Pine64

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Pine64
Pine64 top.jpg
Manufacturer Pine64
Dimensions 133mm x 80mm x 19mm
Release Date February 2016
Website Pine64 Wiki
Specifications
SoC A64 @ 1152MHz
DRAM 512MiB/1GiB/2GiB DDR3L @ 672MHz (Samsung K4B2G1646Q-BCK0 / Samsung K4B4G1646Q-HYK0 * 2 / Samsung K4B4G0846E * 4)
NAND none
Power DC 5V @ 2A, 3.7V Li-Ion battery connector, Euler connector
Features
Video HDMI (Type A - full)
Audio 3.5mm headphone/microphone plug
Network (optional) WiFi 802.11 b/g/n (Realtek 8723BS), 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet (Realtek 8211E) (plus version), 10/100Mbps Ethernet (Realtek 8201FN) (non-plus version)
Storage µSD
USB 2 USB2.0 Host
Other DSI, CSI, TP, RTC

The Pine64 is a cost-optimized board sporting ARMv8 (64-bit ARM) capable cores.

Contents

Identification

There is a pine cone like logo next to the uSD slot, also it says "Pine64" under the logo. Also on the SoC there is a quite prominent "A64" print.

On the back of the device, the following is printed:

Designed in Silicon Valley, California. Built in Silicon Delta, China.

The PCB has the following silkscreened on it:

A64-DB-Rev B
2015-12-17

In android, under Settings->About Tablet, you will find:

  • Model Number: Pine A64
  • Build Number: tulip_t1-eng 5.1.1 LVY4BE 20151210 test-keys

Different models

So far there are three different models:

  • The Pine64 with 512MB DRAM
  • The Pine64+ with 1GB DRAM
  • The Pine64+ with 2GB DRAM

The last two seem to be identical apart from the installed DRAM size. Differences between the Pine64 and the Pine64+ are:

  • The Pine64 only supports Fast Ethernet. So the PHY chip will be a Realtek 8201 instead of the 8211 on the bigger model. The 8211 speaks RGMII, while the 8201 is using the MII interface. This requires differences in the DT.
  • The smaller model will lack the connectors for the touchscreen, LCD screen and the camera port.

Sunxi support

Current status

There are Linux images using an updated and enhanced version of Allwinner's BSP kernel, that work reasonably well and provide a graphical GUI along with support for most features of the board.

Upstream kernel support is work in progress, so far there is a "close-to-mainline" branch (based on 4.7-rc1) which supports UART, MMC (uSD card), GPIO, I2C and Ethernet (missing USB and any kind of graphics or sound support). Out-of-the-box arm64 distributions boot reasonably well with this kernel.

This firmware log and 4.4-rc kernel dmesg provides some information about the system.

Images

End Users: Here are links to current images that are community supported:

(You should also cross-check the Wiki page that's linked under Manufacturer Images.)


Developers: Get apritzel's github basic image first. For instructions see the README.md in there for now.

longsleep has also built a minimal Ubuntu image combined with the the BSP Kernel that can be downloaded here. You will find instructions here on how to set it up.

This image is intended for developers and comes with the following:

  • BSP Linux Kernel 3.10.65+
  • BSP U-Boot
  • Ubuntu Ubuntu 16.04 (Xenial Xerus) aarch64
  • HDMI at 1080P
  • HDMI analog audio (alsa, pulseaudio)
  • Ethernet (including 1000M)
  • USB
  • Wifi

BSP

Allwinner's BSP contains an arm64 Linux kernel based on Linaro's LSK-3.10.65 (includes Linaro and Android patches). It has traces (commented or not-configured code parts) of nasty experiments (like entering the kernel in AArch64 EL3 or running in secure EL1). This released/leaked code does not exactly match what's on the provided Android images. The BSP kernel is entered in non-secure El1, thus denying any kind of virtualization (like KVM).

Manual build

You can build things for yourself by following our Manual build howto and by choosing from the configurations available below.

