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Allwinner reveals new octa-core and 64-bit quad-core SoCs

Oct 14, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 7,698 views

Allwinner unveiled octa-core, Cortex-A7 based “A83T” and “H8” SoCs for tablets and media-streaming boxes, respectively, plus a quad-core, 64-bit “H64” SoC.

Allwinner system-on-chips based on the ARM Cortex-A7, such as the dual-core A20 and quad-core A31, have become the darlings of Android- and Linux-based open source single board computer projects and media players. Now, the fast growing Chinese chipmaker is increasingly going octa-core.


In May, Allwinner announced an UltraOctaA80 SoC with four Cortex-A15 cores and four Cortex-A7 cores, appearing first on a pcDuino8 SBC, and soon to appear on a Zero Devices Z8C Alice TV Box (see farther below). Last month Allwinner announced an octa-core Cortex-A7-based SoC for tablets called the A83T, and now it has debuted a similar SoC with eight –A7 cores for set-top boxes called the H8.

Allwinner isn’t stopping at Cortex-A7 and –A15, however. The company recently announced a Nobel64 SBC based on a previously unannounced H64 SoC that incorporates four 64-bit ARMv8 cores (see farther below).

Allwinner A83T and H8

Last month, Allwinner released a few details of a new “A83T” SoC designed for mid-range tablets, and then recently provided substantially more information regarding a similar “H8” SoC model. Like the A80 and Samsung’s Exynos 5422 Cortex-A15/-A7 octa-core, Allwinner’s new all-A7 octa-cores are built with a 28nm fabrication process. Both the A83T and H8 run at up to 2.0GHz and will ship in products in the fourth quarter.

Like the A80 and Exynos 5422, the two new SoCs provide Big.Little task-sharing among cores, as well as full heterogeneous multi-processing (HMP). This enables power and performance optimizations for each cores, as well as the ability to run all eight cores simultaneously.

Other similarities between the two SoCs include the ability to play 1080p @60fps video, as well as the integration of Allwinner’s SmartColor technology, which is touted as enabling enhanced image quality and better visual effects. The A83T is listed as offering a PowerVR Series 5 GPU, while the H8 more specifically features a 700MHz PowerVR SGX544 Series 5 variant with support for OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1 and OpenCL 1.1 APIs.

The new H8 is aimed at high-end gaming devices and video OTT (over-the-top) set-tops, says Allwinner. It supports the H.265/HEVC video format, as well as HDCP 2.0 and HDMI CEC. The H8 also integrates an 8-megapixel image processor.

For I/O, the H8 supports USB host and dual-role interfaces, and provides a gigabit Ethernet MAC and three SD/MMC controllers. The SoC is further touted for enabling “competitive BOM costs.”

“Allwinner has already been dedicated to OTT box SoC design for years, making it one of the most popular OTT box SoC designers in China”, said Jack Lee, the CMO of Allwinner Technology.

Zero Devices A80-based Z8C Alice STB

For a somewhat higher-powered set-top, vendors can turn to the all-purpose Allwinner A80, which uses the faster Cortex-A15 architecture for four of its eight cores. The SoC also provides a more capable PowerVR G6230, the first of Imagination’s Series6 Rogue GPUs.

Z8C Alice TV Box
(click image to enlarge)

The first STB to use the A80 will likely be a Z8C Alice TV Box recently tipped by Zero Devices. CNXSoft spotted the STB in a tweet, the contents of which are duplicated on the Zero Devices home page with an “available soon” tag.

The 4K-ready Z8C Alice is the first of Zero Devices’s Android-powered STBs and media players to use an octa-core SoC. Features include a Broadcom chipset with WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0, as well as HDMI, SPDIF, AV, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 ports. Storage options include a SATA port and an SD card slot.

Z8C Alice TV Box and motherboard in Zero Devices twitter tease
(click image to enlarge)

As noted by CNXSoft, Zero Devices shared more photos of the device’s motherboard on a Freaktab thread. The thread shows a prototype earning a 54253 Antutu performance score.

Z5C Thinko

Zero Devices has recently been focused on HDMI stick media player computers that run Android on Rockchip SoCs. Most recently, it announced a Z5C Thinko stick computer with a Rockchip RK3288. The RK3288 features four Cortex-A17 cores and a Mali-T764 GPU, which boasts 16 shader cores instead of four for its less powerful sibling, the Mali-T720.

Allwinner debuts 64-bit ARMv8 SoC and SBC

CNXSoft also recently reported on a scoop by PadNews [translated] about a Nobel64 SBC from Allwinner and Merrii Technology. The Nobel64, which debuted at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair, is referred to by Allwinner and Merrii as the world’s first 64-bit development board.

(Source: Padnews)

The Nobel64 uses a previously unknown Alllwinner H64 SoC with four 64-bit ARMv8 cores. CNXSoft noted that a year ago an Allwinner roadmap mentioned an upcoming 64-bit octa-core SoC called the A9X due in Q4 2015. However, Allwinner never mentioned a quad-core model.

Nobel64 promo
(click image to enlarge)
(Source: Padnews)

The H64 SoC is presumably based on the Cortex-A53 rather than the similarly 64-bit ARMv8 Cortex-A57, which primarily targets higher-end server duty. Padnews offered no more details on the H64 except that it supports the upcoming 64-bit Android L release, and will be suitable for “tablets, OTT boxes, notebooks, digital signage and AIOs, etc.”

Padnews did supply some more details on the H64-based Nobel64 board, however. The 118 x 70mm Nobel64 is equipped with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, as well as gigabit Ethernet, dual-band WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity. The SBC offers an HDMI 1.4 port, and dual USB 2.0 host ports.

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