TV Research for DisplaySearch [Charbax YouTube channel, Aug 31, 2012]
6. Are the established client device players
recognizing this strategic inflection point or not?
Decide for your yoursel, dear reader:
Ballmer trumpets Microsoft’s ‘epic year’ [The Seattle Times, Sept 15, 2012]
Q: The iPad has the largest share of the tablet market, but its soft spot, it seems to me, is the price.With the Surface, are you planning to compete with the iPad on price or on features?
A: We haven’t announced pricing. I think we have a very competitive product from the features perspective. …
I think most people would tell you that the iPad is not a superexpensive device. … (When) people offer cheaper, they do less. They look less good, they’re chintzier, they’re cheaper.
If you say to somebody, would you use one of the 7-inch tablets, would somebody ever use a Kindle (Kindle Fire, $199) to do their homework? The answer is no; you never would. It’s just not a good enough product. It doesn’t mean you might not read a book on it….
If you look at the bulk of the PC market, it would run between, say, probably $300 to about $700 or $800. That’s the sweet spot.
Q: Where do you see Microsoft’s position in five years, 10 years?
A: First of all, I’d say: pre-eminent technology company. I think that in a back-looking view, people would say we were a software company. That’s kind of how we were born.
I think when you look forward, our core capability will be software, (but) you’ll probably think of us more as a devices-and-services company. Which is a little different. Software powers devices and software powers these cloud services, but it’s a different form of delivery….
Doesn’t mean we have to make every device. I don’t want you to leap to that conclusion. We’ll have partners who make devices with our software in it and our services built in. … We’re going to be a leader at that.
Supply chain estimates x86 Surface Price at US$500-700 and RT below US$399 [DIGITIMES, Sept 18, 2012]
Microsoft’s own-brand Surface tablets are expected to launch at the end of October with the related supply chain players estimating that the Surface RT’s hardware cost is at around US$300-400 and the end price will be less than US$399. However, the pricing is not confirmed by Microsoft.
Microsoft’s pricing strategy for its own-brand tablets will relatively affect PC brand vendors’ pricing strategy and sales projections for their Windows 8 tablets. As the launch time at the end of October is approaching, PC brand vendors are keeping a close eye on Microsoft’s actions. With the related Surface pricing speculations having been floating around the market, Surface RT was previously rumored to be priced at only US$199, leaving the PC brand vendor in a cold sweat.
Since CEO Steve Ballmer in a recent interview pointed out that a price level between US$300-800 will be the sweet spot for PC sales, some market watchers have interpreted the statement as a hint for Surface pricing.
The sources revealed that the hardware cost of Surface RT is at US$300-400 and US$400-500 for the x86 version. Since the devices will not need to pay the licensing fee for the operating system. The RT version will be priced below US$399, while the x86 version is estimated to be US$100-200 higher based on hardware costs and priced at US$500-700.
The PC brand vendors also pointed out that they will not be absent from launching x86-based Windows tablet products since Windows still has leadership position in the global enterprise market. If the x86 Surface’s end user price is at US$500-700, although they will feel the pressure from competition, the product line would still be profitable.
Acer, Asustek Windows 8 tablet prices may be to high to attract consumers [DIGITIMES, Sept 20, 2012]
Acer and Asustek Computer’s Windows 8 tablets are reportedly to be priced at above US$800, about the same price as the New iPad with the highest specifications, and market watchers are concerned that the high price may drag down consumer demand and impact the vendors’ performance.
Although PC brands including Acer, Toshiba, Dell, Lenovo, Asustek, Samsung and Sony, have mostly unveiled or showcased their Windows 8 tablets publicly, their prices and specifications are still not yet to be officially revealed. However, some websites have recently leaked information about Acer and Asustek’s tablets including prices and specifications.
Asustek is reportedly to release three Windows 8 tablet models and the 11.6-inch Vivo Tab will be priced at US$799.
Acer reportedly will release two sizes of Windows 8 tablet – the 10.1-inch 64GB Iconia Tab W510 with Wi-Fi support only and priced at NZD999 (US$827), a keyboard accessory will raise the price to about US$993; and the 11.6-inch 128GB Iconia Tab W700 with Wi-Fi support only at NZD1,799 (US$1,490), and with a Bluetooth keyboard, the machine’s price will go up to about US $1,570.
However, Acer and Asustek have both declined to comment on the leaked prices and only pointed out that they will host product launches in the near future. Intel has also recently sent out media invitations and will host a Windows 8 tablet conference on September 27 in the US to showcase tablets and convertibles from Acer, Asustek, HP, Lenovo, Dell, Samsung and ZTE to promote for the launch of Windows 8.
Acer and Asus to Launch Windows 8 Tablet PCs in Q4 [CENS, Aug 22, 2012]
Eying business opportunities created by the new Windows 8 operating system (OS), scheduled for release in October, Taiwan-based personal computer (PC) vendors Acer and Asus will soon launch Win 8 tablet PC models.
Acer plans to launch two Windows 8 tablet PCs supporting keyboard input, and will soon launch several Android smartphone models, including the A9- and C-series in September. Acer`s CA and C1 smartphones will be demonstrated in pan-European market in the fourth quarter possibly in cooperation with some telecom carriers.
Industry sources said that Asus` new tablet PC TF500T will be priced between its lower-end Transformer Pad TF300 and high-level model Transformer Pad Infinity TF700.
Some institutional investors deem that after the Windows 8 products go to market, consumer response will decide how intensive PC vendors will promote compatible models.
Lenovo has also announced to launch price-competitive Windows 8 tablet models priced from US$200 to US$300, with its IdeaPad Yoga notebook PC also to be announced in October.
According to PC part and component suppliers, all major international vendors, including Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Acer and Asus, are actively developing Windows 8 products, leading to parts suppliers` revenue peaks in the fourth quarter.
Compal Electronics Inc., a major contract notebook PC assembler, is reportedly developing Windows 8 notebook PC models for HP, which plans to unveil the new models in the fourth quarter to boost sales in the Christmas season.
Acer to Keep Launching Netbook PCs: Chairman Wang [CENS, Sept 18, 2012]
In the face of tablet PCs encroaching on sales of netbooks worldwide, J.T. Wang, chairman of Acer Inc., a Taiwanese, globally leading brand vendor of PCs, stated that his company will keep launching netbook models in the future.
Since the launch of Apple Inc.’s iPad in 2010 ignited the market for tablet PCs, such emerging electronic devices have rapidly eaten into market shares of netbook PCs over the past few years. This forces most PC vendors, including Samsung, Dell and Lenovo, to consider giving up the diminishing market.
Acer’s Taiwanese counterpart Asustek Computer Inc., which once rode on netbook PCs to achieve bigger shares of the global laptop market, also confirmed earlier that it will retire netbook PC production lines starting in the fourth quarter of this year, since such products, the company’s CEO Jerry Shen said, have already fulfilled tasks for the development of the global PC industry.
Another factor prompting PC vendors to exit the netbook market is the lack of support from Microsoft and Intel. Accordingly, Microsoft doesn’t launch any starter edition of Windows 8 for netbook PCs, while Intel will focus the development of its Atom processors on tablet PCs and smartphones. This has made netbook PCs even more unworthy of development.
But, Acer’s chairman Wang is still optimistic about the market for netbook PCs. He said that consumer demand for such devices will continue growing in emerging countries, not to mention that netbook sales in developed countries still make up a majority of the global total at present. Therefore, Wang said promotion of netbook PCs will remain part of his company’s product strategy in the short term.
The latest statistics issued by International Data Corp. (IDC), a global PC market researcher, show that global sales of netbook PC totaled 8.913 million units in the first half of this year, with 26.2% of which supplied by Acer. The sales volume is estimated to reach between 15 million and 16 million units for the whole year.
With most of its peers jumping out of the market, Acer, backed by strong brand recognition and huge outlets, is expected to take over most of the shares that they will leave to dominate this segment.
Shares by Top 5 Brands in Global Market for Netbook PCs in Q2
1.182 million units
1.019 million units
Source: International Data Corp.
Contract Manufacturers Make About Nine Out of 10 Media Tablets in 2012 [IHS iSuppli press release, Sept 21, 2012]
Although your new media tablet may sport the logo of a familiar brand name like Apple or Amazon, there’s a 90 percent chance the device was actually made by a company with a much less famous moniker, such as Hon Hai or Quanta.
That’s because the vast majority of tablets—including the iPad and Kindle Fire—actually are made by contract or outsourced manufacturers based in Asia, according to an IHS iSuppli Global Manufacturing & Design Report from information and analytics provider IHS. (NYSE: IHS). The percentage of tablets made by outsourced manufacturers is set to rise this year and beyond as brands seek to minimize operational risks and reduce costs.
Outsourced manufacturers in 2011 were responsible for 87.5 percent of tablet production, compared to 12.5 percent that were made in-house. The percentage of outsourced tablets this year is expected to increase to 89.2 percent, with the portion claimed by in-house production projected to decline to 10.8 percent, as shown in the figure below. The years after that will see the share by outsourced manufacturing of tablets remain in the low 90 percent range, hitting a high of 91.1 percent by 2015 before settling back down at 90.4 percent in 2016.
“The high percentage of outsourced manufacturing of tablets reflects the choice among tablet brands and original equipment manufacturers—even ones as big as Apple—to refrain from in-house production,” said Jeffrey Wu, senior analyst for OEM at IHS. “Tablet brands use outsourcing for many reasons, including faster time to market; the leveraging of capabilities, especially for firmware development and hardware integration; and asset flexibility that translates into reduced corporate expenditures and lower headcount.”
Hon Hai Dominates Tablet Contract Manufacturing
The biggest contract manufacturer of tablets is Apple partner Hon Hai, of Taiwan, also known as Foxconn. Hon Hai accounted for 62 percent of tablet shipments last year. The company’s position in the tablet space is unique—not only because it accounts for the majority of tablet shipments in 2011, but also because of its close relationship with Apple.
