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$25 JavaScript-savvy HDMI stick runs Linux

Jun 26, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 3,806 views

Marvell unveiled two new Kinoma IoT prototyping mini-PCs, including a “Kinoma HD” stick running Linux and the open source JavaScript 6 KinomaJS framework.

Marvell successfully launched its Linux-based $99 Kinoma Create JavaScript prototyping device on Indiegogo in March 2014, and sold it retail at $150. In March of this year, the company open sourced the KinomaJS JavaScript framework that runs on the Create, and now it has announced two new IoT-focused Kinoma devices — the FreeRTOS-based Kinoma Element and Linux-based Kinoma HD — with tempting pre-order price tags of $20 and $25, respectively. The devices ship in the fourth quarter.

Kinoma HD (left) and Kinoma Element

Kinoma Create

Clearly, some price breaks would be expected for these much simpler devices, which lack the more extensive I/O and QVGA touchscreen of the still available Create. Yet, considering that the HDMI stick form-factor Kinoma HD, for example, runs a dual-core processor, up from the single-core chip on the Create, the $25 price is impressive.

Both devices run an updated KinomaJS stack using a new XS6 JavaScript engine. XS6 is Marvell’s implementation of the recently ratified JavaScript 6th Edition, also called ECMAScript 6th Edition (ES6). Billed by Marvell as “the most significant set of enhancements to JavaScript in its near 20-year history,” JavaScript 6th Edition is said to enable more concise code, while adding new constructs including classes and modules, and expanding the runtime model with Promises and Generators.

According to Marvell, many of the improvements in the XS6 engine make JavaScript a better fit for IoT, including long-term reliability features and a small 512KB RAM footprint — the amount provided on the Kinoma Element. Application startup is said to be four times faster than with the JavaScript 5 version, and the engine is claimed to offer more efficient binding to native C code that connects to OS and hardware features.

Marvell points to a Kangax test page that shows its new XS6 engine outscoring the Babel + core-js polyfill engine on “completeness and compatibility” tests with a 96 percent rating compared to 71 percent. Among fellow competitors that are “true” JavaScript engines rather than polyfills or transpilers, the closest rival is Firefox 40 at 66 percent, says the company.


The Kinoma HD “scriptable stick” connects wirelessly to IoT devices, iOS and Android handhelds, cloud services, and content from web-based apps, says Marvell. The HD device runs Linux on one of Marvell’s Armada 1500 family of SoCs, in this case a dual-core, 1.2GHz Marvell Armada 88DE3006. This is an apparently new upgrade to the similarly 1080p ready Armada 1500-mini (88DE3005). The small-footprint 88DE3005 SoC is the heart of Google’s Chromecast stick computer.

No dimensions were listed for the “thumb-sized” Kinoma HD, which looks to be a bit smaller than the 72 x 35mm Chromecast. Marvell’s stick is equipped with 256MB of RAM, and offers the 802.11ac flavor of WiFi. The only ports are an HDMI output and a micro-USB input for power.

The Kinoma Element, meanwhile, runs the open source FreeRTOS on Marvell’s 200MHz, WiFi-enabled MW302 Cortex-M4 microcontroller. The small desktop device is equipped with 802.11n WiFi, as well as a pair of 8-pin expansion connectors that can connect with sensors, lights, motors, and actuators. The 16 programmable pins provide serial, digital, analog, I2C, and PWM interfaces.

According to Marvell, Execute in Place (XIP) technology for JavaScript byte code is the key to the Element’s ability to run JavaScript applications on only 512 KB of RAM. XIP does this by running native ARM code directly from an undisclosed allotment of flash memory.

Although there was no specific mention of the Kinoma Studio desktop IDE, which ships with the Create, we imagine it’s available for the new devices as well. When it first shipped, Kinoma Studio supported only Windows and Mac desktops, but as of June 19, a complete Linux version was released with the same capabilities.

3D Printer
SoC Solution

At CES in January, Marvell announced another Linux-based device called the 3D Printer SoC Solution, billed as the first Linux-based hardware/software development kit for 3D printers. This kit is built around a new, 533MHz 88PA6120 ARMv7 SoC, and also includes four crypto coprocessors, plus dual real-time MCUs for enabling customizable precision motion control. A PDF datasheet has been posted on Marvell’s Printer page, but it’s unclear if the product is shipping.

Further information

You can now reserve a pre-order slot for the Kinoma HD and Kinoma Element at a special price of $24.95 and $19.95, respectively, with shipments due in the fourth quarter. The JavaScript 6 optimized XS6 engine will be available in the third quarter as a free update to Kinoma Create users, and will also be available with the Kinoma Studio IDE, as well as on the KinomaJS open source repository. More information may be found in the announcement and product/pre-sale page for the Kinoma HD and Kinoma Element.

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