Quick review of Orange Pi PC
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Orange_Pi_PC_headless_with_camera.jpg

 

Another look at another SBC: The Orange Pi PC from Shenzen based Xunlong.

 
The company claims to have done the original ODM work for Banana Pi as Foxconn contractor and started with 2 'Orange Pi' models based on the same A20 SoC shortly thereafter: 'Orange Pi' and 'Orange Pi Mini' -- both supported by Armbian from the beginning.
 
Then they released the 'Orange Pi Plus' based on a newer Allwinner SoC: the H3 (quad-core Cortex-A7 running at 1.2GHz). This SoC is intended for dirt-cheap OTT boxes, is equipped with 4 independent USB 2.0 PHYs and also an integrated 100 Mbits/sec Ethernet PHY (but can still provide GBit Ethernet using an external PHY like RTL8211 as Xunlong implemented it on the 'Plus').
 
The 'Orange Pi 2 [Plus]' followed, then the $15 'Orange Pi PC' was released and a new 'Orange Pi One' has been recently announced to be available for less than $10. CNX provided a nice comparison table here (but keep in mind that "SATA" means not SATA but an ultra-slow GL830 USB-to-SATA bridge and that "4 USB ports" means "slow due to shared bandwidth and internal USB hub")
 
In my opinion the only H3 based Orange Pis worth a look are the 'PC' and the upcoming 'One' since the H3's feature set is quite unimpressive but its design makes it possible to produce really cheap boxes/boards without that much additional components on the PCB (no PMU needed and already containing an internal Ethernet PHY and 4 USB PHYs).
 
The H3 SoC has been blamed for overheating way too much but fortunately this is just the result of Xunlong trying to advertise their H3 based SBCs as being able to run at "up to 1.6 GHz" and community members providing OS images with overclocking in mind. They did a really bad job modifying both dvfs and thermal settings and therefore their forums are full of complaints that CPU cores are shut down due to overheating or that you would need large heatsinks and also a fan to be able to use the H3 reliably.
 
Fortunately these issues have been resolved in the meantime, the linux-sunxi community moves forward really fast with u-boot/kernel mainlining efforts for the H3 and real OSHW designs will also follow soon (Olimex plans to release two SBC based on H3). So I believe we will be ready with Armbian support for Olimex' and Xunlong's boards as soon as mainline kernel will be ready for H3. Igor started already to support the H3 based Orange Pis in Armbian-- see below.
 
Let's have a look at existing hardware: The $15 Orange Pi PC. For latest informations always rely on the linux-sunxi wiki.
 
Getting started
 
To power the board you've to provide 5V through the power barrel connector or GPIO pins 2/4/6 (2/4 are connected to the DC-IN test point and 6 to GND). You can not power the board through micro USB since unlike other sunxi devices the H3 comes without PMIC/PMU (therefore also no support for a battery)
 
In case no SD card is inserted the SoC tries FEL boot mode through the micro USB port. OS images for the H3 can be found on the orangepi.org web site. As usual the manufacturer supplied images are broken more or less so better start with the ones from community member loboris (if you use them don't forget to donate!)
 
Unfortunately these intensified Xunlong's overvolting/overclocking attempts and increased a few values even more. But fixing is easy: I created a simple script (for Debian based distros only) that temporarely converts script.bin and replaces the wrong values with the linux-sunxi ones (should work with other H3 based Orange Pis as well)
 
On the left loboris' overvolted dvfs table while idling through all available cpufreqs and on the right after repair:
 
H3_sane_vs_insane_dvfs_settings_3.png
 
If you repaired dvfs/thermal settings you'll be surprised that you neither need a fan nor heatsink -- the H3 idles at 1.5W and exceeds ambient temperatures only by 20°C without a heatsink. But be prepared that thermal throttling might occur under high load if you safe the heatsink. You'll find a few comparisons with and without heatsink here: http://linux-sunxi.org/User:Tkaiser#Tests_with_just_a_heatsink
 
Since we want to use the OPi PC as cheap home automation controllers we evaluated the possible input voltage range. Good news: DC-IN voltage can vary between 4.5V - 5.5V when you neither need USB nor HDMI (DC-IN will be directly routed to the power pins of USB/HDMI). 
 