Hon Hai is an EMS provider, a type of outsourced manufacturer that generally does not participate in designing product but simply offers manufacturing and supply chain management services. EMS providers for the most part control a smaller piece of the outsourced manufacturing space for computing products like notebook PCs—traditionally dominated by a rival group of makers known as original design manufacturers (ODM), which enjoy an advantage over EMS providers by being able to design products and offer manufacturing services alike. In the tablet production space, however, ODMs are the underdogs.
This is because Hon Hai, with Apple as its main client, holds the coveted right to make the iPad, the industry’s best-selling tablet by a wide margin. The ODMs have then been left to scramble for what remains of the tablet market—making rival devices for the likes of Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Asus, none of whose product offerings matches the iPad’s soaring sales and unequalled clout.
Android and Windows Power Rise of ODMs in Tablet Market
With the emergence of Android—and soon, Windows-based tablets—ODMs will have a better chance of breaking Hon Hai’s near-impregnable hold on the market. If the Android and Windows tablets prove successful, ODMs could see their share of the tablet outsourcing market grow, expanding to as much as 53 percent by 2016, on the assumption that consumers will embrace iPad alternatives.
Nonetheless, concerns for ODMs and Hon Hai alike could be in store.
Currently sidelined in much of the dynamic tablet space, ODMs also have concerns about their prospects in future tablet production. Most ODMs make notebook PCs as well, and choosing to produce tablets for other clients could mean endangering their own stake in the PC market—much as tablets are now eating into the share traditionally enjoyed by notebook computers among consumers. However, strengthening their foothold in the tablet space is inevitable for ODMs, especially as tablets continue to gain momentum at the expense of notebook computers.
ODMs also face potentially higher operating expenses and risks with the emergence of more tablet platform options—signified by the rise of Android and Windows—which would involve additional research and development costs in order for ODMs to maintain technical capabilities on those fronts.
Hon Hai, the current champion among tablet producers, is likewise not entirely free of peril. Should Apple shift some of its tablet production to other contract manufacturers in an effort to diversify its contract manufacturing base, Hon Hai could suffer a blow.
For other tablet brands like Samsung and Motorola that choose in-house production, their share of tablet manufacturing is not expected to exceed the 12.5 percent that the collective in-house space saw in 2011. Share of in-house production in the years ahead will stay in the 9 to 10 percent range, IHS predicts, as ODMs and EMS providers battle fiercely among themselves for an increasing stake in the hotly contested tablet business.
7. Possible further hardware advances
sustaining this new trajectory.
The current and already mature value proposition in brief is:
the rhombus tech initiative, along with the EOMA-68 standard, has been designed to tackle the very problems that RockChip and other SoC vendors face. our strategy is very straightforward:
a) invite SoC vendors to release EVBs in a standardised modular form which can go straight into mass-production, needing only a very simple 2 to 4 layer PCB for the main I/O of any matching product.
b) standardise and therefore greatly simplify the software development. the advantage of having standard I/O boards (products into which the CPU Modules can fit) is that the software for those products will already have been written. porting a CPU Card to work in a range of existing hardware products is far, far simpler than forcing everyone to design complete products from scratch (including the software).
the cost savings and time savings should be evident, and this is absolutely critical and will only become more so as the prices are driven down further by 28nm and beyond, as well as the product lifecycles becoming shorter and shorter.
it’s quite complex to explain initially but very straightforward once it’s fully understood, and very exciting as well. would you be so kind as to mention to Mr Chen that we would love to work with him, especially to help introduce RockChip CPUs properly into the Free Software Community, which will result in considerable engineering cost saving for RockChip, apart from anything else? i am easy to find on the internet but here is my email address anyway: firstname.lastname@example.org
Comment on 10/1/2012 by Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton, CTO at Rhombus Tech entered for China Fabless: Rockchip rattled by Android tablet wars [EE Times, Sept 25, 2012]
hi folks, small update: wits-tech detected an ambiguity in how the usb interfaces work, which needed clarification from allwinner as well as a PCB layout alteration. we'll have more details as-and-when they're available to us and as-and-when knowledge of the solution has been shared with is. usual china "save face" thing is going on at the moment i.e. don't share details of the problem until a full solution has been found. what this translates into is at least another 2 weeks whilst the new PCB layout's done and the new sample PCBs are printed. obviously that's an estimate, as it's beyond our control.
Note: wits-tech = Shenzhen WITS Technology Co.,Ltd
The original concept of a year ago:
The Obligatory Tablet – a simple tablet motherboard which could potentially be developed as a very low cost single-sided 2-layer PCB. Components are chosen to reduce development cost and risk, as well as reduce manufacturing cost.
Embedded Open Modular Architecture/EOMA-68/Tablet [Embedded Linux Wiki, Sept 21, 2011],
note that what is excerpted below had not essentially been changed till Feb 12, 2012, the last date of change for this wiki page
The Tablet Motherboard
Popular by decree, but only successfully-sold when the price is stunningly low yet the feature-set rich, tablets are the “must-have” for all ODMs and OEMs who aspire to a chunk of the large apple pie. Key goals for this motherboard are therefore to be small, slim, low component count and based on a low-risk development strategy. Thanks also to the modular design, the board is sufficiently simple that it may even be possible to do as a single 2-layer PCB, thus reducing costs even further.
Connectors and Components
The connectors required are:
Major components are:
- An STM32F103RBT6 Embedded Controller (same as in the Micro Engineering Board)
- A 4-port USB-2 High-speed Hub (e.g. FE11
- 12.5Mhz XTAL (for the USB Hub)
- Power Management ICs (Buck Converters for 3.8v Lithium to 5.0v; 3.3v LDOs)
- Step-up DC-DC Converter for the LCD Backlight AP3029
- An I2C EEPROM
- An RT2070, RT8191 or Atheros ath9k USB-compliant MiniPCIe WIFI Module
- An Antenna for the WIFI Module
- A 7in LED-backlit LCD (e.g. AT070TN93)
- A resistive or capacitive touchpanel (resistive: low-cost; capactive: expensive, often more expensive than the LCD)
- A slim-line PCMCIA Ejector Assembly
The estimated BOM is therefore around the $30 to 35 mark [Sept 21, 2011 !], excluding the EOMA/PCMCIA-compliant CPU Card, and including the batteries, case and WIFI module. The most expensive component is the LCD Panel, whilst the 2nd most expensive one is the batteries.
Diagram of Tablet Motherboard Layout
From this diagram, it can be seen that there is very little involved. Like the Odroid, it’s possible to have a product where the connectors and buttons define the size of the PCB more than the ICs and discrete components. In this case, many of the major connectors (such as USB-OTG, HDMI, Micro-SD and Headphones) will already be on the EOMA/PCMCIA-compliant CPU Card, leaving nothing left for the motherboard than to provide USB2 and Power connectors! An alternative revision is also shown which takes a USB 3G Modem, in PCI-e form-factor.
Diagram of Tablet Construction
Embedded Open Modular Architecture/EOMA-68 [Embedded Linux Wiki, Sept 23, 2012]
earlier: Embedded Open Modular Architecture/PCMCIA [Embedded Linux Wiki, Sept 5, 2011 – March 11, 2012],
note that the excerpts below are essentially as of Sept 21, 2011, image: Jan 16, 2012
This page describes the specification of EOMA-68. The number of pins on the interface is 68; the physical form-factor is the legacy PCMCIA.
Re-purposing of the PCMCIA interface and form-factor has been chosen to create portable Embedded Computing Modules (Computer on Module). Mass-volume “Lowest Common Denominator” interfaces have been chosen, all of which have existed for over a decade, but are low-power enough to be standard across virtually all mass-produced powerful Embedded CPUs.
The interfaces are:
- 24-pin RGB/TTL (for LCD Panels)
- USB (Low Speed, Full Speed, optionally Hi Speed/480 Mbit/s and optionally USB3)
- 10/100 Ethernet (optionally 1,000 ethernet)
- SATA-II (optionally SATA-III)
- 8 pins of General-purpose Digital I/O (GPIO).
These interfaces are NOT OPTIONAL for CPU Cards. All CPU Cards MUST provide all interfaces. I/O Boards on the other hand are free to implement whichever interfaces are required for the device. For example: whilst all CPU Cards must have an SATA interface, devices such as tablets or laptops into which CPU Cards are plugged are not required to have an SATA hard drive.
… At the time of writing (2011), the interfaces in the 1.0 Specification are “Lowest Common Denominator” yet are still present across the majority of 2011’s powerful embedded SoCs (OMAP4440, Enyxos4210, Tegra 3, iMX53 etc.) However, in the future, the “Lowest Common Denominator” could well comprise MIPI instead of RGB/TTL, 2 lane PCI-express (or its successor), and USB-3 instead of USB-2 (perhaps even a faster version of ULPI).
As of 2011 however, the total number of Embedded CPUs supporting all these newer interfaces and still keeping to a 1.5 watt budget is precisely zero. Support for these high-speed interfaces will therefore be re-evaluated in 2 to 3 years time, and a future version of this standard created when a large proportion of available embedded CPUs have these or other high-speed interfaces that are available at the time.
The project had been initiated by a Crowd funding proposal [Rhombus Tech, Dec 25, 2011],
note that Rhombus Tech website rhombus-tech.net started on Nov 18, 2011 as well as there was an earlier low-cost EOMA-PCMCIA CPU Card initiative (allwinner cortex a8) e-mail by Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton <email@example.com> on Dec 14, 2011
To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
Cc: Linux on small ARM machines <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Aim: Small (Free as in Speech) Linux device which can be upgraded
In particular, a small CPU card which:-
- Complies with GPL (Free as in Speech)
For example I can buy a tablet, after a few years the display, touch-screen and memory will be perfect. After a few years I may want to upgrade the CPU, or fix a software bug, or both – at the moment this is not possible.
