The Linux4.TV Set-Top Box Open Source Project
Linux is being used in an increasing array of devices outside its origins of desktop and server systems. Enhanced multimedia capabilities, combined with continuing development and support for advanced state-of-the-art hardware, have enabled Linux to be used in TVs and set-top boxes. In this article, I describe a project that I've been involved with for the past year: implementing an open-source, Linux-based, set-top box platform, known as the Linux4.TV Project (http://www.linux4.tv/). Century Embedded Technologies and National Semiconductor Corporation have collaborated to produce Linux4.TV, a completely open-source, open-architecture, set-top box platform with support for digital and audio tuners, DVD, streaming video and other features.
National's Geode SP1SC10 demonstration platform was used as the hardware platform for the first implementation. The Geode SP1SC10 platform CPU is the 266MHz National Geode SC1200, featuring an x86-compatible 32-bit instruction set, MMX support, 2-D graphics acceleration, an integrated NTSC/PAL controller and a CCIR-656-compatible video input port for full-screen video display. The motherboard also hosts a Philips SAA7114 chip for analog NTSC and S-Video input decoding, as well as a Sigma Designs EM8400 chip for real-time hardware decoding of MPEG-2 digital video streams. A block diagram of the SC1200 CPU is shown in Figure 1, and the SP1SC10 platform architecture in Figure 2.
This system design allows various analog and digital video inputs to be decoded and routed into the video input processor component of the CPU, where the video data can be scaled, alpha-blended and merged with graphical data from standard framebuffer memory. In this way, windowing systems, widget sets, browsers and other application software can run normally, with the graphics data output combined in real time with the desired video stream by the CPU and other components. The system's software design takes advantage of this architecture allowing applications to be integrated with few, if any, modifications to work with the video subsystem.
National has developed a lower-cost development platform to replace SP1SC10, allowing more people access to STB technology for evaluation and development. The new board, available later this winter, will be completely open, with the full schematics and technical descriptions available on Linux4.TV. Two PCI-compatible slots also will be included, allowing easy customization of the system with additional chips, such as the Geode CS13x0 multimedia coprocessors.
In addition, several other vendors have platforms based on the Geode SC1200, and porting of the Linux4.TV code is in process. These vendors include VT Media Technologies and Cocom Group. Advantages of third-party vendors include a variety of form factors for set-top box deployment.
National Semiconductor has invested a large amount of time and money into the development of software technologies running on Geode processors and the SP1SC10 platform and is interested in making these technologies available to the Open Source community. National's Open Source philosophy is represented well by the Linux4.TV Project, in that all of the software running on the demonstration platform is available on the Linux4.TV site, with complete API specifications and documentation.
There are four major layers in the software architecture, as shown in Figure 3: kernel and device driver, Video Middleware, windowing system and WebMedia/applications layers. National Semiconductor contributed the kernel drivers and Video Middleware layers, with Century contributing the WebMedia user interface, windowing system, applications layer and overall distribution. The complete distribution is available both as a bootable system image and as a complete source tree. Following are more technical descriptions of each layer.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
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