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Media player dev kits run Ubuntu and Android on Cortex-A9

Aug 12, 2014 — by Eric Brown 2,120 views

Toshiba announced wireless-enabled development kits based on its dual-core Cortex-A9 “TZ5000 ApP Lite” SoC, supporting Ubuntu and Android 4.4, respectively.

The RBTZ5000-2MA-A1 (Linux) and RBTZ5000-6MA-A1 (Android) kits are anchored with two vastly different development boards. The Ubuntu-based “2MA” version is a full-featured, 90 x 55mm board while the “6MA” (Android) module is a mere 57 x 24mm and integrates HDMI and USB connectors at each end, making it more suitable for developing stick/dongle style media players and other Internet of Things devices. Both designs target IoT, streaming media, “and other content-rich consumer devices,” says Toshiba.

RBTZ5000-2MA-A1 (Ubuntu)
(click image to enlarge)

The kits each integrate Toshiba’s TZ50001MBG Application Processor Lite (ApP Lite) system-on-chip, which was announced in February and was scheduled to begin sampling in May. The dual-core, Cortex-A9 TZ5000 follows earlier TZ-branded ApP Lite processors such as the TZ2000 and TZ3000. A new TZ1000 SoC targeting more basic IoT gizmos runs on an ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller, and will begin shipping in September. The TZ5000 starter kits will begin shipping in October.

RBTZ5000-6MA-A1 (Android)
(click image to enlarge)

Toshiba’s TZ5000 SoC

The TZ5000 integrates a PowerVR SGX540 GPU and a PowerVR VXD395 VPU from Imagination Technologies. It also features a DDR3L DRAM controller, plus a 1080p/60 graphics engine with a multi-format decoder, as well as IPC, scalar, rotator, and composer functionality.

Toshiba TZ5000 SoC with block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The SoCs also include built-in controllers DDR3/3L/LP-DDR3 memory, and interfaces for USB OTG, SDIO, HDMI, MIPI, CSI, and DSI, among others. The TZ5000 series SoCs are further equipped with a baseband engine — the Ensigma C4500 — compliant with the new 802.11ac WiFi standard with 2×2 MIMO. The 2MA (Ubuntu) dev board uses a model TZ5011XBG SoC, which supports up to 1.2GHz clock rates, while the 6MA (Android) dev board’s TZ5001MBG SoC is limited to 800MHz but appears to add 4GB of on-chip NAND flash.


RBTZ5000-2MA-A1 (Ubuntu)

The Ubuntu-ready RBTZ5000-2MA-A1 starter kit is built around a single board computer (SBC) that combines the TZ5011XBG with an unspecified amount of DDR3L-1600 RAM, plus 8GB of eMMC flash and a microSD slot. The WiFi (802.11ac) and Bluetooth 4.0 FEMs (front end modules) are built into a modular daughter board and supported with antennas. An Ethernet connector is shown on another daughter board in the image below, but is not listed in the datasheet.

RBTZ5000-2MA-A1 dev kit details
(click image to enlarge)

The 2MA board integrates dual USB 2.0 host and one USB 2.0 device interfaces, two of which are available via mini-USB and micro-USB coastline ports. The other I/O appears to be provided via onboard interfaces, including an HDMI 1.4b port, dual MIPI DSI connectors, and dual MIPI CSI-2 camera connectors. Additional I/O includes I2S, S/PDIF, and a UART for JTAG debugging.

The Linux stack includes Ubuntu and U-Boot, and supports multiple boot options. Also available are drivers for eMMC, and SD memories, plus I2S, timers, DMA, PWM, and PMU.

RBTZ5000-6MA-A1 (Android)

The Android-based RBTZ5000-6MA-A1 looks more like an HDMI dongle than an SBC. It combines the TZ5001MBG SoC model, 4GB of on-chip NAND flash, and 512MB of on-board DRAM.

RBTZ5000-6MA-A1 dev kit details (left) and debug setup
(click images to enlarge)

In addition, it offers the same Ensigma C4500 WiFi/Bluetooth features as those of the larger 2MA board, plus real-world USB 2.0 OTG and HDMI 1.4b ports that are positioned at either end of its dongle-style form-factor. A UART is supplied for JTAG. The 6MA’s Android 4.4 stack includes the same U-Boot and driver implementation used on the 2MA version.

“Development of varied embedded development environments requires easier debugging for improved performance and power management,” stated Nalini Ranjan, senior business development manager, Logic LSI Business Unit at TAEC. “With these starter kits, Toshiba has created a solution that accommodates these requirements while allowing customers to quickly and easily implement the TZ5000 processors for high-demand multimedia applications, using their OS of choice.”

Further information

The TZ5000 ApP Lite starter kits — RBTZ5000-2MA-A1 (Ubuntu) and RBTZ5000-6MA-A1 (Android) — will begin shipping Oct. 2014, says Toshiba. More information on the TZ5000 may be found at Toshiba’s ApP Lite product page.

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