We are aiming for this CPU Card will have full GPL Source Code publicly available and will be suitable for many purposes including use as a Freedom Box, or as an embedded computer, or in the future to drive products such as Tablets, Laptops, IPTVs and Desktop PCs simply by plugging it in. These devices can then run a nice GNU/Linux distribution like Debian, Ubuntu or similar.
Not many tablets or small devices run a nice GNU/Linux distribution like Debian, Ubuntu or similar. They are either low powered, closed source, GPL violating or not cheap.
The problem that if you want low-cost mass-produced hardware, you normally have to go with GPL-violating product. We then spend the majority of our time reverse-engineering before getting something useful. By the time we are done, the product is usually end-of-life: thus if it breaks, we are back to square one. If there is a security bug in the kernel supplied – again we are back to square one.
The reason for the GPL violations is that the low-cost China-based Factories simply have zero software skill and a chain of about five business relationships between the seller and manufacturer. The manufacturer has got their money at this stage, so at this point we are asking the manufacturer for more effort in return for no extra income. Thus, we logically concluded that the only way to get non-GPL-violating product out there is to go directly to the factories and be the supplier of their software.
Aim of this Funding Round
To get funding, to deliver a stable CPU on a card:-
GPL: Full source code available.
Upgradeable: A standard layout, which will allow the card to be ejected and replaced.
Cheap: Stable version at $30
Long Term Aim
High-volume production, then the costs will be $15. Yes $15 for GPL-Loving, powerful, packaged CPU Card.
So put this with :-
2000mAh battery $8,
7in 800×600 LCD $15,
resistive touchpanel $5,
main motherboard including WIFI module about $8,
Case about $3
Total of $39. yes, really – $39. So basically, you can see that a mass-volume retail cost of about $80 for a 7in tablet with the Allwinner A10 and a resistive touchpanel would be quite reasonable. Running Debian, with a CPU upgrade only costing $15.
Progress So Far
Rhombus Tech has been established to serve Free Software Developers, entrepreneurs, enthusiasts and Engineers with access to affordable, modern and importantly GPL-compliant hardware. It is a Community interest company – designed for social enterprises that want to use their profits and assets for the public good.
Over the past two years we been contacting and vetting China-based factories, directly, to find at least one which is prepared to work with us. We found one.
We have also found an absolutely great CPU, called the Allwinner A10, which in mass-volume quantities is only about $7: that means that a PCB similar to the raspberrypi with similar features can be made for about $15 (not $25) and, because the Allwinner CPU is an ARM Cortex A8 not an ARM11 it is at least three times quicker than the raspberrypi’s CPU. (A 400-pin highly feature-rich 1.5ghz ARM Cortex A8 with a MALI400 GPU. )
We have full support of the Board of Directors of the Allwinner CPU: they released full source code to us in advance. We have made it available and found it to compile successfully.
We have selected a standard layout, which will fit within 55mm, which large number of pins can be removed by the user without damage. Which will be the cases are already available and which will have a trivial cost in low-volumes. A PCMCIA format.
Complies with GPL – Yes
Powerful – Yes
Upgradeable – Yes
Cheap – Not yet.
The primary reason for using a Community Interest Company for the sale of GPL-compliant products to Free Software Developers is that profits from sales will be re-invested directly into development of further products, with a primary focus of serving the Free Software Community yet at the same time leveraging mass-volume sales opportunities.
But this needs a kick-start. Then the end-product will get cheaper, then profits are re-invested and end-products get cheaper still. The snowball needs a little magic snow to get it started.
Magic Snow required: $13,500
To fund the three stages:-
Unstable (Also know as Sid for all Debian lovers) : $3,500
Testing Stage: $4,000
Long Term Support: Self-funding
5 CPU cards available at a cost of $3,500
A initial cost of $2000 per “board development change”. This is the non-recurring expense. This sets up the PCB tooling so further changes cost about $1500. The aim is to have a development board, tweak then have a second set of development boards.
This gives us the hardware only – about 5 development boards available. Time for the 15 Debian developers, already on board to start coding. (Bootloader, Kernel and main software).
Timeframe – AA months
Rhombus Tech to loan the boards to the developers, free as in beer, in return for help with coding.
100 CPU cards available at a total cost of $4,000 Timeframe – AA + BB months
We have a board, the bootloader work and the kernel is okay. No full Distribution images as yet. If you are a software developer and are basically happy to get involved doing u-boot, debian-installer, ubuntu images a board is suitable to play with at this point. Hard, but not impossible.
Rhombus Tech to loan half (50) CPU cards to developers, free as in beer, in return for help with coding. The other half of the board to be sent as premium rewards.
250 CPU cards available at a total cost of $6,000 Timeframe – AA + BB + CC months
Rhombus Tech to give 50 boards to developers, free as in beer who helped with coding. The remainder of CPU cards to be sent as rewards.
Long Term Support (Just for Ubuntu lovers)
Timeframe – AA + BB + CC + DD months CPU Cards at less than $30
The CPU cards can then be produced in mass-volume. Sold through Rhombus Tech, with profits used to seed further CPU upgrades.
Total funds required for Unstable, Testing and Stable stages: $13,500
Testing CPU Cards – $50 (Aiming for 50 = $2,500)
Stable CPU Cards, with working OS image – $50 (Aiming for 50 = $2,500)
Stable CPU Cards – $35 (Aiming for 200 = $7,000)
A Rhombus Tech Sticker sent world wide – $5 ($1.50 profit per sticker)
Mention in the source code – $5
A certificate mentioning your contribution to the Small (Free as in Speech) Linux device which can be upgraded. – $10
A testing CPU Card, with your choice of Debian Packages loaded by a Debian Developer – $250
You select the code name for the Unstable Board (legal, ethical names only) – $250
You select the code name for Testing CPU Card (legal, ethical names only) – $500
You select the code name for Stable CPU Card (legal, ethical names only) – $1,000
Then more information came in the for of FAQ [Rhombus Tech, March 25, 2012]
What’s the goal, again?
To create a synergy between the ultra-low-cost Factories and SoC vendors of China with their expertise in Hardware, and Software (Libre) Developers with their expertise in GNU/Linux and other OSes, with a view to leveraging the combination to create affordable and desirable mass-volume products that are GPL-compliant before they hit the Retail Hypermarket shelves;
For those products to be modular, versatile and open, so that they can be upgraded without the environmental waste of throwing away an entire device; for Retailers, Factories and users to be able to keep up with the rapid and increasing pace of technological development;
For anyone to be able to use the products for their original purpose as well as for Educational purposes, Research, Engineering and more.
Very carefully, in small steps, having learned from the experiences of the OpenMoko and OpenPandora projects.
Produce very simple EOMA-68-compliant CPU modules which can act as stand-alone computers in their own right (powered via USB-OTG) so that Software (Libre) Developers have something to start working on.
Start designing IO boards.
Software (Libre) Developers help develop the software to run on the products.
Products go to market.
Use profits to repeat the process, to the benefit of all parties, including the Software (Libre) Developers.
The rules for CICs are “to not make a loss”, which makes sense for any business. There is no limit on the profitability of a CIC: it’s just that, at the end of each Financial Year, the profits have to be allocated to a charitable cause, or they have to have been ploughed back into the business. A Community Interest Company simply does makes more sense in the context of the goals of bringing Software (Libre) Developers together into this exciting technological area that has previously been dominated by vertical market sales strategies.
It damn well isn’t! We are getting a massive amount of misunderstandings about this. We have reported that based on estimates from the Reference Board supplied by the Manufacturer of the SoC that the MATERIALS COST is APPROACHING $15 in MASS VOLUME quantities of 100,000 units.
That is excluding a case, power supply (which as the unit can be powered by USB-OTG is not needed), packaging, tax, customs duty, shipping and, most importantly, a profit margin.
Any company has to make a profit, and a CIC is no different. Charities and Not-for-Profit Foundations can get away with not making a profit, but Rhombus Tech is not a Charity.
Profits made will be used to fund Free Software Developers, as well as future CPU Cards and the creation of Reference Design Products: Laptops, Routers and so on, all of which will be done in an Open fashion.
It stands for “Embedded Open Modular Architecture”. The concept of modular architecture isn’t new: many companies have divided out CPUs into separate PCBs or modules, but it just hasn’t been done recently, not on a mass-volume scale and not on a user-controllable basis. See the elinux.org EOMA page for more information.
It’s legacy – nobody makes PCMCIA cards any more: it’s all changed to the PCIe-based “PCI express” aka “ExpressCard” thing. However, it turns out that Satellite TV “Conditional Access Modules” are in PCMCIA form-factor, meaning that the connectors, housings and assemblies are all still mass-produced. So there’s less risk of having someone destroy their CPU card if they force-break the mechanical barriers (see specification for details) but the pricing on parts is still good in mass-volume quantities.
The interfaces that have been picked happen to have been around for at least a decade, and the number of pins, including 16 pins of GPIO and including enough GND pins to separate each of the high-speed signals, by a jammy coincidence comes to exactly 68 pins.
RGB/TTL: 28 pins
USB2: 2 pins
I2C: 2 pins
10/100 Ethernet: 4 pins
SATA-II: 4 pins
GPIO: 16 pins
5V Power: 2 pins @ 0.5A per pin
The total comes to 58 pins, and there are 5 groups of GND pins to separate each group. Grand total: 68 pins. jammy or what? More information is available here.
Yes, we know. It’s not all bad. By a coincidence, SATA-II is 100 ohms and USB-2 is 90 ohms. We think that’s close enough. Absolute absolute last resort: both SATA-II and USB-2 can be ramped down in speed. This would be a bugger, but at least product would work. Other than that: yes it is possible to adjust impedance through careful placement of tracks and ground planes etc.
Bottom line: we’ll just have to pick the right PCMCIA connector supplier, that’s all.
