Utilite & XBMC

In a previous post, I shared my first impressions regarding my brand new utilite pro.

I have just managed to get XBMC up and running on this device so it is time for a little update.
First, as I have just alluded : my XBMC build for iMX6 now works on the utilite. Basically, after a few tweaking in the utilite kernel, my whole yocto image runs fine. As compulab seemed to be very interested in getting XBMC up and running (and I shared all my work with them so far), odds are high they will package it in their own sw delivery (This is only my guess, not an official announcement in any way…)
Then, I expressed some fears regarding thermal dissipation when I realized that the case was used as a heatsink. In fact, I had a bad experience with my GK802 stick which exhibits a similar approach with very bad results. At the end, the utilite thermal behavior is correct : Not as good as the wandboard but perfectly acceptable : Using heavily the XBMC GUI for a few minutes enables to reach the following worst core temperature :

  • On the GK802 : 80°C (With an additional heatsink on the case, without it, you trigger the thermal protection at 90°C !)
  • On the wandboard quad : 55°C (The big heatsink is really efficient)
  • On the utilite : 65°C (Safe and far better than the GK802)

Note that the junction temperature of iMX6 (the consumer version) is 105°C and that a kernel driver is in charge of protecting the device against overheating (it handles an interrupt which is triggered when core temp reaches 90°C).
The 65°C worst figure of utilite seems just fine and, as a side note, it surely proves that the main issue with the GK802 is its thermal pad (and not the concept of heat dissipation through its aluminum case)

In my previous post, I also mentioned an issue with the second Ethernet interface. It is now solved thanks to compulab support : My device was one of the first produced units and some eeproms (whose content is required by the ethernet driver) were not properly programmed. No doubt that it will not happen with mass production units…
At last, I still have my little issue with the serial line (bad characters at 115200bps) but not a big deal as reducing the baudrate is a functional workaround. Out of curiosity, I will certainly plug a scope to understand why the reception is so poor at 115200bps…

As a conclusion, almost all my issues are solved and utilite is definitively a great product. It would be even better with a toslink connector for sure but well, I guess many people will be happy with the coax interface and this device has some serious assets with its SSD and its 2 Gbps Ethernet links…
As my yocto RFS is fully compatible, I will release images both for wandboard and for utilite in the future.
Ho, and you can expect a new image very soon : It is almost ready with an updated XBMC (new codecs and improved support for sound devices) and a full HardFloat ABI build. Stay tuned… 😉

20 thoughts on “Utilite & XBMC

  1. Is your image now based on linaro 13.07, because 11.10 is reaaaaaaly old, in the software world it’s older than old 🙂

    Kind regards

    • Hi Christian,
      No my image is built from scratch using yocto.
      I have no interest in supporting a recent linaro/ubunto by myself but I guess compulab or someone else will in the future as there is obviously many people interested in this distro…

    • It should be quite easy yes !
      But I won’t be able to do it by myself as I don’t own that board (nor do I plan to buy one…)

  2. I asked a similar question over on the XBMC forum, but thought you were more likely to see if here. Beside the heat issue on the GK802, it is a viable XBMC platform? I basically plan on adding a usb ethernet adapter to the GK802 and stream 1080p from my NAS. Is there a real advantage to the 2GB ram and SATA on the wandboard and utilite for local network playback on XBMC?

    • Hi heemid,

      I have just answered on the xbmc forum.
      Quick answer is : Yes, you can go for GK802 for your need and as long as you are able to tackle the overheating issue on your own and you don’t need specific interfaces which are not available on the GK802…

    • Hi Martin
      Don’t worry : I don’t abandon wandboard for sure ! By the way, as soon as I have a little spare time I will release a new image for wandboard… (upgraded xbmc + HF ABI for the whole image)

      The utilite pro may seem expensive but if you buy a wandboard quad (125$) + a wifi antenna (10$) + a plastic case (10$) + a sandisk 64 GB sata SSD (about 70$) + a power supply (about 20$)then you end up at 235$. The utilite pro has a nice aluminum case and a second PCIe gpbs Ethernet interface (not to mention you don’t have to tweak the ssd power) for 219$. So it is clearly more expensive especially if you don’t need all the features but it is not insanely high when you have a look at the whole package…

      • Thanks Stephan that is good news. Insane might be strong, and I certainly don’t consider the Wandboard priced well either but at least I could use most of the spare pieces I had.


  3. I’m very interested in your work, but wouldn’t it be easier to start from the openelec “distribution” to create an xbmc box?

    • Hi

      Well it could be but I personally have no interest in doing so…
      Let me explain : First my main task is to port XBMC on iMX6. The final distro (may it be ubuntu, openelec or something else) is not so important to my mind.
      But as an instance, I provide a ready to use image for end users and I decided to use yocto for this.

      Why ?
      Because I wanted to learn about it (it is to my mind the future of embedded linux and it is my freedom to use this project to learn more about it)
      Because there are already recipes for many specific iMX6 packages
      Because it is a very powerful build system (by far superior to ltib, buildroot, openelec build system or others…)

      That’s said, my work is fully open and if someone wants to package my work for openelec then he can perfectly do it and I will even do my best to provide support but I won’t address that task by myself…


  4. Hi,

    what are your future plans with future releases of XBMC? Is this going to be a long term “relationship” or just an experiment in practicing development on this board?


    • Hi Bolt

      My first aim is to provide a good XBMC experience with iMX6 products…
      As soon as I have the features and the stability I expect, I will clean my code, merge XBMC dev branch and try to push iMX6 support mainstream. The road is still long but I hope I will be able to follow it…
      I don’t know how difficult mainstreaming will be but I will continue to merge latest XBMC devs as long as I have time and interest for this project (the main pb is that I do it on my free time and free time is a sparse resource…)


  5. Pingback: XBMC for utilite (CEC support included) | Stephan's blog

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