6 SBCs to kick off 2016

Pine A64

The Pine A64 is yet another ARM Cortex based SBC, except it claims to be “The first $15 64bit SBC”. Like the CHIP and Up Board it reached it’s target pretty quickly. It was posted to kickstarter early December 2015 and reached it’s target late January 2016. Pre-orders are being taken. This is another SBC I backed and once I have it in my hot little hands I’ll post up a review.

There are three models to choose from. All three models run the ARM Cortex A53 at 1.2GHz and have inbuilt microSD, 2x USB 2.0, 3.5mm audio/microphone, HDMI with multi-channel audio, RTC, and the icing on the cake 3.7v LiPo battery charging support. The only difference separating the three models is RAM size and ethernet speeds.
– Base model: ($15), has 512MB RAM and 100MB ethernet.
– PineA64+: ($19), has 1G RAM, 1Gbit ethernet and 5Mpixel camera, 4 lane MIPI video, and DSI touch panel ports.
– PineA64+ 2G: ($29), has 2G RAM, 1Gbit ethernet and 5Mpixel camera, 4 lane MIPI video, and DSI touch panel ports.

The Pine also has a standard Raspberry Pi 2 GPIO header AND Euler GPIO header, so all hats/shields for both are theoretically supported, but since it is not the same form factor as the Pi2 nor Euler there may be issues with some modules. Additional options such as, DRM, (Digital Rights Management), secure boot, secure JTAG/eFuse, SPI, UART, and I2C are provided.

My hunch is that this SBC is more aimed at something like a media centre, or digital signage than a “traditional” embedded application. However it is cheap, has inbuilt Lithium charging support, and supports Raspberry Pi 2 / Euler GPIO hats/shields. It may be a strong contender to the Pi2, but I don’t think it has enough features for it to take it on.

The usual support for Windows 10, Linux and Android, (with the usual caveat on Linux graphics support).

– CPU: Quad-core ARM Cortex A53.
– GPU: Dual-core MALI-400 MP2, supporting 4Kp30 and 1080p60.
– RAM: 512M, 1G and 2G SDRAM RAM.
– Storage: microSD.
– Video: HDMI.
– Voltage: 5v @ 2A.
– Power: Micro USB.
– Network: Gigabit Ethernet and headers for separate WiFi and Bluetooh 4.0 module.
– USB: 2x 2.0.
– GPIO: Raspberry Pi 2 GPIO and Euler GPIO.
– OS: Windows 10, Linux and Android.
– Size: 127mm x 79mm.
– RTC.
– Headers for DSI touch screen, I2C, MIPI camera, HMDI.
– Supports Android, Linux and Windows 10.

Pros: Raspberry Pi 2 & Euler GPIO support. Price!
Cons: Lack of features/price compared to CHIP.
Summary: The only features that stand out on the Pine compared to the Pi2 are secure boot and faster CPU. Would be good, for example, in cases where secure digital signage is required.

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