Orange Pi PC Plus Quad Core Development Board with 1GB RAM, 8GB eMMC flash Sells for $20

Most low cost development boards do not include internal storage in order to decrease costs, and instead require their users to flash their preferred operating system on (micro) SD card. This makes it easy to get started, but many micro SD cards often suffer from poor random I/O performance, even for Class 10 or greater card, leading to a poor user experience compared to what you’d get with an eMMC flash. Shenzhen Xunlong has released yet another Allwinner H3 board, namely Orange Pi PC Plus, similar to Orange Pi PC but adding WiFi, and 8GB eMMC flash.

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Orange Pi PC Plus specifications with main change with Orange Pi PC highlighted in bold:

  • SoC – Allwinner H3 quad core Cortex A7 @ 1.3 GHz with ARM Mali-400MP2 GPU up to 600 MHz
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash + micro SD card slot
  • Video Output – HDMI with CEC, AV port
  • Audio I/O – HDMI, AV port, on-board microphone
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi with external antenna
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Camera – CSI Interface
  • Expansions – 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header with 28 GPIOs, UART, I2C, SPI, PWM, CAN, I2S, SPDIF, LRADC, ADC, LINE-IN, FM-IN, and HP-IN
  • Debugging – 3-pin UART header for serial console
  • Misc – IR receiver; Power button; Power and status LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A via barrel jack (micro USB OTG cannot be used to power the board).
  • Dimensions – 85 x 55 mm

Orange_Pi_PC_Plus_Board_BackAs usual, the description states that the board supports “Android 4.4, Ubuntu, Debian, Raspberry Pi Image”, but most people who want to run Linux will now go with Armbian server or desktop image instead, using a Linux 3.4 legacy kernel. Mainline support for the server image is almost there for all Orange Pi H3 boards.

As usual with Shenzhen Xunlong boards, the price is very competitive, and Orange Pi PC Plus is sold for $19.99 + $3.43 for shipping on Aliexpress. As a side note, while Aliexpress used to be the only options to buy a Orange Pi boards, the little inexpensive boards have become a little more popular recently, and I’ve seen several models sell on other websites such as DealExtreme, eBay, GearBest and others…

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tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

Performance numbers for the eMMC (and link to the fastest tested SD cards) and some experiences regarding Wi-Fi summarized (and hopefully soon a bit more feedback) at the usual location

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

BTW: It’s H3 @ 1.3GHz. All the Oranges (except One/Lite) with the better voltage regulator run without any problems at 1.3 GHz and do not even throttle down that much even under heavy synthetical benchmark workloads. At Armbian we’re currently evaluating development of a user-friendly tool to let hardware reliability of every board be checked individually so that experienced users might be able to ‘unlock’ even higher CPU clockspeeds (without insanely overvolting their boards!) or improve throttling behaviour but there’s not that much to gain since getting better real world performance needs tweaks at other places: Using HW acceleration where… Read more »

cbm80
cbm80
4 years ago

cnxsoft: So you will be forced to update the table with H3 SBCs from previous article 🙂

Theguyuk
Theguyuk
4 years ago

Orange pi have come along way but suffers from lack of more focus on software. It needs a gathering of developers to benefit from a larger eco system and less of a one size fits all walled city approach. There are many working on less well know OS for users not just Server, Nas users.

Plop Linux seeks support but not many people have bothered to vote.

And other OS at various states of ability, http://www.orangepi.org/orangepibbsen/forum.php?gid=46

cbm80
cbm80
4 years ago

@Theguyuk
There are currently really strong guys at Armbian, OpenELEC (jerney), Android distros customizators, etc. It is not that bad as a few months ago. I personally wait for possiblity of changing resolution on the fly as I hate frequest manipulation with script.bin files.

Theguyuk
Theguyuk
4 years ago

As to the SD card random access issue people forget these cards have for years been aimed at high speed burst photography of large photo image files and recently high definition video record and play back. High speed random access as ROM, Hard drive store is not there intended market. They are just getting used for that by users. Often the cheap thinking outside the box solution beats the high price approach, ie USB to Sata can beat the slow , cheap Sata implementations on many boards, assuming no heavy bandwidth sharing. So look for memory storage designed for fast… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@cbm80
Changing resolutions on the fly isn’t that hard to achieve since linux-sunxi community works together and A64 and H3 are pretty much the same. Jernej/OpenELEC figured out how to do and implemented it already on H3, longsleep provided an universal sunxi-disp-tool to be used from user space in the meantime so all that’s needed is a dev joining the Armbian team who’s interested in display stuff (I for example connect displays most of the only by accident or to test stuff I’m not really interested in 😉 )

nobitakun
nobitakun
4 years ago

It’s nice price but I would suggest all mini computer developers to focus on SATA ports, since it’s not pleasant to depend on USB HDD always, or little EMMC’s (they’re best for OS though). I don’t think microSD cards are enough for many tasks, and they can’t hold much data even nowadays. SATA is perfect to have 1 or 2TB of avaliable space, or even more in the near future, since everyday more and more 2.5″ HDD’s are being used thanks to SSD’s. It’s hilarious that the few solutions with SATA ports are well over 20$, and that’s kinda nonsense.