Cost and features – pure and simple. Consumers do not care about Software Freedom – they just don’t. Only Software (Libre) Developers care about Software Freedom. However, GPL Compliance is very very important to RHT, because we do not wish to be liable for GPL violations, and we do not wish our mass-volume Retail Hypermarket Clients to be liable for GPL Violations, either. So, RHT has spent the past two years negotiating with SoC vendors to find one that has the three critical factors of: 1) Cost 2) features 3) GPL Compliance. Amazingly, it was a China-based Fabless Semiconductor Company that first met the requirements. Yes we are looking for more.
We have analysed dozens of CPUs. With the exception of the Allwinner A10, none of them really fulfil all of the criteria. This section turned out to be so large that it was moved to its own page: Evaluated CPUs.
The Ingenic MIPS jz4760 (700mhz) – $USD 7 in mass-volume
The 600mhz ARM Cortex A8 OMAP 3503 ($19, 1k volumes)
The 720mhz ARM Cortex A8 AM3357 – ($14, 1k volumes and $5 in 100k)
Sadly, none of these CPUs however fulfil the mass-volume criteria of being able to do 3D Graphics or 1080p video. Some of them can do 720p, but that is not enough for commercial mass-volume purposes: it really does have to be 1080p now. 4 years ago, 720p was acceptable: now it isn’t.
These CPUs are listed on the Evaluated CPUs page.
This is a misleading question: here’s some clarification. The EOMA-68 initiative is an “Open Specification“. That means that anyone can create either CPU cards or motherboards that conform to it. Thus, it is possible for anyone to create an “Open Hardware” compliant CPU card or motherboard.
Rhombus Tech has chosen to work with a small, dynamic factory in China that loved the idea of the “we’ll do the software if you do the hardware” deal. It would be rather a different proposition for us to then ask them to release the full schematics.
Also in development is a 8mm-high (Type III) EOMA-68 CPU card with a AMD 64-bit x86 APU with Dual-core CPU, integrated Radeon 3D Graphics, with full Free Software support.
Bari also has an initiative to turn the Beaglebone or any other ARM SOC or AMD Fusion APU into an EOMA-68 CPU card, if enough people show interest in this happening. Given that the Beaglebone (and other systems like it such as the IMX53QSB, Origen, Pandaboard etc.) schematics are available under an Open Hardware License, the Beaglebone EOMA-68 CPU Card will be “Open Hardware”.
Additionally, given that the Leaflabs Maple is an “Open Hardware” Project, there exists the possibility for the creation of EOMA-68-compliant Motherboards based around the adaption of Leaflabs Maple Boards.
Summary of the above: it’ll happen. (update: 10jan12 – sooner than anticipated!schematics being developed here).
24 Jul 2012: Casework for EOMA-68 CPU Card
Titoma Design is delighted to be involved with the EOMA-68 project and has a preliminary design for the first EOMA-68 CPU Card, using the Allwinner A10 SoC. Titoma Design specialises in casework and full product design, and will be more than happy to assist clients to develop products based around the time and cost saving benefits of the EOMA-68 upgradeable design strategy.
28 Jul 2012: GPIO and Expansion Headers for EOMA-68 CPU Card
A rework of the GPIO and Expansion Headers for the first Qimod EOMA-68 CPU Card has been carried out. Almost all interfaces available of the Allwinner A10 CPU have been made available on the 55x85mm Credit-card-sized CPU Card, including both Transport Streams, SIM Card, PATA, the 24-pin Camera Interface, both 24-pin LCD Interfaces, VGA, Composite Video (CVBS), SPDIF, AC97, I2S, GPS, CAN-Bus, Infrared, and many more. This is in addition to the standard EOMA-68 Interfaces of Ethernet, I2C, SATA, LCD 24-pin RGB/TTL, USB2 and 16 GPIO pins.
The rework involved adding an extra optional 45-pin FPC, which is in addition to the optional 44-pin FPC. The orders page has been updated to reflect the full pinouts, as well as the finalised selection for the 16 EOMA-68 GPIO pins.
The most current product information therefore is available on Preorders [Rhombus Tech, July 28, 2012, but preorders are listed from Dec 12, 2011 to Sept 23, 2012]
This is the preorders page for EOMA-68-compliant Allwinner Cortex A8 CPU modules. This product will have full GPL Source Code publicly available, and will be suitable for many purposes including Educational and R&D purposes, a USB-OTG-powered Thin Client, use as a Freedom Box, or as an embedded computer, or in the future to drive products such as Tablets, Laptops, IPTVs and Desktop PCs simply by plugging it in. Some options for hardware that is on the roadmap are described as example motherboards on the EOMA-68 page.
The Allwinner EOMA-68-compliant module will have the following features:
- Approximately Credit-card size format (56mm x 90mm)
- An Allwinner A10, 1.2ghz ARM Cortex A8
- 1gb of RAM
- at least 1gb of NAND Flash (possibly up to 16gb)
- Operation as a stand-alone computer (USB-OTG powered)
- 2160p (double 1080p) Video playback
- MALI 400MP 3D Graphics, OpenGL ES 2.0 compliant.
- HDMI, Micro-SD, Headphones Socket,
- EOMA-68-compliant interfaces (RGB/TTL, I2C, USB2, SATA-II, 10/100 Eth)
- Expansion Header (similar to Beagleboard, IMX53QSB, Origen etc.)
These are the available interfaces on the 44-pin [Expansion Header’s interfaces] DIL:
- 2pins: 1x USB-2
- 8pins: 5-pin AC97 shared with 8-pin I2S Signals.
- 2pins: PWM0 (PB2)
- 4pins: TV-Out, VGA-Out
- 4pins: 4-wire Resistive Touchscreen
- 10pins: LVDS0 (multiplexed with LCD0)
- 10pins: LVDS1 (multiplexed with LCD0)
- 5V and 3.3V power
Due to multiplexing on the Allwinner A10, the following interfaces are also available on the PCMCIA connector via the 24-pin RGB/TTL pins (WARNING: non-EOMA-compliant).
- IDE (PATA)
- 24-bit Camera Sensor
- 20 External Interrupts
- 8×8 Keypad Interface
- 2 full UARTS with RX,TX,CTS,RTS
- 2 PS/2 interfaces
- SD/MMC 3.0 Ultra-High-Speed Class, UHC-I
Further multiplexing also allows the I2C interface to be switched over to two extra GPIO pins (WARNING: non-EOMA-compliant).
Also, the pins on the Micro SD/MMC interface can also be switched over to JTAG and a UART. With a special PCB with a Micro SD/MMC slot on the end it is possible to perform debugging of the device, live, without opening it up.
The Infrared Interface on the expansion header supports the following data formats:
- MIR FIR IrDA 1.1
- 0.576 Mbit/s 1.152 Mbit/s Medium Infrared (MIR)
- 4 Mbit/s FIR IrDA 1.4
These are being considered:
- 2pins: 3.8v Battery Connection, on separate connector
- 3pins: Reset and Power, on separate connector
- 3pins: u-boot select, on separate connector
Regarding pricing: the hardware NREs from the factory are $USD 2,000. Therefore, based on the number of committments so far (23 as of 2011Dec12), pricing looks set to be around $100. By the time the number of preorders reaches 30, that will be around $75 (30 reached as of 2011Dec17). (Update: as of 2012Mar01 the alpha units have reached 141 and it’s down to $41 per unit assuming NREs of $2,000 and component costs of $30. Please note: we do not yet know the unit cost! this is entirely preliminary!).
The mass-volume (100k units) cost will be somewhere around $15: the more committments received, the closer the price will get to that. One expression of interest has been received for 1,000 (stable) units: a pricing evaluation request is outstanding with the factory and will be reported as soon as it is received.
Please note: this cost excludes a case, power supply, packaging, shipping, tax, customs and import duty. and profit.
Software Freedom Information
Regarding Software Freedom: the caveat regarding this CPU is that it requires ARM-proprietary libraries for the 3D Graphics (as does virtually every single suitable consumer-grade embedded SoC on the planet with the almost exclusive sole exception of the Ingenic jz4760 and some of the TI ARM Cortex OMAP and Sitara SoCs). However, simply not using the proprietary MALI 3D GPU does not impact any other functionality in any way.
(update: MALI 400MP is being reverse-engineered)
Yet to be determined is how to program the proprietary 2160p MPEG decoder, but through a preliminary examination of the GPL Source Code it would appear that the drivers are publicly available. However, this CPU does have NEON, so can be used for Software Decode of Open CODECs.
Overall: if this module is not for you, an AM3357 module may be more suitable.
[committments so far:
– 23 as of Dec 12, 2011
– 30 as of Dec 17, 2011
– 141 alpha units as of Mar 01, 2012
large (=5 or more) number of units on preorder after Mar 01:
– 215= 43×5
so the whole project looks quite feasible from the point of view of achieving the $15 unit cost for which 100K units should be on order]
6 Sep 2012: PCB design completed for EOMA-68 CPU Card
Many thanks to Wits Tech for completing the PCB design: the board layout and GERBER files are done. This brings the A10 EOMA-68 CPU Card one step closer to reality. The next stage is to get initial samples made up, the first script.fex created and a first boot completed.
[Wits Tech with products such as: MID and PCBA, e-book, smart MP4, 1080P high-definition MP4, 768P, 1080P harddisk player, IPTV, Google TV-BOX and so on]
Following on very very quickly from this, and driving a rather fast development schedule, is a commission from a client to convert an existing x86 laptop (1280×800) over to using the new A10 EOMA-68 CPU Card, and to provide 25 working prototypes for a Trade Show. Luckily, as the CPU Card is completely independent of the I/O Board, separate teams can focus on the development tasks.
Other news coverage:
Marketing Strategy [Rhombus Tech, May 1, 2012]
- TTM – Time to market lead
- Open versatile Common Platform
- EOMA One
Three ways EOMA helps to bring new products to market faster and save money
EOMA – From month to weeks TTM reduction
One platform, many Distros: Vanilla GNU/Linux, Android etc.
