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Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2

Posted by Gravelrash 
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 05, 2017 05:26PM
So what is the Beelink X2's CPU then? I've seen at least three names for it, but it it a Cortex-A7?

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-=Cloud 9=-
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 05, 2017 07:45PM
It is correct to say that the CPU is Cortex-A7. However, all ARM CPUs are open architecture design that are licensed by the SoC manufacturer. So usually you would use the SoC family name to describe it. Allwinner H3 is one of the SoCs in Allwinner family.

-bodhi
===========================
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/05/2017 07:46PM by bodhi.
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 07, 2017 01:44AM
bodhi Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It is correct to say that the CPU is Cortex-A7.
> However, all ARM CPUs are open architecture design
> that are licensed by the SoC manufacturer. So
> usually you would use the SoC family name to
> describe it. Allwinner H3 is one of the SoCs in
> Allwinner family.

Do you think the boot loader in the Beelink that looks to TF/micro SD slot first - could be modified to look for OSs on USB sticks plugged-in? I ask for two reasons.
One, those cards if you aren't careful, can spring out and be lost in the carpet. I was lucky the other day it bounced off the ceiling and landed in front of me. The other reason being, great USB sticks like SanDisk Ultras are routinely $10, and micro SD cards are almost always twice the price. Plus it's easier to copy a USB stick to another for backup because every machine around has more than one USB slot to copy. So far every computer I've seen with an SD slot as only one of each!

I count my blessings already though, many a wish has been granted here and I'll be using these devices to watch tutorials over and over and be more knowledgeable. Second stop: Docker. First stop: a little of everything else.

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-=Cloud 9=-



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/07/2017 11:39AM by JoeyPogoPlugE02.
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 07, 2017 04:03AM
Joey,

> Do you think the boot loader in the Beelink that
> looks to TF/micro SD slot first - could be
> modified to look for OSs on USB sticks plugged-in?

I don't know, because I've never seen the boot log. If you can connect serial console and get the boot log then I probably can tell whether it is doable. And if from there, I can't see clearly what its capabilities are, then you want to find the source code for that u-boot (Allwinner is required to provide the GPL source for it).

Sometime just googling it or searching their forum will turn up if other people has figured out how to boot from USB. This is easy to do if this u-boot was modified from mailine code.

-bodhi
===========================
Wiki
latest Kirkwood kernel builds and rootfs
latest u-boot-kirkwood builds
latest Oxnas kernel builds and rootfs
latest u-boot-oxnas builds
latest MVEBU Armada kernel builds and rootfs
U-Boot & Kernel Booting process
bodhi's u-boot GitHub
bodhi's corner
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 08, 2017 10:58PM
According to the H3 datasheet the on chip Boot ROM:

  • Support secure and non-secure access boot
  • Support system boot from the following devices:
    1. NAND Flash
    2. SD/TF card
    3. eMMC
    4. Nor Flash
  • Support system code download through USB OTG

Since USB is not listed for system boot, you would need to at least have u-boot installed on one of the above devices. Since the Beelink X2 contains a FORESEE NCEFES78-08G eMMC flash you could conceivably configure the u-boot installed there to look for the kernel and root image on a USB device.

Ray
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 08, 2017 11:24PM
@rayknight,

I don't think that's what Joey meant to ask. What is interested to most of people in this forum, Joey included, is how to boot the kernel on USB. Usually, they don't care about how u-boot works or where it is stored, just that whetther it can load the kernel and rootfs from a storage device of their own choosing, and not being limited to a certain type, such as SD card.

-bodhi
===========================
Wiki
latest Kirkwood kernel builds and rootfs
latest u-boot-kirkwood builds
latest Oxnas kernel builds and rootfs
latest u-boot-oxnas builds
latest MVEBU Armada kernel builds and rootfs
U-Boot & Kernel Booting process
bodhi's u-boot GitHub
bodhi's corner
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 08, 2017 11:56PM
If you've installed armbian then you are likely using U-boot 2016.09. Armbian has a boot.scr in the /boot directory that can modify how u-boot loads kernel and ramdisk. The boot.cmd file contains a user readable version of this script. Modifications are written to the boot.scr file by running the following command:

# mkimage -C none -A arm -T script -d /boot/boot.cmd /boot/boot.scr

More documentation is likely available via the Armbian forums.