Also the cheap camera module Xunlong sells for the different H3 models works flawlessly with just 4.5V. This makes it possible to power the board through 'el cheapo' passive PoE using the 2 unused cable pairs in Cat 5/6/7 cables. Real PoE works with 48V to avoid voltage drops over longer distances and it's a bit crazy to try PoE with just 5V. But when you use similar distances between PoE injector and devices and inject for example ~6V then the voltage range of 4.5V-5.5V will be fine. I suggested to Xunlong's Steven Zhao already to adopt passive PoE on the next Orange Pi One directly -- but he didn't get back to me.
 
I also developed a heavily undervolted dvfs table for headless useage (won't work with a connected HDMI display since the Vcore voltage seems too low for the display engine) that works here with 2 OPi PC without problems (tested under full load up to 1.2 GHz): http://linux-sunxi.org/User:Tkaiser#Headless_without_connected_USB_peripherals_and_4.5V_DC-IN ( don't think about adopting these settings unless you're willing to verify they work!)
 
Consumption/temperatures in headless mode:
 
The OPi PC idles at 240-600MHz: 1.5W, 20°C above ambient temperature. All thermal values being read-out internally using RPi-Monitor -- see below. I used also the H3 without heatsink so be prepared that temperatures are way lower if you attach a heatsink to the SoC.
 
Full load (cpuburn-a7 and sysbench running in parallel) on all 4 CPU cores:
 
240 MHz: not exceeding 2.0W, 25°C above ambient temperature
600 MHz: not exceeding 2.5W, 32°C above ambient temperature
1200 MHz: not exceeding 3.3W, 50°C above ambient temperature
 
2 CPU cores deactivated and testing again:
 
240 MHz: not exceeding 1.9W, 23°C above ambient temperature
600 MHz: not exceeding 2.1W, 29°C above ambient temperature
1200 MHz: not exceeding 2.8W, 40°C above ambient temperature
 
The multithreaded performance of 4 x 600 MHz and 2 x 1200 MHz is identical but when running at 600 MHz on all 4 cores the H3 already outperforms older dual-core Allwinner SoCs like the A20 easily. And since the lower the clockspeeds the less the Vcore voltage the SoC stays cooler and consumes less. Using a quad-core SoC for IoT stuff seems like overkill but if you clock the SoC down the 4 cores make perfectly sense.
 
Therefore we go with the following settings for 'IoT controllers' to ensure they don't exceed 2.5W consumption even under full load:
echo interactive > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor
echo 240000 > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_min_freq
echo 600000 > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_max_freq
 
With 8 OPi PC and a passive PoE injector like this one with these settings you're able to power the whole setup with a regulated 6V/4A PSU easily. And you still have the ability to double the performance of any device temporarely through echoing 1200000 to scaling_max_freq when needed.
 
Who would've thought that you can use H3 based Orange Pis as energy efficient IoT devices consuming between 1.5W and 2.5W without a heatsink since common knowledge was 'you need a fan!' just a few weeks ago.
 
Camera module
 
Xunlong sells also a cheap $6 camera module for the H3 based Orange Pi models based on GalaxyCore's GC2035 2MP sensor. When you want to use it with the OPi PC you'll also need an expansion board. When you order you've to tell Xunlong that you're using the OPi PC and they send the board together with the module:
 
Orange_Pi_PC_with_Cameraboard_and_Camera
 
The image quality is really horrible but at least you're able to use it with fswebcam or motion. I prefer the lowest resolution possible (640x480 pixels after applying these patches) because it makes no sense to store images with higher resolutions. At least motion works with the 2 fps settings currently possible and you might use OPi PC + camera module for surveillance purposes to detect motion.
 
