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SBC runs Linux on new quad-core Cortex-A9 SoC

Mar 31, 2015 — by Eric Brown 2,812 views

Actions Technology released a quad-core Cortex-A9 “S500” SoC, along with an “ActDuino S500” SBC based on it, plus support for Android 5.0 and Linux.

Actions Technology, a subsidiary of Chinese fabless chipmaker Actions Semiconductor, is aiming its new S500 system-on-chip and ActDuino S500 SBC “open source reference design platform” at digital signage, kiosks, Android netbooks, pico projectors, children’s educational devices, robot toys, and other consumer electronics. Despite the name, there is no mention of Arduino support for the board.

ActDuino S500 SBC
(click image to enlarge)

ATM7059 SoC
block diagram

(click to enlarge)

The S500 appears to be similar to an Actions Technology ATM7059 SoC aimed at tablets. It similarly features four 28nm fabricated 1.6GHz Cortex-A9 cores and a PowerVR SGX544 GPU. No clock rate was listed, but the ATM7059 runs at up to 1.6GHz. The company also sells a single-core Cortex-A9 S200 and ActDuino S200 SBC.


Despite the rather proprietary GPU, the S500 is billed as an “open source platform SoC.” The SoC is further equipped with a NEON SIMD engine, 512KB of L2 Cache, plus a VPU, and ISP.

The S500 supports up to 2GB of LPDDR3 and other RAM varieties, and supports Android 5.0, Ubuntu 12.04, and Linux 3.10. The SoC supports 2K @ 60fps (1920 × 1200) LCD displays as well as 1080P HDMI, with dual-display support, says the company.

The ActDuino S500 reference board backs up the S500 SoC with up to 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM. While the SoC supports eMMC and NAND flash, it’s unclear how much, if any, ships on the board.

ActDuino S500 board details
(click image to enlarge)

The SBC is equipped with coastline HDMI, 10/100 Ethernet, headphone, USB 3.0, and two USB 2.0 ports. An LVDS LCD interface is also available, along with I2C, SPI, UART, I2S, ADC, PCM, S/PDIF, and MIPI DSI and CSI interfaces. A WiFi and Bluetooth moduleis also at the ready.

The ActDuino S500 board will be available with hardware reference design schematic and board layout diagrams. It will also ship with “abundant tools, documents, and other necessary resources,” says Actions Technology.

Specifications listed for the ActDuino S500 reference board include:

  • Processor — Actions Technology S500 (4x Cortex-A9 cores); PowerVR SGX544 GPU plus video and image acceleration engines
  • Memory/storage:
    • Up to 2GB DDR3 RAM
    • eMMC4.5 and NAND flash appear to be supported
    • SD slot (possibly microSD)
  • Wireless — WiFi and Bluetooth
  • Networking — Fast Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • HDMI 1.4bport
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • USB 3.0 host port
    • Headphone jack
    • LVDS LCD interface
    • MIPI-DSI and CSI interfaces
    • I2S, I2C, ADC, PCM, and S/PDIF interfaces
    • 4x TWI
    • 6x PWM
    • 4x SPI
    • 7x UART
    • 4×3 key matrix
  • Other features — mic input; IR; user keys; temperature sensor
  • Power:
    • 3.3V DC input
    • PMIC
    • battery
    • Power switch
    • Power management (Actions LPD and ADP, with multiple power domains and standby states
  • Operating system — Android 5.0, Ubuntu 12.04, Linux 3.10

Later this year, Actions Technology will ship a board compliant with Linaro’s 96Boards form-factor. We imagine the 96Boards SBC will use a new 64-bit ATM9xxx ARM SoC that the company is developing, reported on in an Oct. 2014 YouTube video posted by that also covers the ATM7059.

“We are pleased to provide support for the open source intelligent hardware community with the launch of our new SoC and reference design platform,” stated Zhenyu Zhou, CEO of Actions Semiconductor.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the Actions Technology S500 SoC and ActDuino S500 reference board. More information may be found on the S500 product page.

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