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MediaTek launches developer portal, debuts Android SDK

Sep 22, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 2,096 views

MediaTek announced a Mediatek Labs hacker site, plus a MediaTek SDK for Android and a “LinkIt” RTOS that runs on an ARM-based, IoT-oriented “Aster” SoC.

For years, Taiwan-based MediaTek has offered ARM-based system-on-chips for Android, starting with the budget market, but more recently offering powerful SoCs such as the MediaTek MT6595, an octa-core SoC with four 2.5GHz Cortex-A17 cores. Now, the company is extending its development support by launching a MediaTek Labs portal division based in Silicon Valley. The first offerings include a preview release of MediaTek SDK for Android, which provides a set of extensions that build on Google’s Android SDK.

MediaTek also announced a tiny, 260MHz, ARMv7 SoC called the Aster (MT2502), aimed at wearables and Internet of Things devices. You are not likely to see much coverage of the Aster on LinuxGizmos, however, as it’s designed to run a LinkIt OS real-time-operating system, instead of Linux, and initially targets Arduino users (see farther below).

MediaTek bills MediaTek Labs as a “developer centric ecosystem” for the “creative and driven pioneers in the maker and developer communities.” The portal site will provide software development kits (SDKs), hardware development kits (HDKs), and technical documentation, forums, and technical and business support for MediaTek processors, says the company.

MediaTek SDK for Android

MediaTek SDK for Android is now available for download in preview form to all registered MediaTek Labs members. The set of fully documented API extensions is optimized for MediaTek processors and enables “differentiated” apps for Android phones, says MediaTek. Features are said to include multi-SIM, secure data exchange (with HotKnot), HD audio recording, and imaging enhancements.

MediaTek Android SDK
emulator function

(click image to enlarge)

The SDK supports the standard Eclipse IDE, and is designed as an easy drop-in to Google’s Android SDK. A homegrown Android 4.4 emulator is provided, along with a customized version of Google’s Dalvik Debug Monitor Server (DDMS), which is used to control it. Emulator features include testing and debugging for telephony and multi-SIM features, as well as a vibrator indicator and hot-swappable SD card. The DDMS component adds further support for telephony testing, including actions such as plugging and unplugging a headset. It can also be used to test call and SMS features, says the company.

The SDK uses MediaTek HotKnot phone-to-phone data exchange technology to share pictures, contacts, and other files, as well as transfer configuration data for tasks such as Bluetooth pairing. Multimedia features include portrait enhancements, such as skin smoothing and eye enlargement, as well as hardware optimized image transformations. The APIs also supports HD audio recording and music indexing.

Camera functions include retrieving camcorder settings, and capturing multi-angle images to create 3D effects. Intriguingly, the APIs support detection of open palm and victory hand gestures in images. (What, no Vulcan salute?)

LinkIt and the Aster

There are two major approaches toward the emerging IoT market. One is to develop relatively simple processors and systems that run RTOSes, and the other is to support more advanced applications, typically using Linux. Generally, the first approach is built around microcontroller units (MCUs). However, MediaTek announced its LinkIt RTOS in conjunction with an Aster (MT2502) SoC that appears to bridge the gap between application processors and MCUs. Sadly, there’s no Linux support offered, and it’s aimed squarely at Arduino developers.

LinkIt One HDK board
(click image to enlarge)

Sized at just 6.2 x 5.4mm, the Aster chip is the smallest commercial SoC currently on the market, claims MediaTek. The Aster supplies a 260MHz ARMv7 EJ-S core backed up with built-in memories, including 4MB of RAM and 4MB of flash. The SoC supports dual Bluetooth 3.0 and 4.0 LE radios, as well as GSM and GPRS communications.

The Aster SoC further offers support for audio, video, and camera functions, as well as interfaces for LCD, camera, I2C, SPI, UART, and GPIO. To add GPS and WiFi, you need to add optional MT3332 and MT5931 chips, respectively. The Aster also integrates PMU and charger functions, as well as a low power mode with sensor hub functionality.

MediaTek is supporting the Aster with a “LinkIt SDK” that is initially available with Arduino IDE support. An Eclipse IDE version is planned for later this year. Also available is an open source LinkIt One HDK designed with Seeed Studio. The $79 SBC includes the aforementioned WiFi and GPS chips, as well as the Aster. Other features include 4MB of RAM, 16MB of flash, a microSD slot, numerous interfaces, and an Arduino-like pin-out.

Further information

The MediaTek Labs site is live, and the MediaTek SDK for Android and LinkIt SDK are available free to registered users. The LinkIt HDK is available for $79 from Seeed Technology. More information may be found at the MediaTek Labs portal.

MediaTek will be demonstrating its new MediaTek Labs technologies at XDA:DevCon, to be held Sept. 26-28 in Manchester, UK. MediaTek is sponsoring the event.

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