Banana Pi BPI-M2 Ultra is a development board powered by Allwinner R40 quad core processor with a native SATA interface, as well as Gigabit Ethernet. If you are a developer, and would not mind getting a free sample, Allwinner is giving away boards to people uploading a 1 to 2 minutes video to YouTube.
The rules are detailed below:
Dear Developers of the World,
Allwinner Technology would like to thank you for your outstanding contribution to our open source community and invite you to join our video-shooting program. Please cover the following topics in your video:
Who are you and why did you choose Allwinner in the first place?
What did you do with your Allwinner powered development board?
What are your expectations for Allwinner’s latest open source platform, the R40?
It needs to be:
Shot in a video resolution of 720p or above
1-2mins in length
Submitted between Apr 20th 2017 and May 1st, 2017
Please upload your video to Youtube and then send the link as well as your contact phone number, post code and address to [email protected] so that we can send you our latest R40 development board as a thank you gift.
The videos will be used both to get feedback, and in some cases they may be used in promotion materials. The video should preferably be in English, but I assume if you shoot it in your native language with subtitles in English, it’s also OK.
Everyday we can read stories about password database hacking, malware, ransomware, and so on, and companies can try to protect themselves by paying professionals that do a more or less good jobs, but individuals can’t afford professional service, so it is harder to protect oneself. One solution is to educate yourself as much as possible, but everybody has the time and/or skills to do it, so developers have worked on FalconGate open source smart gateway that’s supposed to protect home devices against hackers, and alerts the user in case of intrusions on your home network, or devices misbehaving.
Detect and report potential Malware DNS requests based on VirusTotal reports
Detect and report the presence of Malware executables and other components based on VirusTotal reports
Detect and report Domain Generation Algorithm (DGA) Malware patterns
Detect and report on Malware spamming activity
Detect and report on internal and outbound port scans
Report details of all new devices connected to your network
Block ads based on open source lists
Monitor a custom list of personal or family accounts used in online services for public reports of hacking
The software relies on dependencies such as Bro IDS, Python 2.7, Nginx,Dnsmasq,Exim, and PHP, as well as Have I been pwned API, and as been tested with Debian Jessie Lite on Raspberry Pi 2/3 and Banana Pi M2+ boards, with the Raspberry Pi boards limited to 10/100M Ethernet, potentially a bottlenck if you have a fast Internet connection, but FalconGate should also be supported on other (ARM based) boards running Debian or Ubuntu.
The easiest way to install it to get the SD card image for the tested boards. For other boards, you can try a manual installation:
This will take a while depending on your platform and storage device. Your FalconGate powered board will also become your new DHCP server, so you’ll need to disable DHCP in your router. Reboot both, and login to the web interface to configure the email address(es) to be used as recipients for alerts and optionally your VirusTotal API key. Finally, remember to change the default root password, and re-generate the SSH keys.
Camera Interface – CSI connector supporting up to 5MP sensor, 1080p30 H.265 video capture
Video Decoder – Multi-format FHD video decoding, including Mpeg1/2, Mpeg4, H.263, H.264, etc H.264 high profile [email protected]
Audio – On-board microphone
Connectivity – Wifi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 LE (AP6212)
USB – 1x USB 2.0 host, 1x micro USB 2.0 OTG port
Expansion – 40-pin header with GPIOs, UART, I2C, SPI, PWM…
Misc – Reset & power buttons, RGB LEDs,
5V @ 2A via DC power barrel
3.7V Lithium battery support
Dimensions – 51 x 51 mm
Weight – 40 grams
Allwinner R16 is apparently pin-to-pin compatible with Allwinner A33, as the company also offers the board with the latter. Note that there’s no HDMI port, so it will only be useful for headless application, or if you connect it to an LCD display via the MIPI DSI interface. The board will run Tina IoT Linux, a lightweight Linux distributions optimized for Allwinner R-Series processor.
Serial Console Output for BPI-M2 Magic Board running Tina IoT Linux
You’ll find some extra info on the Wiki, but as of writing, most pages are currently blank or links not setup. SinoVoIP has not announced pricing and availability yet either.
