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pcDuino3B hacker SBC features WiFi, GbE, and Arduino I/O

Feb 20, 2015 — by Eric Brown — 2,332 views

LinkSprite launched a gig-Ethernet version of its PCDuino3 SBC, featuring the same dual-core Allwinner A20 SoC, plus SATA, WiFi, and Arduino compatible I/O.

Like Hardkernel’s Odroid project and a few others, LinkSprite’s pcDuino community has been churning out ARM hacker boards over the last year with generally lower prices and improved features. The newly shipping pcDuino3B barely qualifies for the above description, but it should please pcDuino fans looking for a faster Ethernet connection.

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The pcDuino3B is identical to the pcDuino3, which launched last April, except for changing the 10/100Mbps Ethernet connection to gigabit Ethernet. The LinkSprite launch price is $60, down from an official price of $77. This is $10 more than the original model, which also started out at $77, but now goes for a low of $49 on CuteDigi. Meanwhile, earlier today CNXSoft found the new “B” model going for $50 on eBay, but they are disappearing fast.

If Fast Ethernet is not fast enough for you, this still appears to be a reasonable deal. Yet, it’s not nearly the price breakthrough of the pcDuino3Nano, which was announced last September for $39 and shipped at the end of the year. And looking strictly at price/performance, at least, it can’t beat the quad-core, $35 Raspberry Pi 2, which helped boost RPi family sales over the 5 million units mark (see farther below).

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The stripped down “Nano” version of the pcDuino3 lacks the pcDuino3/3B’s LVDS interface, I2S stereo digital audio output, and built-in WiFi. However, it adds a second USB 2.0 host port, and like the pcDuino3B, it moved from 10/100 to 10/100/1000 Ethernet. The board is also smaller, at 92.2 x 54.1mm.

Like the pcDuino3, the pcDuino3B offers a 1GHz, dual-core Allwinner A20 SoC with 1GB RAM and 4GB flash. As before, there’s also a microSD slot and a SATA interface. WiFi is once again available along with the upgraded gigabit Ethernet port.

Other commonly held features include an HDMI port, USB host and OTG ports, analog and digital audio interfaces, and Arduino Uno-compatible headers. The identically dimensioned SBC has the same 121 x 65mm dimensions, 5V power supply and LiPo battery interface. OS support reads the same, with officially supported distros including Android 4.2 and Ubuntu 12.04.

The following specifications are listed by for the pcDuino3B. These are also the specs for the pcDuino3, except for the move from Fast Ethernet to GbE:

  • Processor — AllWinner A20 SoC (2x ARM Cortex-A7 cores @ 1GHz); Mali 400 (supports OpenGL ES2.0, OpenVG 1.1)
  • Memory — 1GB DRAM; 4GB flash
  • Storage — microSD slot for up to 32GB; SATA interface
  • Display — HDMI 1.4 with HDCP support; [email protected]
  • Wireless – Built-in WiFi
  • Networking — gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • USB host
    • USB OTG
    • IR receiver
    • MIPI-CSI camera interface
    • 3.5mm analog audio output
    • I2S stereo digital audio interface
    • Arduino Uno-compatible headers — 14x GPIO, 2x PWM, 6x ADC, 1x UART, 1x SPI, 1x I2C
  • Power input — 5V @ 2000mA; LiPo battery interface
  • Weight — 0.25 lb
  • Dimensions — 121 x 65mm
  • Operating system — Android 4.2, Ubuntu 12.04

Raspberry Pi crosses the 5 million unit mark

The Raspberry Pi Foundation, which, technologically speaking, has led from behind for years, is now out front with its quad-core, $35 Raspberry Pi 2 Model B announced on Feb. 2. This week, the not-for-profit foundation announced it had surpassed the 5 million sales mark for all it RPi boards far ahead of schedule. The milestone makes the Raspberry Pi family the best-selling British made and designed computer in history, says the educationally focused organization.

Back in Oct. 2013, the RPi foundation announced 1.5 million in sales but it quickly ramped up from there. When the foundation unveiled its new board earlier this month, it announced it had hit the 4.5 million mark. Presumably, the vast majority of the half million boards sold since then have been the new Pi 2.

Four views of the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B
(click images to enlarge)

The Raspberry Pi 2 is finally out front in price/performance ratio, but it still has some gaps in I/O and other features compared to most community boards. The pcDuino3B’s gigabit Ethernet feature leads a growing wish list of features craved by ARM SBC enthusiasts along with the already available SATA link, neither of which is available on the Pi 2. The first quad-core Raspberry Pi also lacks built-in WiFi, among other features, and has yet to announce Android support, despite supporting resource-hungry Ubuntu and Windows 10 builds.

Still, thanks to the Pi 2, we’re likely to see a more rapid acceleration toward moving to quad-core SoCs like the Allwinner A31. It may be awhile, however before over-$100 octacore-based SBCs show big numbers, let alone 64-bit, ARMv8 octa-core models like Linaro’s new, $129 HiKey SBC. The CircuitCo-built HiKey is supported by Linaro’s new community and SBC standards organization.

Further information

The PCDuino3B is available for $60 plus shipping at the LinkSprite Store. More information may be found at the combined pcDuino3 and pcDuino3B product page.

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