Compared to the firmware, the hardware reverse engineering task was fairly straightforward. The documents we could scavenge gave us a notion of the ball-out for the chip, and the naming scheme for the pins was sufficiently descriptive that I could apply common sense and experience to guess the correct method for connecting the chip. For areas that were ambiguous, we had some stripped down phones I could buzz out with a multimeter or stare at under a microscope to determine connectivity; and in the worst case I could also probe a live phone with an oscilloscope just to make sure my understanding was correct.
Following on from yesterday's Phoronix testing that provided an extensive look at AMD's incredible open-source driver advancements over 2014 by benchmarking the open-source graphics stack from the end of 2013 compared to the end of this year, out now is similar treatment for Intel HD Graphics with their open-source Linux driver for Haswell hardware.
SinoVoip is prepping an “Banana Pi M2″ update built with a quad-core Allwinner A31 SoC, while LeMaker has begun shipping a competing A20-based “Banana Pro.”
It appears that the Banana Pi project has forked into two rival groups that are now pushing their own Banana Pi updates: SinoVoip’s “Banana Pi M2,” which is announced but not yet shipping, and LeMaker’s recently released “Banana Pro.”
Open hardware is the physical foundation of the open movement. It is through understanding, designing, manufacturing, commercializing, and adopting open hardware, that we built the basis for a healthy and self-reliant community of open. And the year of 2014 had plenty of activities in the open hardware front.
While Fedora 21 was officially released last week, coming out today is the release of Fedora 21 for the PowerPC and ARM AArch64 architectures.
Fedora 21 and its packages are now officially available for IBM POWER servers as the only PowerPC systems being officially supported by the PPC release. Support for Apple's older PowerPC systems is mentioned as a PPC platform that's most likely broken and will not be working out-of-the-box. Fedora for POWER in the 21 release offers an installer for the Fedora Server product, support for 32-bit Power has been dropped in favor of 64-bit, and there's numerous enhancements to Fedora on POWER compared to older releases.
ARM's security extensions are in the process of being bettered on Linux.
TrustZone is the marketing name for ARM's security extensions. TrustZone exposes two virtual processors with hardware access controls to let the application core switch between the two virtual states to avoid potentially leaking any information from one state/world to the other. TrustZone has been around going back to the ARMv6 days and there's been Linux support but it's largely been platform specific. Now, however, a generic TrustZone driver might finally come to the Linux kernel.
While there's been an ongoing discussion this week about delivering a $500 "open to the core" laptop that runs Ubuntu Linux and would be comprised of open-source software down to the firmware and Coreboot, announced last week was a high-end laptop that also aims to promote free/libre software. Though don't get out your wallets quite yet.
In the recent series on ARM single board computers I have covered the BeagleBone Black, MaRS, TI's OMAP5432 Board, the Radxa, a few of the ODroid ARM machines, and many more. On the Intel desktop side I've covered the NUC and MinnowBoard. I've learned that outright performance is faster on the Intel NUC than any ARM machine reviewed so far -- the tradeoff, of course, is cost. This time around we'll see whether the ASRock Q1900DC-ITX motherboard retains the high performance characteristic of an Intel board but also dips down to the low cost and lower power draw of the ARM world.