JotaMG
JotaMG
4 years ago

Or use the f2fs file system !
(Igor has promised to test it… any idea why armbian does not use f2fs?)

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@JotaMG Armbian does support f2fs (even btrfs) but the problem is that only ext4 allows online resizing (that’s the reason our Armbian images fit on every SD card or eMMC larger than 2GB since we ship small and expand on 1st boot) so we can provide only ext4 OS images. Also f2fs/btrfs require more recent kernels as supported on H3/sun8i now. But using our build system and mainline kernel you can create Armbian images for all boards with f2fs or btrfs rootfs (or any if you chose NFS –> nice to roll out a fleet of SBC equipped with just… Read more »

TC
TC
4 years ago

tkaiser :
@JotaMG
Armbian does support f2fs (even btrfs) but the problem is that only ext4 allows online resizing (that’s the reason our Armbian images fit on every SD card or eMMC larger than 2GB since we ship small and expand on 1st boot) so we can provide only ext4 OS images. Also f2fs/btrfs require more recent kernels as supported on H3/sun8i now.

how about instead creating another partition on 1st boot and mount there /usr, /home etc?

mdel
mdel
4 years ago

humm i kind of regret having bought an opi pc a couple of months ago, not that i’ve done anything with it anyways.. But i seldom use wifi, especially if it’s 2.4GHz only, and although emmc is a nice upgrade, the only thing that would really make me switch from my amlogic s805/s905 or rpi boards would be a chip with sata which allwinner don’t have either (besides Ax0 chips).. The low price and great armbian support may make me reconsider that in the future but at the moment, when i don’t need gpios which is 90% of the time,… Read more »

jernej
jernej
4 years ago

@mdel
Vanilla (e.g. unmodified) Kodi on Armbian doesn’t benefit from libvdpau-sunxi, due to missing OpenGL interop function, which obviously will never happen (Mali doesn’t support OpenGL). Some people are already working on modifications to make it work.

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@TC We do already too much ‘1st boot magic’ (which is time consuming since problems that appear here waste insane amounts of time to test/debug since you have to walk through the whole image creation and 1st boot process multiple times). The ‘real’ problem is that people want to solve a hardware problem (crappy SD cards) in software (f2fs instead of ext4). In our tests f2fs isn’t that faster or faster at all (search in Armbian Free forum for SD card performance thread) and especially with older kernels strong reliability concerns apply (do a web search for ‘american fuzzy lop… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@mdel Adding overlayfs was maybe added on user request. At least it should ease creating Armbian images that are read-only (no writes to SD card or eMMC) since all changes happen in RAM and are dropped on reboot. Would be then a simple one-liner in our customize-image.sh modifying /etc/fstab of the freshly created image (using Armbian build system you can even replace the whole rootfs/distro at the end of the installation this way) You would’ve to use Desktop images to get libvdpau/Cedrus support but only working with mpv as far as I understand. And it’s pretty easy to let either… Read more »

JM
JM
4 years ago

Why have they dropped Bluetooth in their latest boards? This sucks. No buy from me.

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@JM
There was never any Orange Pi with BT. The only H3 SBC with a BT capable chip is BPi M2+ but the vendor didn’t manage to get BT working (applies to the CSI camera as well — they really suck when it’s about software/support). BT on H3 SBCs means USB anyway so choose a board with plenty of USB ports: http://www.cnx-software.com/2016/06/08/allwinner-h3-boards-comparison-tables-with-orange-pi-banana-pi-m2-nanopi-p1-and-h3-olinuxino-nano-boards/

onebir
onebir
4 years ago

How important would eMMC be for a board used as a headless server, with a fairly light load? I’m thinking in that case, 1GB RAM would be enough for buffers/caches to hold most of the data that the eMMC would speed up read/write access for. So the benefits of the eMMC would only really be apparent under heavy loads (either a lot of access for a headless server, or running a GUI).

Does that make sense?

onebir
onebir
4 years ago


Makes sense – thanks!

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft) And in addition it should be noted that not every eMMC used on various boards behaves identical. The modules used by Xunlong are pretty fast but Hardkernel for example use eMMC that is way faster on their most recent ODROIDs and other implementations are far behind. For example Olimex Lime2-eMMC. Given the price difference and the performance numbers my next Lime2 will still come without eMMC and will be combined with a 32GB Samsung EVO (since 8 times more storage, identical random IO and outperforming sequential speeds comparing to Olimex’ eMMC). But please read a few posts… Read more »

LinAdmin
LinAdmin
4 years ago

@tkaiser
F2FS is preferable due to less wear. Although flash cards have become pretty robust, the design of F2FS is convincing!

tkaiser
tkaiser
4 years ago

@LinAdmin If we would talk about Android then maybe. At Armbian we chose a 600 second write commit interval for ext4, do partition alignment on 16MB boundaries (most recent Samsung EVO/EVO+/Pro/Pro+ use this and not 4 MB as most other/older cards), leave some unpartitioned space on older/small cards to help the controller with wear leveling and so on. Other use cases (eg. a desktop Linux with apps that constantly write to disk to update SQlite databases like Midori/Firefox using fsync calls permanently) might show a real advantage for F2FS. Headless/server useage with our settings definitively not and anyone who tries… Read more »

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