Banana Pi BPI-R1 board was launched in 2014 with 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports, SATA interfaces, and powered by Allwinner A20 board. SinoVoip his now about to launch an updated version – Banana Pi BPI-R2 – powered by Mediatek MT7623A quad core Cortex A7 processor with 2GB RAM, 8GB flash, 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports, up to 2 SATA connectors, mPCIe, USB 3.0, and more.
BPI-R2 board specifications:
SoC – MediaTek MT7623A quad-code ARM Cortex-A7 processor @ up to 1.3 GHz with Mali 450 MP4 GPU
System Memory – 2GB DDR3 SDRAM
Storage – 8GB eMMC flash (option 16/32/64GB), up to 2x SATA interfaces, micro SD slot up to 256GB expansion
Video Output / Display I/F – HDMI 1.4 up to 1920×1200, MIPI DSI connector
Connectivity – 5x 10/100/1000 Mb Ethernet port (via MT7530), Bluetooth 4.1 & dual band 802.11b/g/n WiFi (MT6625L module)
USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports, 1x micro USB 2.0 OTG port
Expansion – Mini PCIE interface, 40-pin “somewhat Raspberry Pi 3 compatible” GPIO header with UART, I2C, SPI, PWM, I2S…
Misc – Power, reset, uboot, and 2x user buttons; LEDs; IR receiver; 5V fan header; debug UART pins
Power Supply – 12/2A via power barrel; 6-pin miniJST header for battery + built-in 3.7V Lithium battery charging circuit
Dimensions – 148 x 100.5 mm
The company claims the board can run Android 5.1, OpenWrt, Debian, Ubuntu Linux, Raspbian and others operating systems. Some (limited) hardware information is available on the Wiki, but there’s nothing about software right now, apart from a few placeholder links.
There’s no info about availability nor pricing, except the hardware is ready, but the company has been working for the last month or so on operating systems and drivers. It’s not the first board to feature a Mediatek MT762x processor, but previous attempts like FireWrt, MQmaker WiTi board, and Geek Force did not end up being a commercial success. One of the reasons, at least for FireWrt, was the high cost of Mediatek processors in low quantities, but since SinoVoip has a close relationship with Foxconn, they may be able to leverage their purchasing power as the chip should be used in other hardware platforms manufactured by Foxconn.
RetrOrangePi is a Linux distribution based on armbian transforming Allwinner H3 boards – mostly Orange Pi boards, but also Banana Pi M2+ and NanoPi boards – into entertainment centers to play retro games, and watch/listen media files (videos/music) using Kodi. If you don’t have a development board, or would prefer a complete solution with casing and power supply, Beelink X2 TV box is also supported. The developers had been recently working on rectifying some GPL issues, and they have released RetrOrangePi 3.0 images right before Christmas.
RetrOrangePi 3.0 changelog and key features:
Full Armbian 5.23 Jessie Desktop version with kernel 3.4.113 (backdoors fixed)
Slim version 1st release (less than 2 GB) coming soon
OpenELEC (Kodi Jarvis 16.1) with CEC support by Jernej Škrabec
RetroPie-Setup version 4.1
New Kodi Krypton beta6 version
New emulationstation-ROPI branch forked from jacobfk20 with gridview, on screen keyboard with easy wifi config and storage check with additional features added by ROPi team: display settings, OpenELEC / Desktop launcher and background music switcher integrated into main menu.
New Plug n’ Play feature – USB roms autoload (reads from /media/usb0) (buggy)
New dummy roms feature (most common platform shown)
New splash video on 1st boot by Rafael Spirax
New default splashscreen (from Libretro)
New custom ES splashscreen by Francois Lebel @MagicFranky
OpenELEC ROPI addon already installed
Retroarch with XMB menu driver (Lakka)
Better looking video with bilinear filtering (smoothness) or scanlines by default
Most retroarch cores updated (FBA, PCSX etc)
New and improved content:
AdvanceMAME (newer romset, more compatibility, better performance in some games: Elevator Action Returns, Street Fighter the Movie, Star Wars Arcade, Judge Dredd, Sega Sonic The Hedgehog etc)
OpenMSX (with .dsk support) PPSSPP (new version 1.3 from odroid repo)
TI99/4A (Texas Instruments)
There are two ways to download the images:
BitTorrent – 16.0 GB download with images for all boards
Main server (http) – 1.6 GB compressed firmware image for your board.
