Author Topic: Which cheap quad core ARM? (A53 or similar, 64 bit), MIPI DSI  (Read 4123 times)

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Offline loki42

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Which cheap quad core ARM? (A53 or similar, 64 bit), MIPI DSI
« on: February 08, 2019, 02:15:21 am »
I'm looking for a quad core ARM chip (A53 or similar, best floating point performance possible for the $), needs I2S with TDM, MIPI DSI or parallel RGB LCD support and a linux supported OpenGL ES GPU for running QT.

Cost is the main factor and board size doesn't matter too much.

 Low power consumption a bonus. Modules / SOM with RAM a bonus if cheap / easy (must be <35 USD in 250 units including RAM / PMU).  I've looked at the allwinner A64 chips, especially the SOPINE but i'm interested to see if other options makes sense.  My volumes are small (1000 / year) so I suspect some manufactures won't be keen. The Olimex boards look interesting. I'm wondering if there is a Rockchip / samsung (Nexell S5P6818), Amlogic / Qualcomm (heard these are hard to get) something else chip  i should be looking at? I'd love to use the Pi compute module but the I2S doesn't support TDM.

Obviously NXP/TI/etc are too expensive for my requirements.

« Last Edit: February 15, 2019, 05:12:13 am by loki42 »
 

Offline Marco

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2019, 03:44:21 am »
NanoPi Neo Core/Air/Duo2? Not as cheap as they used to be, but then they don't have any real competition.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2019, 03:47:59 am by Marco »
 

Offline loki42

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2019, 06:11:03 am »
The nanopi stuff looks super cheap but hard to embed as the don't expose LCD support on the boards you mention. I need either MIPI or parallel LCD, if possible 24 bit.
 

Offline nsrmagazin

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2019, 08:25:36 am »
I love it when I see requirements like this, its just like a company manager, I want it best but for the shortest time, you have to do both! If you want good it will cost more, if you want it to be cheap it will not be good. Which one do you want?

You can try this:
https://eu.mouser.com/Semiconductors/Embedded-Processors-Controllers/Microcontrollers-MCU/ARM-Microcontrollers-MCU/ARM-Cortex-M4-Core/_/N-a85pc?P=1yztkjiZ1z0w8ej

or this:
https://www.tme.eu/en/katalog/#id_category=100636&search=arm+quad+core&page=1&s_field=accuracy&s_order=DESC
« Last Edit: February 08, 2019, 08:28:52 am by nsrmagazin »
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Offline Marco

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2019, 09:01:56 am »
To be fair, SOPINE and Pi compute have really taken the bottom out of the SOM market ... and opened up new applications in the process for which a "proper" SOM or custom board simply isn't on the cards.
 

Offline brucehoult

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2019, 09:10:44 am »
I love it when I see requirements like this, its just like a company manager, I want it best but for the shortest time, you have to do both! If you want good it will cost more, if you want it to be cheap it will not be good. Which one do you want?

Not only that, but says he wants a chip, and then talks about boards!
 

Offline brucehoult

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2019, 09:11:19 am »
Do you want 32 bit or 64 bit or don't care?
 

Offline loki42

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2019, 04:04:36 pm »
64 bit if possible,  there are some nice QT performance improvements that are only on that arch. 

SOM or chip,  I forgot to say which core but a53 or similar,  quad or more only.  Open source GPU support would be great,  such as the Qualcomm Adreno. I'm running wayland / EGL not x.
 

Offline loki42

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2019, 04:09:50 pm »
Cheap is the priority,  MIPI DSI/LCD,  quad core,  A53 or similar,  working opengl es  under recent Linux kernel,  mainline a huge bonus. 
 

Offline krho

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2019, 05:58:03 pm »
Well if you find any I'd be surprised. AS this is the thing we are also looking for but unable to find.
Which on the other hand is surprising as you can get really good smartphone for something like 150€
 

Offline loki42

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2019, 06:02:51 pm »
Well if you find any I'd be surprised. AS this is the thing we are also looking for but unable to find.
Which on the other hand is surprising as you can get really good smartphone for something like 150€

Did you evaluate the Nexell or Allwinner A64 / H series parts? Seems to be plenty of options in the lower price points. I'd love something stocked by LCSC or a major distributor but it seems like buying from Aliexpress / etc the only way. I'm already using a part that's working well but I'm keen on a bit more CPU performance, thus the move to a quad chip.
 

