Allwinner A10 - ARM Cortex A8 SoC

The Allwinner A10 CPU has been developed in, and is sold in, the People's Republic of China. Its mass-volume price is around $7, yet it is a 400-pin highly feature-rich 1.2ghz ARM Cortex A8 with a MALI400 GPU. It has the distinction of having the highest bang-per-buck ratio of any SoC available at the time of writing, by quite a margin. Its price and features is causing massive disruption of the tablet market in China (a minor recession was caused by widespread cancellation of prior committments to other SoCs!), as every factory in Shenzen scrambles to compete with hundreds of other factories for the same end-user market: tablets and PVRs.

For comparison: TI has brought out a new $5 ARM Cortex A8, but it is limited to 500mhz and it is extra cost for the version with a PowerVR 3D GPU. Ingenic's jz4770 is about $7 in mass-volume but it is a 1ghz MIPS with a Vivante GC600 3D GPU. Details are harder to get hold of regarding the jz4770, but its interfaces are known not as feature-rich as the Allwinner (no HDMI output for example). AMLogic's Cortex A9 is $13 in mass-volume, but is limited to 800mhz and a maximum of 512mb of RAM.

Preorders

If you would like to register your interest in an EOMA-68 CPU card with an Allwinner A10 CPU, please follow the instructions at the orders page. Developers can find out more details of the Open Hardware Project progress on the pcb page.

News

Updates are available at the news page. Latest is that the owner of the Factory in China has reviewed the draft component layout for the EOMA-68 CPU module, to double-check that everything will fit in the available space.

Features

Features of the Allwinner A10 include:

  • 1.2ghz Cortex A8 ARM Core
  • MALI400MP OpenGL ES 2.0 GPU
  • DDR3 Controller 800MHz 1GB max
  • 2160p Hardware-accelerated Video playback (4x the resolution of 1080p)
  • 2D Accelerated Graphics (G2D) Engine
  • a NAND Flash Controller that is capable of 8-way concurrent DMA (8 NAND ICs)
  • 4 SDIO interfaces (SD 3.0, UHI class)
  • USB 2.0 Host as well as a 2nd USB-OTG Interface (USB-OTG can be reconfigured as USB 2.0 Host, automatically)
  • 24-pin RGB/TTL as well as simultaneous HDMI out
  • SATA-II 3gb/sec
  • 10/100 Ethernet (MII compatible)
  • a 2nd 24-pin RGB/TTL interface that is multiplexed (shared) on the same pins for a standard IDE (PATA) interface.
  • GPIO, I2C, PWM, Keyboard Matrix (8x8), built-in Resistive Touchscreen Controller, and much more.

Unsurprisingly, this CPU has been chosen as the first CPU for an EOMA-68 CPU module. The critical decisive factor however was the immediate support of Allwinner's Board of Directors for releasing full GPL Source Code, to help the RHT Initiative to foster better relations and closer ties with Free Software Developers.

Getting Involved

EOMA-68 CPU card is an open source software and hardware project that relies on the community participation. You can get involved in several ways:

  • Joining arm-netbooks@lists.phcomp.co.uk mailing list for discussions or questions (registration required at http://lists.phcomp.co.uk/mailman/listinfo/arm-netbook)
  • Contributing to the source code (kernel, bootloader, ...)
  • Downloading and trying Linux images available at Allwinner A10 images. You can also download the nightly build images, If you want to test the latest U-boot and/or Kernel images.
  • Reporting bugs / features requests in github issue tracker, see source code page for links to corresponding repositories.
  • Adding information to the Wiki (these pages) mainly for how-tos, news and general description of the project
  • Digging out register programming information from the u-boot and kernel sources and add to A10 register guide

Preliminary Device Installation Instructions

This is still TBD. In the meantime, information is available on elinux.org on Hacking A10 Devices. Also there is a tool for reversing the "fex" format of the boot-up stage: https://github.com/amery/sunxi-tools. Also there is a page describing the A10 Boot Process and A10 MMC Boot, including a link to the tool for packing a bootloader application. There is also a page containing Allwinner A10 images of prebuilt filesystems, a page on Building Debian From Source Code for Mele and a page about Scripts to build source code and generate a bootable SD card

Pin Connections for the Module

This section is in note-form

SPI2 and JTAG0

pads, multiplex2, multiplex3 function, required to have one SD/MMC become a JTAG port:

  • PB13 SPI2_CS1 NC
  • PB14 SPI2_CS0 JTAG_MS0
  • PB15 SPI2_CLK JTAG_CK0
  • PB16 SPI2_MOSI JTAG_DO0
  • PB17 SPI2_MISO JTAG_DI0

Power Consumption (Mele A1000 A10)

 u-boot idle, 0.23A@5V = 1.15W
 Android idle. 0.34A@5V = 1.7W
 Android busy navigating some web page: 0.55A@5V = 2.75W
 Android 2.3.3 + youtube + video 720p = ~4.6W
 Android 2.3.3 + SATA HDD + video 1280p = ~7.3W
 Ubuntu 12.04 (headless) + SATA HDD + deluge (torrent client) + minidlna (dlna server) = ~5.0W-6.5W (sometimes max 7.8W)

Forums and links to products with the Allwinner A10