Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Booboo dissects the Gemei A330

Well, he dissected it about a 2 weeks ago, but hey, if you hang out here, you’re used to this sort of thing, right? I’ve bold underlined the bits that get me all interested  …

GA330 specs

I believe there's some confusion on the GA330 specs. As I mentioned in the previous post, I have only preliminary, general, info, but this is what I found out so far (don't take it for granted anyway):

  • CC1800 processor (ARM926 400MHz).
  • 320x240 LCD, slightly larger than the A320 one.
  • 64MB RAM.
  • 2.4 GHz communication module. This is a true radio device and not just a keyboard hack. Enables multiplayer and custom peripherals.
  • USB OTG port, which allows connecting USB devices, but you'll need external +5V power (i.e. a powered hub).
The CC1800 has some nice features: the OMIP seems to be a video decoding coprocessor, and the VPU seems to be some kind of video post processor which can do quick scaling and color conversion before spitting out the data to the LCD.
I would say that the CC1800 CPU core belongs in the same class than the JZ4732 in the A320, however, being an ARM architecture has the advantage of the existing assembly optimized emulation cores. I bet that the VPU will allow a sizeable boost in performance by offloading the color conversion work from the SDL code.
64MB vs. 32MB in the A320 are a big advantage too.

Posted by booboo at 2:21 PM 6 comments

GA330 guts

It's been some time now since I received the two Gemei A330 sent by ChinaChip (GA330 from now on, to distinguish it from the other A330 out there which is basically an A320 with 64MB RAM). We're still working out the details (NDA, possible trip to China) to acquire the required info on the CC1800 SoC (system-on-chip) in order to port dingux to it, and it might still take a bit longer. Please excuse me if I don't comment more on the matter until everything is settled.
I'm working on the x760+ dingux port. As I said, I have all the required info, but time is limited and I've invested most of it reviewing all my initial work together with recent developments. Please be patient (yes, even more, sorry).
Meanwhile, here you have some electronics pron:

You'll notice that there is no battery in the pictures. The samples were sent without battery due to customs regulations, and though it's not strictly necessary for development, I'll get hold of substitutes soon.
You know I don't use the A320 and GA330 much for gaming (lack of time, you know, bla bla bla), so I can't give you a thorough review of the new GA330. Here are some first impressions. Please bear in mind that I'm not sure to which point the samples I got are definitive production machines, so take it with a pinch of salt:

  • The construction build feels good but not as good as the A320.
  • The LCD is exposed, i.e. there is no plastic protection (which is part of the enclosure) over it, as happens in the A320 and the X760+. This is definitely a no-no.
  • The LCD is a "delta matrix" type. Don't know much about the technology (I'll appreciate links), but it basically means that the color dots are not aligned in an orthogonal matrix but spread in a zig-zag pattern. This is supposed to be better for displaying pictures and video, but I think it's not good for games.
Please let me stress what I already said: these might not be definitive production units and the final product to market may have many of these thingies fixed. Also, note that ChinaChip actively supporting linux on their machines is a huge advance, and a first in the chinese PMP market as far as I know. And more powerful machines will come in the near future.
One final comment on the CC1800: it has a video processing unit (VPU) capable of doing scaling and all kinds of color conversion. The JZ4732 in the A320 has an image processing unit (IPU) which unfortunately is only good for converting YUV to RGB. This is very useful for video playing but useless for gaming. The CC1800's VPU will allow to provide each game with the framebuffer resolution and color space which is best suited, allowing for a significant increase in performance. Being an ARM processor will allow also to use the already existing assembly optimized emulation cores, for another boost in performance.

Posted by booboo at 8:48 PM 6 comments

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