Offline krho

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2019, 07:54:05 pm »
We haven't evaluated that.. The problem we have is that we'd need at least 5year availability. The QTY per year is a bit higher than yours ~2000pcs
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2019, 08:02:44 pm »
I'm looking for a quad core ARM chip, needs I2S with TDM, MIPI or parallel RGB LCD support and a linux supported GPU.

Cost is the main factor and board size doesn't matter too much.

 Low power consumption a bonus. Modules / SOM with RAM a bonus if cheap / easy (must be <35 USD in 250 units including RAM / PMU).  I've looked at the allwinner A64 chips, especially the SOPINE but i'm interested to see if other options makes sense.  My volumes are small (1000 / year) so I
Obviously NXP/TI/etc are too expensive for my requirements.
At such a low volume your R&D costs make the price of the chip not matter at all. You'll need to spend a couple of hundred hours at least to iron out the bugs on a device from NXP or TI. Count on doubling that by going for a more obscure manufacturer. Say at $80 per hour your labour costs to pay for 300 hours extra to get the obscure chip up &running would be $24 per board. Don't think a Linux kernel / BSP from a manufacturer website is ready to be used in a product. They are not! Tweaking and bug fixing will be required.

However for 1000 pieces a SOM (system on module) won't make sense at all. It will be cheaper to do a full-custom design.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2019, 08:04:45 pm by nctnico »
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Offline legacy

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2019, 08:41:36 pm »
Don't think a Linux kernel / BSP from a manufacturer website is ready to be used in a product. They are not! Tweaking and bug fixing will be required.

Yup! And it also happens with WindRiver stuff. We did the mistake, which cost something like 900 euro for the fix, just to have the SMP working. The same happened with Linux, but it was more expensive.
 

Online PCB.Wiz

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2019, 10:21:08 pm »
... I'd love to use the Pi compute module but the I2S doesn't support TDM.

Maybe an alternative is to look at what's needed to have the Pi compute module support TDM ?
How many channels do you need at what speed ?
 

Offline loki42

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2019, 03:21:15 am »
... I'd love to use the Pi compute module but the I2S doesn't support TDM.

Maybe an alternative is to look at what's needed to have the Pi compute module support TDM ?
How many channels do you need at what speed ?

8 in / out at 48 khz. Though the Allwinner stuff works well so I'm mostly looking into alternatives to that that might be cheaper / better (at the price point of really cheap) I'm selling a boutique consumer product but it doesn't have a ton of margin (yes I know) and my time is surprisingly cheap... ;) I've found the mainline support of Allwinner gear to be quite good, though I don't know anything about the Octa core Nexell stuff, it is very cheap per flop.
 

Offline OwO

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2019, 03:54:35 am »
At such a low volume your R&D costs make the price of the chip not matter at all. You'll need to spend a couple of hundred hours at least to iron out the bugs on a device from NXP or TI. Count on doubling that by going for a more obscure manufacturer. Say at $80 per hour your labour costs to pay for 300 hours extra to get the obscure chip up &running would be $24 per board. Don't think a Linux kernel / BSP from a manufacturer website is ready to be used in a product. They are not! Tweaking and bug fixing will be required.

However for 1000 pieces a SOM (system on module) won't make sense at all. It will be cheaper to do a full-custom design.

The problem with that kind of accounting is that you aren't looking at long term costs, since 250 units of sales now might become 1000 units 2 years later. You also need to look at the big picture of what you end up with after the project: if you put the effort into getting a proper low-cost solution working, you end up with a valuable design with a value-add of the cost difference per unit. You need to think of it as an investment: if 250 units only breaks even (between the added labor cost and the saved BOM cost), and 250 units is the per-year sales figure, that represents a break-even time of just 1 year! After that you have ($100 minus $35) per unit of added pure profit.

There is also nothing obscure about Allwinner, they are one of the biggest SoC manufacturer in the low end tablet market and almost every SBC worth your time uses either Allwinner or Rockchip.

In addition, results from working out a low-cost SoC solution doesn't just affect one project; the design (and surrounding software work) can be reused in future projects. Reducing the price can also mean more sales. You can already buy fairly usable tablets for <$100, so why would I ever buy a product whose main feature is a low end SoC and costs $200?  What about in a year when your competitor comes out with the same product but with a price lower than your BOM cost?
« Last Edit: February 09, 2019, 04:05:51 am by OwO »
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Offline loki42

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2019, 08:13:06 am »
 also from my original post: "I'm wondering if there is a Rockchip / samsung (Nexell S5P6818), Amlogic / Qualcomm" vs the allwinner. No expensive non mobile / tablet chips wanted. Has anyone used the other brands I mentioned in comparison to allwinner?
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2019, 11:33:38 pm »
At such a low volume your R&D costs make the price of the chip not matter at all. You'll need to spend a couple of hundred hours at least to iron out the bugs on a device from NXP or TI. Count on doubling that by going for a more obscure manufacturer. Say at $80 per hour your labour costs to pay for 300 hours extra to get the obscure chip up &running would be $24 per board. Don't think a Linux kernel / BSP from a manufacturer website is ready to be used in a product. They are not! Tweaking and bug fixing will be required.

