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Open-spec, octa-core “NanoPi M3” SBC sells for $35

May 20, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 8,029 views

FriendlyARM’s NanoPi M3 SBC runs Linux or Android on a 64-bit, octa-core Samsung S5P6818, and offers WiFi, BT, GbE, and a 40-pin RPi connector.

In April, FriendlyARM blew away the scant competition in octa-core, 64-bit hacker SBCs with its $60 NanoPC-T3 board. Now it has stepped even harder on the affordability scale with a smaller, somewhat stripped down NanoPi M3 featuring the same Samsung S5P6818 octa-core SoC. The open-spec, community-backed boards sells for only $35, plus $10 shipping to the U.S.

NanoPi M3 front and back views
(click images to enlarge)

The 64 x 60mm NanoPi M3 falls in size between the 100 x 60mm NanoPC-T3 and the $11, 69 x 48mm NanoPi M1, which offers a quad-core Cortex-A7 Allwinner H3, but no onboard wireless. The Samsung S5P6818 pushes into 64-bit ARMv8 territory with eight Cortex-A53 cores that can be clocked dynamically from 400MHz to 1.4GHz. There’s also a Mali-400MP GPU. FriendlyARM orchestrates all the cores by adding an X-Powers AXP228 power management unit (PMU), also known as a power management IC (PMIC).

NanoPi M3 compared to Raspberry Pi 2 and Arduino
(click image to enlarge)

The NanoPi M3 ships with twice the DDR3 RAM of the NanoPi M1 with 1GB, but it lacks the NanoPC-T3’s onboard flash memory, instead relying on a microSD slot. WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 offer wireless alternatives to the GbE port.

NanoPi M3 details
(click image to enlarge)

Multimedia features are strong compared to the similarly priced, quad-core Cortex-A53 Raspberry Pi 3. You get an HDMI port, along with LCD and LCDS interfaces. There’s also a DVP camera interfaces, an audio jack, and an I2S header for other audio alternatives.

NanoPi M3 angled view
(click image to enlarge)

There are only two coastline USB host ports and a micro-USB client port, but two more USB headers are onboard. Like the other NanoPi boards, you get a 40-pin, Raspberry Pi compatible GPIO connector. The board is available with Debian and Android images, but other Linux distros such as Ubuntu are also supported.

Specifications listed for the NanoPi M3 include:

  • Processor — Samsung S5P6818 (8x 28nm Cortex-A53 cores @ 400MHz to 1.46GHz; Mali-400MP GPU
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 SDRAM; microSD slot (up to 64GB)
  • Wireless — 802.11b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.0 dual mode; porcelain antenna IPX interface
  • Networking — 10/100/1000 Ethernet port
  • Multimedia I/O:
    • HDMI 1.4a output
    • LCD interface
    • LVDS interface
    • DVP camera interface
    • 3.5mm audio jack
    • I2S audio interface
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • 2x USB 2.0 host headers
    • Micro-USB 2.0 client port
    • Debug serial port header
    • 40-pin, Raspberry Pi compatible GPIO connector for UART, SPI, I2C, PWM etc.
  • Other features — Power and reset buttons; power and status LEDs
  • Power — DC barrel jack; +5V @ 2A; RTC Battery header; AXP228 PMU
  • Dimensions — 64 x 60mm
  • Operating system — Debian Linux and Android with Uboot images available; also supports Ubuntu, Ubuntu Mate, Kali, and Deepin

Further information

The NanoPi M3 is available for $35 plus shipping from China ($10 to U.S.). More information may be found at FriendlyARM’s NanoPi M3 product page and NanoPi M3 wiki.


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4 responses to “Open-spec, octa-core “NanoPi M3” SBC sells for $35”

  1. macemoneta says:

    Does the mainline upstream vanilla kernel support it, or is this another binary blob infested ancient kernel running piece of abandonware?

  2. timinski says:

    Oooh…I have exactly the same question(s)!

  3. abc says:

    Uh, another comparison which shows only hardware side. Such hardware without software is useless. Could we see software side compared, too? (mainline support, binary blobs, drivers support, which parts of hw have working drivers etc). Support side from vendor (or third party) is also interesting.

  4. Stuart Longland says:

    Why only 1GB? I thought the point of a 64-bit capable chip was to break past the 4GB barrier.

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