FriendlyARM had already launched two NanoPi boards powered by Samsung S5P4418 quad core processor, namely NanoPi 2 and NanoPi2 Fire, that were especially interesting due to their small size (75 x 40 mm) for the features including HDMI output, a camera interface, and either WiFi + Bluetooth or Ethernet. The company is now back with a third larger board, but still compact, removing the wireless module, but adding an audio jack and more USB ports, while keeping the price about the same.
- SoC – Samsung S5P4418 quad core Cortex A9 processor @ 400 MHz to 1.4GHz with Mali GPU including two pixel processors, and a geometry processor.
- System Memory – 1GB 32-bit DDR3
- Storage – 1x Micro SD Slot
- Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port (via RTL8211E)
- Video Output / Display I/F- 1x HDMI 1.4a, 0.5 mm pitch SMT FPC seat for type-A full-color LCD (RGB: 8-8-8) with 4.3″ and 7″ models available.
- Audio Output / Input – HDMI and 3.5mm audio jack, built-in microphone
- Camera – 24-pin DVP socket with ITU-R BT 601/656 8-bit, I2C, and I/O interface. 5MP module available.
- USB – 2x USB Host ports, 1x micro USB 2.0 device, 2x USB host ports via 8-pin header
- Expansions Headers – 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header with UART, I2C, SPI, GPIOs…
- Debugging – 4-pin header for serial console
- Misc – Power and reset buttons, power and system LEDs, unpopulated RTC battery header (between RJ45 and USB ports)
- Power Supply – 5V/2A via micro USB port; AXP228 PMIC with software power-off, sleep, and wakeup functions
- Dimensions – 64 x 50 mm (6-layer PCB)
As you can see the hardware specifications are very similar to the ones of Raspberry Pi 2, except Gigabit Ethernet replaces Fast Ethernet, and the camera and LCD interface may be different. While both boards feature four USB ports, NanoPi-M2 comes with 2 USB type A ports, and one header with 2 USB interfaces. The Samsung processor will also be quite faster, and performance should even be a little better than Raspberry Pi 3‘s considering Cortex A9 and Cortex A53 has similar performance, and NanoPi-M2 is clocked at a higher frequency (1.4 GHz vs 1.2 GHz).
The board ships with a USB cable, and is said to support Android 5.1 and Debian, as well as Ubuntu, Kali Linux, Ubuntu Mate and Deepin (Mac OS X like distro).The source code is available on Github, and documentation is provided on the Wiki. Just don’t expect a “somebody must have already done it” level of support, as forums are not very active, so you’d better have a decent level of Linux experience to use the board.
NanoPi-M2 sells for $30 on FriendlyARM, but shipping is not included, and in my case adds $16. In the past, it’s been cheaper (shipping fee wise) to purchase via Andahammer, especially for people living in North or South America, but the board is not yet listed on the site.