Some benchmarks of an inexpensive S912 TV box running Armbian


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These days I am playing with an inexpensive ($25) Amlogic S912 TV box that I managed to get Oleg's excellent Armbian Ubuntu 18.04.2 image 5.75 with Linux 4.20.5 kernel running on.

For the moment it has shown excellent stability and performance.

I am attaching the results of running sbc-bench by Thomas Kaiser on this diminutive Linux box: it beats just about every other SBC except the RK3399 SBC's, and even matches or is faster than these in some cases.

However the best part is that it is running a mainline up to date Linux kernel, not some heavily patched vendor kernel from a couple of years ago.

Right now I am running the more extensive Phoronix Benchmark Suite and will report here later how this S912 TV box compares with other SBC's tested by Michael Larabel.

Those interested can check Michael's article here:  https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=16-armlinux-sep2018&num=1

Just a quick note from some preliminary results: on the TTSIOD 3D Renderer test, the $25 S912 TV box performed the best by far in terms of performance per dollar - almost three times better than the second place!

 

sbc-bench results: sbc-bench-s912.txt

 

Complete Phoronix benchmark suite results: https://openbenchmarking.org/result/1902222-SP-1809111RA60 (I have updated these results with performance per dollar numbers).

 

As you can see if you check the link for the results of the Phoronix benchmarks, the Km8-P at $ 25 is the clear winner in the performance per dollar category, compared to all the other SBC's tested.

 

Note on clock frequencies (measured and reported): this is well-known from previous analysis by Thomas Kaiser, but it's worth noting, as can be seen in the sbc-bench results, that the S912 has eight Cortex-A53 cores divided in two clusters of four cores each. The first cluster announces its maximum clock frequency as 1512MHz, but in reality runs at 1412MHz. The second cluster announces its maximum clock frequency as 1000Mhz and really runs at 1000MHz. These frequencies and their corresponding core voltages are set in one of the signed, closed-source blobs loaded in Arm's Trusted Environment before even u-boot is started.

 

This is the reason why in single-threaded benchmarks, the S912 may be slower than other SoC's with the same Cortex-A53 cores. The S912 really shines in multi-threaded benchmarks where its eight cores are fully utilized.

 

A quick note about the Tinkerboard: the ASUS Tinkerboard uses an SoC with four Cortex-A17 cores. These are out-of-order 32-bit cores and they run @ 1.8GHz, so they perform quite well in single-threaded workloads, compared to the eight slower 64-bit in-order Cortex-A53 cores found in the S912.

Edited by AndrewDB
Added note on Asus Tinkerboard
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Armbian is a community driven open source project. Do you like to contribute your code?

1 hour ago, guidol said:

And now - tell us the name of the Box ( and maybe a link) :)

It's the cheapest S912 TV box available on AliExpress (a 10-second search will get you there, or you can check my previous posts in this forum), but just about any S912 TV box will perform similar. The truth is I don't want to recommend any particular Amlogic S912 TV box as inevitably somebody will buy one and think it's a lemon or no good. In my case they perform admirably (I use them as headless nodes in a compile farm), but it's a very specific use case.

 

Actually imho the best S912 purchase would be a Khadas Vim2, but these are more expensive, obviously.

 

Edited by AndrewDB
Recommend Khadas Vim2
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38 minutes ago, AndrewDB said:

It's the cheapest S912 TV box available on AliExpress (a 10-second search will get you there, or you can check my previous posts in this forum), but just about any S912 TV box will perform similar. The truth is I don't want to recommend any particular Amlogic S912 TV box as inevitably somebody will buy one and think it's a lemon or no good.

When it (named the Mecool KM8 P) is in your previous posts why not tell the name? Many boxes wouldnt boot in armbian :(
I also got a Amlogic 912 Box running armbian. Mine is a Sunvell T95K Pro which isnt as cheap as yours.

But maybe some people will give a cheap box a shoot and then it would be better if many people do work on the same box.
So then would be a bigger chance to get things running and not every one here is buying another box with different Ram/Ethernet/Wifi-Chips.