Regarding consumption/temperatures: when running motion together with the camera continuously consumption increases by 500-600 mW and SoC temperatures by 2-3°C (clocked at 240-600 MHz)
 
For our use cases the H3 matches perfectly. If you fix the overvoltage/overclocking problems Xunlong introduced then you get a device that consumes between 1.5W and 2.5W and being already more performant when running at 600 MHz than older dual-core Allwinner SoCs. Using a quad-core SoC for IoT things makes sense since the SoC can run at very low core voltages which really helps with saving energy.
 
Other use cases
 
Regarding I/O bandwidth the H3 provides 4 independant USB ports that might be able to benefit from UASP with mainline kernel soon. So any H3 device with GBit Ethernet would make a nice NAS device. But since the older A20 features native SATA a better solution for building a NAS would be to get a pcDuino 3 Nano Lite for the same price. Some background infos as usual in the wiki: http://linux-sunxi.org/Sunxi_devices_as_NAS
 
At the moment some people are trying hard to get OpenELEC running on the H3 and also progress is made to use HW accelerated video decoding. Since this stuff is WiP you should monitor these threads closely:
 
 
RPi-Monitor
 
I adjusted RPi-Monitor templates for the H3 and also wrote a small daemon to be able to monitor temperature/consumption related to Vcore settings (using the dvfs table settings in script.bin). Please refer to the thread in the Orange Pi forums.
 
All you've to do is to install RPi-Monitor in the usual way, stop it and then do the following (depending on your distro being wheezy/jessie based) followed by a reboot: 
cd / && wget -O - http://kaiser-edv.de/downloads/RPi-Monitor-for-H3.tgz | tar xzf -
update-rc.d rpimonitor-helper defaults 90 10
systemctl enable rpimonitor-helper
systemctl start rpimonitor-helper

Update: In the meantime this has become a simple one-liner confirmed to work an all Debian based OS images for H3 boards. And in case you're running Armbian then it's just a a simple 'sudo armbianmonitor -r' call that installs/adjusts everything needed on any H3 board.

PoV and divode like this

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Guest martinayotte   
Guest martinayotte

Hi TKaiser,

You mentioned a new Orange Pi One coming soon for $10.

Do you have any link were we can see that ?

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Guest martinayotte   
Guest martinayotte

Thanks, TKaiser !

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The advertisement in his store mentions "banana pi pro raspberry pi 2 cubieboard pcduino" to attract people in the Aliexpress market searching for these.

He also advertises the H3 on the Orange Plus to run at 1.6 GHz... This seems rather questionable, I would like a cheap computer that can run quad-core at around 1 GHz with 1 GB of RAM. Why did they have to lie this much, they didn't have to lie and mess up the whole board like this did they? I looked at RPi 2 which is probably the safest bet but it comes at the price of 46 USD here so I can't help but wanting something like the Orange Pi or Pine A64 anyway. 

 

Just please tell me to my senses and buy a RPi 2 before I get an Allwinner with horrible kernel support. I don't need better transfer than 50 Megabit/s (which is the line capacity) on the NIC, so if I can push out through an external USB 2.0 HDD to the NIC with encryption at this rate I'll be happy with the board. My current RPi 1 (700 MHz ARMv6 Single Core) does 1.5 Megabyte/s in this regard without overclocking, which is not good enough at all. I also recall they have the NIC on the USB hub too. It probably largely depends on extensions and what kind of encryption I use, a friend of mine recommended me to use RC4 if I was planning to use VPN software on it. It of course can handle download/upload without encryption at appropriate rates, but I do sftp and SSL on NGINX. Maybe I should just dump encryption altogether?

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This "up to 1.6 GHz" marketing chitchat is the source of all the heat problems the H3 is blamed for. But you can simply fix that by using better dvfs entries. In the meantime the linux-sunxi devs developed a dvfs table and thermal values (throttling and in case of emergency shutting CPU cores down) that work even without a heatsink in most situations.

