More details about Google’s rumoured upcoming Android TV dongle, codenamed ‘Sabrina,’ have leaked thanks to code uncovered in the pre-release firmware.
In case you missed it, earlier this month XDA Developers released details and a marketing video from pre-release firmware destined to run on the device. Since publishing the initial report, XDA has dug into the firmware to find out more information, including details about a possible low-latency mode for gaming.
To start, an XDA Recognized Developer by the name of ‘deadman96385’ examined the ‘Device Tree Source,’ a group of files contained within the firmware’s boot image. These files specify which hardware features of the system-on-a-chip (SoC) to enable at boot.
The DTS files revealed that Sabrina will include 2GB of RAM and will run on the Amlogic S905X2 SoC. That chip uses a 12nm manufacturing process and has a quad-core CPU with 4 ARM Cortex-A53 CPU cores clocked at up to 1.8GHz. Additionally, Sabrina sports an ARM Mali-G31 MP2 GPU.
According to XDA, the Amlogic chip includes support for decoding 4Kp75 10-bit H.265 content, video output at up to 4Kp60 over HDMI 2.1, HDR video playback with HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision.
The Amlogic S905X2 is a popular choice for Android TV devices, according to XDA, so it’s no surprise that Google chose it for Sabrina. Along with the Amlogic chip, the DTS file hinted at Broadcom’s BCM43569 combo chip for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as well as Cadence’s Tensilica HiFi 4 DSP.
‘SabrinaServe’ app and low-latency mode
‘deadman96385’ also uncovered a pre-installed system application by the name of ‘SabrinaService.’ It contains references to ‘Auto Low Latency Mode’ (ALLM). HDMI 2.1 specification allows ALLM, which can send a signal to a connected TV that tells it to disable any post-processing features that might add latency to displaying video.
Many televisions market this type of feature as a ‘game mode’ since it can help reduce lag while gaming. Of course, users will need to connect Sabrina to a TV with a ‘game mode’ for it to work. ALLM just means that Sabrina can communicate with the TV about when to use the feature.
XDA suggests the feature will be on Sabrina for Stadia users. Google reportedly plans to bring Stadia to Android TV in 2020, so it makes sense for Google’s upcoming Sabrina Android TV device to be equipped to support Stadia with ALLM.
The Sabrina firmware also included some details about the remote control. A snippet of code suggests the remote could have Netflix and YouTube buttons as well as a microphone. On top of that, code suggests the remote could support long-press actions on at least one key — possibly the mysterious ‘star’ key from previous leaks.
Finally, the code reveals that the remote likely connects to Sabrina using Bluetooth.
While XDA uncovered a wealth of information in the firmware, there’s still a lot that we don’t know about Sabrina. The launch date, price and other details still remain a mystery. Hopefully that changes soon — I expect Google is closer to releasing the Sabrina than we realize.