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64-bit Banana Pi runs Linux on Allwinner A64, has WiFi, BT, GbE

Jul 13, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 4,242 views

Sinovoip revealed an open “Banana Pi BPI-M64” SBC based on a quad-core, Cortex-A53 Allwinner A64 SoC, with 2GB RAM, up to 64GB eMMC, plus WiFi, BT, and GbE.

SinoVoip, one of the two competing companies that emerged along with LeMaker (Banana Pro) from the original Banana Pi open source project, has unveiled its first 64-bit hacker SBC, featuring an Allwinner A64 SoC. The A64, which has four 1.2GHz Cortex-A53 cores and a dual-core Mali 400 MP2 GPU, is found on Pine64’s $15-and-up Pine A64, which last month came in 7th in our reader survey of 81 open-spec hacker boards last.

Banana Pi BPI-M64
(click image to enlarge)

The Banana Pi BPI-M64, which features 2GB of DDR3 RAM, appears to measure up very well against the Pine A64, which costs $29 in the 2GB version. It also marginally improves upon the two other quad-core, 64-bit ARM hacker board contenders, the $35, 1GB Raspberry Pi 3 and Hardkernel’s $40, 2GB Odroid-C2, which came in first and second in our survey.

The Banana Pi BPI-M64 is currently unpriced and unavailable for sale, and full schematics have yet to be posted. However, a CNXSoft post that alerted us to the M64 product page on the Sinovoip Banana Pi website, reports that SinoVoip says the board will cost about $35. This is presumably with the 2GB DDR3 and 8GB eMMC (with options to expand to up to 64GB). A microSD slot offers further expansion potential for up to 256GB.

Banana Pi BPI-M64 port detail
(click image to enlarge)

The Banana Pi BPI-M64 has the same 92 x 60mm footprint and Raspberry Pi compatible 40-pin expansion connector as the quad-core, Cortex-A7 Banana Pi BPI-M2 (or Banana Pi M2) and Banana Pi BPI-M3, which has an octa-core -A7 Allwinner A83T. (The M3 was Sinovoip’s highest rated board, coming in 18th.) The new M64 is smaller than the 65 x 65mm Banana Pi BPI-M2+, which like the M2 has a quad-core -A7 SoC, in this case an Allwinner H3 instead of the Allwinner A31 on the M2.

Banana Pi BPI-M64 (left) compared to Banana Pi BPI-M2
(click images to enlarge)

Like the RPi 3 and Pine A64, the Banana Pi BPI-M64 has onboard WiFi and Bluetooth, and like the Odroid-C2, it has a standard Gigabit Ethernet port, which is optional on the Pine A64. GbE connections are becoming more common on higher-end ARM hacker boards, but are missing on most ARM SBCs. GbE is also standard on another SBC competing in this same low-cost, 64-bit arena — FriendlyARM’s $35, octa-core (Samsung S5P6818) NanoPi M3, which also has WiFi, BT, and a 40-pin RPi connector.

The rest of the M64 feature set is fairly similar to that of its competitors. Its three USB 2.0 host ports can’t match the four host ports on the RPi 3 and Odroid-C2, but it’s one more than on the Pine A64 or NanoPi M3. Like all these boards, it also features a micro-USB OTG port, HDMI port (1.4 with audio) with 4K support, as well as a 3.5mm audio jack and mic.

Other features in common with its rivals is an IR receiver and a 40-pin RPi connector with GPIO. Like the RPi 3 and Pine A64, it features MIPI-CSI and -DSI camera and display interfaces. The 5V/2A DC board does not use micro-USB input, but it does support 3.7V Lithium batteries.

Banana Pi BPI-M64 booting Raspbian Lite
(click image to enlarge)

Sinovoip had less detail about software support, noting only that it “runs Android smoothly” and also supports Debian, Ubuntu, or Raspbian Linux. Typically, Allwinner boards run fine with Android, but Linux support is hit or miss. Mainline Linux support for Allwinner should finally arrive later this year, however.

Specifications for the Banana Pi BPI-M64 include:

  • Processor — Allwinner A64 (4x Cortex-A53 cores @ 1.2GHz); ARM Mali400-MP2 GPU (2x @ 500MHz)
  • Memory/storage:
    • 2GB DDR3 (733MHz) RAM
    • 8GB eMMC, expandable to 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB
    • MicroSD slot for up to 256GB
  • Display/multimedia:
    • HDMI 1.4 port with audio for up to 4K x 2K (H.265 decode at [email protected]; also MPEG 1/2/4, H.263/264)
    • MIPI-DSI interface
    • MIPI-CSI interface for 8-bit YUV422 CMOS 5-megapixel (supports CCIR656 and [email protected] capture
    • 3.5mm audio jack
    • Onboard mic
  • Wireless — AP6212 module with 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0 with int. antenna
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port (Realtek RTL8211E/D)
  • Other I/O:
    • 3x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB OTG port
    • Debug TTL UART
    • Raspberry Pi 2-compatible 40-pin expansion header with 28x GPIO (UART, I2C, SPI, PWM, I2S, etc.)
  • Other features — IR receiver; reset, power, U-Boot buttons; 2x LEDs; HW security for Trustzone, DRM, encrypt/decrypt, and secure boot/JTAG/effuse
  • Power — 5V/2A DC port; AXP 803 PMU; 3.7V Lithium battery support
  • Weight – 45 g
  • Dimensions – 92 x 60mm
  • Operating system – Android 5.1/6.0; Debian, Ubuntu, or Raspbian Linux “and other OS”

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the Banana Pi BPI-M64. More information may be found on Sinovoip’s Banana Pi BPI-M64 product page.

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6 responses to “64-bit Banana Pi runs Linux on Allwinner A64, has WiFi, BT, GbE”

  1. Phil Endecott says:

    ODROID-C2 has gigE, but no wifi/bt.
    It also has a 2GHz processor, vs. 1.2 GHz for most of the others.

  2. wb greene says:

    Could someone please explain why a 64-bit CPU is an advantage on systems with less than 4GB of RAM?

  3. Phil Endecott says:

    Having a 64-bit address space can be useful with less than 4GB of ram if you (a) want to memory-map large read-only files, or (b) have memory access patterns that result in fragmentation issues. Otherwise, the main advatage of 64-bit is that you might be able to do things like memcpy with twice the throughput – except that today, 32-bit systems can often use SIMD (E.g. NEON) to move more than 32 bits at a time, so the advantage is generally moot.
    Note that 64-bit ARM devices can also run 32-bit code very efficiently.

  4. Jerry says:

    Aw, Mali again :-/. I guess there won’t be accelerated GPU support on Linux until ‘libv’ will implement commercial quality drivers for free.

  5. Dirk Broer says:

    Where’s that 3rd USB 2.0 port? Or do I have to count the micro-USB otg twice?

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