Linux source code for Rockchip RK3188 devices now available

Rockchip’s RK3188 processor is one of the fastest ARM Cortex-A9 chips around. The 28nm quad-core processor outperforms the chips found in the Samsung Galaxy S III and Google Nexus 7, for instance. And it’s a relatively inexpensive chip, which explains why it’s proven popular with Chinese tablet and TV box makers.

Most devices featuring the RK3188 processor ship with Android 4.1 or Android 4.2. But soon you may be able to run Ubuntu, Fedora, or other desktop Linux operating systems on an RK3188 device.

mk802 iv

Rikomagic MK802 IV

The folks at Rikomagic UK got their hands on some Linux source code for the RK3188 chipset, and they’ve posted the source to Github.

This isn’t the same thing as having a fully functional version of Ubuntu or another OS that you can run on a device like the MK802 IV mini PC or Cube U30GT2 tablet. But it is an important first step.

Developers can use this source code to try to port Linux-based operating systems (such as PicUntu) to run on these devices.

While the RK3188 chip is faster than almost any ARM-based processor released before mid-2012, it’s still not as fast as most x86 processors. So don’t expect Ubuntu to run as well on an MK802 IV as it does on a laptop or desktop PC with an Intel Core i5 CPU.

What’s exciting about the prospect of running Linux on this sort of device is that ARM-based hardware tends to be far cheaper and more energy efficient than devices with x86 processors. So you might be able to turn an $80 device like the Tronsmart T428 into a Linux-powered PC that can run desktop apps including LibreOffice, GIMP, Firefox, and more.

You could also turn a tiny ARM-based mini PC into a home media server or even a web server.

If you want to try your hand at helping make that happen, the source code is now available.

  • Klaus

    So also good chance for full XBMX support?

    • pszab

      XBMC? Hardware decoding?
      I’m also curious about it

      • matcarfer

        I think its not that important to ask for Hardware Decoding on RK3188 if it can decode 1080p at Software Decoding. I hope XBMC can do HW acceleration on low performance chips like 3066 or slower chips.

    • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

      It’ll likely be a while, since I don’t believe this source will help much with hardware video decoding. I’d love to be wrong.

      On the other hand, the processor might be fast enough to handle software decoding of many video files…

      • John Morris

        Looks like you are right. There is basic drm support there and I see hints they give you enough to get basic xv support for color space conversion working. And that is it. With only an ARM cpu behind it you could do a pretty good job of SD playback with that. Maybe if you ran flat out you could get 720p working. But proper deinterlaced 1080 output ain’t happening.

        We need the video supported, why can’t anyone manage that?

    • SeanKPS

      Xbmc has hardware acceleration in android. Why use Ubuntu?

      • freechelmi

        XBMC can run on top of ubuntu or Android , not alone itself. it’s an app not an OS

  • Erik Carreño

    They should release the RK3066 source code as well…

  • http://soltesza.wordpress.com/ sola

    Good stuff. I also believe that an RK3188-class chip with 2GB speedy RAM is absolutely capable of running a Linux desktop and most of the typical apps.

  • http://youtube.com/castaa Castaa

    Excellent new. This should really spur Linux porting to the RK3188. And this is one the reason RK3066 Linux is so far behind it’s Freescale i.MX6 port of Linux.

    .

    • SeanKPS

      Rk3066 Linux now has full gfx accelerated support and wifi. Kernel been out for a while. No need for source
      Android 3.0