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Why was the Minix Neo U-1 firmware load not built to run 64-Bit Apps?

Discussion in 'NEO U1 Custom ROMs, Kernels & Discussion' started by Gary_G, Jan 1, 2017.

  1. Gary_G

    Gary_G New Member

    Question for one of the Minix Team hardware experts:
    Why exactly was a box containing such a capable CPU released without an O/S variant (and possibly enough RAM) to utilize it in 64-Bit mode?

    Reason for question:
    I can't seem to find anyone who really seems to be able to explain why the specs on the box seem to push the idea of it having the 64-Bit chip, when it doesn't seem that the U-1 can or will ever be able to use it.

    I've verified on the ARM site that the Quad-Core Cortex A53 Processor is 64-Bit ARMv8 rated and can run both 64-Bit and 32-Bit apps. I've also checked on the Android site that Lollypop can be built to run as a 64-Bit and that there already are the standard user apps available for 64-Bit. However; it appears that the U-1 Android O/S implementation is only 32-Bit. As such it can't run such things as the new Kodi Krypton (v17) 64-Bit variant. As more units that can run the 64-Bit variant become available, the 32-Bit one could easily disappear. That would mean buying another box sooner than hoped.

    Please Note:
    This is just a retired software engineer trying to satisfy his professional curiosity. This is not a criticism of the team or a very nice product. I'm definitely not suggesting that the box doesn't function as advertised. It works quite well, as far as I've pushed it.

    Having worked in designing and testing embedded software, I know and accept that there can be many reasons for not fully utilizing the processor capability. Sometimes chips or chip-sets are chosen for their auxiliary features or price-point considerations. Sometimes they are not fully utilized to avoid the logistics of maintaining too many firmware variations across a product line.
  2. skynet

    skynet Moderator Moderator


    "As more units that can run the 64-Bit variant become available, the 32-Bit one could easily disappear. That would mean buying another box sooner than hoped. "

    Not sure of that. Check on the Google Paly and you won't found a lot of 64 bits specifics applications even if you can found more and more 64 bits compliant SoCs.

    The first 32/64 bits CPU on PC came in 2003 with AMD Athlon 64, and you can run most applications on 32 bits only CPU, 14 years after ;)
    kingsizept likes this.
  3. Gary_G

    Gary_G New Member

    Actually, there are a fair number of decent 64-Bit apps that one might use for everyday tasks. You won't necessarily find them on Google Play. However; most still have the 32-Bit versions available and those are often on Google Play. That said; they really don't often need to be 64-Bit to do the job quite well anyways.

    Guess it's just a lifetime of trying to squeeze every bit of horsepower out of a design that got me me wondering why employ and advertise a fairly powerful 64-Bit chip when a 32-Bit one would likely do the job just fine. That got me thinking that there must be some reason I'd overlooked and I wondered what it was.

    As an aside...You know; we got the the Canadarm to work very well using 80186's for the most part and there's only one 80386 in the design. Had to make do with what was certified for spacecraft at the time. It's really rather amazing what you can do without too much horsepower, if you have to.

    Lets just hope the Minix and Kodi Teams think so too. and keep something that'll run on the hardware for some time to come.