Kodi streaming for arm vs ELEC Armbian


Definitely a great distro that can integrate various servers and desktops for both x86 and ARM devices, with minimal resources and easy configuration ! But you knew that already…

I have been looking at various related discussions and a bit confused about Kodi streaming efficiency :confused:

  1. So Libreelec and Coreelec and AlexElec.tv ( Coreelec fork) are customized JeOSes for Kodi. In particular CoreElec/ AlexElec used an old kernel to compile proprietary Amlogic binary blob for efficient streaming for S905/912 SoCs.

Now it seems there also is a migration to new kernels with newer SoCs, including for Rockchip and Allwinner SoCs as well.

  1. I am assuming DietPi Kodi performance is same/better than the ELECs/Armbian for PC x86-64 devices ?

  2. Will Kodi still perform better on ELEC devices with Amlogic, Rockchip and Allwinner?

Has performance difference narrowed over time ( for which arch)?

Here I am only looking at 720/1080p streaming which many forums say can be handled by software decoding, without need for the proprietary hardware acceleration e.g., with Amlogic blob. Even for basic SoCs like S905W and RK3229.

  1. Are such proprietary blobs still necessary with newer kernels ? Can DietPi work around such proprietary solutions ?

Looking forward to the current answers. I really hope I can integrate it all on DietPi and use it as a standard distro for years to come.

We have never compared Kodi on the different platforms. Therefore, a general statement on performance is not possible. As a rule, we try to use mainline kernels as far as possible. For some SBCs, however, we use vendor kernels like on Raspberry Pi or Armbian. From our side, we do not make any adjustments or development to the kernel.

To be more precise:

  • Aside of some very old SBCs which never had any mainline kernel integration done, only on Raspberry Pi, RK3588 SBCs and NanoPi R5S/R5C we use a vendor kernel currently.
  • Since we use Armbian’s “current” kernel builds in most cases (not on RPi and x86), we switch to mainline kernel once they do with their “current” builds.

I assume that ELEC distros have best Kodi performance. Those are highly tailored distros with a minimal OS around Kodi and they have a large community that only deals with Kodi (obviously). So they should be fast in switching kernel sources whenever one is found to perform better, or updating GPU drivers, e.g. if Mesa outperforms the vendor drivers at some point. But this is an assumption, while I have never used or benchmarked any ELEC OS.

Compared to most other Debian-based distributions, DietPi has a much lower foodprint indeed, but as long as Kodi is executed the same way (KMS/DRM/GBM vs X11), same kernel, GPU drivers and graphics APIs, once shouldn’t notice a real performance difference (on modern SBCs where some MiB RAM or some percent CPU usage once in a while more or less do not matter).

I’m no big fans of those vendor GPU drivers (like the Rockchip Mali blobs) which were always a pain to maintain the needed a constant testing and benchmarking effort to know whether and on which Debian version (Mesa version) and which kernel they actually do perform better, so over time I removed dealing with them completely in dietpi-software. So OOTB it will be always Mesa drivers, which do work quite well for older and widely distributed SoCs (RK3399 and alike). On newer SoCs, newer Mesa drivers are needed, often newer than what current stable Debian ships, e.g. Mesa 22 for good RK356x (Quartz64, ROCK 3A, NanoPi 5 series, …) performance. In this case using our Bookworm images or upgrading to Debian Bookworm makes a huge difference. For RK3588, AFAIK Mesa 23 is needed for good performance, which is currently in Debian “experimental” and hence will most likely not be shipped with Debian Bookworm (when it’s released). There is a PPA which can be used to install Mesa 23, some extra firmware blobs and GUI software builds which make use of it: Orange Pi 5 Hardware Acceleration enabled? - #2 by MichaIng

@Joulinar and @MichaIng

Thanks much for your prompt responses !
So I will test some Kodi streaming myself - hopefully not much of a difference with 720/1080p streaming.