 

If you wouldnt  recommend your box, pleae write a note why to help other people buying the "right" one :)

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30 minutes ago, guidol said:

...

If you wouldnt  recommend your box, pleae write a note why to help other people buying the "right" one :)

There is no such thing as the "right" one, because each person has a different use case, some buy a TV box to use as a server, others for multimedia, etc...

However, if people want to buy an Amlogic S912 SBC to experiment, I strongly recommend a Khadas Vim2. 

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10 hours ago, amirul said:

My S912's running Armbian_5.75_Aml-s912_Ubuntu_bionic_default_4.20.5_desktop_20190211

1. T95Z Plus

2. TX9 Pro

3. BM8 Pro

and yeah, smooth desktop :thumbup:

Nice assortment of TV boxes! How much RAM do you have in each of them and did you install Armbian in the eMMC of any of them?

 

BTW, if you want to run sbc-bench or the Phoronix benchmarks, it's very easy:

 

Running sbc-bench

wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/ThomasKaiser/sbc-bench/master/sbc-bench.sh

sudo /bin/bash ./sbc-bench.sh -c
 

(it takes around an hour IIRC)

 

Running the Phoronix benchmarks

export COST_PERF_PER_DOLLAR=<integer = the cost of your SBC or TV box, in USD)
wget http://phoronix-test-suite.com/releases/repo/pts.debian/files/phoronix-test-suite_8.6.1_all.deb

sudo gdebi phoronix-test-suite_8.6.1_all.deb
phoronix-test-suite benchmark 1809111-RA-ARMLINUX005 (this will compare the performance of your SBC or TV box with other SBC's tested by Michael Larabel)

 

(running the Phoronix Benchmark Suite as configured takes around 6 hours on an ARM SBC or TV box, also note that the Phoronix tests configured above require around 5Gb free disk/SD card/eMMC space)
 

 

 

 

Edited by AndrewDB
Added needed free disk space for Phoronix benchmarks
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1 minute ago, AndrewDB said:

Nice assortment of TV boxes! How much RAM do you have in each of them and did you install Armbian in the eMMC of any of them?

 

BTW, if you want to run sbc-bench or the Phoronix benchmarks, it's very easy:

Thanks. They are all under 25USD when I got them on sale

1. T95Z Plus 3Gb

2. TX9 Pro 3Gb

3. BM8 Pro 2Gb

all running off sdcard. Didn't want to risk bricking them by installing to eMMC

 

Maybe I'll try the Phoronix Benchmark Suite one of these days :)

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2 minutes ago, AndrewDB said:

Nice! :thumbup:

They all seem pretty fast and stable at the moment so I don't tinker with them much now. My current pet project is an MX10 with the fast dtb. It has RK3328 with 4Gb ram. Pretty quick on the desktop, only problem is cpu temp hits 100 degrees under full load. Thinking of swapping a bigger heatsink in because I would really like to avoid active cooling.

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4 minutes ago, amirul said:

They all seem pretty fast and stable at the moment so I don't tinker with them much now. My current pet project is an MX10 with the fast dtb. It has RK3328 with 4Gb ram. Pretty quick on the desktop, only problem is cpu temp hits 100 degrees under full load. Thinking of swapping a bigger heatsink in because I would really like to avoid active cooling.

Yes, I found out that these small Km8-P TV boxes don't heat up too much, because the 8 cores are kept running at their low but optimal power/performance clock frequencies. Even during testing I have not seen the temperature of the S912 SoC go above 76C, and they idle at between 39~42C.

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On 2/23/2019 at 12:06 AM, amirul said:

Thinking of swapping a bigger heatsink in because I would really like to avoid active cooling.

My thinking and experimenting on this is is..

Yes ..Passive cooling is a novel idea but these chips start to "cripple their performance if they get hottish"

 

A simple $5 raspberry Pi Fan soldered in will provide enough cooling to KNOCK 10 degree's to 15 degree's Celsius off the temperature of the CPU close to full load. 70 degree Celsius will go to 55 Celsius.