U-Boot

Sunxi/Legacy U-Boot

The Allwinner provided BSP package contains U-Boot source code, which contains a 32-bit port based on the 2014.07 release. The code as in the tarball does not even compile, also the whole port is severely crippled, just enough to boot an Android system from MMC. Limitations include: missing booti support (no direct kernel image load, only Android kernel images can be used), no network support, only loading data from Android partitions (no filesystem support), completely non-standard DT bindings, no support for easy FDT loading, etc. For the complete rant see the Wiki history ;-)

However the existing code base was fixed and extended by longsleep to allow loading kernels directly (using booti and proper FDT support) and adding filesystem support, thus overcoming the most severe limitations. The most current code base can be found here.

At the moment this U-Boot version is required to boot BSP kernels.

Mainline U-Boot

Basic support has been merged in 2016.05-rc1. It supported serial console and MMC (µSD card) at this time only. Ethernet support (with the sun8i-emac driver) has been added in 2016.09-rc1, USB is usable since 2016.11-rc3.

The booti command is supported to load Linux arm64 kernel images, also bootefi is available to launch Aarch64 EFI applications (like grub2). There is no support for launching 32-bit kernels, though support for this is technically possible and might be added in the future.

In contrast to the BSP version, this port is a 64-bit version, so the Allwinner provided boot0/ATF pair will not boot this without further changes/patches. The boot0img tool allows to combine Allwinners boot0 binary blob, an (updated) ATF build and mainline U-Boot into a bootable image.

SPL support (including DRAM initialization code) is available since version 2017.03-rc1, though this version is missing the ATF support, which is required to boot Linux. These bits have been merged into 2017.07-rc1.

There is a README file in the U-Boot tree describing how to compile U-Boot for the board. This should be in sync with what the current U-Boot code base supports.

Linux Kernel

Sunxi/Legacy Kernel

Mainline kernel

Mainline kernel support is still ongoing, but progressing nicely.

  • Basic support has been merged into Linux v4.10-rc1, though this does not support MMC, so can only be used with an initrd. Also it lacks support for any other peripheral except I2C and UART (serial console).
  • MMC and USB support is queued to be merged into 4.11-rc1, which brings the support into some kind of usable state, though Ethernet support is still missing.

For a first experience, grab a firmware image and flash it to a micro-SD card:

# zcat pine64_firmware-20160601.img.xz | dd of=/dev/sdx bs=1M

(replacing sdx with the device name of your micro-SD card). This image contains Allwinner's boot0 (for initializing the DRAM), an ARM Trusted Firmware version (for 64-bit initialization, PSCI support and basic PMIC setup) and an upstream U-Boot, plus the device trees for both board variants.

There are some kernel trees out there which combine the work-in-progress patches and provide MMC, USB and Ethernet support. Examples are those from Icenowy and from apritzel. To build those, clone the respective branch and build it like this:

$ export CROSS_COMPILE=aarch64-linux-gnu-
$ ARCH=arm64 make clean defconfig
$ ARCH=arm64 make -j4 Image

Copy the built kernel image (from arch/arm64/boot/Image) to the first FAT partition of the micro-SD card. Then put this SD card into the Pine64 board, connect a serial console to either the Euler connector or the EXP headers and power the board. You will see the kernel being loaded and booted, but finally fail due to the missing root file system. By creating a logical partition (sdx5) on that micro-SD card and populating it with an off-the-shelf arm64 root file system you should be able to log in and explore the system.

Tips, Tricks, Caveats

Boot sequence

The A64 SoC is wired to come out of reset in 32-bit monitor mode. As other Allwinner devices, the A64 SoC starts executing BROM code (mapped at address 0), which is consequently ARM32 code. The complete BROM code can be found at address 0x2c00 and has a total length of 32KB. To enter FEL mode, power on the board without a SD card inserted. If the code does not detect a FEL condition, it will load 32KB from sector 16 (8 KByte) of the microSD card to SRAM and will execute this. At least the first instructions of this code need to be still 32-bit ARM code.

The Allwinner firmware continues in 32-bit, loading U-Boot (32-bit also) from the microSD card at sector 38192 (19096 KByte). It also loads a (hacked) version of ARM Trusted Firmware (ATF) into DRAM and code for the arisc management core into SRAM. Finally it does a RMR write to warm-reset the SoC in AArch64 execution state and jumps to the ATF entry point by putting its address in the RVBAR register. ATF will then initialize the boot core for non-secure execution and drop to non-secure AArch32 EL1 to run U-Boot.