Software comes pre-flashed by default
One module, many applications
Instant upstream compatibility with Linux GIT tree
Need for software expertise is removed from OEM side
BOM reduction X 5
Access to bigger market platform
Readapting the design is as easy as changing one module
Quick access to many ODM designs
Plug and play
LOW TTM and high flexibility
Update process is made trivial and faster
Reasoning behind the Marketing Strategy
EOMA is platform for the whole industry that benefits the whole “food chain”.
Its good for ODM because they will have upstream support and they will be able to support their own clients better.
For OEMs the benefit is that they will no longer need to deal with software by themselves, it simplifies production and logistics, lowers production run times thus less cost of capital.
For integrators, the benefit is less obvious, but its also lower time to market, increased ability to reuse existing designs.
In general, the idea is that EOMA uses open source principles to increase efficiency across the industry. EOMA will be doing to computer hardware market the same thing what linux has done to server OS market.
Rhombus Tech Presentation [Rhombus Tech, March 12, 2012]
what is the project.
EOMA is an initiative to separate the platform from the widget
EOMA module is System-On-Module that will come in standardized 68 pin package
It can utilize most of low cost SoC of your choice. At current stage, Allwinner A10 is the favoured chip.
The first EOMA-68 CPU Card is Cortex A8 based design
Module provides I2C, USB, Ethernet, SATA, 8 bit ttl rgb (display), and gpio on remaining pins
At current stage Rhombus plans to reinvest all profits into platform development and improvement
what is the advantage and scenarios.
Rhombus facilitates upstream integration with linux and other major OSS projects.
OEMs receive standard platform that greatly reduces time-to-market.
OEMs no longer need to contract ODMs or have extensive software expertise to make a worthwhile product.
what is the latest status of this project.
Rhombus is in process of getting pre-orders
lkcl [Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton] is working with manufacturers to start production
See also: Embedded Open Modular Architecture This slideshow could not be started. Try refreshing the page or viewing it in another browser. “The SoC (system on a chip) manufacturer provides a reference design including a BSP. The reference design is bought by original design manufacturers (ODMs), usually under NDA (which is the first GPL violation). The ODMs license their modifications to factories and give them binary-only distributions, a second GPL violation. “The factories have absolutely no software engineers. They do not even know what source code is, let alone what an ‘Apache’ (licence) or a ‘GPL’ is. The factories sell product to importers; they in turn sell to wholesalers who sell to retailers and from there it is sold to end-users.” Leighton says it is absolute hell to chase a GPL violation back through this chain, fighting ignorance and arrogance across international boundaries every step of the way. “After trying to be patient with this process, several times, we have concluded that it is a complete waste of time to pursue GPL violations just to do a deal, selling hardware product that is GPL-compliant: it’s too late by then.” … Work Experience 嵌入式软件工程师 [Embedded software engineer] June 2011 – Present (1 year 3 months) [Software] Design Engineer Education: Zhuhai [Wikipedia] A good place to buy an A10 device is “The Cubies hacker shop” at: Tom Cubie (alias hipboi) is very actively involved in getting GNU/Linux working on the A10. Just like Luke he is planning to release open hardware based on the A10. Set-top boxes Other Congratulation to Mele’s 8th Anniversary [Mele press release, Sept 4, 2012] About Mele [Dec 20, 2012]: And the latest report about Nufront: China fabless: Nufront ventures beyond tablet chips [EE Times, Nov 6, 2012]
More background: British company looks to create cheap, open platforms [iTWire [Australia], Jan 10, 2012]
A British community interest company, Rhombus Tech, is part of the way towards developing a micro-computer on a circuit board, much like the Raspberry Pi.
The man behind the effort, Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton, says his product will be much more powerful, having an ARM Cortex A8 CPU, which is 3x times faster than the 700mhz ARM11 used in the Raspberry Pi. The mass-volume cost target being aimed for is $US15 and it will be available for educational purposes as well as being a part of a retail product line.
Leighton (pictured above), who is a free software developer, is also attempting to bring together FOSS developers with Chinese hardware makers, so that each can use the other’s creation and benefit from doing so.
He has ambitious plans for Rhombus Tech to help build a number of devices, including a tablet, using the same method – harnessing the effort of free software developers and Chinese hardware manufacturers.
One thing he sees as a plus in the tablet effort is that it will create an Android system that conforms to the norms of the GPL and be easier for FOSS developers to deal with. At present, there is a plethora or tablets and many of the manufacturers, who are the vendors as well, are unaware of GPL requirements or else do not care.
“We are acting as the catalyst to invite other people to make such products by inviting them to participate, through the EOMA-PCMCIA initiative – simplified modular upgradeable hardware – and putting them in touch with Software (Libre) Developers,” Leighton says.
“We’re not funding the products, we’re doing deals with factories and with SoC fabless semiconductor companies, offering them free access to free software developers, asking them in return that they not charge us for their hardware engineering time.”
Leighton says the efforts he is making are both altruistic and profit-oriented. “The fundamental principles behind Software (Libre) are more important to me than profit, but no profit gets you nowhere, so we’re setting out to do something rather unusual: merge both worlds.
“I’ve learned the lesson: you can’t make money from selling software (Libre) as a service in a world which has been Pavlov-trained to pay for boxed product and zero for the service. Patronage is dead – I’m the lead developer of – or have been the lead developer of – quite a number of free software projects, and the amount of money I’ve received through donations since 1996 is under $1000 in total. That’s under $65 per year, despite saving hundreds of thousands of businesses vast sums of money in proprietary software licence fees.
“Instead, we’ve made the decision to profit from sales of hardware, with GPL-compliant software (Libre) pre-installed that actually does the job, masquerading as ‘yet another mass-volume product’ and beating the (GPL-violating) competition on price, convenience and usefulness.”
Leighton has been at this game for nearly eight years. “I started contacting companies to get the source code of Linux phones – the Shanghai-based E28 smartphone, for example – back in about 2004,” he says.
“It was a complete failure. I just had to let the GPL violations go. Instead I focused on reverse-engineering HTC’s smartphones. Then Android came along, some years later, and the situation has clearly got worse, not better.”
But there are some upsides to the plethora of Android devices out in the market. “At least the cost of hardware came tumbling down. However, because of Android and because of the endemic GPL violations surrounding Android, this fantastic hardware, which could potentially be used for so much more than it is, is basically stuck in dead-end roles such as ‘browsing uh few web pagiz’, ‘wotchin uh film’ and ‘playing a few gamez like angry burds’.”
Leighton has had some interesting early experiences trying to achieve his goal, learning through his own mistakes. “As the very first experimental ARM11 (non-x86) Linux-based (non-Android), laptop (non-tablet) hardware began to make its way out of China-based R&D companies, we reached out to them. The first was the Chitech CT-PC89E which turned out to be a complete nightmare, but an important learning curve.”
“Over the course of several months, and after 18 months of thinking about what the hell went wrong, empirical evidence tends to suggest that the development of the CT-PC89E was PRC Government-funded, and was supposed to be used for monitoring of PRC citizens, in a hardware-locked fashion, running an ARM-based PRC-Government-funded port of Red Flag Linux.”
Leighton says that he was “naively” intending to sell this ARM-based laptop in Europe and asked for versions of the laptop that would support European-based EDGE/3G modems. All that he was offered were China Telecom WCDMA modems that would only work in China.
Since source code could not be obtained, he took recourse to reverse-engineering. “We reverse-engineered the Linux kernel (discovering some very poorly-designed ‘security’ measures along the way), installed Debian on it, and an associate of ours took it along to their office and presented one of their machines running Debian/Lenny to them. They went extremely quiet.
“The poor girls at the Chitech factory in China, who have absolutely no software engineers but just ‘make hardware’, were so scared of what they learned, through us, that they pulled the product from their portfolio. We were the first – and last – people to ever order samples. That was over two years ago, now.”
Leighton was not put off, however, and persisted in trying to make headway. Next we decided that this was a ridiculous situation, and began a process of contacting more than 200 factories in China to find one that was willing to do a deal. Two years later, we found one. It actually took going over to China and having face-to-face meetings with over 30 companies even to find that one factory.”
His deal with the factory basically boils down to “we won’t charge you for software engineering if you won’t charge us for hardware engineering“.
“As these factories often have to pay large sums of cash upfront for BSPs (board support packages) and then have to also pay to have them customised so that the factory at least has ‘some’ unique selling point and they ‘still’ end up with a GPL-violating binary-only firmware blob, it’s a good deal for them,” he says.
The problems Leighton has faced make for interesting reading – though they were anything but interesting at the time when he encountered them.
“We’ve bought samples from factories, shipped some of them to potential clients, requested the GPL source code and been denied access to it, in direct violation of the GPL,” he says. “Often we were told that we had to place orders for 20,000 units in order to be given the source code; we told them absolutely not, why the hell would we place such a massive order for an untested product that didn’t do the job that the client needed? In the cases where product was shipped to potential clients prior to non-receipt of the GPL source code, this was incredibly embarrassing for us.”
What he has learned is that there is a long chain of people involved, with communication breakdowns and GPL violations in some cases beginning right at the start of the chain.
Instead, he has decided to do things a different way. “We are looking to work with the factories and with the SoC vendors, being involved right down the chain, keeping software (Libre) developers involved and informed along the way as well, such that the products, when they reach the shelves in Europe for example, are fully GPL-compliant before they even get there.
“That involves finding a SoC company, a factory and software (Libre) developers who will trust us, as well as finding a hypermarket retail store in Europe that will trust us!”
Despite all these issues, light is visible at the end of the tunnel. “We’re at a critical phase where we’ve managed to convince our first China-based factory of the value of a ‘we won’t charge you for software engineering time if you won’t charge us for hardware engineering time’ deal. The CPU that we’ve found is an ARM Cortex A8, it runs at up to 1.5ghz, it’s an absolute corker, and it’s only $7 in mass-volume. That means that a PCB that’s equivalent to the Raspberry Pi in size and features could be manufactured for a whopping 40 per cent less money – only around $15 instead of $25, and yet it would be at least 3 times faster than the Raspberry Pi (which uses only a 700mhz ARM11),” Leighton says.