Armbian also contains a nand-sata-install script which covers the following scenarios:
  • boot from SD, system on SATA / USB
  • boot from eMMC / NAND, system on eMMC/NAND
  • boot from eMMC / NAND, system on SATA / USB
The last of these would seem to cover the desired capability.

Ray
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 09, 2017 08:44PM
rayknight Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> The last of these would seem to cover the desired
> capability.
>
> Ray

Wow great stuff Ray & Bodhi before that! I'm awaiting the 2nd one in the mail but will leave it at that - one stuck to Android and the other Armbian. Next order of heatsink glue I'll solder in UART pins if it'll help to trace any boot items.

Another thing that might be real useful is to see how far the included remote control will go with Armbian. Maybe I'm "living in a cave" but I've never seen a remote control you can wave the remote to affect the cursor on the screen, as described at 5:35 in the informative YouTube video:

http://youtu.be/JEVXKRdOj5M

Back in a bit

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-=Cloud 9=-
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 12, 2017 12:05AM
Maybe I can back-peddle because I glossed over the H3 datasheet, notice lack of action at Armbian forums, and am otherwise waiting daily for either this or this cheap USB sound interface to see if they play nice.
The only Known Issues reported for Legacy kernel is said to be "HDMI output supports only predefined resolutions" and... I was going to ask if the remote control could be used to choose between different DVI resolutions, but I'd imagine the video loading happens before the remote control would be recognized anyway right?

So many questions, but again the remote control is an area I'd like to get more info about. My 3rd unit was going to be a present to my mom and make her a jitterbug programmed as easy as possible even if it means staying in Android KitKat - but with the code for her Dish remote control. Which begs a separate question: how can we capture a remote controls' code it broadcasts so we'd know what to program? Sounds like an IR project for the back burner. I've got three IR units here or a rainy day.

-edited- at this point in time Armbian forum hasn't noticed the power button doesn't work to shut the unit off.

I'll incubate these thoughts and plan on diving into the nand-sata-install script "boot from eMMC / NAND, system on SATA / USB" before too long. I'll work out backup plans in the meantime :-)

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-=Cloud 9=-



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/16/2017 03:21PM by JoeyPogoPlugE02.
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 15, 2017 11:10PM
I'm really impressed with this overview of H3 SOCs. Also worth noting the Legacy's are up to version 3.4.113 with Debian Jesse and Ubuntu Xenial; Armbian. I downloaded them but must wait a bit before proceeding.

There is a question I can't figure out, when under Known issues it includes "1-Wire protocol requires setting the minimum CPU frequency to 480MHz or higher"

What do we use 1-wire protocol for? High speed bus of some kind? :-)

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-=Cloud 9=-



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/2017 11:20PM by JoeyPogoPlugE02.
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 15, 2017 11:39PM
> There is a question I can't figure out, when under
> Known issues it includes "1-Wire protocol requires
> setting the minimum CPU frequency to 480MHz or
> higher"
>
> What do we use 1-wire protocol for? High speed bus
> of some kind? :-)

Right :) for weather and motion detection.

See the Wiki thread

Quote

Sensors

OWFSPlug : 1-Wire File System + Motion Detection Software in a NAND Package
OWFS & Motion Detection (external link)

-bodhi
===========================
Wiki
latest Kirkwood kernel builds and rootfs
latest u-boot-kirkwood builds
latest Oxnas kernel builds and rootfs
latest u-boot-oxnas builds
latest MVEBU Armada kernel builds and rootfs
U-Boot & Kernel Booting process
bodhi's u-boot GitHub
bodhi's corner
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 16, 2017 01:12AM
bodhi Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> > There is a question I can't figure out, when
> under
> > Known issues it includes "1-Wire protocol
> requires
> > setting the minimum CPU frequency to 480MHz or
> > higher"
> >
> > What do we use 1-wire protocol for? High speed
> bus
> > of some kind? :-)
>
> Right :) for weather and motion detection.
>
> See the Wiki thread
>
>
Quote

Sensors
>
> OWFSPlug : 1-Wire File System + Motion Detection
> Software in a NAND Package
> OWFS & Motion Detection (external link)

Probably make a Theramin if music software is inside :-)

Say bodhi, where do you see the Wiki for that?

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-=Cloud 9=-
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 16, 2017 02:00AM
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 16, 2017 03:17PM
bodhi Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Joey,
>
> http://forum.doozan.com/read.php?2,23630

Thank you for that, also good news they let me in at Armbian. They might have a while back so I'll edit out my earlier comments.

