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PINEBOOK ARM Linux Laptop Powered by Allwinner A64 Processor to Sell for $89 and Up

November 24th, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

Following up on Pine A64 board powered by Allwinner A64 quad core Cortex A53 processor, Pine64 has decided to work on a software compatible laptop based on the processor. PINEBOOK comes with 2GB RAM, 16 GB flash storage, a 11.6″ or 14″ display, and the usual ports you’d expect on such device.

pinebookPINEBOOK specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner A64 quad core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3L
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC 5.0 flash and micro SD slot up to 256 GB
  • Display – 11.6″ or 14″ IPS LCD display with 1280 x 720 resolution (no touchscreen)
  • Video Output – mini HDMI port for external display
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5 mm headphone jack, built-in microphone and stereo speakers
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports
  • Camera – 1.2 MP camera
  • User Input Devices – Full size QWERTY keyboard, 5″ touchpad
  • Power Supply – 5V/3A
  • Battery – 10,000 mAh LiPo battery
  • Dimensions – 352 x 233 x 18 mm
  • Weight – 1.2 kg

The laptop is not based on Pine A64+ board, nor the upcoming SOPINE A64 module, and instead they had to design a custom board to meet the thickness requirements.

pinebook-connectorsPINEBOOK should support most of the operating systems supported by PINE A64(+) boards including Android 5.1/7.0, Remix OS, Debian, Ubuntu, and others, but the firmware requires some (minor) modifications since the laptop is using LPDDR3 RAM.

The laptop is not available for sale right now, but we know the 11.6″ version will cost $89, the 14″ version $99, and you can register to get notified of the launch. You may also find a few more details on PINEBOOK product page.

  1. benjamin
    November 24th, 2016 at 15:17 | #1

    Thats a very interesting little laptop. Are there any other very cheap laptops like this ?

  2. November 24th, 2016 at 16:16 | #2

    Plastic or metal case?

  3. November 24th, 2016 at 16:17 | #3
  4. Leon Anavi
    November 24th, 2016 at 16:30 | #4

    Awesome news! I’ll definitely get the 11.6″ DIY laptop from Olimex for me but I might get 14″ PINEBOOK for relatives.

    I saw that PINEBOOK will come with 10000mAH battery. Is there any info about the battery life of the 14″ model?

  5. November 24th, 2016 at 16:33 | #5

    The eMMC could be used as a cache for a slower SD card:

    https://bcache.evilpiepirate.org/

    The eMMC is soldered on board, or as card slot that can be swapped with a bigger one?

  6. tkaiser
    November 24th, 2016 at 17:14 | #6

    I hope they’re smart enough to put anything on the board that is able to be accessed from u-boot so 11″ and 14″ variant can be differentiated already while booting and the necessary DT bits regarding display resolution can be set on-the-fly.

    With Armbian for Pine64 currently it’s necessary to adjust one single line in a config file to activate LCD (only Pine Inc’s supported with 800×480 pixel atm) but it would be great to avoid that and to use any information (eMMC boot partition pre-populated differently?) present on the board to sanely set display settings priot to booting the kernel: https://docs.armbian.com/board_details/pine64/

    But maybe Pine folks want to repeat the horrible user experience Pine64 users had/have with their laptop as well? At least the Laptop uses a barrel plug and not crappy Micro USB to be powered/charged so they corrected already Pine64 mistake N° 1. 🙂

    @cnxsoft: Different firmware for the LPDDR3 should be easy with legacy kernel since it’s just another boot0 blob plus some DT bits adjusted.

  7. cyk
    November 24th, 2016 at 17:22 | #7

    I read until “Allwinner”.

  8. Theguyuk
    November 24th, 2016 at 17:24 | #8

    I wonder if Allwinner dual OS will work on this or be available. Allwinner have their tablet and keyboard dock already.

    Shame Remix OS, Allwinner dual OS and defunct Firefox OS cannot come together with agreed standard instead of fragmentation of markets.

