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First 64-bit Orange Pi slips in under $20

Nov 6, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 22,515 views

The open spec Orange Pi PC 2 runs Linux or Android on a quad-core -A53 Allwinner H5 SoC, and offers GbE, a 40-pin RPi interface, and three USB host ports.

Shenzhen Xunlong is keeping up its prolific pace in spinning off new Allwinner SoCs into open source SBCs, and now it has released its first 64-bit ARM model, and one of the cheapest quad-core -A53 boards around. The Orange Pi PC 2 runs Linux or Android on a new Allwinner H5 SoC featuring four Cortex-A53 cores and a more powerful Mali-450 GPU.



Orange Pi PC 2, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Orange Pi PC 2, which sells at Aliexpress for $19.98, or $23.33 including shipping to the U.S., updates the quad-core -A7 Allwinner H3 based Orange Pi PC, which came in 14th out of 81 SBCs in our hacker boards reader survey. The original still sells for $15, and is available in a $20 PC Plus version that adds 8GB eMMC.

The Allwinner H5 (translated) is aimed primarily at the set-top market. No clock rate was listed for the four Cortex-A53 cores or the Mali-450, which offers six GPU cores. The L2 cache is half that of the Allwinner H3.



Orange Pi PC 2 (left) and Allwinner H5 block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

There are not many quad-core -A53 hacker boards near $20 aside from the Pine A64, which sells for $19 with a similar allotment of 1GB RAM. Most of the others are priced at or above the Raspberry Pi 3, which sells for $35.

Despite the breakthrough into 64-bit terrain, the Orange Pi PC 2 appeared without fanfare, apparently first being tipped by a reader at CNXSoft. Aside from the faster processor, the move to Gigabit Ethernet and a new allotment of 8MB SPI NOR flash, the second generation is identical to the first.

Like the Orange Pi PC, the similarly 85 x 55mm second-gen model offers 1GB DDR3 SDRAM and a microSD slot. There’s no mention yet of a Plus version with onboard flash. In addition to the GbE port, coastline ports include an HDMI port (type unspecified), three USB 2.0 ports, and a micro-USB OTG port without power input.



Orange Pi PC 2 detail views
(click images to enlarge)

An A/V jack outputs CVBS and audio, and there’s a MIPI-CSI camera interface. Like other Orange Pi boards, there’s a 40-pin header compatible with the Raspberry Pi. You also get GPIO and an IR header.

Full schematics have been posted for the community-backed board. A few days ago, the company unveiled a similarly open source Orange Pi Zero that costs only $7. Like the PC 2, the Zero also debuts a new Allwinner SoC, in this case an Allwinner H2, which is almost identical to the Allwinner H3 except for the lack of 4K video.

Specifications listed for the Orange Pi PC 2 include:

  • Processor — Allwinner H5 (4x Cortex-53); 512KB L2 cache; ARM Mali-450 MP2 GPU (6x cores)
  • Memory/storage — 1GB DDR3 SDRAM; 8MB NOR flash; microSD slot (up to 64GB)
  • Networking — 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet (RJ45)
  • Multimedia:
    • HDMI output — supports HDCP, CEC, 30 function, and integrated CVBS (allows simultaneous output of HDMI and CVBS)
    • A/V output on 3.5mm audio jack
    • Mic input
    • Camera interface — CSI input supports 8-bit YUV422 CMOS sensor interface, CCIR656 protocol for NTSC and PAL, SM pixel camera sensor, and video capture at up to [email protected]
  • Other I/O:
    • 3x USB 2.0 Host ports
    • Micro USB 2.0 OTG port (does not support DC power input)
    • GPIO connector with 3x GPIO lines
    • Debug UART header (TTL level)
    • IR receiver
  • Expansion — 40-pin header compatible with Raspberry Pi B
  • Other features — power & status LEDs; power button
  • Power — DC barrel jack; +5V @ 2A (max.)
  • Dimensions — 85 x 55mm
  • Weight — 38gm
  • Supported OSes — Android, Lubuntu, Debian, Raspberry Pi Image

 
Further information

The Orange Pi PC 2 is available at Aliexpress for $19.98, or $23.33 including shipping to the U.S. More information may be found at the Aliexpress shopping page and Shenzhen Xunlong’s Orange Pi PC 2 product page.
 

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PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

22 responses to “First 64-bit Orange Pi slips in under $20”

  1. trojan horse says:

    Hmmm China sending us cheap IOT hardware to build IOT devices. Can somebody say Trojan Horse. Whats to say there aren’t back doors and that the Chinese government intelligence service is not funding this zerO day backdoor appliance?

  2. noelkuck says:

    Hmmmmmm. Interesting paranoia. Makes one think.

  3. koi baat nahin says:

    I’m assuming you’re install every piece of software on top of it – may be except bootloader. which can also be replaced. Remove all Trojan horses.

  4. cyk says:

    I’m avoiding Allwinner at all cost.
    Why?
    Google for “Allwinner GPL”.

    • chip says:

      Take it at a necessary evil, hopefully temporary.
      Sadly there is no such thing as a 100% OSS platform out there. That won’t change until a OSS HW/SW owned company can produce silicon in its own fab and be able to sell it without fear of going belly up or being squashed to death through lawsuits.
      This isn’t going to happen in the next 10 years or more, I believe. There’s a lot interesting material over at opencores.org, for example, but making a real product out of them is another different story.

    • Jerry says:

      Previous Allwinner devices have quite good mainline Linux support. Unfortunately the Mali graphics isn’t available for FLOSS users, but otherwise the boards are as good or better than Raspberry Pi.

