Allwinner ARM SoCs

Allwinner ARM Systems on a Chip is a cheap SoC producing some cheap and interesting devices. The SoCs themselves are made in China by a company that licensed the Cortex-A8 reference design from ARM, it was one of the earlier ARMv7 chips so isn’t bleeding edge but it is ARMv7 so fully hardfp compatible. They currently produce two widely available chips the Allwinner A10 and A13.

The Allwinner chips are something I’ve been interested in supporting in some form or another on Fedora ARM for a while as they simply have a lot of cheap hardware available that is of reasonable specs. There’s a few things that have stopped me to date. Firstly it doesn’t appear that all their kernel code is upstream as yet so we’d be in a similar situation as we are with the Raspberry Pi. I’ve also not had a lot of time of late (as can be seen by my lack of blog posts recently!) as I’ve had other more pressing things non Fedora ARM things on my plate. Lastly I’ve been concentrating on ensuring Fedora 18 and rawhide remains in reasonable shape, the kernels of the devices we support keep moving forward and I’ve also got some other boards that have upstream kernel support I would like to see being usable on Fedora. Simply put… there’s just not enough hours in the day.

The other day I noticed that the company behind the Allwinner SoC (or some other company) had decided the create a cheap development board similar to that of the Pi, BeagleBoard or some of the other devices on the market. It’s called the CubieBoard.

It’s an interesting board. It’s some what higher speced than the Pi being an 1Ghz ARMv7 Cortex-A8 processor with 1Gb of RAM (or 512Mb), 4Gb of NAND Flash, 100Mb ethernet, most of the usual peripherals and interestingly a onboard SATA port. All for $49.

I contacted the CubieBoard team to see what their plans were for Fedora support and offered my assistance. I’ve since got an email back saying they’ll send me a board to enable us to get it working with Fedora. So once I’m back from holidays I should have a Allwinner A10 board waiting for me which I can start investigating what is required to support the Allwinner devices in Fedora. It seems they’re moving to get the kernel support upstream, there’s also a project to write an open source X driver for the MALI 200 and 400 GPUs. So with luck before long we might have another class of cheap ARM devices for people to play with Fedora on.

2 thoughts on “Allwinner ARM SoCs”

  1. Good to see you talking about the A10 platform. The community has made a lot of progress lately and there is now support for XBMC with hardware acceleration on the A10!

    We have a project to offer pre-installed Linux on Allwinner tablets and devices, the PengPod, http://www.pengpod.com. Also we have pre-orders available on http://www.indiegogo.com/pengpod. The devices will support XBMC with hardware decoding, Plasma active and more right out of the box.

    I hope you will help spread the word.

  2. I’ve been working with the Olinuxino A13 for several months and the only I can say is that it leaves the Raspberry PI in shambles. Allwinner sold in 2012 the same as Intel plus Qualcomm together. We all should keep an eye on Allwinner this year and see how it performs though I think it’s doing very well because I am starting to see Allwinner powered devices in the local malls.

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