  9. tkaiser
    November 24th, 2016 at 17:37 | #9

    OMG: Just realized that both screen sizes have the same resolution: 1280×720. So in case they chose both displays in a compatible way one set of settings might fit. 14″ at just 1280×720 — too funny 🙂

    BTW: A64 LCD stuff explained: http://web.archive.org/save/_embed/http://bundie.neterra.net:8080/a64/A64%20LCD使用说明书.pdf

  10. jeroen
    November 24th, 2016 at 18:11 | #10

    Nice, please make one with azerty

  11. tkaiser
    November 24th, 2016 at 18:39 | #11

    @Leon Anavi
    According to their specs both 11″ and 14″ share physical dimensions and are identical otherwise (all pictures show only the 14″ model so better expect the 11″ looking somewhat weird). So there’s just a little more battery drain to be expected due to a bit larger LCD backlight I would assume.

    BTW: battery live largely depends on software/settings and I wouldn’t expect wonders here based on current consumption measurements already done (see Armbian link above). Android/RemixOS might show different behaviour though.

  12. Alex
    November 24th, 2016 at 21:40 | #12

    I wouldn’t buy this, I’m already frustrated from the Pine64. There is nothing left from the promissed Linux support, all the Linux images are community maintained and are based on Kernel 3.10. longsleep, the maintainer of the most is also not very active anymore so we are left with an outdated Linux. No vendor created Linux nor Kernel 4.xx for us

  13. blu
    November 24th, 2016 at 23:22 | #13

    A serious battery (for the class of hw), 11″ IPS screen, 2GB of LPDDR3, linux out of the box (or so), good pricepoint – it seems vendors are slowly starting to get it.

  14. Mario
    November 25th, 2016 at 03:24 | #14

    @benjamin
    pi-top is good

  15. Paul M
    November 25th, 2016 at 03:42 | #15

    I’d read this review of the pine64 before rushing in:
    http://vincentsanders.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/the-pine-stays-green-in-winter-wisdom.html

  16. Cliff
    November 25th, 2016 at 05:40 | #16

    The photos look like the NexDock “laptop” which needs and external phone/raspberry pi/sbc to work

  17. PoV
    November 25th, 2016 at 08:09 | #17

    I am all for this idea (Linux capable sub $100 ARM laptops with decent guts). I just wish the whole 3.x/4.x kernel problem wasn’t a thing.

  18. cyk
    November 25th, 2016 at 13:57 | #18

    @Paul M

    This. It’s one thing to hack together a Linux image to run on hardware that was never intended to run Linux.
    In this case you should be glad and happy that you got something that works somehow.
    But when a hardware manufacturer promises linux, but delivers a barely running image with stone old kernel, binary blobs, no docs, and doesn’t even think of supporting voluntary developers, that’s more than not OK.

    I’m avoiding Allwinner at all cost. They’re GPL violaters. They take everything and barely give something back.

  19. tkaiser
    November 25th, 2016 at 14:29 | #19

    @cyk
    LOL, while the clueless are so busy doing Allwinner bashing others already enjoy BLOB free mainline kernel on their A64 boards. No one is forcing you to use Allwinner’s software offerings, there’s a vibrant community (linux-sunxi) around that provides mainline kernel support.

    It should now be 4 years that the first Allwinner commit was sent upstream (by community of course). And I agree that Allwinner could do more here but since linux-sunxi exists and Allwinner slowly responds to community demands (release code with proper licenses, they’re currently doing exactly that — search for tinalinux) I’m fine using their hardware.

    Yesterday I did some USB performance tests with 4.9 and A64: Fastest USB2 device around since with Allwinner you can use UAS here. I would assume when this Pinebook will be on sale also HDMI mainline driver will be ready (Jef Moine currently sends patches upstream for new display engine 2 which works more or less identical on all newer Allwinner SoCs) and with some luck also PMIC support (battery charging, voltage regulation). At least those are the two main showstoppers to run an A64 laptop with mainline kernel now (no problem for older SoCs).