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-=Cloud 9=-
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 18, 2017 12:22AM
For what it's worth, I got the 2nd Beelink X2 in today and decided to flash an image of Armbian_5.24_Beelinkx2_Ubuntu_xenial_3.4.113. I don't know why but it only goes as far as command prompt. It accepted my username and password but I dunno what's up.

* update: I'd gotten the server version. For Beelink newbs it's easy to get the wrong one as I found out. It's got to be the one specified Desktop if that's what you're after.

All in all I haven't tested Debian and Ubuntu extensively, but Ubuntu seemed to get me into wireless easier, with the neighborhood wireless listing appearing easily. A big negative is neither version will auto configure HDMI output, which is kind of important because you want to knock on doors with this little box and show the neighborhood.
To this end I propose a peace offering, a way to log into Android, put the microSD card in and from Android specify the screen you'd like to boot into. This would negate the need for putty or other SSH thing. Or even a safe mode to boot into where the first thing is a screen resolution menu.

In other news I've got a suggestion for anyone who does some prep in Windows or Mac, this: It's formatted USB sticks I thought were toast, and same with stubborn SD Cards and all that. It's forever in my toolbox and the price is free/right.

But anyway when the USB sound"cards" come in I'll test a lot more, but for now I like the Debian version much better because it's got much less things running and feels quick and light. Stellarium on the Debian version is as nimble as my Windows x64 desktop and nVidia 8x series video card. And Stellarium is never nimble (LOL)

=========
-=Cloud 9=-



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/18/2017 12:23AM by JoeyPogoPlugE02.
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 19, 2017 03:17PM
Today (1/19/17) ONLY, AliExpress has this NEXBOX A95X Smart TV Box Amlogic S905X Quad core 64 Bit Android 6.0 4K x 2K 2.4GHz WiFi A53 Media Player Set Top Box with a 2 GB RAM US $22.61. This is the lowest price I have ever since.
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 20, 2017 08:23PM
habibie Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Today (1/19/17) ONLY, AliExpress has this
> [url=https://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/NEXB
> OX-A95X-Smart-TV-Box-Amlogic-S905X-Quad-core-64-Bi
> t-Cortex-A53-2GB-16GB-Media/2191085_32719509777.ht
> ml]NEXBOX A95X Smart TV Box Amlogic S905X Quad
> core 64 Bit Android 6.0 4K x 2K 2.4GHz WiFi A53
> Media Player Set Top Box[/url] with a 2 GB RAM US
> $22.61. This is the lowest price I have ever
> since.

I'm curious that you didn't post this in the Off Topic forum, but admittedly the Beelink X2 topic has become pretty diluted anyway and in large part due to yours truly.

I'm still waiting for two flavors of USB audio in the mail, and keep cringing thinking about the noise generated by other cheap audio devices - but than again the X2 has no fans so one kind of interference [i]should[/i] be minimal.
Another thing I'll have to try, is take my USB to Ethernet adapter, and plug in a hard drive also attached to a USB plug, and see how fast it works - like if it goes above 10 MB/sec now that the ethernet is off of a 480 Mbit connection and not 100 mbit as-is.

Would I run it that way? Probably not. But have to find out what the limits are right? :-)

=========
-=Cloud 9=-



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/20/2017 08:24PM by JoeyPogoPlugE02.
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 23, 2017 02:05PM
JoeyPogoPlugE02 Wrote:
> I'm still waiting for two flavors of USB audio in
> the mail, and keep cringing thinking about the
> noise generated by other cheap audio devices - but
> than again the X2 has no fans so one kind of
> interference should be minimal.

I'm curious why you would need to add USB audio to the X2 when it already has SPDIF audio?

Ray
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 23, 2017 03:19PM
rayknight Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> I'm curious why you would need to add USB audio to
> the X2 when it already has SPDIF audio?
>
> Ray

I only have two devices that accept SPDIF - so there's a real shortage of converters here. Plus I have three monitors with this or similar, Dell sound bars for monitors. Overall for me, the X2s will be used to watch video tutorials and use arm-debian word processing to write my story :-).
As for neighbors that I want to demonstrate these cool boxes, I might be wise to gussy-up the onboard Android KitKat and let them be inspired with that as a teaser. HDMI audio works fine with a TV.