 

Every Raspberry Pi has just a single USB 2.0 connection to the outside. All USB ports and network have to share this: http://linux-sunxi.org/Sunxi_devices_as_NAS#Network.2Fstorage_not_blocking_each_other

 

Given that we will see rather sooner than later the H3 being supported by mainline kernel (at least for the headless stuff you're talking about) the OPi PC might be worth a try (4 independent USB ports and also independent 100 Mbits/sec networking). Regarding encryption: Allwinner SoCs do contain a crypto engine called 'Security system' still being work in progress in mainline kernel: http://linux-sunxi.org/Mainlining_Effort#Major_drivers

 

But even without that the H3 should outperform any RPi 2 in your setup due to better I/O and network bandwidth. The H3's integer performance when clocked at 1.2 GHz is also better than the BCM2836's (even when clocking the latter with 1.0 Ghz which should work flawlessly even without a heatsink).

 

The RPi 2 is superiour in different areas due to driver support (both GPU and VPU) but as long as it's about integer performance and bandwidth (both I/O and network) the H3 wins. 

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I would like to thank you for the information and I have always considered the USB hub setup RPi has a potential bottleneck. I will see what I end up with after a while. One thing is the PSU which is obviously going to add an additional cost to the whole thing. MicroUSB is easy to get but the H3 needs a 5V2A (maybe i have one of these lying around, very tiny DC connector side) but wasn't that overkill if you didn't need to overvolt it to run their falsely advertised clock speed? Or maybe I am mistaking this and the MicroUSB cables I've been using could potentially undervolt it. Although the RPi is designed to run at low power so that's probably correct use. I have also considered the A64 which Pine is creating, but judging by the thread here they have no idea what they are doing software-wise except with the Android SDK. They seem to be lying about the GPU capabilities as they are unarchiveable in Linux since it's Allwinner but it's not as bad as Orange Pi is lying about the operating frequency. For the moment it seems that the community around Orange Pi and the work linux-sunxi is doing with it with people in the forum bootstrapping a ton of OS on its kernel makes the Orange Pi PC the best choice for me at the moment. I'll go see if I can find my charger and if I can save myself some money that way.

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MicroUSB is easy to get but the H3 needs a 5V2A (maybe i have one of these lying around, very tiny DC connector side) but wasn't that overkill if you didn't need to overvolt it to run their falsely advertised clock speed? Or maybe I am mistaking this and the MicroUSB cables I've been using could potentially undervolt it.

 

It's possible to both overvolt the CPU and undervolt the board :)

 

These are two different things. You define in the so called dvfs table a few operating points with a relationship between CPU clockspeed and voltage provided to the CPU cores. The basic principle is that you define the Vcore voltage as low as possible since this helps with consumption, temperatures and longevity. But the problem is that if you need higher clockspeeds you also have to increase the Vcore voltage to still let the chip run reliably.

 

There exist some recommended values from Allwinner for every SoC ("Vcore not lower than 1.04V and not higher than 1.2V for example") and responsible vendors follow these advices. Most H3 devices (OTT boxes) come with a dvfs table only containing 2 operating points:

  • 1200 MHz @ 1.3V
  • 1008 MHz @ 1.2V

This is OK and leads to a Vcore voltage of 1.3V when clocked at 1008 MHz or above and 1.2V when running slower (most devices are configured to clock lower when idle and to increase clockspeeds only under full load -- and only then Vcore increases also). Xunlong then simply stayed with 2 operating points and increased both cpufreq and Vcore voltage (necessary to reach the 1.53 GHz they advertise as "1.6 GHz"):

  • 1536 MHz @ 1.5V
  • 1200 MHz @ 1.3V

That means the H3 is always volted with the maximum all other devices use (1.3V) and if clockspeeds exceed 1200 MHz even with 1.5V (0.1V above the recommended upper limit). And this overvolting is the root cause for all the thermal problems Orange Pi users experienced in the past. I tried to document the overvolting/overclocking history here.