      • Quux says:

        Unfortunately, it’s against the will of Allwinner; it’s all because of a group of enthusiastic people reverse engineering Allwinner software and datasheets.

  5. chip says:

    The only problem with this and many other 64 bit board like the bigger NanoPIs is the lack of mainline kernel support.
    THAT is where Allwinner hostility against OSS is limiting the platform. I’m surely not buying something that forces me to use either an unaudited distro with years old kernels or a 32 bit one.

    • Jeremy McMillan says:

      Well, there’s your IoT Trojan Horse!

      Maybe you’re forced to use kernels with known vulnerabilities? Who needs to write a new backdoor when an existing one can be opened with easily available tools?

    • Ronald Johnson says:

      Eh Heh heh. I was JUST about to buy one, too. Thanx 4 dat. I’m pretty used to having an up to date kernel. I mean, granted we aren’t talking about cutting edge hardware compatibility here but more like code security. I certainly want modern kernel. I think I might still buy one.

    • Jerry says:

      How is that only limited to chinese vendors? I can’t find many ARM boards with mainline support anywhere.

  6. cmeerw says:

    The Orange Pi PC does have quite good mainline kernel support nowadays, so hope we will also soon get the same level of mainline kernel support for the Orange Pi PC 2.

    • chip says:

      I hope so as well, but the OPi PC and the almost identical NanoPI M1 use well known H3 32 bit processors, not 64 bit (still) unsupported ones.
      For most practical uses there’s no need for a 64 bit processor though, as no board memory currently exceeds the 32 bit addressable space and afaik big integers such as int64_t and maybe also int128_t are available on 32 bit systems too.

  7. GNUtoo says:

    SOC Trustworthyness:
    ——————————–
    The fact that the boards comes from China doesn’t make it better or worse regarding hardware or software Trojans. If we want to know how trustworthy is that Allwinner SOC, dumping the bootrom, and looking at how Trustzone is used could give us hints on wether it’s better or worse than other SOCs.

    The bootloader is probably unsigned, this makes it possible to replace it with free software. However the software and the bootloader have huge issues that I commented on below.

    Bootloader:
    —————–
    The article should comment on the bootloader situation.

    If the bootloader is (still?) proprietary, violating the GPL, and has no alternative, we have a huge issue.

    If it is the case, it would mean that:
    – There is no way to legally redistribute or sell such board. Doing so would violate the GPL and therefor copyright law.
    – To use the board you would have to use a binary that violates the GPL.

    To me that looks like a “trojan horse”[1], to make the GPL void.

    Right now US-like legal regimes have copyright laws, and they are somehow enforced. This is what makes the GPL work. Under copyright law, by default, you have no permissions to copy, redistribute, modify works. (Although you have narrow exceptions to it such as the “fair-use” laws.) The GPL gives permissions to copy, modify, redistribute, etc. Such permissions are bound to conditions that are only used to make sure the owner of the device or software still get theses freedoms. Here the owner is the person who bought the device or downloaded the software.

    Now users would probably want to buy cheap and powerful devices with such Allwinner SOCs, that includes SBC, tablets and so on.

    Since the SBCs are very attractive to the free software and open source communities, enforcing the GPL would be politically risky for the free software people that do it.

    We should instead REQUIRE Allwinner not to force manufacturers of devices using their SOCs to violate the GPL. The device are probably the only ones in a position to do that, probably because, at the end of the day, Allwinner still needs to sell theses SOCs.

    References:
    —————–
    [1] Here in its literal meaning, not computer science meaning.

    Denis

    • Jerry says:

      What bootloader? The 32-96 kB (?) on chip or U-Boot? You can use standard U-Boot with most Allwinner boards. Maybe this one does not yet have support, but the earlier ones definitely have. For example I think all H3 and A20 boards are supported.

  8. HackerBoards says:

    yep!

  9. cmeerw says:

    You say “If the bootloader is (still?) proprietary, violating the GPL, and has no alternative”…

    Is any of this actually the case? Because I don’t think it is, at least not for the Orange Pi PC, see http://linux-sunxi.org/Xunlong_Orange_Pi_PC

  10. crb3 says:

    Heads up, Hackerboards: there’s probably a (yearly) article in this, a survey of ARM/linux boards and their GNU compliance and mfgr/community support and kernel-updating. Not only will this focus the spotlight on folks like Allwinner, making them squirm a bit because the issue has become something real (because it’s posted in an authoritative article from a respected source)… It will aid us hardware hackers in selecting those boards with the least expected extraneous time-wasting on chasing down NDA’d engineering details and vague bugfixes (hence the squirming, as it has an impact on dollars earned).

    There’s a discussion stream focusing on this over at Hacker News: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12890005 “64-bit Orange Pi – A Quad Core Computer for $20 (techcrunch.com)”.

  11. GNUtoo says:

    Here are the informations on the GPL violations:
    https://linux-sunxi.org/GPL_Violations
    https://linux-sunxi.org/A64

    They however applies to other SOCs than the H5.
    The linux-sunxi wiki doesn’t have a page on the H5 yet at the time of writing.
    This is why I used “still?”.

    I would be really happy if it’s possible not violate the GPL on some of their new SOCs.
    As I understand it, the code initializing the RAM is in boot0, so until it’s replaced (by free software),
    we need it to boot such boards.

    I vaguely recall that boot0 violated the GPL as it was:
    – based on u-boot
    – has blobs

    Now could also be mistaken on that since either my memory could be wrong, or it might not apply anymore for newer SOCs

    That said, some older AllWinner SOCs are fine and can be used with only free software
    (assuming one doesn’t need all the SOC features such as the 3D acceleration).

    Denis.

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