-update- I got this in the mail today and am thunderstruck how good it sounds and no additional driver needed. As far as I can tell. Will test in the Beelink though because this was a ThinClient test. It took about 23 days to Great Lakes region but is an outstanding value.

-2nd update- that USB sound thing. Imagine it has a red LED inside. It does. That makes it glow all over like a night lite. This might turn off some people but so far the sound quality is better than most onboard analog audio ports. Still must try Linux and Android and I'll let you know.

* EDITED - My thanks below to bodhi and Gravelrash's condolences to an unexpected tragedy in my family.

=========
-=Cloud 9=-



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 01/29/2017 04:03PM by JoeyPogoPlugE02.
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 24, 2017 02:22AM
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
January 24, 2017 07:31AM
Joey,

I too know how that feels. My deepest condolences to you and your loved ones in your time of grief.
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
February 13, 2017 11:04AM
From today (2/13/17) to the next 7 days, if anyone is interested in getting this device, GearBest has this Beelink X2 TV Box 4K H.265 Decoding - EU PLUG BLACK US $29.99 + Free S/H.
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
April 19, 2017 10:45PM
I'm not sure if I give up, but must take a break for a while. That Armbian is a cruel teaser - exactly where you need documentation there isn't any, it dosent' hold a candle to Android's ability to figure out the screen resolution and fix it - I mean it boots into video failsafe essentially. But you're locked-out if you can't figure the h3disp setting because there's no control for refresh and all that.
It's hard enough getting the proper Android firmware let alone a 40-page excursion. I think what I'll do is one last push into Android firmware and leave well enough alone.

This begs the question: adapter aside, is HDMI considered interlaced or progressive?

=========
-=Cloud 9=-



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/21/2017 12:08PM by JoeyPogoPlugE02.
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
April 20, 2017 01:33AM
Joey, What type of monitor are you using with the Beelink X2? If it's not an HDMI monitor you will have issues using Armbian.
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
April 20, 2017 11:54PM
rayknight Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Joey, What type of monitor are you using with the
> Beelink X2? If it's not an HDMI monitor you will
> have issues using Armbian.

You're right Ray, this particular monitor is a VGA HP LCD, chosen because it has built in soundbar. Beelink has this adapter and out to VGA. Where Armbian is concerned, Xenial displays better than Debian. I might try those over again.
I have two Beelink X2s, one of which will go on the old VGA but another one of two DVI monitors and it's established those display good.
As a backup plan I flashed the Android to update_XII_v215K4 which is good for Realtek WiFi and seems to list the neighborhood.
* I'm not sure I'd recommend that, as it's got the Windows 8 Metro look now LOL And Qodi Media Player (?) looks exactly like Kodi.

So maybe this weekend I can re-flash Xenial and Debian and see what's what. h3disp is real handy, it still got Xenial close enough on the VGA. So as I go to bed,a good day down, maybe I can be less flaky next session. Managing grief but that genie slips out of the bottle sometimes, not alcohol or drugs just some mood swings.

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-=Cloud 9=-



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/20/2017 11:55PM by JoeyPogoPlugE02.
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
April 21, 2017 02:55PM
I have an old 27" Toshiba LCD TV with HDMI input that I use with my Beelink X2 as I found that my DVI monitor wouldn't sync properly. I've not had much success with DVI to HDMI adapters.
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
April 22, 2017 05:17PM
rayknight Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I have an old 27" Toshiba LCD TV with HDMI input t
> hat I use with my Beelink X2 as I found that my DV
> I monitor wouldn't sync properly. I've not had mu
> ch success with DVI to HDMI adapters.

I can see now that I was asking too much leniency from true HDMI deviations after the fact.

Ray or anyone else, I've got a favor to ask. Is there a way to command h3disp to tell you what settings it's currently using?

I might take another stab at using Debian (Armbian) with the successful settings from Xenial. Hands-down Debian flies, and that might be the final plan. I was really impressed with Debian and the included apps in fact.

=========
-=Cloud 9=-
Re: Allwinner H3 - Beelink X2
April 23, 2017 03:05PM
UPDATE, SOLVED:
Armbian installed to a perfect display, plugged into the VGA monitor when first installing.

At the end of the quick install it stated the screen resolution and asked if I wanted to use H3disp and I said no.
PER FECT :-)

Whoah, prodigal son here. Mind... blown... pehhhhh 

=========
-=Cloud 9=-
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