“We have the full support of the SoC fabless semiconductor company, Allwinner: they’ve given us full access to the GPL source code and the complete BSP; from a small-scale series of announcements (we’ve kept it to the debian-arm mailing list so far) we have more than 30 software (Libre) developers interested in buying first alphas of the ‘bare-bones’ EOMA-PCMCIA-compliant CPU card using Allwinner’s CPU card.”
While Rhombus Tech’s first product will be just a credit-card-sized PCMCIA CPU card that can run as a USB-OTG-powered computer, Leighton says that, provided there are sufficient advance orders, “for a 10-inch laptop, with Android, we’re looking at mass-volume pricing of around £90, retail, in the UK (and about £125 for a 12in one). For a 7-inch tablet (with the lower-quality but lower-priced resistive touch screen), we’re looking at around £50 retail.”
He says the only reason this is achievable is because there was no £250,000 to £500,000 up-front cost on development of the product – not on the cost of the hardware, and not on the cost of the software. The products will all be fully GPL-compliant.
“What’s even better is that when a new, or faster, or cheaper (or all three) CPU comes along, then rather than force people to throw away the entire device, we will be in a position to pay a factory to get a new EOMA-PCMCIA-compliant CPU card out in record time, and then just sell that through the same channels, as a user-installable ‘upgrade’ to their ‘existing’ laptop, tablet, desktop, internet TV, whatever it is that’s been designed to take EOMA-PCMCIA-compliant CPU cards at the time.
“With the embedded computing market moving so rapidly, we want to give both factories and users the opportunity to keep up-to-date without feeling guilty about land-fill. And, the GPL compliance and involvement of the free software community means that the devices will always be ‘unlocked’, and will serve both their original purpose as well as being a low-cost open educational and R&D platform.”
Rhombus Tech has just five people involved, all operating on a commissions-only basis. The relationships between the five go way back, with the company being set up just two years ago.
Current: Rhombus Tech [since Nov 2011], Pyjamas, VizzEco Inc.
Previous: NC3A, iYonder, BZflag
Education: Imperial College London
I’m a free software advocate, technology specialist and technology researcher.
My vocation is to seek out, understand, document and then explain all the archaic, esoteric and obscure technologies i come into contact with. So far, that has led me to network-reverse-engineering of Windows NT 4.0 Domains; reverse-engineering the High Tech Corporation’s Wince Mobiles in order to run Linux on them just for fun; Adopting Python as a core programming skill before it became fashionable; Writing an XML-based programming language before _that_ became fashionable.
The upshot of all this is that there really isn’t very much in Computing Technology that I would particularly find difficult – or if it _is_ difficult, I’ll be able to tell you why; and if I’ve not encountered a technology before, I’ll tell you so, up-front, and then go find out about it for you. So if you need advice on what technology can do for you, or if you need to know if something is possible, you only have to ask.
Also, I am able to advise on best working practices in Software Development, as I have done a significant amount of Software Engineering and Project Management in Free Software. Free Software leadership is a little different from traditional Project Management, in that the people you’re leading don’t actually have to listen to you! So if there is a delicate situation that needs handling, and your current approaches simply aren’t working and you still need to get results, you might want to consider asking for my help and advice.
Rhombus Tech preparing to launch a PCMCIA-sized computer module for tablets, notebooks, more [Liliputing, Sept 8, 2012]
Rhombus Tech is working on a project to develop a computer module that supports open source software and which can be used in a variety of devices.
The idea is that you’ll have a PC-on-a-board that works a bit like a Raspberry Pi or MK802 mini PC. But instead of using this as a standalone computer, you’ll be able to slot it into a wide range of devices including tablets and notebooks.
So instead of replacing your laptop when the CPU starts to feel outdated, you’ll be able to pull out the module containing the CPU and other vital components and slide in a newer model.
The first Rhombus Tech design is called the A10 EOMA-68, and it’s expected to be a PCMCIA card-sized PC module powered by an Allwinner A10 ARM Cortex-A8 processor.
That’s the same chip used in the Mela A1000, MK802, Mini X, and a number of other inexpensive Android tablets, TV boxes, and other devices.
In fact, members of the Rhombus Tech team were responsible for the first builds of Ubuntu Linux that were able to run on the Mele A1000… which led to a number of developers porting Ubuntu, Fedora, Puppy, and other Linux-based operating systems to run on Allwinner A10 devices such as the MK802.
Right now the A10 EOMA-68 is still in the planning stages, but Rhombus Tech announced that there’s now a PCB design in place, and the next step is to produce samples that can be used for testing and demonstration purposes.
Tom Cubie’s role in the initiative and elsewhere:
珠海全志科技 [珠海Zhuhai全志科技Allwinner Technology] (100 ~ 499)
ARM Linux BSP 内核开发[Kernel development]
Imagination Technologies Ltd.
August 2010 – June 2011 (10 months)
HUST [Huazhong University of Science and Technology]
CUBIETECH LIMITED or in more detail
Domicile: Hong Kong
Type: Private, ltd by shares
HK companies registry: 1793090
Zhūhǎi (Chinese: 珠海) is a prefecture-level city on the southern coast of Guangdong province in the People’s Republic of China. Located in the Pearl River Delta, Zhuhai borders Jiangmen to the northwest, Zhongshan to the north, and Macau to the south. Zhuhai was one of the original Special Economic Zones established in the 1980s. Zhuhai is also one of China’s premier tourist destinations, being called the Chinese Riviera.
Zhuhai became a city in 1979, a year before it was named as one of the first Special Economic Zones (SEZ). The neighboring city of Shenzhen became the first Special Economic Zones of the Special Economy Zone in 1978. The implementation of this policy is logical as Zhuhai is located on the strategic position facing Macau, in the identical fashion by which Shenzhen faces Hong Kong. This enabled the Chinese Central Government to open another “window” in front of Macau. Even though the city is situated at the southern end of the Pearl River Delta area, Zhuhai acts as one of the central cities in the Pearl River Delta according to the new general urban plan approved by the State Council. The implementation of Special Economy Zone means that the city will grow as a powerful modern port city, science and education city, scenic and tourism city, and as a regional hub for transportation.
Recently a whole range of cheap Android devices have become available, all powered by the Allwinner A10 SOC. Thanks to the way A10 devices boot they are very easy to hack. All that is needed is a bootable SD card. How to make such a card is no big secret, and there are now multiple SD card images available. You can boot for example Lubuntu or Debian instead of Android. One A10 device, the MK802 stick computer, is almost ideal for a small home server. I bought one to examine its potential for the FreedomBox.
What A10 devices are available?
The A10 is used in a whole range of products, from tablets to TV multi media boxes to stick computers. The most popular devices are:
The $70 Mele A1000. This is a complete computer. Some specs: 512 Mb RAM, SD slot, support for SATA Hard-disks, connectors for multiple types of monitor (VGA/HDMI/Analog video), 10/100 Ethernet connector, WIFI, Audio out and two USB host ports.
The $65 MK802. This is a stick sized computer (0.47 x 3.46 x 1.38 inch) that has (of course) less connectors than the Mele A1000. The specs are: 1024 MB RAM (older versions 512 MB), microSD slot, HDMI video out, WIFI, one USB host port and one USB-OTG port.
You will probably agree with me that the $70 Mele is a better deal – the MK802 is overpriced. It would not surprise me if the MK802 drops in price to about $40 in the near future.
Here are some links to start with if you are interested in A10 devices:
Much pioneering work on the A10 was done by Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton. Luke is the one behind Rhombus Tech. A Community Interest Company, which is developing an open hardware Computer-on-Module that uses the A10. Lots of info can be found at:
from HERE: Tom Cubie Jul 15, 2012 +3
Hi, i am Tom Cubie, i have a shop on aliexpress selling allwinner powered devices. I am also the developer who ported u-boot to A10 and contribute to the A10 kernel source code. Welcome to my shop: http://www.aliexpress.com/store/511685
Mele A1000 70$(A10, 512MB, 4G)
Mele A2000 75$(A10, 512MB, 4G)
Smallart uHost 70$(A10, 1GB, 4G)
[these are set-top boxes]
Both the SD card images i used come from the miniand.com website. Miniand sells A10 devices and has a busy forum at:
MK802 images are available at:
Another company that sells the MK802 and other A10 devices is Rikomagic.
Someone named gnexus has a very interesting site about A10 devices:
Last but not least – i enjoyed the info at Jeff Doozan’s site.
Android-powered Cubieboard is already sold out [TG Daily, Sept 11, 2012]
We first covered [Sept 3, 2011 – bit the first public info was available from CNXSoft on Aug 31, 2012] the Android-powered Cubieboard – which is targeted at devs and modders – last week.
The uber-mini developer board is priced at a rather sweet $49, so one really can’t avoid drawing comparisons between this little device and the wildly popular Raspberry Pi.
However, the little Cubieboard boasts a faster processor, more memory and integrated storage. The first Cubieboard prototypes were offered for $49 plus shipping (from China) on AliExpress – but have already sold out. [e-mail address be given on a cubieboard page]
Here’s a quick rundown of the Cubieboard specs if you missed it the first time around last week. The device is powered by a a 1 GHz Allwinner A10 ARM Cortex-A8 processor paired with Mali 400 Graphics. Cubieboard also features 512 MB of RAM and 4 GB integrated flash storage. Unsurprisingly, a souped-up version of the board is reportedly in the works and will be loaded with a total of 1 GB of RAM.
The dev board is also equipped with an HDMI output, dual USB ports, an SD card slot for memory expansion, and other expansion pins and connectors for adding peripherals. Although the Cubieboard does sport an integrated Ethernet jack it lacks integrated Wi-Fi. As such, one of the available USB ports will have to be given up for a dongle – if wireless access is required. Soldering is a must if you want to use any of those header pins for additional accessories.