U-Boot then runs happily in 32-bit. Only just before it starts the kernel, it uses a custom smc service call back into (Allwinner's version of) ARM Trusted Firmware to hand over the kernel entry point. The ATF code will then return into _AArch64_ non-secure EL1, but using the provided kernel entry point instead of returning to U-Boot.

FEL mode

The Pine64 board will fail over to FEL mode if it doesn't detect a card present in the µSD slot.

Exclamation.png A tricky and potentially confusing part is that the only Micro USB receptacle (labelled as "POWER JACK") is used exclusively for providing power to the board, and is not connected to any USB controller in the SoC. The actual USB OTG controller in the SoC is connected to the upper USB host receptacle. So it needs a somewhat special USB cable (A male to A male) or an adapter (A male to Mini/Micro B female) to connect your Pine64 board to your desktop PC, which is running the sunxi-fel tool.

As soon as you boot your Pine64 into FEL mode (remember, don't insert a SD card) you should find a new USB device:

   $ lsusb
   Bus 001 Device 005: ID 1f3a:efe8
   $ ./sunxi-fel version
   AWUSBFEX soc=00001689(A64) 00000001 ver=0001 44 08 scratchpad=00017e00 00000000 00000000

SPI NOR Flash

It should be possible to have an extra hardware accessory, pluggable into the Raspberry Pi compatible expansion header to add a small SPI NOR Flash on SPI0 pins. It can store a bootable firmware and provide all the fashionable "industry standards" compatibility for running AArch64 server grade Linux distributions (not exactly now, but maybe some time in the future). The Bootable SPI flash page provides additional details.

A driver model compatible SPI driver for u-boot is currently being worked on. The Pine64+ board has been tested and is fully supported by this driver.

Expansion headers

Documentation about the pin assignments and more specifications (like the physical dimensions of the board) can be found in the Hardware section of the official Pine64 Wiki.

AXP803 PMIC

Some of the default reset voltages after cold boot are not exactly matching the board specification. For example, the voltage on the Euler connector's "3.3V" pin is in fact 3.0V (DCDC1) until Allwinner's bootloader configures the PMIC. In the current "upstream" firmware stack ARM Trusted Firmware sets up the PMIC and programs DCDC1 to the specified 3.3V. It also enables DC1SW to power the Ethernet PHY.

The DRAM voltage is provided from DCDC5, which can be set to 1.5V by default according to the AXP803 manual. Moreover, the AXP803 manual is explicitly recommending to use DCDC5 specifically for DRAM. This is safe even with 1.35V DDR3L chips, because they are compatible with 1.5V too. However the default reset voltage appears to be in fact set to 1.24V at least in the pre-production batch of Pine64 boards, because the DCDC5SET pin is left floating there.

DC5V/BAT POWER jumper

DC5V BAT POWER jumper

On the 1GB and 2GB Pine64+ variants a DC5V/BAT POWER switch can be used to bypass the MT3608 boost converter (input voltage to 5V). If the board is powered from DC-IN (micro-USB or Euler connector), the DC5V setting connects the input voltage to the USB power supply rails, in BAT setting 5V is generated from any of the connected power sources (e.g. battery or DC-IN). The USB ports are current-limited to about 650mA per port in either setting.

Please be aware that when using the jumper in DC5V position an insufficient supply voltage is directly visible on the USB ports. If the Pine64+ is running on battery, the USB ports are only powered when the BAT setting is used.

Gigabit PHY issue

A couple of Pine64+ (both 1GB and 2GB variants) is affected by Gigabit Ethernet problems. In GbE mode transfer speeds are low, many retransmits happen and packets get lost. In the meantime it's confirmed that this is a hardware issue. If you're affected you can try to force Pine64+ in Fast Ethernet mode (using ethtool -s eth0 speed 100 duplex full or an Ethernet cable with just 2 cable pairs) but it's unlikely that other software fixes cure the problem. Please refer to the aforementioned thread how/whether Pine64 comes up with a solution.

