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Quad-core media player runs Kodi/XBMC on OpenElec Linux

Nov 25, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 17,114 views

[Updated Dec 18] — SolidRun’s tiny, $100 “CuBoxTV” media player runs OpenElec Linux and Kodi (formerly XBMC) on a quad-core i.MX6 SoC, and offers 100Mbps+ video decoding.

The CuBoxTV is the first Freescale i.MX6 based media player to run the Kodi (formerly XBMC) multimedia distribution, says Israel-based SolidRun. CuBoxTV is closely based on the company’s latest i.MX6 based CuBox mini-PC, which now sells for $80 to $140, depending on the number of Cortex-A9 i.MX6 cores and other features. The CuBoxTV, which is available only with the quad-core i.MX6 SoC, goes for a sale price of $100.

CuBoxTV front (left) and back

The CuBoxTV runs the lightweight OpenELEC Linux, a homegrown distro popular on the Raspberry Pi that’s designed to showcase XBMC, now called Kodi Entertainment Center. The XBMC Foundation changed the open source stack’s name in August for several reasons, including the fact that the foundation had no legal control over the name, which was being misused. In addition, the “XB” in its former stemmed from its original role as a distribution for Microsoft’s XBox, which is no longer actively supported, and since the MC stood for Media Center, the foundation decided their expansion into games merited a broader “Entertainment Center” name.

Kodi interface, with CuBoxTV at lower right
(click image to enlarge)

When Kodi v14 support was announced for the i.MX6 in September, SolidRun says it partnered with OpenELEC and Yatse, which makes a Kodi/XMBC remote control interface for Android devices, to develop the CuBoxTV. With its four Cortex-A9 cores and GC2000 GPU, the i.MX6 Quad enables the CuBoxTV to provide 1080p multi-format decoding and encoding with an over 100Mbps decoding bit rate, That’s “almost twice the highest transfer bit rate of Blu-ray,” says SolidRun. The i.MX6 also supports OpenGL/ES 2.0 and OpenCL 1.1.

CuBoxTV dimensions

The CuBoxTV’s specs and 2.0 x 2.0 x 2.0-inch dimensions closely match those of the original CuBox. However, SolidRun has stripped out the CuBox’s BCM4329-based WiFi and Bluetooth functions, so the device depends on its gigabit Ethernet port for both local networking and Internet access. Mobile remote access is available through the Android-only Yatse interface.

CuBoxTV package (left) and Yatse remote control for mobile devices
(click images to enlarge)

The CuBoxTV ships with 1GB of RAM, along with 8GB of flash in a microSD slot, and there’s also an eSATA port for additional expansion. The CuBoxTV is further equipped with a pair of USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI port, and optical TOSLINK and SPDIF audio out ports.

CuBox-i block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The block diagram above shows all the features available in the top-end CuBox-i Pro, not all of which are present in the CuBoxTV. Specifications listed for the CuBoxTV include:

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX6 Quad (4x Cortex A9 cores @ 1GHz-1.2GHz); GC2000 GPU (OpenGL/ES 2.0, OpenCL 1.1)
  • Memory/storage:
    • 1GB RAM 1066MHz, 64-bit
    • 8GB flash (resides in microSD slot; contains OS and user data)
    • MicroSD slot
    • eSATA slot
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet port; limited to 470Mbps bandwidth “due to internal chip buses”
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 2.0 host
    • HDMI 1.4b
    • Optical audio SPDIF out
    • Optical TOSLINK
    • Infra-red receiver
  • Video decoding — MPEG-4 ASP, XVID, H.264 HP, H.263, MPEG-2 MP, MJPEG BP, VP8, Sorenson-H263
  • Video encoding — MPEG-4 SP, H.264 BP, H.263, MJPEG BP
  • Audio decoding — AAC, MP3, Vorbis, FLAC, audio encoder SBC, MP3
  • Audio encoding — SBC, MP3
  • Image codecs — PEG, BMP, GIF, PNG
  • Power — 5V; 5.5mm power jack
  • Weight 9.9 oz (281 g)
  • Dimensions — 55 x 55 x 42mm (2 x 2 x 2 inches)
  • Operating system — OpenELEC Linux with Kodi and Yatse remote UI (on 8GB microSD)

In July, SolidRun launched three Linux- and Android-ready, open source HummingBoard SBCs based on the i.MX6. The top-of-the-line HummingBoard-i2eX ($100 to $120) uses the dual-core i.MX6Dual. This has a more powerful Vivante GC2000 GPU than the GC880 GPU found on i.MX6Solo and i.MX6DualLite, which form the basis for the lower-end HummingBoard-i1 ($50-$60) and HummingBoard-i2 ($75-$95), respectively.

Further information

The CuBoxTV is available for a sale price of $100 (regularly $125). Considering that the CuBox debuted starting at $45 before jumping to $80, we trust that this is indeed a sale price, and it will probably go up to the regular listed price of $125 after the new year. More information may be found at SolidRun’s CuBoxTV product page. A $10 “limited time” promotional discount code appears to be available here.

(advertise here)


0 responses to “Quad-core media player runs Kodi/XBMC on OpenElec Linux”

  1. Sami Zureik says:

    How can i buy one?


  2. Andrew says:

    Shipping is extra. For me it added $15 for shipping to Europe. With the $10 discount I’m now paying $104.99 for this box. But I think this is a good price for an XBMC/Kali box that is capable of decoding BluRay quality movies…

  3. CFWhitman says:

    I have the top end Cubox-I, which is similar hardware to this (the article outlines the differences). I have Geexbox, another XBMC/Kodi distribution, running on mine, and it handles XBMC 13.2 with no big problems. Unlike with my Raspberry Pi, it doesn’t matter which skin I use, they all behave responsively.

    When I first got mine toward the end of last year, it wouldn’t play video correctly, but the software has come a long way since then. I may give the new OpenELEC build a shot to see what I think of it. It’s easy to try alternative systems on the Cubox-I because everything is installed on a MicroSD card which you can always swap out for another.

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