Originally, there was no indication that the bare-bones Cubieboard was equipped with 4 GB of flash storage, a feature which will make the already attractive system even more appealing to devs and modders.
Cubieboard is capable of running Android (2.3 and 4.0), as well as multiple flavors of Linux.
dedicated to all software and documentation related to hacking sunxi based devices and to thedevices themselves and is maintained by the arm-netbook community.
sunxi represents the family of ARM SoCs made by Allwinner Tech. in Zhuhai (Guangdong, China). The most popular sunxi SoC model is the Allwinner A10 (aka sun4i) and the Allwinner A13 (aka sun5i). Their predecesor was an ARM9 named Boxchip F20 (sun3i) and their successor whose specs are currently unknown, will be the sun6i.
Main components of the A10 / A13:
The A13 is a cheaper version of the A10. It lacks HDMI and SATA and is primarily targeted towards tablets.
Featured Community Hardware
Open Source Hardware
CedarX is Allwinner’s multimedia decoding technology. It is composed of several parts, including:
A hardware video decoding unit
Proprietary libraries to communicate with the hardware unit
Glue code to use those libraries on an actual system with video playback capabilities (e.g. Android)
Efficient use of system resources when decoding multimedia.
Allows small ARM systems to playback high resolution/bitrate multimedia content, which wouldn’t be possible using software-only decoding.
The proprietary libraries have no clear usage license.
The android glue code is implemented as a “media player” (parallel to stagefright) instead of as OMX components.
This media player has limitations when it comes to playing back content pointed to by Android URIs and some web-based content.
There is no glue code for any other multimedia frameworks on GNU/Linux systems. The use of OMX would’ve rendered this a non-issue, with existing projects like GstOpenMAX.
On June 15 2012 Iain Bullard started reverse engineering the proprietary libraries.
Mele A1000 is the same hardware and specs as the Mele A2000. The case design is slightly different, and the A1000 only has 2GB of internal flash formatted, but still has 4GB of internal flash total (should be able to be reformatted to use full 4GB).
The Mele units appear to have the most ports available of all the Allwinner A10 set-top/TV boxes, including SATA (normally accessible from a top “dock” for 2.5 HDDs, but can also be accessed from plugging an SATA cable to the main board inside.)
Same as the A1000/A2000, but lacks an SATA dock/connector.
Some units have 512MB of RAM, while others have 1GB of RAM. Has a female mini HDMI port, but comes with a short miniHDMI to full sized HDMI cable. One USB B port, and one USB mini OTG port that can also act as a USB host port with included adapter, or be powered by the mini USB port. DC power connector. Internal wifi. MicroSD card slot.
DX.com has a listing for a “AK802” that appears to be an identical unit to the 1GB RAM version.
Might be called Mini X, H24, or even the Mini Xplus (for legal reasons, apparently). All three are the exact same hardware. Has HDMI and analog video (composite?), two USB ports, one microSD card slot, IR sensor (most should come with a remote), removable wifi antenna, DC power connector (5 volts). Can be powered by included DC adapter, USB to DC cable (not included) or a male-to-male USB cable on the USB OTG port. Similar to the MK802, some units have 512MB of RAM, while others have 1GB of RAM.
Comes with a motion activated remote. Male HDMI port is directly on device. Size: 120mm x 50mm x 13mm. 1GB RAM. Built-in wifi b/g/n. Has one USB host port, and another microUSB port that turns the device into a USB drive. This microUSB port also seems to provide power to the device. Micro SD card slot. Mic jack and what seems to be an on-board mic (?).
Also sold as “Oval Elephant” from Oval Elephant.
1 GB RAM, 4GB internal flash, SDHC slot, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 10/100Mbit ethernet, wifi: 802.11 b/g/n, HDMI video out, composite video out, audio in minijack, audio out minijack, IR sensor.
1G ARM cortex-A8 processor, NEON, VFPv3, 512KB L2 cache, Mali400, OpenGL ES GPU, 1GB DDR3 @480MHz, HDMI 1080p Output, 100M Ethernet, 4GB Nand Flash 2 USB Host, 1 MMC slot, 1 SATA, 1 ir, 96 extend pin including i2c, spi, lcd, sensors, ..
Shenzhen Mele Digital Technology Ltd. is a global leader for design and manufacturing of internet High Definition (HD) multimedia terminals and a system solution provider for customers worldwide.
Shenzhen Mele has been leading the trend of introducing multimedia internet devices and applications into living rooms. Shenzhen Mele’s forward-looking market research, proven technological expertise and acumen, mature and efficient development process, ever-expanding manufacturing capacity and capability, rigorous quality assurance measures, enables Shenzhen Mele to win competitions by product innovation, feature differentiation, and time to market. Shenzhen Mele has a long history of successful track records of providing Original Product-planning Manufacturing (OPM) services and Original Design Manufacturing (ODM) services to our premium brand customers globally, and providing internet multimedia terminals with Shenzhen Mele’s own brand to our consumers in China.
Shenzhen Mele’s multimedia terminal products manifest the direction of digital evolution of future home. Shenzhen Mele’s products integrate internet applications, local area network (LAN) content browsing and sharing, data storage, data transport, HD multimedia playback and recording, HD digital TV playback and recording, multimedia home theater system, multimedia player and DVD combo, SoundBar multimedia player, camera and mobile phone etc. Shenzhen Mele’s system solutions include remote content distribution, device configuration and management, and product and feature customization for service providers, and remote data transport and content management service for end customers.
Shenzhen Mele is devoted to Complete Customer Satisfaction (CCS). We provide 7×24 around the clock services. We always solve customer issues by investigating root causes and addressing source of a problem. We strive for daily improvement and continuous progress in our course of pursuing perfectionism. Our corporate vision, our corporate social responsibility, and our down-to-the-earth working style of “starting from me” motivate our staff to work harder and smarter everyday. We sincerely believe that Innovations Enriches Quality Life.
8. The Nufront challenge coming from inside
Information about the latest tablet SoC contender Nufront, also posing the greatest challenge to Allwinner for the next year as it stands now (as of Nov 1, 2012):
– Nufront Announces Taishan Platform Targeting Mobile Devices Market [Nufront press release, May 7, 2012]: “The NS115 mobile computing chip, a dual-core ARM Cortex™-A9 MPCore™ processor up to 1.5GHz and Mali™-400 MP GPU implementation, features 1080P HD encode/decode and support of Android 4.0.”
– NUFRONT NS115 dualcore chipset – ARM at Computex 2012 [ARMflixYouTube channel, June 14, 2012]
– $81 Nufront NS115 ARM Cortex-A9 Dual-core 7″ 1024×600 IPS Tablet by Xusit [Charbax YouTube channel, Oct 28, 2012]
– Nufront and ARM Extend Partnership to Provide OEMs with Competitive Solutions for Next-Generation Smartphones, Tablets and Smart-TVs [joint ARM and Nufront press release, Sept 24, 2012]: “Nufront licenses latest ARM Cortex-A15 Processor and Mali-T658 GPU technology to drive innovation and address consumer demand for advanced features”
– Nufront licenses cores from Ceva, Vivante [EE Times, Sept 8, 2011]
– Interview with Nufront: “Windows RT will take away market share from notebooks” [ITProPortal, Oct 17, 2012]: “When do you expect Nufront to bring out (a) its first Cortex-A15/Mali Midgard products (b) products based on your Vivante/Ceva license? We are targeting the end of 2013.
Why is it that Nufront is not as popular as rivals such as AllWinner, VIA, Mediatek, Rockchip especially at the lower end of the market? We started from dual core system-on-chips, and dual core SoCs are going down to low end but not yet, it’s still single Cortex-A8 everywhere, while we believe the dual core A9 will go to the low end by the end of this year, and we will definitely be there, we are ready.”
– ARM Technologies Power Nufront’s First Computer System Chip To Reshape Laptop Market [Nufront press release, Sept 14, 2010]: “NuSmart™ 2816 is the world’s first chip to integrate a 2GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, a multi-core 2D/3D graphics processor, 64bits DDR2/3-1066 memory controller, 1080p multi-format video engine, SATA2 controller, USB2, Ethernet, together with general I/O controllers. By leveraging the multi-layer hybrid interconnection technology, multi-level fine grain power management technology and advanced 40nm manufacture process, NuSmart™ 2816 is very energy efficient consuming less than 2 Watts when running at 1.6GHz.“
– Ubuntu Adds Sparkle to Nufront Laptops at CES [PCWorld, Jan 7, 2011]
– From ARM.com: POP™ IP > Cortex-A9: “Nufront was the first company to produce an SoC with the Osprey hard macro running at 2.0 GHz (typical conditions).” … Osprey: ARM Announces 2GHz Capable Cortex-A9 Dual Core Processor Implementation [ARM press release, Sept 16, 2009]: “The Cortex-A9 hard macros and the corresponding optimized physical IP used to develop the speed-optimized and power-optimized implementations are available for license today with delivery in the fourth quarter of 2009.” … Partnership in action > Nufront CSC: Vince Zhou, General Manager at NUFRONT CSC on their adoption of ARM’s Cortex-A9 processor and Mali multi-core graphics processor technology, and high-performance Physical IP “... For 2011, we have set a target that $250 laptops will be widely available in China and rest of the world, based on the NuSmart 2816. Together with our partners we have an opportunity to create low-cost laptops with low-energy chips that drive the new computing era.”
