Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Just recently arrived from DHL, a solid-run CuBox. I guess nobody who knows me will be surprised when I tell it features an ARM cpu. Specifically an Marvell Armada 510. It features ARMv7 compatibility, with a slight twist of replacing NEON extensions with iWMMX extensions. On the boasting side Armada 510 promises 1080p video decoding and OpenGL ES graphics acceleration (closed source, unfortunately).

The tiny form factor of CuBox is pretty much more than the impressive amount of connectors included;

* Gigabit ethernet
* 2*USB
* HDMI out
* s/pdif optical audio out
* microSD slot
* microUSB serial/jtag port

The last item being important as it makes CuBox unbrickable.. Some will probably lament the lack of WiFi/Bluetooth, but get everything in one device ;). Besides, the USB slots are there to be filled..

Getting started was an slightly rough ride, as in the included Ubuntu (10.04 LTS), X refused to start. After wrongly suspecting that my Display was at fault, turned out the microSD included was slightly corrupted, and some critical contents of xkb-data package were garbage. After reinstall of that package, everything worked, including playing Big Buck Bunny in FullHD with totem.

Biggest disappointment so far is the non-mainline kernel, based on old Some mainline support of Armada 510 exist, but will it work with the proprietary graphics code?


  1. Any advantages compared to the Raspberry Pi? I can't see any justification for the price difference.

  2. Daniel, Rasberry comes with ARM11 core which means it won't run Ubuntu, or Debian ARMHF ports. Second, CuBox can be bought right now, while Rasberry is still coming to shops. Furthermore Rasberry comes with only 128MB of RAM ,limiting it's usefulness as a generic computing device. It is still an awesome embedded device thou.

  3. The memory but also gigabit ethernet and SATA! That's a big difference in usefulness. You won't be able to use Raspberry Pi as HTPC with XBMC.

    But what's with those proprietary drivers? I googled a bit and found nothing, not even mention on manufacturer's site. I won't be able to upgrade kernel and use acceleration?

  4. Riku,

    I have one "problem" when people say that "such and such decodes video at 1080p".

    They usually mean H.264 video, but they don't specify anywhere what profiles of H.264 can be decoded.

    Can you help filling in this information? In particular, does the CuBox play videos only in Baseline Profile? Main Profile? High Profile?

    A device that already played Main profile would be a huge improvement over one that played only Baseline profile.

    BTW, you can check/test what profile the videos are in with the new mediainfo package that just arrived at unstable.[0]


    Thanks for any information,


  5. I'm looking for something similar but with Wi-Fi (preferably n) and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (3.0 + HS would be nice ;^)). Any hints?
    However, this looks interresting enough (price-wise as well) that I'm thinking of getting one.

  6. rbrito, I used h.264 sample from: , don't know about profile.

    rjc, Look at globalscale dreamplug.

  7. Thanks. Just for the record, the 1080p file in the .mov container is encoded as
    Main Profile at Level 4.1.

    It doesn't use CABAC, though.

    I would love to see how the CuBox would deal with a video in 1080p at High Profile (and using CABAC).

    Riku, can you try to play the H.264 files taken from

    on the CuBox?

    Thanks in advance.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. I think I might have found the answer -

    P.S. Removed previous comment as there's no way to edit it and the links are not "clickable" by default.

  10. Did you try the mainline kernel on it, to see what happens with respect to graphics acceleration?