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Orange Pi SBC tempts Raspberry Pi clone fans

Dec 23, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 22,002 views

[Updated: Aug. 31] — “Orange Pi,” a new hacker SBC and RPi clone, is available in two models using Allwinner’s dual-core A20 SoC, and a third model that’s based on the quad-core A31.

Just in time for our upcoming year-end hacker SBC roundup, Shenzhen Xunlong Software unveiled an Orange Pi board that shares a number of characteristics with the Raspberry Pi Model B+, and many more with the $50 Banana Pi RPi clone.

The Orange Pi, which was first spotted by CNXSoft, is available in Orange Pi and Orange Pi Mini versions, both of which use the dual-core, Cortex-A7 Allwinner A20 system-on-chip. There’s also an Orange Pi Plus version that features a quad-core Allwinner A31 SoC.

Left to right: Orange Pi, Orange Pi Mini, Orange Pi Plus
(click images to enlarge)

Shenzhen Xunlong has so far posted specs only for the Orange Pi and Orange Pi Mini, which we have combined below. Each of the boards has slightly different board layouts, which to varying degrees mimic the layout of the RPi. For the $40 Orange Pi Mini, Shenzhen Xunlong opted for a B+-like 40-pin connector, although there are no claims of Pi compatibility. For the $49 Orange Pi and $69 Orange Pi Plus, there is instead a 26-pin interface that is claimed to be compatible with the Raspberry Pi Model B (as well as compatibility with 26 pins of the 40-pin B+). In addition, there’s a separate 18-pin extended interface.

Like the Banana Pi boards, as well as pseudo-Pi clones like SolidRun’s $45, i.MX6-based HummingBoard-i2eX and Hardkernel’s $35, quad-core Cortex-A5 based Odroid-C1, the Orange Pi boards appear to be much faster than the ARM11-based Raspberry Pi SBCs. Just about every hacker SBC can boast that feat, however, including LinkSprite’s $39 Allwinner A20 based pcDuino3Nano. Yet, the RPi continues to sell well. In other words, these SBCs are really competing more with each other than with the Pi.


Orange Pi and Orange Pi Mini

The Orange Pi and the smaller Orange Pi Mini closely match the specs of the Banana Pi. A major difference is the Orange Pi boards’ onboard WiFi wireless support.

Orange Pi (left) and Orange Pi Mini
(click images to enlarge)

The standard Orange Pi, meanwhile, has four USB 2.0 host ports instead of the two available on the Banana Pi and Orange Pi Mini.

Front details: Orange Pi (left) and Orange Pi Mini
(click images to enlarge)


Rear details: Orange Pi (left) and Orange Pi Mini
(click images to enlarge)

Specifications listed for the Orange Pi and Orange Pi Mini include:
  • Processor — AllWinner A20 (2x Cortex-A7 @ 1GHz); ARM Mali-400 MP2 GPU
  • RAM — 1GB DDR3
  • Storage:
    • microSD slot for up to 64GB
    • SATA 2.0 port supporting up to 2TB on an attached 2.5-inch drive
  • Wireless — WiFi (802.11 b/g/n ) onboard; optional Bluetooth
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet port
  • Multimedia I/O:
    • HDMI 1.4 out
    • Composite A/V out
    • LVDS LCD interface
    • VGA port (Orange Pi only)
    • Camera interface:
      • Orange Pi — CSI
      • Orange Pi Mini — parallel 8-bit
    • Audio Line-in, FM-in
    • On-board microphone
  • USB
    • USB 2.0 host ports:
      • Orange Pi — 4x
      • Orange Pi Mini — 2x
    • Micro-USB 2.0 OTG port (supports power)
  • Expansion header:
    • Orange Pi:
      • 26-pin RPi-compatible connector — GPIO, UART, I2C. SPI (2x chip selects) CAN, PWM, +3.3V/+5V, ground
      • 18-pin extended interface — GPIO, UART, ADC, reset, +3.3V/+5V, ground
    • Orange Pi Mini — 40-pin header with 28x GPIO for UART, I2C, SPI, PWM, CAN, I2S, SPDIF, LRADC, ADC, line-in, FM-in, HP-in
  • Other features:
    • Reset, power, and optional UBoot buttons
    • Power, LAN, and user LEDs
    • IR for remote
  • Power — 5V via micro-USB (DC-In only) and/or micro-USB OTG
  • Weight:
    • Orange Pi — 60 g
    • Orange Pi Mini — 45 g
  • Dimensions:
    • Orange Pi — 112 x 60mm
    • Orange Pi Mini — 94 x 59mm
  • Operating system — Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, Raspbian); Android 4.4 and older versions; Scratch support


Orange Pi Plus

Although no specs have been posted for the Orange Pi Plus, we know that it’s built around a quad-core, Cortex-A7 Allwinner A31 SoC. That means it incorporates the more powerful, although less open source, Imagination Technologies PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU instead of the Mali 400. CNXSoft adds some additional specs, perhaps based on the unmarked photos.

Orange Pi Plus
(click images to enlarge)

Although CNXSoft says the board matches the standard Orange Pi’s 26- plus 18-pin connector expansion layout, the photo appears to show only 14 instead of 18 pins on the extended connector. The board clearly shares that models’ four USB ports and micro-USB port, although two of the USB ports have been moved around to sit by the HDMI port. Other similarities include Ethernet, AV, and CSI camera ports, but there’s apparently no VGA port.


Further information

The $39.80 Orange Pi Mini, $49 Orange Pi, and $69 Orange Pi Plus all appear to be available now. More information may be found at Shenzhen Xunlong Software’s Orange Pi website, as well as at the Aliexpress shopping pages for the Orange Pi Mini, the Orange Pi, and the Orange Pi Plus.

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0 responses to “Orange Pi SBC tempts Raspberry Pi clone fans”

  1. vk4tux says:

    “clones like SolidRun’s $45, i.MX6-based HummingBoard-i2eX”

    More like $110 > typo? The SR price is ridiculous, performance ordinary & they run too hot.

    The best Pi killer out there is the $35 ODROID C1, they have the wiring pi GPIO stuff perfect,
    along with odroid performance, Once you get a odroid you will forget the rest

    The $65 U3 is amazing untouched by anything else under $100.

  2. MOd says:

    Does anyone have an Orange Pi? I could not find any comparisson between the Orange Pi Plus and Raspberry 2 B. There is still very little feedback onto the Orange Pi on the net.

    The only thing i found was that there seem to be some problems with the USB ports.

  3. Simon Ellwood says:

    These boards a based on a chip called the H3 which is a chip designed for cheap 4K set-top boxes. Not the A31 which is a Tablet chip.

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