Novena Main Page
Novena is an open hardware and F/OSS-friendly computing platform.
If you are interested in buying one, you may pre-order one at crowd supply.
Real-time updates and announcements can be tracked by following @novenakosagi on twitter.
Alpha evaluators: Please visit Using Novena PVT1 for more info.
More photos: Novena PVT Hardware Photos
- Freescale iMX6 CPU — same footprint can support dual-lite and quad versions:
- Quad-core Cortex A9 CPU with NEON FPU @ 1.2 GHz
- Vivante GC2000 OpenGL ES2.0 GPU, 200Mtri/s, 1Gpix/s (*)
- NDA-free datasheet and programming manual
- Internal memory:
- Boot from microSD firmware
- 64-bit, DDR3-1066 SO-DIMM, upgradable to 4GB
- SATA-II (3Gbps)
- Internal ports & sensors:
- mini PCI-express slot (for wifi, bluetooth, mobile data, etc.)
- UIM slot for mPCIx mobile data cards
- Dual-channel LVDS LCD connector with USB2.0 side-channel for a display-side camera
- Resistive touchscreen controller (note: captouch displays typically come with an embedded controller)
- 1.1W, 8-ohm internal speaker connectors
- 2x USB2.0 internal connectors for keyboard and mouse/trackpad
- Digital microphone (optional, not populated by default)
- 3-axis accelerometer
- 3x internal UART ports
- External ports:
- SD card reader
- headphone + mic port (compatible with most mobile phone headsets, supports sensing in-line cable buttons)
- 2x USB 2.0 ports, supporting high-current (1.5A) device charging
- 1Gbit ethernet
- Fun features:
- 100 Mbit ethernet — dual Ethernet capability allows laptop to be used as an in-line packet filter or router
- USB OTG — enables laptop to spoof/fuzz ethernet, serial, etc. over USB via gadget interface to other USB hosts
- Utility serial EEPROM — for storing crash logs and other bits of handy data
- Spartan-6 CSG324-packaged FPGA (PVT uses LX45: 43k logic cells, 6.8k slices, 54.5k ff, 401kb distributed RAM, 58 DSP48A, 2088kb block RAM) — has several interfaces to the CPU, including a 2Gbit/s (peak) RAM-like bus — for your bitcoin mining needs. Or whatever else you might want to toss in an FPGA.
- High-speed I/O expansion header
Items marked with an asterisk (*) require a closed-source firmware blob, but the system is functional and bootable without the blob.
Novena ought to be able to enter a low-power suspend mode, and resume it quickly. Novena power characterization.
More photos: Novena PVT Hardware Photos
Battery management functions are implemented in an optional daughtercard.
- SATA-style connector to route power and control signals to the main board
- Works with battery packs used by most RC enthusiasts
- 2S1P to 4S1P
- Cheap and easy to buy
- User can "pick their capacity" -- the battery life isn't fixed by design, it's up to the user
- Classic Molex disk connector for battery connector
- Requires adapter cable to the RC battery pack
- Fast-charge capability
- Rates in excess of 4A
- Charge a 45Wh 3S1P pack in ~1 hour
- Active cell balancing
- Learns your battery pack
- Over a few charge/discharge cycles, the controller determines the actual capacity of the pack
- Tracks capacity degradation over time
- Optimizes charging to reduce wear and tear on packs
- Computes an accurate estimate of remaining battery capacity
- Statistics reporting
- SMBus standard power interface
- Stats such as remaining capacity, charging rate, current discharge rate, voltage, etc. available
- STM32 master controller
- Runs ChibiOS
- Enables autonomous operation when CPU board is powered off
- Reprogrammable by host CPU, but requires a physical button press to enable programming so as to prevent surreptitious malware insertion
- Has DAC output to drive an analog panel meter
More photos: Novena PVT Hardware Photos
Novena natively supports a dual-channel LVDS interface for LCDs. However, today's LCD panels are migrating to an eDP-style interface. To bridge this gap, there is the eDP adapter board.
- IT6251 chipset
- DisplayPort 1.1a Tx supporting HBR (2.7Gbps) and RBR (1.62 Gbps)
- Input pixel rate up to 165MHz
- 24-bit color
- Breakouts for touchscreen and USB
- On-board switching regulators for low power operation
- Made to work with Chimei Innolux N133HSE
- 13.3" diagonal
- 1920x1080, 166 ppi; 1.3W typ cell power, white pattern
- IPS, 180 degree viewing angle in V/H
- 350 cd/m2 brightness (3.5W typ backlight power @ max brightness)
- 700:1 typical contrast ratio
- 14ms Tr, 11ms Tf response times
Note to viewers: total power is cell power + backlight power. Cell power is just the power required to flip the LCD elements, not inclusive of backlight.
In addition, there is a custom flex cable that goes between the Novena mainboard and the eDP adapter. It's designed to handle the power requirements of the LCD, as well as manage signal integrity at high data rates.
