Freescale recently released the i.MX6 Series of ARM SoC for industrial and mobile computing. This new SoC is based on ARMv7 Cortex-A9 MP architecture, that can scale from 1 to 4 core(s), clocked at up to 1.2 GHz, obviously also featuring a complete 2D/3D GPU based on Vivante GC400 engine, supporting OpenVG, OpenGL|ES 1.x and 2.x and OpenCL hardware acceleration APIs. The Freescale i.MX6 also provides a complete Multimedia Codecs API, allowing 1080p H.264/VC-1 video encoding/decoding.
While the chip is yet barely available to manufacturers, the OpenBricks team is proud to already feature it as supported within its framework. All hardware components aren’t yet fully supported, but we do already provide enough for you to start playing with the chip. So far, the OpenBricks framework provides full support for U-Boot and Linux Kernel (and basic/usual drivers) as well as complete support for IPU (Image Processing Unit) and GPU (with all Khronos libs for console-based environment). Still missing are the related X.Org video drivers and all hardware-accelerated audio/video codecs support but we’re definitely working on getting these in.
In other words, if you’re looking for an updated filesystem, we provide you everything one could need to start hacking with Freescale i.MX6 ARM2 and SabreLite evaluation boards. More to come on this in the following weeks …
The multimedia components of OpenBricks have been greatly improved to now feature up to 4 kind of MediaCenter software to turn your device into an HTPC. As a user, if you intend to build your own SetTopBox (through GeeXboX distribution flavour for example), you may now choose between Enna (EFL-based), XBMC (SDL-based), MythTV (Qt3 based) and QtMediaHub (Qt4/QML-based).
Along from Enna, which was the only supported MediaCenter so far, we just added the XBMC and MythTV, the 2 major HTPC software ever. While MythTV is still quite a bit work-in-progress so far, XBMC works like a charm, including on OMAP devices. XBMC 10.0 just has been released a few ago and was integrated within OpenBricks, offering a complete hardware video decoding support either through CrystalHD, VDPAU or VA-API frameworks. XBMC for ARM is working so far but unfortunately doesn’t yet provide any acceleration but it’s in the work.
A newcomer also has been added through the experimental QtMediaHub project. This is a proof-of-concept application from Nokia that re-uses XBMC skin engine (and Confluence theme) to create a MediaCenter fully written in the new QML language, that already features many nice things like audio/video playback, pictures browsing but also a nice Web Browser.
We’ll try to provide testing binaries and images ASAP …
Early October 2010, Texas Instruments (TI) released the PandaBoard, the first community-driven embedded board featuring TI’s OMAP4 SoC, that everyone will see as BeagleBoard‘s successor. PandaBoard is a very nice piece of hardware, featuring a dual-core Cortex-A9 CPU, PowerVR SGX540 GPU, IVA-HD Ducati DSP capable of 1080p hardware video decoding and encoding, 1GB RAM, FastEthernet, Bluetooth, WiFi, HDMI, FM Radio and so much more. OMAP4 SoC will definitely reached 2011’s Smartphones and Set-Top-Boxes (at least!) but no doubt they’ll be integrated in so much more devices. PandaBoard is the first low-cost (174$ only) available mobile software development platform featuring OMAP4.
Early shipments of the board have barely started at DigiKey and it’s yet really hard to get your own but the OpenBricks project has been sponsored a couple boards from TI as early adopters. As a result, we’re proud to announce that OMAP4 SoC and PandaBoard is now fully supported by our cross-toolchain, with complete support of all of its peripherals, including all of its multimedia parts. It is then very easy for everybody to build your own customized distribution for this board and tune it to your taste, including X-Loader, U-Boot and root filesystem.
Some ready-to-flashed SD Card images of GeeXboX distribution with full-featured MediaCenter will be made available in the next days to come.
Since last week, OpenBricks has added support for the recently released Linaro 10.11 toolchain. This toolchain can now be selected in the configuration interface, and is available for ARM targets as an alternative to our own OpenBricks toolchain or to the CodeSourcery toolchain.