– ARM announces ‘Osprey’ A9 core as Atom-beater [EE Times, Sept 16, 2009]
– Nufront released the second generation of NuSmart2816 series chip – NuSmart2816M [Nufront press release, Feb 13, 2012]
– Nufront at Computex 2012 [Charbax YouTube channel, June 8, 2012] where both the 2nd gen NumSmart2816M and the 3d gen NS115 are shown, the latter introduced as a LP (Low Power) and improved architecture implementation with 40% less power consumption than the NS2816M, also targeted for the smartphone market (in the video also their baseband chip is shown to be shipped in 2-3 months) and to be shipped a month later. Towards the end they acknowledge that their big hope for the NS2816 and NS2816M didn’t become a reality, because the laptop market remained a niche one (I would add it was due to overwhelming success of Android in the tablet space vs. the envisaged by them Ubuntu on the laptops), so they are refocusing on the tablet market. They also acknowledge trying to work with Microsoft on the Windows RT opportunity (but Microsoft is NOT shown as a partner). It is also said that they have almost 700 people working for them. To the last question they say that they have been living so far on mobile TV systems for China only [not true considering that they lost the battle against CMMB in China as shown in the following]. Note from their website: “Our superior, patented T-MMB (Terrestrial- Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting) system” (see also the T-MMB Q&A), Enhanced Ultra-High Throughput (EUHT) SuperWlan – UHT (Ultra-high Throughput Wireless LAN) and NUHT (Next UHT), and probably video search by “NuVideoTM supports hundreds of TV channels anywhere, anytime in any situation with real time catalog, automatic high-speed editing and processing.” as well.
– From Nufront’s own sponsored content on DIGITIMES [June 6, 2012]: “… Nufront was established in June 2004 with its first office located in Bejing, China. Through support from the government, Nufront began R&D of T-MMB systems. By 2006, Nufront’s T-MMB system had passed field tests conducted by the government. By November 2007, the firm had announced success in developing the first T-MMB chip called NF9001. In 2009, Nufront added two new branches, Beijing Pu Ji Xin Technology and Beijing Nufront Mobile Communication Technology. … The firm stated its goal is to become a comparable firm to Qualcomm and MediaTek. Nufront aims to create a unified platform that consists of both telecommunication and PC functions to meet the needs of various types of mobile smart products.”
– China Digital TV Transmitter Market Report, 2012 [Reportlinker.com press release, Oct 30, 2012]: “With respect to mobile devices, T-MMB was adopted as the national standard on April 3, 2008, but denied by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) which has been actively promoting CMMB (China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting) network construction. With investment in digital TV transmitter reaching approximately RMB600 million in 2010 and not less than RMB800 million in 2011, CMMB has become the major player with respect to signal coverage and user group.”
– 2011 Mobile TV Development Report [Zhang Rui on Sina blog, Oct 15, 2012]: “.. by the end of 2011, CMMB network covered more than 336 prefecture-level cities, 885 economically developed county-level cities with signal coverage rate reaching 98.22%, covering a population of nearly 800 million, and as such CMMB has become the world’s largest mobile radio and TV coverage network. … as of the end of 2011, CMMB nationally more than 35 million users, paying subscribers reached 16 million. In 2011, through the widespread cooperation with China Mobile, they jointly promoted the development of 11.29 million bi-directional end users, creating a precedent for the conversion rate of mobile data services with a 73.3% conversion rate; with new users the one-way terminal user base increased in 2011 to 6 million. …” Note: CMMB “… is based on the Satellite and Terrestrial Interactive Multiservice Infrastructure (STiMi), developed by TiMiTech, a company formed by the Chinese Academy of Broadcasting Science. Announced in October 2006, it has been described as being similar to Europe’s DVB-SH standard for digital video broadcast from both satellites and terrestrial repeaters to handheld devices. …”
– Mobile TV: at least three years to take to maturity, preliminary [coming in 20]08 [XINHUANET.COM, Aug 14, 2006]: “<nicely and broadly covering the STiMi story then TMMB as well: > … T-MMB standard was developed under the auspices of the Ministry of information industry, which is Korea DMB standard as the basis for in-depth research and development of a standard, part of independent intellectual property rights. It is a broadcast system, is also a one way system. T-MMB advantages: first, compatibility, compatible Korea T-DMB technology easier to implement roaming. …”
– which is really shown by the below illustration from this Aug’11 Norvegian research paper:
– Then 3 years later came Tug of war [China Daily, April 14, 2008] between SARFT and MIIT: “The format (T-MMB) was not strictly tested or undergo necessary trials and the standardization was manipulated by a small group of people,” claims Wang Xiaojie, head of SARFT’s Science and Technology Department. “The result is not relevant to us and we will not adopt the standard.” which resulted in the current situation when still the old NF9001 is the only T-MMB chip and Nufront is not listed even as a mobile TV chip provider while some other providers are covering now several standards with a single chip. The current best example is DiBcom whose “Octopus2s [launched on Sept 5, 2012] … single die System-On-Chip … supports all the active digital TV formats available in the World such as ISDB-T one-seg, full-seg, and sb for Japan and South America; DVB-T for Europe, Africa, South East Asia and Columbia; DAB/DAB+ digital radio for Europe; T-DMB for Korea, CMMB and CTTB for China; ATSC and ATSC M/H for North America.”
– Media report published on the Nufront website: Nufront: Technological innovation-oriented computing and communications develop simultaneously [April 27, 2012]: “… “In fact, as early as in 2005, began in-depth study of wireless LAN technology, developed a new generation of ultra-high-speed wireless LAN technology EUHT before the 802.11n standard in data throughput, spectrum efficiency and economy have done better than the existing WiFi technology, “said Yang Yuxin. Outdoor communications 3G/4G network in the room it will rely on the ultra-high-speed local area network. “The mentioned EUHT He is a new generation of communications technology specifically for the short-range wireless communication environment specifically optimized design can short distance (100 m coverage, expandable to 500 m) to support a large number of high-speed connection, and to ensure the business real-time requirements, the physical layer peak rates up to 3.86Gbps, about 90% of the efficiency of the system can be widely used in the Internet of Things, digital applications in the home, digital city, has obvious advantages compared with existing wireless LAN technology. …” Note: MIIT in China announced on February 13, 2012 that it has approved the UHT/EUHT standard specification (click for Chinese announcement). The announcement reads that MIIT has finalized the previously discussed UHT and EUHT layer standards; the document for download is simply a table naming the two finalized standards. The actual text of the standards will be published by the Peoples’ Post and Telecoms Publishing House.
… Where Nufront differs from other up and comers, though, is that the company, founded in 2004, has already been around the block. Its eight years in the industry have cemented closer ties with the Chinese government agencies. With that comes government funding. Not everything has worked out in its favor, though, and the company has a few scars to show for it.
A case in point is China’s mobile TV standard. Nufront, in the mid-2000’s, dabbled with the nascent digital mobile TV market, throwing itself behind one of China’s home-grown mobile TV standards, Terrestrial-Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting (T-MMB). However, just before the Beijing Olympics, China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) ended up supporting — and institutionalizing — a rival standard, China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting (CMMB).
Nufront is also known for its deep involvement in developing China’s national wireless technology, called Enhanced Ultra-High Throughput (EUHT) WLAN. With government funding, Nufront has been working on the national standard for more than several years. While the world is yet to see EUHT commercialized, Rock Yang, vice president of marketing at Nufront, stressed that the project is still on, and its ultra-high throughput wireless technology – 1.2Gbit per second throughput – will be deployed in China’s vertical market in 2013.
Nufront today has about 700 employees, with a team of 400 engineers. Two hundred are software engineers, while 150 are working on hardware systems, and 50 are specifically focused on chipsets, according to the company.
Nufront’s strategy doesn’t stop at the apps processor. The company is rolling out its first-generation GSM/WCDMA 3G baseband chip, TeLink 7619. Calling it a “dual-modem platform,” the new chip incorporates digital RF, power management and baseband, according to the company. How this will fare against other GSM/WCDMA baseband chips from competitors is unknown. But Nufront hopes to offer a “complete smartphone solution” in 2013, by adding its baseband chip to NS115.
Yang made it clear that Nufront, during the second quarter this year, acquired some essential IPRs on WCDMA. The Chinese company paid $9.0 million to InterDigital, a company with broad wireless patent portfolio. However, it remains unclear what exactly Nufront got. InterDigital only confirms the deal in vague terms: “We did enter into a set of agreements with Nufront, and those agreements included the transfer of a certain number of patents as well as other elements.” InterDigital’s spokesman added, “Our practice is not to offer any comment on the specifics of patent transfers with partners.”
Separately, in June, Intel cut a deal to buy about a host of wireless technology patents from InterDigital for $375 million.
The “Internet of Things” is also in Nufront’s sights. The company believes its 3G modules could be particularly useful in the vertical market for Internet of Things applications.
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“The SoC (system on a chip) manufacturer provides a reference design including a BSP. The reference design is bought by original design manufacturers (ODMs), usually under NDA (which is the first GPL violation). The ODMs license their modifications to factories and give them binary-only distributions, a second GPL violation.
“The factories have absolutely no software engineers. They do not even know what source code is, let alone what an ‘Apache’ (licence) or a ‘GPL’ is. The factories sell product to importers; they in turn sell to wholesalers who sell to retailers and from there it is sold to end-users.”
Leighton says it is absolute hell to chase a GPL violation back through this chain, fighting ignorance and arrogance across international boundaries every step of the way. “After trying to be patient with this process, several times, we have concluded that it is a complete waste of time to pursue GPL violations just to do a deal, selling hardware product that is GPL-compliant: it’s too late by then.”
嵌入式软件工程师 [Embedded software engineer]
June 2011 – Present (1 year 3 months)
[Software] Design Engineer
A good place to buy an A10 device is “The Cubies hacker shop” at:
Tom Cubie (alias hipboi) is very actively involved in getting GNU/Linux working on the A10. Just like Luke he is planning to release open hardware based on the A10.
Congratulation to Mele’s 8th Anniversary [Mele press release, Sept 4, 2012]
About Mele [Dec 20, 2012]:
And the latest report about Nufront: China fabless: Nufront ventures beyond tablet chips [EE Times, Nov 6, 2012]