Zhuhai, China-based Allwinner Technology has added one dual- and two quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 models to its A-series system-on-chip (SOC) family. Recently, the company’s SOCs have begun showing up as the engines powering low-cost Android- and Linux-based tablets, smartphones, and specialized board-level embedded designs.
The expanded Allwinner A-series SOC line now encompasses seven models: four single-core chips with Cortex-A8 cores and ARM Mali-400 GPUs; one dual-core part based on a Cortex-A7 CPU with a Mali-400-MP GPU; and two quad-core chips integrating Cortex-A7 cores and PowerVR SGX544 MP2 GPUs.
In addition to offering a spectrum of ARM core types and multicore configurations, Allwinner’s A-series SOCs implement a mix of feature sets and package sizes, as tabulated below.
|CPU||GPU||Video decoder||Video encoder||Package|
|A31||Quad-Core Cortex-A7||SGX-544 MP2||4K×2K||H.264 HP 1080P@60fps||BGA609|
|A31S||Quad-Core Cortex-A7||SGX-544 MP2||2160P||H.264 HP 1080P@30fps 720P@60fps||BGA460|
|A20||Dual-Core Cortex-A7||Mali-400 MP||2160P||H.264 HP 1080P@30fps 720P@60fps||BGA441|
|A10||Single-Core Cortex-A8||Mali-400||2160P||H.264 HP 1080P@30fps 720P@60fps||BGA441|
|A12||Single-Core Cortex-A8||Mali-400||1080P||H.264 1080P@30fps||BGA336|
|A10S||Single-Core Cortex-A8||Mali-400||1080P||H.264 MP 720P@30fps||BGA336|
|A13||Single-Core Cortex-A8||Mali-400||1080P||H.264 MP 720P@30fps||eLQFP176|
Interesting, Allweather’s website fails to indicate the maximum clock rates for its SOCs. Wikipedia shows 1.0GHz for the Cortex-A8 core-based chips and 1.2GHz for the Cortex-A7 core-based SOCs, but other sources report speeds up to 1.5GHz for the newer parts.
You can see more detail of what’s inside each SOC from their block diagrams. This first set shows the architectures of the earlier, single-core A-series SOCs, based on ARM Cortex-A8 CPU cores.
Allwinner’s earlier single-core A10, A10S, A13 SOCs
(click images to enlarge)
And here you see what’s integrated in the newer A-series SOCs, based on either dual or quad ARM Cortex-A7 CPU cores paired with either dual or quad, ARM Mali-400 MP or PowerVR SGX544 MP2, GPUs.
Allwinner’s new multicore A20, A31, A31S SOCs
(click images to enlarge)
Allwinner says the dual-core A20 is pin-compatible with the single-core A10, easing the process of migrating designs to higher performance and lower power consumption.
As an example, BDD Group designed a tiny, sub-$50, SODIMM-style COM (computer-on-module) using the A10, but plans to upgrade its COM to the dual-core A20 and quad-core A31 later in the year.
The A-series SOCs support ARM Linux and are tested for compatibility with Android 4.2. Several ready-to-use evaluation and development boards based on the A-Series SOCs are showcased on Allwinner’s website. Development boards from various third-party vendors currently support the A31, A10, and A13 SOCs.