 

It will mean that you can play a HEVC x265 movie in "software" mode, with CPU utilization at 80-90% if you have to.

 

PS If you are using the s912 board for Amateur Radio or Software defined Radio the fan directly soldered to the s912 TV will cause a slight hum and may need a small capacitor to quieten it.

 

I have 3, KM8 Mecool s912. Two with fans one without.

 

One is running a dedicated  Corelec version of Kodi and I run it fan-less but I suspect occasionally it gets too hot and the HEVC video slightly stutters. I can live with this as I do not want a fan noise whilst watching a video on Kodi.

 

The other 2 Mecool KM8  I run Oleg's S912 Armbian..this is simply amazing with a fan I can run my software defined radio software at 3.2 MHz FULL  bandwidth (cpu utilization 70-80%) on a 5 volt low powered device at about 55degree Celsius. it is simply amazing.

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On 2/22/2019 at 12:14 AM, AndrewDB said:

performance per dollar - almost three times better than the second place!

Thanks for the great Benchmarks.

 

Its always a delight to find out I managed to get the best bang per buck with my rapidly evolving collection of arm boards.

 

The Mecool KM8  s912 is clearly a stand out Corelec Kodi player in terms of Bang per buck.

 

I think the s922x for $65 will eat the s912-Armbian  market  once it is released as the Hard Kernel N2.

 

One of the things I did not understand about Arm chip boards being used as Linux computers. Is the HUGE delay between the hardware being in-effect "released in a unfinished state" and the time it takes for the software to catch up.

 

i.e. no VPU driver for s912 was solved in Corelec Kodi  by rapping the android VPU driver etc.

Orange Pi PC2 did not have a Hardware Video driver solved by a massive reverse engineering project.

The s912 was said to have 2.0ghz cores but it turned out to be 1.5ghz etc.

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5 hours ago, Seasalt said:

...

One of the things I did not understand about Arm chip boards being used as Linux computers. Is the HUGE delay between the hardware being in-effect "released in a unfinished state" and the time it takes for the software to catch up.

...

ARM never positioned any of their cores as destined for desktop applications, iow, they never tried to tackle the gorilla Intel on their home turf. BTW Intel or Apple could buy ARM at any time with much less than a year's profit, but they never did so. Things could change in the coming years as ARM-based SoC's become powerful enough to run basically any applications, and ARM is also trying to enter the server CPU market.

 

The delay is due to that: ARM doesn't really support any of the SoC's based on their cores for desktop applications, so any SBC based on any modern ARM core is basically dependent on very competent developers like Oleg, the Armbian team, the people at BayLibre, etc for Linux development, with lots of time-expensive trial-and-error work involved.

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5 hours ago, Seasalt said:

My thinking and experimenting on this is is..

Yes ..Passive cooling is a novel idea but these chips start to "cripple their performance if they get hottish"

 

A simple $5 raspberry Pi Fan soldered in will provide enough cooling to KNOCK 10 degree's to 15 degree's Celsius off the temperature of the CPU close to full load. 70 degree Celsius will go to 55 Celsius.

 

It will mean that you can play a HEVC x265 movie in "software" mode, with CPU utilization at 80-90% if you have to.

 

PS If you are using the s912 board for Amateur Radio or Software defined Radio the fan directly soldered to the s912 TV will cause a slight hum and may need a small capacitor to quieten it.

 

I have 3, KM8 Mecool s912. Two with fans one without.

 

One is running a dedicated  Corelec version of Kodi and I run it fan-less but I suspect occasionally it gets too hot and the HEVC video slightly stutters. I can live with this as I do not want a fan noise whilst watching a video on Kodi.

 

The other 2 Mecool KM8  I run Oleg's S912 Armbian..this is simply amazing with a fan I can run my software defined radio software at 3.2 MHz FULL  bandwidth (cpu utilization 70-80%) on a 5 volt low powered device at about 55degree Celsius. it is simply amazing.

Thank you Seasalt for all this information on thermal dissipation and cooling the S912.  :thumbup:

Also your software defined radio use is very interesting. What hardware do you use?

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