  20. tkaiser
    November 25th, 2016 at 14:32 | #20

    @cyk
    In case you ever wake up please notice that the ‘Libre 15.6in Laptop’ is also based on Allwinner hardware: http://elinux.org/Embedded_Open_Modular_Architecture/EOMA68/Laptop

  21. tkaiser
    November 25th, 2016 at 16:24 | #21

    BTW: Linux/Android isn’t everything. FreeBSD folks do a great job supporting Allwinner hardware too, they are even some steps ahead with A64 (PMIC support and already working cpufreq/throttling compared to mainline linux): https://wiki.freebsd.org/FreeBSD/arm/Allwinner#Supported_devices

    If Pine Inc people are smart they get in touch with Jared McNeill and send him a dev sample (based on released tinalinux HDMI driver FreeBSD could add display support for all the recent Allwinner SoCs in one step). Maybe the Pinebook will become the first sub $100 FreeBSD ARM laptop?

  22. tkaiser
    November 25th, 2016 at 16:47 | #22

    Alex :
    No vendor created Linux nor Kernel 4.xx for us

    Well, ‘vendor provided’ OS images are outdated/broken (and Pine Inc people unfortunately don’t care at all) and kernel development happens somewhere else (linux-sunxi community). The main problem Pine64 community suffers from is being trapped in a strange micro community/reality over there (there’s also one moderator in the forum pretty active censoring everything that points to working solutions outside, he just deleted a few posts mentioning Armbian some days ago — but Pine Inc people are also fine with that for whatever reason).

    Anyway: Latest and greatest mainline kernel running on Pine64+: http://sprunge.us/CNIW (USB2 performance is outstanding since with mainline kernel we can use btrfs and UAS — USB Attached SCSI). BTW: longsleep is still pretty active there where development happens (that’s not at pine64.org/.pro) and he only maintains one single OS image which is also the only one from Pine64’s wiki that does not suck (all the others are broken more or less and receive no updates for reasons unknown to me)

  23. KiloByte
    November 25th, 2016 at 17:13 | #23

    @Alex: as for modern kernels on Pine64, Icenowy’s works fine for me for what I use (headless). No idea about HDMI but that doesn’t work with any monitors I own on 3.10-longsleep anyway. Let’s see how stuff that’s going to hit 4.10 fares…

    @tkaiser: EOMA68 is $1200 vapourware, you can get Azpen Hybrx today for $159 2GB (not $89 Kickstarter backers got, sadly). 11.6” vs 15.6” but it’s not like anyone is going to use these for anything heavy-duty anyway.

  24. tkaiser
    November 25th, 2016 at 17:32 | #24

    @KiloByte
    I mentioned EOMA68 especially since it’s the idea to provide an absolutely ‘libre’ notebook… based on Allwinner hardware. Was just meant for someone not able to differentiate between hardware (Allwinner) and software (Allwinner or community) 😉

    I thought about backing the Hybrx already but display resolution is a joke there too. In case Olimex will come up with a 1920×1080 LCD variant of their A64 laptop (TERES-I) I might consider this.

    And yes, Icenowy’s 4.9 branch works fine, we switched with Armbian’s dev variant to this just recently and include the two fixes to improve CPU and bus performance already in boot script. I moved also the rootfs (btrfs with lzo compression) to an USB/UAS connected SSD and this simply rocks.

    Lets hope for Pinebook customers that Pine Inc chose a rather fast eMMC there since that’s the 2nd reason why Pine64 experience for many users sucked/sucks: SD cards way to slow and users still unaware of this (according to user reports the SD cards sold by Pine themselve also slow as hell when it’s about the more important random IO performance)

  25. kael
    November 25th, 2016 at 23:12 | #25

    Azerty keyboard please !!!!

  26. Bohdan
    November 25th, 2016 at 23:24 | #26

    When it possible to buy?

  27. @lex
    November 26th, 2016 at 01:33 | #27

    I hope they launch it soon.

    And is TERES-I ready? I have not seen many news about it, what about the price?.
    Is anyone here running one?

  28. tkaiser
    November 26th, 2016 at 20:43 | #28

    @@lex
    If there are no news from Olimex then there is most probably not that much progress being made 🙁

    Apart from that great news from community around A64: ayufan decided to provide also a community Android 6.0 build for Pine64 based on his 7.0 build that will run after minor modifications on Pinebook, Azpen Hybrx or Olimex TERES-I later: http://forum.pine64.org/showthread.php?tid=2861&pid=22836

    As fas as I understood also based on longsleep’s community kernel so things can be fixed quickly in case problems occur. No need to wait for Allwinner 🙂

  29. November 26th, 2016 at 21:11 | #29

    @tkaiser
    It’s not available yet, but there are some news, as the company will bring some TERES-I laptop at FOSDEM 2017 -> https://olimex.wordpress.com/2016/11/26/fosdem-2017-is-approaching-are-you-ready-for-soldering-workshops-and-playing-with-teres-i-diy-hackers-friendly-oshw-laptop/

  30. sola
    November 28th, 2016 at 03:42 | #30

    I am wondering if there is a similar laptop developed with a stronger hw in general.