 

Regarding DC-IN it's something different. There you should supply 5V but since many USB cables are simply crap and micro USB has very tiny contacts you might run in undervoltage situations easily (DC-IN dropping below 4.6V or even lower). SoCs that are accompanied by a PMIC/PMU will be powered-off in such a situation by the PMU to prevent damage. The Orange Pi PC has no PMU but a few voltage regulators that might work even with 4.5V. But for connected USB peripherals or HDMI this is already way too low. Therefor the barrel plug the Orange Pi's are equipped with is an advantage compared to boards that use [micro] USB since you've to consider that DC-IN also has to provide power to external USB devices and other board components.

 

And as you can see above it always depends. When you want to use the Orange Pi PC just as a headless server and let it run at 1.2 GHz with a sane dvfs table the whole board's consumption won't exceed 3.5W so 5V/1A would already be enough. In case you attach 4 bus-powered USB drives even 5V/3A won't suffice (you would've to study the schematics or simply try it out to get a clue where the limits are)

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For the AC-DC Power Supply with 1.7mm Barrel, you can find cheap ones on eBay, 5VDC 2A, around US$3.00 each.

If you don't want to tweak the "dvfs" table yourself, you can also run a simple script at boot up which reduce the CPU frequency.

I've done that on my to OrangePi-PC, and there are stable since several weeks.

So, I've decide to order some more :-)

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If you don't want to tweak the "dvfs" table yourself, you can also run a simple script at boot up which reduce the CPU frequency.

 

Nope, that's not enough since this doesn't solve the overvoltage problem! When you adjust the cpufreq to 1.2 GHz and do not alter the dvfs table then the H3 will be driven with 1.3V all the time (way too high), even if your cpufreq scaling settings clock it down to 60 MHz when idle. It still wastes huge amounts of energy, produces more heat than necessary and shortens its lifespan.

 

With sane dvfs settings Vcore will be reduced from 1.3V down to 1.04V when idling. This is a huge difference regarding temperature! Refraining from repairing Xunlong's broken dvfs table means frying your H3 at 1.3V minimum constantly.

 

The key factor is adjusting the dvfs table and that's simply done by converting script.bin to a fex file, exchange a few lines and convert back. I prepared a script that can be used on Debian based distros to do exactly that. Repairing the broken settings in script.bin and replacing it with the official linux-sunxi ones: http://www.orangepi.org/orangepibbsen/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=785

 

By reading the script you get the idea what's to be done if you want to repair dvfs settings manually.

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It means you can't really use it much but yes it's booting. I think we got UART and USB ... and probably more. Since there is no network I didn't look anything else. U-boot is mainlined.

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I think we got UART and USB

 

Yeah! And since you included iozone to the list of default packages I'm proud to present the fastest USB 2.0 device in the world: The Orange Pi PC: 39 MB/s write and 41.5 MB/s read (average value of 4K/1M record size). I've never seen better results. Mainline kernel and UASP did the job.

 

All I did was overwriting the contents of the 'Plus' .dtb with the one from OPi PC followed by a reboot.

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@tkaiser, do you mean you took Igor's image and replace the .dtb, reboot and perform USB benchmark tests using Serial ?

Oaw ! That is a good begining !

Since I'm currently using Loboris kernel, and there is no .dtb currently used, which one is needed for H3 ? can you share yours ?

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@tkaiser, do you mean you took Igor's image and replace the .dtb, reboot and perform USB benchmark tests using Serial?

 

Yes, there's not that much magic involved ;)

 

Thanks to the hard working linux-sunxi devs and Igor (and all the contributors to Armbian in the meantime) it's 'enough' to rely on mainline u-boot/kernel and you get the stuff working that's currently possible. And you've the convenience being able to use the Armbian 'environment' since everything's already there where you expect it.

 

Exchanging the .dtb file simply made USB working (different devices, different definitions -- the OPi PC has the advantage that no USB hub is used to route all 4 available USB ports to the outside, on the OPi plus a hub is used due to the crappy USB-to-SATA-bridge there)

 

BTW: Just tested another disk using an enclosure with ASMedia ASM1051 (UASP blacklisted). Only 28 MB/s -- unfortunately I don't have the time to patch kernel sources again to deactivate blacklisting since this might make the difference.

