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Christos

preview NanoPi A64 board from FriendlyArm

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RTL8189ETV as known from the first H3 Orange Pi, USB OTG exposed as type A receptacle (Micro USB for powering only -- just like on Pine64) and at least one good USB cable provided (the Micro USB cables from FA have low resistance and aren't crappy like maybe the other 99% of these cables. But as soon as you loose your cable or exchange it powering problems might occur)

Camera support and I2S on header is a plus so let's wait how heat dissipation looks like and which FA heatsinks will fit. And whether FA ships with an aerial or not by default (at least on NanoPi M3 the small ceramic antenna is close to unusable).

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RTL8189ETV as known from the first H3 Orange Pi, USB OTG exposed as type A receptacle (Micro USB for powering only -- just like on Pine64) and at least one good USB cable provided (the Micro USB cables from FA have low resistance and aren't crappy like maybe the other 99% of these cables. But as soon as you loose your cable or exchange it powering problems might occur)

 

Camera support and I2S on header is a plus so let's wait how heat dissipation looks like and which FA heatsinks will fit. And whether FA ships with an aerial or not by default (at the least on NanoPi M3 the small ceramic antenna is close to unusable).

 

The board's got the exact same (64x60mm) dimensions as the NanoPi M3 and seems to have the same hole layout, so it would amaze me if the same heatsink/fan were incompatible :)

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The board's got the exact same (64x60mm) dimensions as the NanoPi M3 and seems to have the same hole layout, so it would amaze me if the same heatsink/fan were incompatible :)

Well, I compared the drawing on the Chinese wiki page a few days ago with my M3 and I fear a heatsink (thermal pad) that doesn't cover A64 in a centered way can't be that efficient (same for AXP803). But you might be right and that might also be the reason why the I2S header isn't populated. Using an external antenna then might also require removing the heatsink. Hmm...

 

Since we're talking about A64 already. Pinebook should be ready in January (to be sold after Chinese New Year later) and Pine folks develop a clusterboard suitable to host 8 SoPine (one master node with eMMC, all SoPine equipped with 128Mb bootable SPI NOR flash and a 10 port Gbit Ethernet switch IC onboard. Prototype will be ready next year, then we start to disclose more information.

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HVoHQNO.jpg

(Not exactly to scale)

You mirrored the M3 horizontally for whatever reasons :)

 

Anyway without knowing how heat dissipation looks like IMO it's too early to think about the device. From the software perspective this is 'just another A64 device' and the only 'challenge' is adding Wifi driver. BTW: seems Icenowy has too much time these days :)https://irclog.whitequark.org/linux-sunxi/2016-12-23#18478103

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You mirrored the M3 horizontally for whatever reasons :)

 

Anyway without knowing how heat dissipation looks like IMO it's too early to think about the device. From the software perspective this is 'just another A64 device' and the only 'challenge' is adding Wifi driver. BTW: seems Icenowy has too much time these days :)https://irclog.whitequark.org/linux-sunxi/2016-12-23#18478103

 

Wow, so I did :) fixed it now. 

 

Yeah it's not exactly an exciting device, but I really appreciate them making boards with the same form factor and dimensions and stuff.

 

e: Not sure how the A64 would power a fan though, the M3's got a dedicated header by the audio jack. 

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Hey, did you plug the fan via the two pins they show on their pictures (next to the audio jack)?

In my case I never saw the fan spinning if I connect it to these pins.

FA support is not able to answer to my questions about it. They consider the fan broken despite I told them that applying 5v and Ground to it make it spin quite fast and it becomes very noisy (not what they advertise on their site).

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Well, my A64 turned up today. There are no holes next to the fan - indeed I can't find a 2-way connector anywhere on the board...odd as they supplied a fan!

 

I blindly thought that the Armbian for the Pin64 might work but with nothing to lose I tried it....  it doesn't do anything other than the little green indicator light - just a black screen. That leaves a stripped down operating system with god knows what's missing or Ubuntu mate, both off their site - as there is nothing on the DietPi site either.   Oh well, I wouldn't care but their downloads are very slow - the 896meg file is going to take 8 hours.. Time for an early night I guess.