    A [email protected] SOC sounds very-very weak for any kind of laptop. It may not even be as fast as my 3-year old Samsung ARM Chromebook 1 ([email protected])

    I think that a really successful ARM Linux laptop would need something like a [email protected]+a quad-A53 cluster, 4GB RAM, 32-64Gb speedy UFS flash drive and a 11-13″ fullHD IPS screen with 8-10hrs battery life.

    I would gladly pay $250 for something like this.

    The $89 version may be acceptable for some light-power use-cases but for anything more demanding, you will need much more horsepower than this.

  31. November 28th, 2016 at 17:48 | #31

    @sola
    Yes, it will be slower than your Samsung ARM Chromebook for most tasks.

    Chromebooks with Rockchip RK3399 and Mediatek MT8173 should be much faster:
    http://www.cnx-software.com/2016/09/01/acer-chromebook-r13-is-powered-by-mediatek-mt8173-64-bit-arm-processor/
    http://www.cnx-software.com/2016/10/15/samsung-chromebook-pro-powered-by-rockchip-rk3399-soc-to-sell-for-499/

    Price will be over $250 though. I’m also unclear about proper Linux support. UFS seems only available in high-end processors.

    Alternatively RK3288 Chromebook are faster (compared to Allwinner A64/first Samsung ARM Chromebook) and costs $149: http://www.cnx-software.com/2015/04/01/149-rockchip-rk3288-chromebooks-by-haier-and-hisense-launched/

  32. tkaiser
    November 28th, 2016 at 20:21 | #32

    @cnxsoft
    Thank you, reading the Amazon reviews for one of those RK3288 Chromebook was fun (people surprised by the ‘you get what you pay for’ principle).

  33. jd
    November 30th, 2016 at 03:20 | #33

    Looks like a Lapdock with an embedded Pine in it.

  34. tkaiser
    February 6th, 2017 at 19:01 | #34

    @cnxsoft: When we added WiP support for SOPine recently to Armbian build system (works more ore less already) we accidentally used the so called ‘boot0’ blob responsible for DRAM initialization with legacy u-boot from Pinebook on SoPine which resulted in the SoM not booting:

    After using the appropriate boot0 for SoPine (type 7) it worked. So it seems Pinebook does not use LPDDR3 but DDR3(L) instead.

  35. tkaiser
    February 7th, 2017 at 18:22 | #35

    Some performance numbers of Pinebook’s eMMC are available that look promising (for other numbers look for example into Armbian forum review):

    https://gist.github.com/ayufan/caf1a581a53e3d16772ee363f7f5b075

  36. March 11th, 2017 at 15:53 | #36

    Hi,
    I was trying to contact with them for buy that laptop or making market in Bangladesh. But no response.

    If this is their response style, how could I relay on their product?

    /touhid

  37. March 28th, 2017 at 09:32 | #37

    Pine64 will start processing order notifications later today, and the first production batch will roll out from the factory at the end of this month.

    They will all ship with Ubuntu. User can flash Android 6.0 if they want, and Remix OS is coming a little later.

  38. tkaiser
  39. April 27th, 2017 at 20:53 | #39

    Pinebook 11.6″ is out of stock, Pinebook 14″ is still available according to email: http://imgur.com/PUqMNIO

  40. tkaiser
    May 3rd, 2017 at 14:05 | #40

    Great news: ayufan who created the A64 Android community builds since a while in the meantime adopted also the stuff for Linux builds and now Linux images for Pinebook are created fully automated too: https://jenkins.ayufan.eu –> click on the build variant you’re interested in and you find there current status, link to changelog, releases and so on. This is how software development should happen always 🙂

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