 

Really looking forward using the H3 with mainline kernel. So much weird stuff to leave behind (starting with the moronic overvolting, crappy script.bin adjustments and so on)

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Another USB addendum regarding H3 with mainline kernel. I attached a 3rd disk (behind a 'Sunplus Technology Co., Ltd SPIF215A SATA bridge').

 

The SSD utilising UASP is able to achieve 40 MB/s, the Barracuda behind the ASM1051 gets close to 29 MB/s (without blacklisting close to 38 MB/s -- measured with A20 some time ago) and the other disk behind the Sunplus bridge ~32 MB/s.

 

Testing all 3 in parallel: The SSD (UASP) already finished with a slight slow-down to 37.5 MB/s, the other two disks being way slower (15/17 MB/s). Especially when accessing disks in parallel UASP wins clearly.

 

Really looking forward to a H3 SBC with GBit Ethernet, no internal USB hub and especially no crappy USB-to-SATA bridge. Might also be used as a NAS then.

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I got the impression there will never be SATA for the H3 as it is not natively supported by the SoC as in the A20?

 

Correct, http://linux-sunxi.org/Sunxi_devices_as_NAS#Requirements_.2F_which_device_to_choose  still applies.

 

If it's about I/O bandwidth the A20 is still the best choice (in Allwinner land, SATA capable SoMs/SBC are also available with Marvell SoCs or i.MX6 -- see link above). If the rumours Olimex spread half a year ago are true we can expect a pin-compatible A20 successor with twice as much CPU cores in the 2nd half of next year.

 

And again H3: this SoC has 4 independent USB ports not just 2 (1 host and 1 dual role) as the octa-core A83T for example or the '64-bit' A64. So if it's really about I/O bandwidth the H3 outperforms these other 'more powerful' easily. Especially if they are combined with ultra-slow USB-to-SATA bridges like the on the Banana Pi M3 (GL830 -- to be avoided!).

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Do most or all of these developments apply to the OPi Plus 2 as well since it is also using the H3? I was looking at picking one up but then I saw the support wasn't fully there, but if it's coming that may be a board I pick up to test in setup/play with.

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Do most or all of these developments apply to the OPi Plus 2 as well since it is also using the H3?

 

They do. The best place to look regarding new boards is here: http://linux-sunxi.org/Mainlining_Effort#Planned_for_4.5

 

Supporting a new SBC happens at several layers: Drivers have to be written and the hardware has to be described correctly (in so called 'device tree files'). Igor's preliminary image contained support for the 'Plus' (the 'Plus 2' is exactly the same just with 2 GB RAM) and the 'PC'. You should be aware that the PC is most likely the better choice (no crappy USB-to-SATA bridge, no internal USB hub, all 4 USB ports useable) but it lacks GBit Ethernet and the 2GB RAM.

 

Now that Orange Pi customers start to realise how they've been fooled by the manufacturer ("up to 1.6 GHz", no real software development and relying solely on community, crazy overvolting), maybe Steven changes his business model and instead of advertising only useless feature sets targeted at uneducated customers he concentrates on the H3's strengths: He could do an "Orange Pi PC Plus" (to further confuse his customers with naming schemes :P  ) that is like the PC with 4 useable USB ports, but GBit Ethernet using an external RTL8211 PHY and 2 GByte RAM. This would be the perfect H3 device for less than $20.

 

And for the 'I need at least 64 bits' morons his next model with the H64 is the board of choice (If I remember correctly this is called "Orange Pi 3 Plus Turbo" or something like that).

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They do. The best place to look regarding new boards is here: http://linux-sunxi.org/Mainlining_Effort#Planned_for_4.5

So the Pine I wanted to buy is even more off-limits due to the support not being guaranteed at all, despite the sellers trying to market it as getting mainline in the future (which might happen after some time, uhh, months? Years?)

