Sheevaplug vs Efika MX vs Nvidia Tegra2 vs TI OMAP4 Pandaboard: benchmarks

January 29, 2011

Hi everyone,

I’m writing this post just to publish some results of benchmarks i’ve done lately on the ARM devices i have. They seem pretty popular, so i guess i could publish them on my blog so other people have it easy to find them.

== memcpy ==

The most popular one is the memcpy benchmark. It was written by a gentoo user and friend Siarhei Siamashka (ssvb is his nick on He published it on:
I simply ran it on the devices i have.

You can get the latest results of this benchmark on the devices i’ve been able to run the benchmark on the following page:

== Gentoo build times ==

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know i have a page where i list the buildtimes of different basic packages(binutils, gcc, glibc and portage) on different kind of machines to compare it. The page is here:

Unfortunately those results have a problem, i only did a part of them myself, the rest were provided by other people, and as you can see they were using different kind of storage… so last year i decided i could do a new page where all the build times were using the same storage (USB stick), same package versions and same configuration…

The result is this one:

Hope you find them useful.

ARM hardfloat and Gentoo

December 9, 2010


Since gcc-4.5.0, the option for a hardfloat toolchain has been available for ARM. I’m not going to duplicate the information about hardfloat on ARM, since its really well explained here:

Summarizing, using hardfloat over softfp and softfloat, provides a better performance. However there is a “problem”. Almost all the devices using ARMv5 processors don’t have VFP, so for the users of those devices it won’t make a difference. With ARMv7 there’s no problem, because as far as i know, there’s no ARMv7 processor which doesn’t have VFP(correct me if i’m wrong).

Anyway, focusing on the Gentoo part, back in July, Siarhei Siamashka (ssvb) bootstraped a hardfloat ARMv7 stage3. For which i’d like to thank him. I worked with Siarhei on getting the changes needed for getting a hardfloat toolchain in Gentoo if -hardfloat- is used in the CHOST, among other things.

Last month i released a hardfloat stage3, so anyone who wants to use it, is free to do so. However keep in mind that since gcc-4.5.0 is not stable(stable is 4.4.4-r2 as of this writing), you need to have this in your package.keywords file, so portage won’t downgrade gcc and diffutils:


You can download the stage3 from here:

Those stages have been built using:
-CFLAGS=”-O2 -pipe -march=armv7-a -mfpu=vfpv3-d16″

The “-mfloat-abi=hard” is implied by the hardfloat string in CHOST using the Gentoo eclasses.

Have fun and happy testing!

Update: I forgot to say that binary blobs won’t work with hardfloat if they’re not built using a hardfloat toolchain. That means that if you’re using a video driver(f.ex, pvr drivers for OMAP hw) that is built as binary, it won’t work.

Pandaboard and Gentoo: Part Two (Running Gentoo!)

November 27, 2010


This is the second post on Pandaboard and Gentoo, after the first one with the unpack and specifications. In this one i’ll speak about putting Gentoo on it.

First i’d like to announce the guide for installing Gentoo on the Pandaboard. Check it out at: and feel free to send corrections to my way, either by mail or by putting a comment on this post.

I’d like to thank my coworker Jordi InglΓ©s for providing me an 8GB SDHC to use with the pandaboard.

Secondly here are my impressions about it. Installing Gentoo on it was easy as always, one of the first problems i encountered was that there was no information about what x-loader/uboot/kernel should everyone use, as the vanilla doesn’t work yet(or thats what i’m being told).

After i found the correct/updated x-loader/uboot/kernel i was able to boot gentoo on it, using 1GB of RAM. After doing some heavy compiling, for example when building gcc, i encountered random segfaults and sigbuses. Of course, this wasn’t documented either(Ubuntu is not Linux). There’s a bug in the kernel for the pandaboard, which gives those issues when using more than 716MB of RAM, check this link.

Regarding the hardware provided by the pandaboard, here’s what i got:
-Audio(non HDMI): Works fine with an updated kernel
-Bluetooth: Needs external tools to be able to use it.
-Wifi: The pandaboard uses a TI WL1271, but the driver in the mainline kernel doesn’t support the pandaboard yet. For now you need to use an external driver and external tools(to load the firmware) which i haven’t been able to do yet.
-Video: Haven’t had time to test it, obviously needs an external driver for full acceleration.
-SD slot: Works fine
-Ethernet: Works fine

Regarding the buildtimes, i compared it with the other Cortex A9 hardware i have, which is the Nvidia Tegra2 devkit. I used an 8GB USB stick(with an ext2 filesystem) to do the “benchmarking”, using the same stage3 and portage snapshot on both boards. The results are the following
-glibc: 1h24m <- the tegra was 13 minutes faster
-gcc: 2h6m <- the tegra was 15 minutes faster
-binutils: 12m7s <- the tegra was 5 seconds slower
-portage: 1m10s <- the tegra was 8 seconds faster

Also i'd like to announce the pandaboard overlay, for all the stuff needed to use the hardware integrated in the pandaboard. Please keep in mind that for now i've only got bluetooth to work.

Have fun!

