Sunday, October 31, 2010

GA330 guts

It's been some time now since I received the two Gemei A330 sent by ChinaChip (GA330 from now on, to distinguish it from the other A330 out there which is basically an A320 with 64MB RAM). We're still working out the details (NDA, possible trip to China) to acquire the required info on the CC1800 SoC (system-on-chip) in order to port dingux to it, and it might still take a bit longer. Please excuse me if I don't comment more on the matter until everything is settled.

I'm working on the x760+ dingux port. As I said, I have all the required info, but time is limited and I've invested most of it reviewing all my initial work together with recent developments. Please be patient (yes, even more, sorry).

Meanwhile, here you have some electronics pron:

You'll notice that there is no battery in the pictures. The samples were sent without battery due to customs regulations, and though it's not strictly necessary for development, I'll get hold of substitutes soon.

You know I don't use the A320 and GA330 much for gaming (lack of time, you know, bla bla bla), so I can't give you a thorough review of the new GA330. Here are some first impressions. Please bear in mind that I'm not sure to which point the samples I got are definitve production machines, so take it with a pinch of salt:
  • The construction build feels good but not as good as the A320.
  • The LCD is exposed, i.e. there is no plastic protection (which is part of the enclosure) over it, as happens in the A320 and the X760+. This is definitely a no-no.
  • The LCD is a "delta matrix" type. Don't know much about the technology (I'll appreciate links), but it basically means that the color dots are not aligned in an orthogonal matrix but spread in a zig-zag pattern. This is supposed to be better for displaying pictures and video, but I think it's not good for games.
Please let me stress what I already said: these might not be definitive production units and the final product to market may have many of these thingies fixed. Also, note that ChinaChip actively supporting linux on their machines is a huge advance, and a first in the chinese PMP market as far as I know. And more powerful machines will come in the near future.

One final comment on the CC1800: it as a video processing unit (VPU) capable of doing scaling and all kinds of color conversion. The JZ4732 in the A320 has an image processing unit (IPU) which unfortunately is only good for converting YUV to RGB. This is very useful for video playing but useless for gaming. The CC1800's VPU will allow to provide each game with the framebuffer resolution and color space which is best suited, allowing for a significant increase in performance. Being an ARM processor will allow also to use the already existing assembly optimized emulation cores, for another boost in performance.


  1. Nice, Hope you have a little more time for the x760+, i am a bit too anxious...

  2. Hum, there are many still unansewered questions about the DA330 such as RAM amount and LCD size and capacity, but it looks like it is not much different from the A320 as first tought.

    Alas, it really seems like the CPU is more like a DSP than a classical computer CPU, and the software (Firmware and Dingux, in this case) can take more advantage of its multimedia capacity, but needs to be written with adaptations to it.

    Looks really fun, if you like to mess with hardware and low-level software :)

  3. Thanks a lot for keeping us posted, although I'm a bit confused. What you're saying implies that there's still quite a lot to be done before the release of the A330, but some importers are already taking preorders for the device, with an estimate shipping date sometime in the second half of November...

    I don't know what to make of all this.

    I'm not even sure that I want to make the upgrade now, given the inferior build quality to that of the A320 and especially the exposed LCD screen. But as you said, hopefully they'll sort that out before the release.

  4. black, I think he said that there is still a lot of work to be done *to port Dingux, an alternative operating system, to Dingoo A330*, not that the hardware and official firmware are incomplete.

  5. I'm not optimistic that the case will change to one with protective plastic on the LCD, but who knows.

    The LCD type might change since there are two connector types on the PCB. The LCD I got may not be the definitive model.

    I mentioned all these concerns to my contact at ChinaChip and they appreciated my suggestions, but actually I don't know if they're making any changes to the DA330 before release.

    And yes, regarding dingux for the DA330, there's a lot to be done. As far as I know they have some preliminary support for linux, but most of the drivers are yet to be written from scratch, and I don't have any real info on the CC1800 as of now, so I can't even guess how much work it is and how long it might take.

  6. Hey Booboo, great p0rn!
    Have you checked already if it says something on these testpoints? (quickfind: uartbase=0x40000000, status=UB+0x10(0:rxrdy,1:txrdy),tx=UB+0x20,rx=UB+0x24 - from IPL.bin( One could modify the IPL.bin (to include some basic uart up/download code) and flash it. Anyway, you will probably get the datasheet soon but I have to confess that I couldnt resist.

    Regards and happy porting/coding.

  7. A330 support Component in TV-OUT?
    Composite video or RCA is poor!
    Component 480i,1080i...

  8. @alemaxx

    Didn't connect the test points yet. CC will provide info on the test points so I won't need to blindly check all of them.

    Your link is 404. The IPL is supposed to be in ROM, is that really an IPL?