 

I have been thinking about buying the Orange Pi PC, so if the H3 gets mainline, the settings for changing to correct voltage and crypto support gets in place I'm sold, I only need 50 megabit/s throughput from HDD to ethernet to suffice (like I said before). As for the 64-bit 4 core CPU, which was the reason I wanted that Pine board, I think it's not necessary. At most I've been running virtual servers on 64-bit hardware under 32-bit architecture and it has been working perfectly. Allwinner probably only releases new SoCs every now and then just to leave people with no mainline and no people from any communities (linux-sunxi) willing to dedicated a lot of their free time (let's be honest, would you?) to start mainlining all their SoCs. And is there much benefit with their new "super-chip" over the H3 at all? Probably not. We all know what happened when Snapdragon when they tried to rush 64-bit too... That gives them even less reason to dedicate their effort towards supporting it.

 

Now I have found something I think could fit as power supply, I just roughly measured 0.3cm as diameter so I think it's right. Also found myself old Samsung satellite receiver where I am just going to throw out the insides and place the board inside. If it's too big, which I assume it's waaay to big for the board I have a 3com modem case too. Why? Well, I guess I like having things inside cases and not wide-open. There was one thing I haven't seen before though, there was some kind of black square that was attached to the metal on the inside over the biggest Samsung capacitors I've seen in my life. Guessing it might be to isolate something. Any ideas?

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The A64 might be a bit faster than the H3 (slow Cortex-A7 vs. slow Cortex-A53, both made in an inexpensive 28nm process) but you would need to run an OS on it that makes use of the ARMv8 instruction set (arm64 architecture and not armhf in 'Armbian terms'). The whole '64 bit' thing is more or less marketing since with 64 bit you might be able to address a huge virtual address space but are limited to 2 GB physical RAM with the A64 anyway (same with H3).

 

And by looking into preliminary material from the Pine64 people I would suspect the A64 is prone to overheating. We will see, they shipped a board to me that's still on its way. Regarding kernel and OS support: I don't think any of the linux-sunxi developers will happily spend much time for free on the project to fulfill the Pine64 promise to be able to use a more recent kernel anytime soon (in their FAQ they said they will later support 3.18 and then 4.2 which is a clear sign that they have no idea what 'mainlining' means. Or maybe they think they can apply the 'few' patches from kernel.org to the 3.10.65 kernel they got from Allwinner to reach 3.18 or 4.x in 2016?)

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The A64 might be a bit faster than the H3 (slow Cortex-A7 vs. slow Cortex-A53, both made in an inexpensive 28nm process) but you would need to run an OS on it that makes use of the ARMv8 instruction set (arm64 architecture and not armhf in 'Armbian terms'). The whole '64 bit' thing is more or less marketing since with 64 bit you might be able to address a huge virtual address space but are limited to 2 GB physical RAM with the A64 anyway (same with H3).

 

And by looking into preliminary material from the Pine64 people I would suspect the A64 is prone to overheating. We will see, they shipped a board to me that's still on its way. Regarding kernel and OS support: I don't think any of the linux-sunxi developers will happily spend much time for free on the project to fulfill the Pine64 promise to be able to use a more recent kernel anytime soon (in their FAQ they said they will later support 3.18 and then 4.2 which is a clear sign that they have no idea what 'mainlining' means. Or maybe they think they can apply the 'few' patches from kernel.org to the 3.10.65 kernel they got from Allwinner to reach 3.18 or 4.x in 2016?)

Exactly what I thought. They were made for cheap Chinese devices, it's a wonder they even survive in the CPU market but I guess they sell these chips like crazy. I mean, I have had an Allwinner tablet myself some time ago and it did its job. I guess I could wait for you to test out if it overheats easily. Planning to get my packages from Debian repo or http://archlinuxarm.org/packages(armv5,6,7,8) but these are with a pinch of salt, bleeding edge and some of the packagers don't know packaging here (happened once before). As far as I know armbian doesn't run on these boards yet (but a forum user bootstraped a few different OS's). The A64 board has a gigabit Ethernet though, which OPi also has in Plus but you get other crap on the board I don't need such as I think (USB-Sata?), NAND and Wi-Fi. I see no reason the cheap OPi which was overclocked to hell should be overheating less than their board. Unless they designed it with extreme heat in mind to make it able to OC this much (which makes sense).