If you download from the main server, you’ll get a warning saying you can’t sell hardware pre-installed with the image:
RetrOrange Pi is a non profit project.
It consists of a basic Retropie setup with most Libretro cores on top of an Armbian Jessie Desktop version pre-installed.
It includes an OpenELEC fork as well.
Much of the software included in the image have non-commercial licences. Because of this, selling a pre-installed RetrOrange image is not legal, neither is including it with your commercial product.
As it relies on other people’s work with our own features, we won’t be offering any help in customizations to avoid rebranding or reselling.
It will be interesting to see what happens with RetroEngine Sigma project on Indiegogo that is very likely based on RetrOrangePi image for Orange Pi Lite board.
Anyway, since BitTorrent download was very slow, I downloaded RetrOrangePi-3.0.Orangepione.img.tar.gz from the main server for my $3.69 Orange Pi One board (there was a promo in September), extracted it, and flashed it to a 32GB card (8GB is enough) in Linux:
Replace sdX by your own SD card device in the 3rd command above. You can also do this in Windows with Win32DiskImager. Once it is done, insert the micro SD card in your board or TV box, prepare a gamepad, and connect all relevant cables.
If you have connected the serial console (completely optional), or want to access the system through ssh, you can login with pi/pi or root/orangepi credentials:
Debian GNU/Linux8RetrOrangePi ttyS0
Last login:Thu Sep1507:26:19CEST2016on tty1
Linux RetrOrangePi3.4.113-RetrOrangePi--sun8i#12 SMP PREEMPT Sun Dec 18 17:17l
Most people will just follow the instructions on the TV. We’ll get through a bunch of animation and logos during the boot.Note: Please ignore the vertical lines on the photos, as there’s just an issue with my TV.
The first time the system will resize the SD card to make use of the full SD card capacity, and generate SSH keys. One more “Loading…” logo…
If you have connected a gamepad (highly recommended), you’ll be ask to configure the keys. Tronsmart Mars G01 gamepad was automatically detected, and I could easily set all keys up.
Once all is well and done, you’ll get to the main menu to select emulator or Kodi.
Most emulators do not come with ROMs due to license issues, so you’d have to find the ROMs yourself, and install them via a USB drive, or copy them directly into the board over the network, for example with scp. If you want to try to play some games straightaway, you can do so by going to the PORTS sections with 13 games available including Doom, Quake, Wolfenstein 3D, CannonBall, Duke Nukem 3D, Super Mario War, etc…
I tested shortly tested Wolfenstein 3D and Quake, as well as launched Kodi 17 (Beta 6) in the demo video below.
Google may just have released Android Things operating systems for IoT applications, but its big brother – Android – has already gotten into some other IoT systems such as Quectel SC20 module powered by a Qualcomm processor and supporting LTE, WiFi, Bluetooth LE, and GNSS functions.
Quectel SC20 comes in different flavors to cater for various markets, but all module share most of the same specifications:
SoC – Unnamed Qualcomm processor
System Memory – TBD
Storage – 8GB flash
Cellular Connectivity – FDD LTE, TDD LTE, TD-SCDMA, EVDO/DCMA, WCDMA, and GSM; antenna: MIMO 2×2, supports Rx-diversity
Other Wireless Connectivity
WiFi – 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n (SC20-CE/-W); Dual band 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (SC20-E/-A/-AU/-J)
Compliance – CCC/CE/FCC/GCF/PTCRB/AT&T/ACMA RCM/Verizon (Many still work-in-progress)
I first found about the module, as SinoVoip showcased some pictures of their next BPI-SC20 board using Quectel SC20-CE, but they did not provide other details.
Nevertheless it was easy enough to find Quectel SC20 product page listing all the specs above, plus details about LTE, WCDMA, etc… bands, Rx/Tx power levels, and more. Six models of the module will be available: SC20-W with WiFi and BLE only, as well as country or zone specific variants: SC20-CE, SC20-J, SC20-AU, SC20-A, and SC20-E with different supported cellular bands and standards.