Hardware Design Source
Please see Novena PVT Design Source for electronic CAD.
Please see Novena Mechanical CAD for mechanical CAD.
U-boot is the current factory-default bootloader. Please see U-boot PVT Notes.
Most boot files, including the kernel and device tree, are located on the first partition. This partition is formatted VFAT, and is referred to as the "boot partition".
The loader is two-stage. The first stage is about 40k, and is responsible for initializing DDR3 RAM and loading the second stage from disk. The second stage is responsible for initializing the rest of the board, loading Linux, and jumping to it.
The first stage, called SPL (secondary program loader), lives outside of any partition at 1024 bytes from the start of the disk. A copy of the SPL is stored on the boot partition, and is called u-boot.spl. A script is provided to install a new SPL, called novena-install-spl(8).
The second stage is also located on the boot partition, and is called u-boot.img. This file is loaded by the SPL. It contains a baked-in script that loads the correct device tree file, parses the Novena/EEPROM, prunes the device tree as necessary, then jumps to the kernel. If the user button is held down, then the bootloader waits several seconds for the user to press Control-C on the serial console, and if nothing happens then it boots the recovery kernel.
The bootloader loads "zimage" from the boot partition, and pairs it with "novena.dtb". If booting into recovery, it will load "zimage.recovery" and "novena.recovery.dtb".
If the *rootfs_ssd* flag is set in the EEPROM, then the root parameter is set to **PARTUUID=4e6f7653-03**. If the *rootfs_ssd* flag is not set, or if booting into recovery mode, then the root parameter is set to **PARTUUID=4e6f764d-03**. This means that you should set your disk up such that the root partition is partition 3 (i.e. /dev/sda3), and set your disk ID correctly. To set the diskid, run fdisk on the disk, then go into Expert mode ('x'), then Change ID ('i').
Novena uses the stock Linux kernel with few patches. Any patches that might be useful to other projects (such as PCIe or ES8328 audio codec) are being submitted upstream.
The 2D/3D/Vector unit requires its own driver, which is available in source form on Github. Different userspace drivers require different kernel modules, so be sure to check out the branch that corresponds with your driver version.
The git repo for the cutting edge linux that we're working on is at:
Make sure you switch to the desired branch, e.g. 3.14-rc4 etc.
Those doing GPIO hacking with linux may be interested in the Definitive GPIO guide for the i.MX6.
Debian is the factory-default distribution, but of course anyone can put their favorite distro on the system.
Quickstart gide on building and initializing a bootable Debian image:
- Novena Image script, using the script that is used for the factory image
- Jessie bootstrapping, instructions on putting a newer Jessie image on
- Another bootstrapping guide, which is similar to all of the others
The following Debian packages are available:
- Novena packaging overview
- pulseaudio-novena -- Novena-specific pulseaudio scripts
- novena-disable-ssp -- program to disable SSP on Bluetooth
- u-boot-novena -- local, lightly-patched copy of U-Boot
- Novena linux-kernel -- local copy of the patched Linux kernel
- novena-firstrun -- set of scripts that get run on first boot
- irqbalance -- smooths out system performance
For more in-depth discussions on Debian and other notes, along with historical methods, please refer to these pages:
- Debian History, discussing early plans to get Debian onto Novena
- Embedian build, with instructions on how to cross-compile Debian
- Wheezy bootstrapping, discussing using debootstrap to create an image
Dual Core Variant
Novena's base design works with the i.MX6DL. However, it does require some firmware changes. Notably, the bootloader is significantly different because there is much less SRAM to run from for setting things up. Also, the pinmuxes are different, so that issue has to be addressed in the device tree. See Novena/Dual Core for notes on this configuration.
For those who want to cross-compile an OE-based image, please see building novena firmware
Once you get Novena running, there are a few tweaks that you might have to make to the software to get it to run. Not all software likes running on Linux on anything other than x86/x64. Others just require software fixes to work around kernel bugs that we haven't fixed yet.
Please see Novena Software for more information.
While Novena tries to be standard, it nevertheless has some platform-specific software projects that are necessary to take advantage of its unique hardware.
novena-eeprom: Command-line editor for the onboard EEPROM
novena-usb-hub: Manage the power status of each of the onboard USB hub's ports
Future software projects
novena-eeprom-gui: Graphical viewer/editor to inspect the onboard EEPROM
senoko-manager: Graphical manager for Senoko battery board
senoko-programmer: Firmware updater for Senoko battery board
GPBB User Guide: The on-ramp to hardware hacking on Novena.
Hardware Tech notes
- Booting novena
- Novena Issue Log
- Novena DVT Issue Log
- Novena PVT Issue Log
- Novena ddr3 notes
- Novena/Power Management Board
- Definitive GPIO guide
Because I can't remember all those damn command lines
Shuttleworth Flash Grant
bunnie is a recipient of a 2014 Shuttleworth Flash Grant!
He will be using the grant money to further development of the Novena open hardware platform and to help grow the community around it.