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Development kit targets Android STBs

Dec 2, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 45 views

Viosoft Corp. is shipping an Android development kit for MIPS-based digital multimedia designs, with a special focus on IP set-top boxes (STBs). The Android Adoption Kit combines Sigma Designs' SMP8654-based Vantage 8654 Development Platform with a version of Viosoft's Arriba IDE/Debugger optimized for Android on MIPS, says the company.

The Viosoft Arriba IDE/Debugger for the Android on MIPS platform is based on Viosoft's mature Arriba Linux debug and profiling technologies, which was made available last month as part of an Arriba for Android Porting Kit (APK) co-developed with MIPS Technologies. The APK, which also includes MIPS' System Navigator EJTAG probe, was originally announced in June, when MIPS followed up on Embedded Alley's Android to MIPS port by announcing hardware and software partners for MIPS/Android implementations. (Embedded Alley was since acquired by Mentor Graphics.)

Sigma Designs' Vantage 8654 board, centerpiece of Viosoft's Android Adoption Kit

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Similar Arriba-based technology is now available with the Sigma Designs' Vantage 8654 board (pictured above) in the Android Adoption Kit. The "non-intrusive" Arriba environment provides users with insights into the inner workings of Android Java applications, middleware frameworks and associated libraries, the Dalvik virtual machine, and the Linux kernel, says Viosoft.

Debug features in the Android Adoption Kit are said to include:

  • Source-aware, multi-language debugger (supports MIPS assembly, C/C++, and Java/Dalvik)
  • Support for kernel and user-mode debugging through a single channel of connectivity
  • Support for multi-process and multi-thread debugging
  • Support for Linux shared library and loadable module debugging

The Sigma Designs' Vantage 8654 Development Platform is designed to host digital media applications such as IPTV set-top boxes and network players. The board is based on Sigma's MIPS32-based SMP8654 Secure Media Processor. An upgrade over the earlier MIPS-based SMP8630- and SMP8640-series SoCs, the SMP8650 series offers a 333MHz clock rate and 1230 DMIPS performance, and supports a wide variety of video formats including MPEG-4 and WMV9, says Sigma Designs.

Sigma Designs' Vantage 8654 block diagram

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Sigma's Vantage 8654 Development Platform combines the SMP8654 processor with 512MB DDR-2 DRAM, 512MB SLC NAND flash, and 2MB SPI NOR flash, says Sigma Designs. The board is said to provide dual SATA connectors, and two USB 2.0 host ports for additional storage options. Dual smartcard interfaces are also available. Twin Ethernet ports are provided for networking, and WiFi can be enabled via PCI and MiniPCI connectors, says the company.

The Vantage 8654 offers an HDMI output, as well as an optional tuner add-on board that supports ATSC, DVB-T, DVB-C, DVB-S, or DVB-S2 tuner formats, says the company. The board is said to support all major video outputs including NTSC/PAL, Composite, S-video, and YPbPr . Audio is provided via 5.1-ch analog audio capability and coaxial SPDIF digital audio.

Sigma Designs' Vantage 8654 software architecture

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Sigma's Vantage 8654 is available with SDKs for Linux and Android, as well as a Windows CE 6.0 board support package (BSP) and bootloader. As sold by Viosoft, the kit includes Linux and Android source code from the MIPSAndroid community portal. Online support is also available from Viosoft.

In August, Sigma demonstrated an Android/MIPS-based set-top box (STB) prototype capable of displaying 1080p video. The company did not announce which processor the STB used.


Viosoft Android Adoption Kit accessories

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Stated Art Lee, VP of business development for Viosoft Corp., "While interest behind Android has been surging, many companies, especially those without prior background in embedded Linux, have had difficulties in determining whether Android is the right solution for their future needs and applications. The idea behind the Viosoft Android Adoption Kit is to provide such organizations with the ability to test the Android waters without burning holes in their pockets."


The Android Adoption Kit is available now from Viosoft for $995. For the first 100 customers, Viosoft will discount the full purchase price toward the purchase of the Viosoft Arriba Embedded Linux Edition, or the Android Porting Kit for professional users.

More information on the kit may be found here. More information about the Android platform and MIPS, as well as full source code for MIPS Technologies' port of Android to the MIPS32 architecture, including a reference binary and documentation, may be found here.

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