Android Board Support

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Porting Android to a new platform can be a challenge. Here are some resources to start with that:

Processor Support

ARM

Most ports of Android are to ARM-based platforms.

OMAP

  • Mentor Graphics and Texas Instruments support Android on OMAP processors via the project
  • See also Android on OMAP, which has a very thorough listing of issues faced in initially porting Android to OMAP

Mips

Mentor Graphics did a port of Android to MIPS.

See http://www.mipsandroid.org

(Unfortunately, this site requires registration.)

x86

There is a whole well-developed project for Android on x86.

See http://www.android-x86.org/

At least one major product (Sony Internet TV) is reported to be x86-based. Intel has a team of developers working on Android issues. See Mark Gross' presentation from ELC 2010 for some tips from them about using Android

Individual Platform Support

For Nexus One

Unlocking the phone

Bryan Swetland says: (here)

All Nexus One devices have an unlockable bootloader (% fastboot oem unlock), which, once unlocked will allow you to reflash the boot partition (kernel + ramdisk), system partition, etc.

Full kernel sources are available here: http://android.git.kernel.org/?p=kernel/msm.git;a=shortlog;h=refs/heads/android-msm-2.6.29-nexusone (make mahimahi_defconfig to configure just like the production kernel). We're in the process of rebasing up to .32, on our way to .33 and beyond.

Serial port access

There are some serial port pins available on the micro-USB connector, which you can access if you have the right hardware.

See this discussion on xda-developers for detailed information and links.

Brian Swetland says: TTL level (~3.3v?) serial is present on the D+/D- pins of the micro USB connector whenever VBUS (usb +5v power) is not present. This is physical UART1 (ttyMSM0). In standard builds the FIQ kernel debugger runs there. You'll have to disable the FIQ debugger and enable the serial device in your kernel config if you want to use it as a regular serial port.

System Requirements

RAM (>256M if possible)

Dianne Hackborn had this to say (in August, 2009) about RAM requirements for Android:

I would recommend at least 128MB available to the *kernel*. In many architectures, a big chunk of RAM will be dedicated to the radio, so you need to take that into account, and the 128MB recommendation does not cover that. Also if your architecture allocates graphics surfaces in user space, bump it up by 16MB or so (The Qualcomm devices I have experience do their allocations in RAM outside of that accessible to the kernel.) And of course this also depends on the size and density of your screen, camera megapixels, etc. If the screen has more pixels than 320x480 or the camera is more than 3 megapixels, bump the size up accordingly.

For reference, the myTouch has 192MB of RAM which on 1.6 only left 100MB left for the kernel and user space, and was *very* tight on RAM. Don't go that low. An update to the Qualcomm radio apparently frees up a bunch of space, adding over 10MB or so to user space... that should run even 2.2 okay. At this level, though, the amount of RAM is probably the most important aspect to how well the device will run. Don't skip on RAM, and you'll have a much better running device, with a lot fewer headaches as you try to get everything working well. That is from painful experience. :)

Another reference point -- the Droid has 256MB RAM, which runs the system well, but it also does its graphics allocations in user space and has a high density screen so you can still end up not keeping as many processes running as you'd like if loading large pages with the browser, running lots of background services, etc.

The Nexus One has 512MB of RAM and honestly that is really more than we know what to do with. It is great. :) I ended up putting some code into the activity manager to put a hard limit on the number of processes we would keep around, because there was so much memory we had often could keep way more processes than was useful. That was never an issue on Droid. ;)