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it doesn't do anything other than the little green indicator light - just a black screen.

 

So the board works happily. Better don't expect any HDMI output from A64 devices. HDMI driver in legacy images is a mess (and no one is going to fix it since some libs are blobs and sources aren't available) and mainline/vanilla is missing display output completely.

 

Normally our Pine64 images should 'just work' but I haven't looked into settings yet and won't spend any time on this since A64 is basically boooooring as hell (for my use cases it's almost as crappy as Rasperries due to limited I/O bandwidth and for that what the average user wants A64 is simply the wrong SoC due to display situation. And who needs those 64-bit when we're talking about IoT stuff?)

 

I also have not the slightest idea why other vendors start wasting ressources with A64 boards... maybe it's just marketing and product development madness from Allwinner's side (the specific business unit partners with Microsoft to bring stuff no one needs -- Win 10 IoT -- to A64 devices)

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Well, my A64 turned up today. There are no holes next to the fan - indeed I can't find a 2-way connector anywhere on the board...odd as they supplied a fan!

I plugged the fan into the end two pins on the serial connector to get +5/gnd.  It helps.  I am crunching away with 4 cores of cpuminer with temperatures sitting at 65c and clock pretty steady at 1104 Mhz, one step down from the peak 1152.

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So the board works happily. Better don't expect any HDMI output from A64 devices. HDMI driver in legacy images is a mess (and no one is going to fix it since some libs are blobs and sources aren't available) and mainline/vanilla is missing display output completely.

 

Normally our Pine64 images should 'just work' but I haven't looked into settings yet and won't spend any time on this since A64 is basically boooooring as hell (for my use cases it's almost as crappy as Rasperries due to limited I/O bandwidth and for that what the average user wants A64 is simply the wrong SoC due to display situation. And who needs those 64-bit when we're talking about IoT stuff?)

 

I also have not the slightest idea why other vendors start wasting ressources with A64 boards... maybe it's just marketing and product development madness from Allwinner's side (the specific business unit partners with Microsoft to bring stuff no one needs -- Win 10 IoT -- to A64 devices)

Erm ho wants A64 for IOT? Don't underestimate people's ability to go further than you might imagine. I do a LOT of stuff with Node-Red and the Pi at times shows it's lack of power. I'm hoping the Odroid will prove to be better but simple benchmarks for that A64 unit suggest it will go further.

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I'm hoping the Odroid will prove to be better but simple benchmarks for that A64 unit suggest it will go further.

 

'The ODROID'? There are a lot of different ODROIDs but I think you're talking about S905 based C2? Benchmarks have been done a long time ago and S905 outperforms A64 everywhere. Since A64 is made in a 40nm process while S905 is already 28nm overheating adds to the lower performance of A64 devices since throttling jumps in pretty fast. I wrote scripts to ease the installation of RPi Monitor a long time ago (of course not tested with FA's OS images): http://www.cnx-software.com/2016/03/17/rpi-monitor-is-a-web-based-remote-monitor-for-arm-development-boards-such-as-raspberry-pi-and-orange-pi/#comment-524024

 

No idea whether FA tweaked THS settings but with Allwinner's defaults performance of Pine64 was horribly low since their settings start to kill CPU cores instead of doing sane throttling. It took us some time to come up with better settings and Armbian's kernel for A64 also contains an in kernel corekeeper mechanism so that even if CPU cores get killed due to massive overheating they will be brought back online if temperatures decreased again.

 

Anyway: A64 is about cheap and wrong expectations (this 64-bit thing). The low CPU performance is accompanied by a really old, slow and boring GPU (that is only OpenGL ES capable) and there are 2 USB ports max -- if I would want to deal with slow Cortex-A53 SoCs I would choose H5 instead (Orange Pi PC 2).

 

BTW: Yes, you're reading correctly: A64 is slow as hell. You've been fooled by sysbench when you did your review. Sysbench can be used to heat SoCs but not to measure performance and especially compare different platforms (it's doing just a boring prime number calculation and this is for whatever reasons 15 times faster when code is compiled for ARMv8 -- RPi 3 would show way better sysbench numbers when not forced moronically to run binaries made for ARMv6 architecture built with a heavily outdated GCC version).