Pandaboard and Gentoo: Part one (unpacking and specs)

October 28, 2010


Like i did with the Nvidia Tegra2, i’m going to talk about the Pandaboard which i received two days ago.

The story begins at late september, once the brand-new Pandaboard got announced. Before it was announced how much it would cost and before you could buy it, the Pandaboard Early Adopter Program (PEAP) was available. This program allowed(the two phases are now over) developers to submit their project and be allocated a Pandaboard if the project was among the most voted ones. The first phase selected the top5 projects and the second one the top10.

I submitted my proposal for the first phase, and luckily enough my project and another one were tied with 5 votes, which was the maximum any project achieved.
My project is mainly about documenting the installation of Gentoo on the Pandaboard and provide everything needed to install it. Also to help users install it as well. After i have done everything, the board will be used to test/build packages and keep testing new kernels/applications made by OMAP developers.

Let’s go with the specs. The Pandaboard has a OMAP 4430 Dual-Core ARM Cortex-A9 processor @ ~1GHz, 1GB of DDR2-800(400MHz) RAM, audio input/output, Bluetooth(through TI WiLink 6.0 solution), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi(through TI WiLink 6.0 solution), 10/100Mb USB-based ethernet(SMSC LAN95xx), HDMI, DVI-D(using an HDMI port), 2 USB ports, 1 USB OTG port and 1 SD slot. You can expand the specs in their official webpage:

One of the things i should add regarding the specs, is that there are two revisions publicly available to the board: the EA1 and A1. The EA1 are the boards that were available through the PEAP program i talked above, the A1 are the ones that you can buy. The difference between them is that the EA1 boards use 2.0 silicon and the RAM is clocked at 200MHz(DDR2-400). The A1 boards use 2.1 silicon and are clocked at 400MHz(DDR2-800). That means that you can’t compare any benchmark i can do, since the RAM of my panda is slow compared with a panda you can buy, which after all is the real product.

Here’s the cpuinfo:

Processor : ARMv7 Processor rev 2 (v7l)
processor : 0
BogoMIPS : 2013.49

processor : 1
BogoMIPS : 1963.08

Features : swp half thumb fastmult vfp edsp thumbee neon vfpv3
CPU implementer : 0x41
CPU architecture: 7
CPU variant : 0x1
CPU part : 0xc09
CPU revision : 2

Hardware : OMAP4430 Panda Board
Revision : 0010
Serial : 0000000000000000

dmesg is here

For more information you can check the official webpage and the wiki page made available for it. Until i create the documentation for installing Gentoo, you can install either Ubuntu, Android, or a minimal Angstrom distribution following the instructions in the wiki. Obviously you can also install Gentoo by yourself πŸ™‚

Have fun!


October 9, 2010

Hi everyone,

Keeping with the previous post, i’m announcing the following changes for ARM stage3s.

The optimization flag on the default CFLAGS/CXXFLAGS will be changed from -Os to -O2 as of this month stage3.

This is a change we’re doing so we don’t hit bugs undiscovered until we hit them like bug 331641 which only ocurred when using -Os and was reported by Gentoo users. Also that way we use the same optimization flag used on the rest of the arches and distributions.

If you still want to use -Os you’re free to do so, like whatever CFLAGS you want to use.


October 4, 2010

Hello everyone,

From this month(October) the default ARMv7 CFLAGS/CXXFLAGS used to built ARMv7 stages are going to change from:
CFLAGS="-Os -march=armv7-a -mfpu=vfp -mfloat-abi=softfp -pipe"
CFLAGS="-Os -march=armv7-a -mfpu=vfpv3-d16 -mfloat-abi=softfp -pipe"

The vfpv3-d16 option was included in gcc-4.4, and since thats what its stable, we’ll change the CFLAGS. This doesn’t affect current installations, but users are recommended to change their CFLAGS and rebuild the system.

Of course like always you’re free to use any other CFLAGS that suit better your system. You can use vfpv3 or neon if your system has those options. Those CFLAGS i mention is just for the armv7a stages we build, which target the “worst” possible armv7 processor.

Architectures and Gentoo (Part 1)

October 3, 2010


In gentoo we support 13 different architectures: alpha, amd64, arm, hppa, ia64, m68k, mips, ppc, ppc64, s390, sh, sparc and x86. Although amd64 and x86 are the most common and popular, they are only 2 architectures of the total 13 we support, so i thought i could write about the rest of the architectures and their status on Gentoo.

I’ll do it in parts because i’ll get burned out too easily!

I think its sad to see a lot of that architectures that were so popular being discontinued, but i guess thats whats the progress is about πŸ™‚ The main problem of arches getting discontinued is that the hardware is slow compared with new hardware, less users because they replace their old alternative architecture computer with an standard amd64/x86 PC. That makes that there’s less users of said architecture, which makes less interesting for linux distributions to support them, then there’s no developers…and then the architecture really dies. IMHO its sad, but thats the way it is.


The alpha processor was phased out by Compaq in 2004, being replaced by ia64. That means that you can’t buy any new hardware that has alpha processors(as to my knowledge). Of course there is some alpha hardware that wasn’t ever used, so you can say there is ‘new’ hardware, as in unused, but there’s no alpha processor manufactured after 2004. There were both workstations and servers.