The company is also said to have an evaluation board with a display and two cameras, with the processor used part of – or similar to – Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 series.
SinoVoip has recently released PDF schematics for both of their Banana Pi boards, namely BPI-M64 board powered by Allwinner A64 processor, and BPI-M2 Ultra board based on the latest Allwinner R40 SoC with an on-chip SATA interface.
For most boards on the market, this should not be news, but SinoVoip does not always release schematics in a timely manner, so you may want to be noticed when it happens:
The clear benefit of BPI-M2 Ultra is the presence of a SATA connector NOT implemented via a slow USB 2.0 to SATA bridge, but instead directly through the SATA interface of the R40 quad core processor. As for BPI-M64 ($46), it can be compared to Pine64+ with 2GB RAM and a WiFi module ($39), and despite the higher price it does come with some benefits like adb over OTG working, it is equipped with an 8GB eMMC flash instead of just a micro SD card slot, and it’s powered by a separate power connector. Pine64+ comes with DDR3 memory, while BPI-M64 is fitted with LPDDR3, which should consume less power (Update: BPI-M64 comes with DDR3 memory too , the specs on Banana Pi website are wrong).
One the other side, there have been several instances – not to say many – where SinoVoip did not take inputs from the community in order to fix bugs, and they’ve made some interesting decisions including using a 6-pin battery header on BPI-M2 Ultra, and are now unable to explain one of their customers where to source such type of battery or even just the connector [Update: Banana Pi will sell the connector soon]
Allwinner A10 and A20 processors have been quite popular in the past, since they could handle Fast or Gigabit Ethernet and SATA natively, included decent multimedia capabilities, and were found in low cost hardware such as Cubieboard 2 or MeLE A1000. Since then we’ve had a few boards with SATA using newer and faster processors without SATA IP, meaning it was usually implemented using a USB 2.0 to SATA bridge leading to mediocre to average performance depending on the implementation and selected bridge. Allwinner R40 is the successor of Allwinner R20 with a faster quad core Cortex A7 processor, but keeping Gigabit Ethernet, SATA, and most features of its predecessor. The good news is that Banana Pi has now launched the promised M2 Ultra development board based on the new processor for $45.80 + shipping on Aliexpress (Total for me: $48.35).
Banana Pi M2 Ultra specifications:
SoC – Allwinner R40 quad Core ARM Cortex A7 processor with ARM Mali-400MP2 GPU
System Memory – 2G DDR3 SDRAM
Storage – 8GB eMMC flash (16, 32 or 64GB as options), SATA interface, micro SD slot up to 256 GB
Connectivity – 1x Gigabit Ethernet port, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6212 module)
Video Output – HDMI 1.4 port up to 1080p60, 4-lane MIPI DSI display connector
USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
Camera – CSI camera connector
Expansion – 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header with GPIOs, I2C, SPI, UART, ID EEPROM, 5V, 3.3V, GND signals.
Debugging – 3-pin UART for serial console
Misc – Reset, power, and u-boot buttons; IR receiver
Power Supply – 5V via barrel connector, or 3.7V Lithium battery via battery connector on the back of the board. AXP221s PMIC
Dimensions – 92 x 60 mm
Banana Pi claims BPI-M2 Ultra board run Android, Debian, Ubuntu, Raspbian, and other operating systems. You’ll find some images on the Wiki, and while the Android section link does not work, and you can download a Linux 3.10 + busybox image, Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial minimal, Debian 8 Jessie Mate, Debian 8 Jessie Lite, and Ubuntu MATE 16.04 from either baidu or Google drive links. There’s also a Tina-IOT os section that’s empty right now, as is the “source code on github” section, and a few others. So documentation is work in progress.
I’m expecting Allwinner R40 boards to become popular at least for some communities such as armbian, where some members require fast storage and networking performance for their project(s). We’ll have to hope Allwinner has improved SATA write performance compared to Allwinner A20, as in my review of Cubietruck (Metal Case), I found that while read speed was very good at up to 180 MB/s, write speed was limited to around 36 MB/s using a SATA SSD.