 

In case you're interested to learn why sysbench sucks:

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Hey, did you plug the fan via the two pins they show on their pictures (next to the audio jack)?

In my case I never saw the fan spinning if I connect it to these pins.

FA support is not able to answer to my questions about it. They consider the fan broken despite I told them that applying 5v and Ground to it make it spin quite fast and it becomes very noisy (not what they advertise on their site).

Hi,

     You can refer to these photo to use the fan.

TB2hh1bdOpnpuFjSZFIXXXh2VXa_!!73291228.j

TB2.JCddJRopuFjSZFtXXcanpXa_!!73291228.j

TB276ChdHBmpuFjSZFuXXaG_XXa_!!73291228.j

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Hi,

     You can refer to these photo to use the fan.

 

 

 

@friendlyarm

The problem there is that the I2S header will get covered from heatsink, you should come with a Heatsink alternative design for NanoPi A64 that uses the other two diagonal corners for grip to pcb.

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@friendlyarm

The problem there is that the I2S header will get covered from heatsink, you should come with a Heatsink alternative design for NanoPi A64 that uses the other two diagonal corners for grip to pcb.

 

@friendlyarm

The problem there is that the I2S header will get covered from heatsink, you should come with a Heatsink alternative design for NanoPi A64 that uses the other two diagonal corners for grip to pcb.

 

You also can connect the fan to other 5V output GPIO ,like Pin2(VDD_5V)&Pin6(GND).

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@friendlyarm

Do you intend to have a new heatsink design for A64 in such a way that does not block the A64 board's I2S pins?

 

 

P.S.

(if of course your nickname actually belongs to FA vendor)

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Are there plans from Armbian regarding support of this board?

 

Since I've zero use cases where this board would fit at least I will skip it entirely (FA sent out 2 new boards to Armbian devs just recently but A64 was not amongst them). But same applies to all A64 boards in the meantime... now that H5 is available (2 more USB host ports is stuff that matters for me, also that surprisingly situation with mainline kernel is more advanced with H5 after just two months compared with A64 -- see working DVFS and higher peak CPU performance)

 

And to be honest: FA is one of the few board manufacturers that produce OS images that do not suck (too much). So 'the need' to provide working alternatives isn't that high if we look at it from the 'Armbian devs doing unpaid work for users' perspective (please always keep in mind that there's another and at least for me the more important perspective: 'Contributing to Armbian to be able to use specific devices in projects since vendor software offerings are insecure, broken, suspicious and unusable').

 

From a technical point of view adding support for this board is more or less adopting settings and slightly extending build system (same applies for BPi M64 for example). But from a support perspective (Micro USB for DC-IN, shitty situation with legacy HDMI driver, the strange discrepancy between lower board price and higher user expectations, FA obviously preparing new LCD displays that need support) it looks totally different.

 

Also I don't understand why manufacturers do A64 boards at all (now -- Xunlong will also release a new A64 device with AP6212 Wi-Fi/BT soon). Most probably that's just due to Allwinner trying to benefit from 'Windows 10 IoT Core' (see 'Community Devices' here)? They chose A64 for reasons unknown to me (the appropriate SoC for IoT stuff should have be one from the R series, eg. the otherwise identical R18) and might now give some discounts and/or support/marketing help to board manufacturers? Anyway... still not interesting (especially from my PoV since I only touch Windows if I get appropriate compensation for pain and suffering ;) )

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For what is worth it, IMHO, FA's NanoPi A64 is a pretty decent and in my personal view it fits as a better, cheaper and direct replacement of RPi-3 in almost all aspects.

FA is indeed better than others in providing decent BSP and images but they still lack many wanted features and their support is hectic, also in their lately delivered A64 image there are more than enough problems..

Regarding the H5 to A64 comparison, so far only the PC2 (H5) came close to be good enough, but its expansion pinheader faulty design did crippled it. Also, H5 is not yet in the mainline sunxi effort table whereas A64 is already there and in the hands of many sunxi devs, its mainline support is on a good path.

 

So, based on these, I'd be really surprised if Armbian elect not to support this.

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So, based on these, I'd be really surprised if Armbian elect not to support this.

