Friday, 29 April 2016

Creator Ci20 something different

I couldn't overcome my collecting OCD when I saw a new Creator CI20 on eBay, under my usual 50euro limit  ( well a couple over once postage added) (there have been a couple of octocore exceptions to that rule)

Mainly I wanted to try out a non ARM based chip, since it is in fact a MIPS based CPU, in an ideal world, it won't make any difference to my game projects, so long as there is a GNU compiler on board the distro, or can be downloaded, it will compile.

Mainly its also interesting in that its another machine with a Power VR GPU so it will be cool to see how much faster/slower it is against the mass of mali chips. Sadly only single core, but still...its a very cool chip.

I do have others with a PowerVR, but not full tested them out yet, and you need a few different machines to give a good average on performance.

It should be here next week, and since its spring break here I'll be doing a lot of writing and coding.

So more updates soon.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

New shipment of cards

Well I have a 6 new SD cards supposedly from the manufacturer , and 3 for Malaysia... I am hoping they will all check out but have to run them through a test prog before I burn SD images on them. All are simple 8GB which are less often faked, so I hope these will be ok.

This will finally mean I can leave a card in each of my systems, which will save a lot of time when I want to try one of the less obvious machines.

I'm also going to turn my Pi2 over to become a games emulator, hooked up to my TV downstairs, I have been considering a full sized console for some time but really I don't think I can justify the expense. My main gaming interest is in retro and strategy games, which are not really a consoles things. But I see lots of them on emulators so that's the route I'm going. I have 4 RaspPi's so handing the 2 over to a games machine won't dilute my testing systems! I can always try it out with a fresh install if I want to check something.

Invaders from Space is done and running on all machines, I am going to clean up the code now and start formatting it so it can be put into the steps needed in the book. That I am finding to be quite a tedious and time consuming chore.

Time to move on to Kamikaze, and fix some of he more serious and deliberate issues in the 1st program to demonstrate the benefit of better design.

Onward and upward

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

X11 display now sorted

Just a small note, I use the Dispmax features on the raspberry pi, which goes stright to the video hardware, to get full screen display without windows. I'm pretty sure most other machines have a similar ability to go directly to the hardware, but I don't know them, and I don't really want to spend days/weeks working them all out. So I've simply worked out a basic X11 screen display system so that I can get a display to run on any non Raspberry based system...after a bit of fiddling about I now have game displays on Mali chip machines, well I say any, though these things seldom go smoothly, but I think it will work on them all, I will test

That was the last main thing I had to do on the framework code, so time to start getting the games to run on all machines.

Invaders working pretty well, Kamikaze Invaders next.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Roseapple Pi

Bit of a rare one this, not too many in the West, but gaining in the East as far as i can tell. It also seems to share a maker/designer/factory with a kickstarter Pi clone called the Lemon Pi which never made it to market

Like many other clones this attempts to be better by being faster, and it most certainly is fast.

An Actions Semi S500 A9 quadcore is quite a quick system normally, apparently it runs at 1.1Ghz though that's not stated anywhere in the tech docs. It's supposed to have dynamic CPU loading where the speed drops depending on the work, but I can't honestly see any evidence of that.

Bottom line is, on the gui its fast and responsive, has 2GB of Ram and apart from a seriously hot heatsink which is supplied its a pretty standard Debian machine.

It has almost no real user support, the makers seem to have farmed out support to a user group, which is not that extreme,  The GPU is a single core (boo) PowerVR SGX544, which is a nice modern GPU able to run ES2.0 and openCL 1.1 if I can locate the right drivers.

As with all first looks, it seems perfectly fine, OpenGLES2 drivers are tucked away in the usr/lib/arm-linux-gnuabih folders...I will have a scan for the .h files later.
edit....can't locate the h files, so for now development will have to wait but I'm fairly sure I can get the drivers for the S500 from other sites.

The only thing that worries me, is the reported heat...and yes even on an idling machine at 0% cpu, that decent sized heat sink gets mighty hot... I wouldn't want to stress it out too much..

Once I have enough SD cards to go around, which allows me to keep 1 in each, I'll download some temp and stress testing software to see exactly where they start to fail.

I'll report later on how easy it is to get it running with test projects

Friday, 1 April 2016

BeagleBoard XM

Bit of a cheat this one as it came 2nd hand with an SD already set up.

It boots and runs fine, but could not get it to recognize my wifi.

This isn't really a problem as I'll be hooking it up to a router soon enough. Decent little machine its fast enough, though the OS is alien to me, something called Gnome, which when I hit the about tab, to find out more, came up with nothing.

But its a graphical GUI, it has SSH connection and it should be a viable target soon. But as its rather an old board, I'm not in a rush to test it out beyond getting it to boot.

Back in the box it goes for now. I'll try to install some other Linux on it when I get some time.

Nano Pi M1

Oh dear.

well I wanted to like this so much, the little $11 quad core has so much potential, and its really there, but its not ready for public release. The little board is fussy with the SD cards it has, I tried 3 before it booted, and its twin, was just as fussy.
Also when getting it to boot to a gui involves a coin toss you need to worry. Sometimes it goes to a log in screen, and btw Friendly Arm have not listed the login/passwords anywhere I can find them,
and sometimes it will boot to the Rasbian Gui

The console boot won't startx and sometimes even fails to recognize reboot.  Though when it does it tends to then go to the GUI...but not always!!

I can't figure out how to resize the partition, since it fails to resolve the directory path, I really have no clue about Linux so trying to work out login and password info its a mystery t me.

The Gui when it gets there is great, but nothing much works. It did recognize my wifi dongle, but when attempting to enter the pass key the simple act of pressing the OK button to then let it connect...was met just does nothing...this could be due to lack of store space because of the lack of partition space though

What is very exciting is that in a terminal you can run GLMark for ES2 and sure enough there in all its glory is the OpenGL ES test demo, and confirmation that this is a Mali 400 MP GPU

Also, it seems to have its .SO drivers in the lib directory, this could well be the easiest machine to actually get code working on...Now that is the potential

If I can get the passwords for it, there are hints on the site of root/fa and it logs in with those but fails after that.

Wired networking also is a little odd, it need to be plugged in on power up, but that still does not allow networking since the machine does not have a valid mac address
The Wiki here 
Suggested adding a valid Mac address, so I found an old network unit that I no longer used and copied its mac address, but the file is read only and I was unable to save (perhaps another resize issue?) I know Linux protects some important files but I don't know.

I just tried ifconfig after a log in, when it didn't go to the GUI and root/fa worked and ifconfig returned an address which allowed me to make an SSH connection

which VisualGDB was able to use, it returned an error though
/usr/bin/xauth:  error in locking authority file /root/.Xauthority

Which again I assume is due to partition issues....

So for now this machine has to stay in the box, until either I get some help with understanding the Linux needed to make it functional, or the suppliers provide passwords and instructions on how to resize.

Shame....this could be a real cool little Mali machine if only I could get past the assumption the makers have that everyone knows linux!!!!

Using a 4th SD, this time an 8G, the others being 16gb, I tried again and finally able to re size followg these instructions

yeahhhh finally, ok now SSH works, console opens and returns no error, boot is still hit and miss, but I have a full 8G SD working...wifi does at least now save the properties when I click ok, but does not manage to connect.

so a little progress, I will try to get some mali 400 graphic code running this weekend.

Final edit... it does seem that the 16Gb sd's I was using were faulty, which won't have helped things at all. The branded 8Gb in there now seems stable and aside from never being sure if the gui is going to fire up I'm happy with the beast now.
I will re-review this at a later date when I come back to it.