CPU clock speed limit

The voltage-frequency table for Allwinner A64 can be found in FEX files included in the A64 SDK:

; dvfs voltage-frequency table configuration
;
; max_freq: cpu maximum frequency, based on Hz
; min_freq: cpu minimum frequency, based on Hz
;
; lv_count: count of lv_freq/lv_volt, must be < 16
;
; lv1: core vdd is 1.30v if cpu frequency is (1104Mhz, 1152Mhz]
; lv2: core vdd is 1.26v if cpu frequency is (1008Mhz, 1104Mhz]
; lv3: core vdd is 1.20v if cpu frequency is (816Mhz,  1008Mhz]
; lv4: core vdd is 1.10v if cpu frequency is (648Mhz,   816Mhz]
; lv5: core vdd is 1.04v if cpu frequency is (480Mhz,   648Mhz]
; lv6: core vdd is 1.04v if cpu frequency is (480Mhz,   648Mhz]
; lv7: core vdd is 1.04v if cpu frequency is (480Mhz,   648Mhz]
; lv8: core vdd is 1.04v if cpu frequency is (480Mhz,   648Mhz]

Based on the data from this table, 1152MHz @1.3V is the fastest cpufreq operating point. Additionally, the AXP803 PMIC uses 1.1V default voltage for DCDC2/DCDC3 (VDD-CPU). Which means that the the CPU can be safely clocked up to 816MHz before the PMIC is initialized.

USB controllers and ports

The A64 SoC includes two USB 2.0 EHCI/OHCI host controllers. The first host controller (HCI0) is connected to a PHY switch, which can be toggled between driving a normal USB PHY (connected to the lower USB receptable on the board) and HSIC pins on the SoC, which allow connecting on-board USB peripherals (often a hub), though this is not used on the board.

The second host controller (USB-OTG-HCI) shares a USB PHY with the (separate!) OTG controller and is connected to the upper receptable on the Pine64 board. So this socket can either be driven by a normal host controller interface or by the OTG controller - which provides a host mode as well, though apparently not without issues.

Serial port / UART

Pine64 UART pins

The board connects 4 of the SoCs UART to easily accessible header pins. There is UART2 on the RPi connector, also UART3 and UART4 on the Euler connector. UART0 is the main UART used by Allwinner's firmware for boot and debug messages and is accessible on pins 29 (TXD), 30 (RXD), 25/34 (GND) on the Euler connector (this is not mentioned in the official connector description). Better always use UART0 on the EXP connector nearby, accessible on pins 7 (TXD), 8 (RXD), 9 (GND). The RX pin on there is connected via a FET to the SoC's pin, so it prevents injecting power via this line.

All of the UARTs use 3.3V voltage levels. Look at our UART howto for further instructions.

A connected UART cable to Euler pins is leaking power and this causes some annoyances. For example, unplugging and plugging back a power cable does not reboot the board cleanly. Thus using UART0 on EXP connector instead is highly recommended. If you still want to use the Euler connector availability of a reset button is recommended for doing any reasonable software development.

The board does not have a hardware reset button out of the box, but a button can be easily connected to the appropriate pin on the expansion connector. Also a standard micro switch (upright version) can be soldered on the board next to the USB sockets to ease early development ;-)

Pictures

Pine64+ (2 GB)

Pine64+ (1 GB)

Pine64 (512 MB)

Variants

  • Pine Inc produces also a SoM variant + baseboard called SoPine 64. Schematics and some documentation are provided. Obvious changes are 2GB LPDDR3 DRAM (boot0 available), 128 Mb SPI flash on the SoM and the opportunity to use eMMC on the baseboard.
  • Pinebook has been announced in Nov 2016. 2017 production batches will use 2GB LPDDR3 while the 2016 prototype boards have 4 DDR3L modules on the logicboard. Some iozone numbers for the onboard eMMC from a preliminary developer sample are available here (take this with a grain of salt since production batches might contain a different eMMC module).

See also

Manufacturer images

Pine A64 Android release and Linux BSP

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