It's not about electing to not support it, it's about spreading the development resources in the most efficient way. Once mainline support for A64 and for this particular board becomes good enough, it will be relatively easy to add basic (server) images for this board or for any other A64 based board.

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better, cheaper and direct replacement of RPi-3 in almost all aspects.

 

Thanks for confirming. Well, at least I won't spend a single second on helping people trying to save some money with RPi 3 clones (especially those people ignoring HDMI situation!). Apart from that FA products are available through distributors in my country (EU in general soon) and if you add all necessary added costs (customs paid, VAT) we're talking about 2 times the original $ price but in €: http://geizhals.de/?fs=nanopi%20air&in=

 

So I would expect this A64 board lacking the only interesting A64 feature (battery powering/charging capabilities) being 15€ more expensive than this RPi 3 when I walk to or order from a retail store and also more expensive when ordering from Chinca. Anyway, that doesn't change that much. Uninteresting remains uninteresting.

 

BTW: it seems you missed a lot regarding mainlining situation. All the people who added the A64 bits have now also an OPi PC 2 in their hands and if you read through board details you should get that H5 is already more advanced compared to A64 (though completely missing in linux-sunxi wiki now but this will change soon when someone spends the time to deal with this nasty table -- ever done table editing with Mediawiki engine?). OPi PC2 runs with 4.10 at up to 1368 MHz while A64 devices can't exceed 816 MHz since PMIC support is still not ready. Add to that two more real USB ports and the choice is obvious (no, really no need for I2S on any pin header since Armbian already supports a couple of boards that provide this -- that's one of the nice things with Armbian: do some research first and then use the board of choice depending on hardware capabilities since you know software will work).

 

BTW: at least two more H5 boards from different manufacturers will be available soon so OPi PC2 is not the only H5 device any longer (though still not able to spot any H5 based TV box around -- a really bad sign considering Allwinner's future)

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BTW: it seems you missed a lot regarding mainlining situation. All the people who added the A64 bits have now also an OPi PC 2 in their hands and if you read through board details you should get that H5 is already more advanced compared to A64 (though completely missing in linux-sunxi wiki now but this will change soon when someone spends the time to deal with this nasty table -- ever done table editing with Mediawiki engine?). OPi PC2 runs with 4.10 at up to 1368 MHz while A64 devices can't exceed 816 MHz since PMIC support is still not ready. Add to that two more real USB ports and the choice is obvious (no, really no need for I2S on any pin header since Armbian already supports a couple of boards that provide this -- that's one of the nice things with Armbian: do some research first and then use the board of choice depending on hardware capabilities since you know software will work).

Well, it's not that hard to simply raise the default voltage to the maximum and have DFS instead of DVFS (and possible overheating problems), or implement a CPU voltage driver that would look more like a hack, but people are not that interested in spending their time on implementing hacky solutions, especially after the release of the first H5 based board.

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Is there any reason why the NanoPi A64 couldnt be found in the armbian Forum?

Will the NanoPi A64 not as good as other A64 boards -or has no one seen him before?

For $19.99 (its on sale) he has 1GB RAM

http://www.friendlyarm.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=159

http://wiki.friendlyarm.com/wiki/index.php/NanoPi_A64

http://wiki.friendlyarm.com/wiki/images/c/c8/NanoPi-A64-1610-Schematic.pdf

 

A64_en_01.jpg

A64_en_02.jpg

A64_en_03.jpg

A64_en_04.jpg

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9 hours ago, tkaiser said:

Ahh - I knew that I had seen a thread in the past - Thanks @tk

But @Igor it seem to be a small bug in the forum search:
First I did search for "nanopi a64" with 0 results, then searching for "Nanopi A64" and got 31 results.

After that again searching for "nanopi a64" also 31 results (and any id allways selceted automatically)
See attached Picure for proof of the problem :)

Search_Bug.jpg

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19 minutes ago, guidol said:

small bug in the forum search

 

I consider the forum search close to unusable especially if you compare with the results from 'Google site search' next to it. And for the devices we deal with there's no hope since search terms with less than 3 characters are ignored, words are combined with a logical 'OR', result list is filtered to 'only recent' by default and so on...

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