However for 1000 pieces a SOM (system on module) won't make sense at all. It will be cheaper to do a full-custom design.
The problem with that kind of accounting is that you aren't looking at long term costs, since 250 units of sales now might become 1000 units 2 years later. You also need to look at the big picture of what you end up with after the project: if you put the effort into getting a proper low-cost solution working, you end up with a valuable design with a value-add of the cost difference per unit. You need to think of it as an investment: if 250 units only breaks even (between the added labor cost and the saved BOM cost), and 250 units is the per-year sales figure, that represents a break-even time of just 1 year! After that you have ($100 minus $35) per unit of added pure profit.
But you have to spend extra time on debugging stuff and can not spend that time on adding features and proper testing. I've used various SoC chips in the past and if you are not careful you can spend a massive amount of time to get something to work. In general: the cheaper the parts the bigger the black hole which sucks in your time.

Another concern with the mobile device SoCs is longer term availability. With a SoCs from NXP or TI you can deliver the same product for at least 10 years if you want. This means that you don't need to put any effort in re-designing a product every few years and thus can have much more profit. All in all I think you first have to work out if you really need (or want) to compete on price instead of features. Component costs are a tricky thing to get trapped into. I've seen it before: cutting component costs leading to a device being obsolete by the time it hits the market. OTOH others went for an ARM chip from TI and can still sell a product which meets today's demands 7 years after it was designed.
Quote
In addition, results from working out a low-cost SoC solution doesn't just affect one project; the design (and surrounding software work) can be reused in future projects. Reducing the price can also mean more sales. You can already buy fairly usable tablets for <$100, so why would I ever buy a product whose main feature is a low end SoC and costs $200?  What about in a year when your competitor comes out with the same product but with a price lower than your BOM cost?
But how bug-free (stable) are those devices? And what features do they have which actually work? And how do customers respond to that? IIRC my wife got a few of those cheap tablets in the past but they where all crap in some way.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2019, 11:40:58 pm by nctnico »
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Offline loki42

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2019, 12:02:52 am »
To clarify:

I'm deciding between Rockchip / Samsung (Nexell S5P6818), Amlogic / Qualcomm / Allwinner / MediaTek .  No TI / NXP / AD / Microchip etc unless there's a chip I've missed. I've you've got experience with any chip made by Rockchip / Samsung (Nexell S5P6818), Amlogic / Qualcomm / Allwinner / MediaTek I'd love to hear about it.
 

Offline nsrmagazin

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2019, 01:24:00 pm »
I am using media tek 6580 on my phone, I can say its better than Asus Prime ZF201.
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Offline Doctorandus_P

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2019, 03:27:54 pm »
I love it when I see requirements like this, its just like a company manager, I want it best but for the shortest time, you have to do both! If you want good it will cost more, if you want it to be cheap it will not be good. Which one do you want?

Not only that, but says he wants a chip, and then talks about boards!

With Olimex you can have Both.
Olimex sells a bunch of loose Alwinner Chips and the complete schematics and PCB designs for a lot of their boards are on github, which will give you a headstart when designing your own custom board around it.
 

Offline MT

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2019, 04:48:16 pm »
With Olimex you can have Both.
Olimex sells a bunch of loose Alwinner Chips and the complete schematics and PCB designs for a lot of their boards are on github, which will give you a headstart when designing your own custom board around it.
But haven't it been established previously that Allwinner dont give away complete datasheets?! How is loki42 (or anyone else) supposed to be able to access I2S TDM from Linux without having access to the TDM interface specs to construct a Linux driver for it in the first place?
« Last Edit: February 12, 2019, 06:50:35 pm by MT »
 

Offline nctnico

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2019, 05:43:08 pm »
Having no datasheets and (also very important) errata sheets would be a red flag for me. It means you are totally unable to fix a problem yourself and thus not able to serve customers properly.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline loki42

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Re: Which cheap quad core ARM?
« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2019, 08:33:31 pm »
The  allwinner data sheets look pretty decent and are easy to find for the A64. GPU is in main line too.
 


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