 

On the other hand the H3 is probably cheaper as the shipping charges they had were absolutely horrendous (a little better to America). You know something is up when the shipping is about to cost more than the item. Either way, if they run at the same-ish clock speed and can use its full 100 Megabit/s NIC without being routed on one USB like RPi then it should be able to fit my 50 Megabit/s demand, combined with the 5400RPM HDD I plan on using on the USB port: it's probably not worth picking A64 over H3 it for a "little" better performance, and get no mainline support - don't you agree?

 

As for the 2GB limit we had more on 32-bit long ago, but the per-process RAM limit still applies. So it's indeed smarter to pick 64-bit for more than 2GB in that regard. I would order the 1GB RAM version as I don't see a reason to pay 7 dollars more for something I won't have much use for unless the extra cache would help in some scenarios, which it would probably do in databases etc I'm not that familiar with that yet. But that simply means I don't need 64-bit.

 

So I'm a little bit uncertain in the end anyway. If it runs faster and is not prone to overheating that is. The benefit is that they are more likely to not have overvolted and overclocked it like crazy like OPi, and if everything go south and I have to make use of a proper 24/7 non-ARM for my project I could use Lollipop on it so it might have video acceleration and work with streaming video since Allwinner got the video acceleration on Android. But I seem to recall Kodi never supported Mali on Allwinner and they just tricked them when they offered to. Wonder if this applies on Android too, hmm..

 

Here we go, the charger I think fits, it must be old as it has Made in P.R.C mark which they changed to China long ago? I don't really want to order some $3 charger as another user suggested as you never know if these are bad enough to catch fire or something.

http://i.imgur.com/oc2OCiY.jpg

And the black square on top of the capacitor which I was wondering what is, I kind of want to just drag it off. But it was mostly because I was curious about what that was useful for at all.

http://i.imgur.com/bXiYWis.jpg

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Looks too small. But it would fit for an ODROID-C1+ (also a good choice, you can clock the S805 with up to 1.7 GHz and no need for a fan -- see the LeMaker review for comparisons).

 

Regarding Allwinner's A64 everything is speculation right now. But it's clear that this chip is probably the definition of 'low-end 64 bit'. The upcoming Amlogic S912 looks a lot more interesting (also only Cortex-A53 but up to 4 GB RAM and USB 3.0). But for most use cases an H3 board with GBit Ethernet and optional 2GB RAM would also suffice.

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Looks too small. But it would fit for an ODROID-C1+ (also a good choice, you can clock the S805 with up to 1.7 GHz and no need for a fan -- see the LeMaker review for comparisons).

 

Regarding Allwinner's A64 everything is speculation right now. But it's clear that this chip is probably the definition of 'low-end 64 bit'. The upcoming Amlogic S912 looks a lot more interesting (also only Cortex-A53 but up to 4 GB RAM and USB 3.0). But for most use cases an H3 board with GBit Ethernet and optional 2GB RAM would also suffice.

Sold out :) Oh well, I could just buy a charger too. Just make sure to not get a unsafe one. OPi sells a package with a USB cable and case on the PC for $20 but I doubt I can just enter a MicroUSB charger on that USB part so I can pick the $23 one for that. I guess that works out. Fun part is that with charger and plastic case it would be half of what the board cost. But that's okay. Both the Pine and the H3 goes for the same then in the end. I won't be ordering these before Christmas so you might have gotten around to testing it before then.

 

Problem with the hardkernel is that the shipping is high enough cost for our duty to take their fees which will make it cost 68.5 dollars with shipping if I order the ODROID-C1+, something I don't really want to spend on it. Call me greedy if you want :P

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