The alpha status on Gentoo is good, there is three developers on the team: Tobias Klausmann (klausman, Blackb|rd on IRC), Matt Turner (mattst88) and myself. There was a lot of distributions supporting alpha back in 2001, when alpha was well and alive. But as of today, Gentoo is one of the few distributions that support it officially(guess we’re crazy :D).


Well, i don’t think i need to comment on this one…


ARM is one of the architectures that its level of activity is the same as amd64/x86 thanks to its fast-growing use on embedded devices. You can even find notebooks with ARM processors(called smartbooks), phones and NAS(Network Attached Storage) running Linux, WinCE and Android. Everytime they are getting more powerful, at the moment you can find dual-core processors at 1GHz, and thats not going to stop.

The status of ARM on Gentoo is good. We’re five developers: maekke, xmw, dagger, vapier and me. Also there are some users on #gentoo-embedded( which are really helpful. We provide stage3s for a handful of CHOSTS: armv4l, armv4tl, armv5tel, armv6j and armv7a. Which covers most of the devices available. One of the bad things of ARM is that every device available is almost completely different, that means we can’t have install guides of each device if we don’t have the device itself…


HPPA is another of the dead architectures that we support at Gentoo. It was an architecture designed by HP, and was phased out in 2008. It was replaced by ia64 as well. There was both workstations and servers.

The status on Gentoo is good. There is two developers: jer and GMsoft. I can’t speak too much about it because i’m not in the team, but i know its supported and doesn’t have too many issues(at least gentoo-related).

Hope you liked the first part πŸ™‚

Nvidia Tegra2: Getting wifi(atheros 6002) working

May 24, 2010


So i finally got working wifi(yay!) on the Nvidia Tegra2 250 Developer board.

I found this atheros ar6k repository by mistake, so i decided to try if i was able to compile the driver and get it working. It works, but you need to modify the sourcecode to replace the paths of the firmware, since they are defined for android, before compiling the driver. I’m also writing this post so i don’t forget how i compiled the driver πŸ™‚

So let’s start supposing you’ve followed my tegra2 Gentoo installation guide or you at least have an ARM crosscompiler, know how to use it, and you use it to compile your tegra2 kernel.

  1. First you need GIT in your system *AND* a compiled kernel source(and an ARM crosscompiler).
  2. Then checkout the ar6k repository from here:
    # git clone git://
    This will checkout the repository into the directory you are right now.
  3. cd into the atheros/ar6k_sdk/host directory, and fix the firmware path:
    # cd atheros/ar6k_sdk/host
    # sed -i -e 's:/system/lib/hw/wlan/:/lib/firmware/:g' os/linux/ar6000_drv.c
  4. Now we compile the module, but you probably need to change the variables definitions to suit your system. For example in my case, the compiled kernel source is at /root/tegra/linux-2.6/ and my crosscompiler is called armv5tel-softfloat-linux-gnueabi-

    # make ATH_LINUXPATH=/root/tegra/linux-2.6/ ATH_CROSS_COMPILE_TYPE=armv5tel-softfloat-linux-gnueabi-

If everything went right, you now have a file called ar6000.ko in your os/linux/ . Copy it to your nvidia tegra board.
You’ll also need to copy the firmware files located in atheros/ar6k_sdk/target into the /lib/firmware directory on your tegra system.

Once you’ve copied everything, you can do a ‘insmod ar6000.ko’ in your tegra2 board and some messages will show up on dmesg and a wlan0 interface should appear.

The driver seems to work fine, i was able to connect to my WPA/WPA2 802.11g AP.

Have fun

Magnus Damm on the comments commented about getting the driver to compile with a >=2.6.35-rc kernel. He says that you need to have CONFIG_WIRELESS_EXT enabled and he also thinks that CONFIG_WEXT_PRIV is also needed.
Thanks Magnus!

I can’t try it since the tegra kernel is stuck on 2.6.29, but its good to know πŸ™‚

Request for a S390 VM for Gentoo

May 20, 2010

Hello everyone,

This is a post for s390 users to help Gentoo. Since some months ago the S390 VM’s we were using for maintaining the s390/s390x port were stopped due to a problem with the air conditioner on the room where the machine was running.

So if you or your company are able to provide us an S390 VM, it would be greatly appreciated by the s390 team.

We would need the following:
– SSH access
– At least 10GB of disk space


PS: The Hercules emulator is NOT an option, so please don’t suggest that.

Update: I’ve added the requirements we need.

New sh4/sh4a stages available

April 4, 2010

Hello everyone,

Just wanted to let you know that i’ve put new sh4/sh4a stages on the mirrors. You can find them at

The last ones date from last year, and i didn’t update them until now since i had some troubles with upgrading to gcc-4.3, then with glibc-2.9. Had to check that everything worked fine after both upgrades. Had to fight with stuff that broke after upgrading gcc, then rebuild world, then update glibc, rebuild gcc(takes 1 day), rebuild world again, and rebuild again to make sure everything worked fine.

The problem is that it takes almost one week to build the two stages, so that delayed me a lot.

Have fun!