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Orange Pi Zero and Orange Pi i96 96Boards IoT Edition Boards Coming Soon

September 27th, 2016 Leave a comment Go to comments

Shenzhen Xunlong Orange Pi boards are relatively popular thanks to their low price, and support on communities such as Armbian, but two new upcoming Orange Pi boards might make the company even more relevant in the development board space. First, the company is nearing completion of the tiny, and hopefully ultra cheap, Orange Pi Zero board with Allwinner H2+ processor, and Linaro has announced that an Orange Pi i96 boards compliant with 96Board IoT specifications is also coming soon.

Orange Pi Zero

The board has not been released, but some pictures have been uploaded to Armbian forums.


Orange Pi Zero looks quite similar to NanoPi NEO board but with different processor, a slightly larger form factor, and both Ethernet and wireless connectivity. We don;t have other information for now, but it still possible to get most of Orange Pi Zero specifications from the photos:

  • SoC – Allwinner H2(+) quad core Cortex A7 processor with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 512 MB DDR3-1866 (Samsung K4B2G1646F-BFMA)
  • Storage – micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet + wireless connectivity with u.FL antenna connector (likely WiFi)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Expansion headers – 26-pin header +13-pin header
  • Debugging – 4-pin header for serial console
  • Misc – 2x LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port or 5V pin on 4-pin header (TBC)
  • Dimensions – 46 x 46 mm (TBC); NanoPi NEO size: 40mm x 40mm)

allwinner-h2-plus-boardThat’s all we know at this time. Orange Pi Zero was previously touted as a $5.90 board (shipping not included), but I’d be really surprised if they could sell it that cheap considering there’s both Ethernet and WiFi (or another wireless interface) on-board.

Orange Pi i96

Shenzhen Xunlong is very good at making – in my experience reliable – hardware at a cheap price, but if you’ve ever tried one of their firmware images, you may have come across issues, which is why communities like Linux-sunxi and armbian are so important for software support. 96Boards platforms are supposed to have one of the best and up-to-date software support, as Linaro have some engineers working full time on the project, however in a world of $35 or less development boards, the price of 96Boards compliant development boards even below $100 has not been competitive enough or the new standard to take-off.

So I’m hopeful that Orange Pi i96 board will bring the best of both world, with a low price associated with Orange Pi boards, and software support and documentation from Linaro/96Boards.

Click to Enlarge

Source – Linaro Connect US 2016 Welcome Keynote (via Nanik) – Click to Enlarge

The board won’t be based on any Allwinner processors however, but instead feature an RDA Micro Cortex-A5 processor (possibly RDA8810PL) with 2Gbit (256 MB) on-chip RAM, 4Gbit (512 MB) on-chip NAND flash, a micro SD card, two USB 2.0 ports, a CSI camera connector, and WiFi 802.11 b/g/n connectivity. The board will run Ubuntu, and like the recently announced BLE Carbon will be compliant with 96Boards IoT Edition “standard” specs, except it will use “Cortex-A profile and 1.8V I/Os” variation of the standard. The price will be less than $10 🙂

  1. maurer
    September 27th, 2016 at 17:38 | #1

    i96 could also be powered by RDA8810PL – i think it’s lower cost than RDA8910M

  2. September 27th, 2016 at 17:42 | #2

    Yes, I’ve just changed it.
    For reference Aqua G2 Android phone based on the processor is selling for $30 in India -> http://gadgets.ndtv.com/mobiles/news/intex-aqua-g2-entry-level-android-smartphone-launched-at-rs-1990-828016

  3. milkboy
    September 27th, 2016 at 18:19 | #3

    finally an ultra lowcost 96board. is there any other board featuring RDA8810PL?
    cant get accurate impression from android phone

    also, WTF!? Allwinner H2, how that sneak up on me. from what i can see it is essential the same as h3 – 4K VPU
    alsox2, why dont they just use h2/h3 with their 96 board?
    with horrible support from xunlong, adding 2 different soc means xunlong’s support&dev gonna be spread even thinner
    : (.
    if not for their low cost, i would have parted ways with the company, juz like cubieboard

    on the plus side 3 new low cost board to play with this xmas.

  4. tkaiser
    September 27th, 2016 at 20:19 | #4

    H2 seems to be just a cost down variant of H3 (no Gigabit Ethernet MAC being one of the differences) so I would assume software support for H2 will be as excellent as it is already with H3 (not kidding, no one has to use OS images from hardware vendors)

    H3/H2 with separate DRAM, WiFi and NAND/eMMC on 60x30mm (96boards IE standard footprint): how should that work given the size of the usual components? But really looking forward to this device and hoping that the camera connector is compatible to the other Oranges out there.

    @cnxsoft: I ‘measured’ again in Photoshop and believe now OPi Zero is 48x48mm in size. And the ‘less than $10’ for i96 are exactly $9.99 according to the Welcome Keynote.

  5. Benjamin
    September 27th, 2016 at 22:51 | #5

    That should be called Zero+. Drop the Wifi and serial header and make the price 5,00$. That would absolutely kill the rpi zero 🙂

    • Suraj Bhawal
      September 28th, 2016 at 21:45 | #6

      Raspberry pi zero was never alive.. Its already dead… RPI foundation just refuses for its mass production..I don’t understand why.

  6. September 27th, 2016 at 23:28 | #7

    serial header is for free.

  7. Theguyuk
    September 28th, 2016 at 00:02 | #8

    Depends on use?

    No HDMI so its aimed at IOT ?

    A 2GB Orange Pi One would be more interesting and cut down on sdcard wear and allow buffering.

  8. tkaiser
    September 28th, 2016 at 02:56 | #9

    RPi Zero? I took me just 3 months to get one and the only way was to order directly from Pimoroni in the UK. Since I wanted to try out the camera module I had to add another £4 to the £4 for the board and the additional £4 for shipping. Hey, almost €15 to try out a camera module. Exactly the same price for an Orange Pi One + camera module + camera cable + shipping (usually below $3.50 around the world). Ok, the Xunlong camera is just 2MP…

    Apropos camera: the next ultra small H3 board with 24 pin CSI connector is around the corner and FriendlyARM just prepares a new 5MP camera module for NanoPi AIR and M1 which should be useable on other H3 boards with 24 pin camera connector and some mechanical converter board too (OV5640 — comparable to RPi’s first camera module): http://forum.armbian.com/index.php/topic/1726-nanopi-air-around-the-corner/#entry16453

  9. PoV
    September 28th, 2016 at 05:18 | #10

    I kinda love that they keep just making new boards on a whim like this. But I wish they’d look in to adding fast MicroSD card support. Fast SD cards are so cheap (sometimes cheaper). I just wish I could utilize them with the Oranges.

  10. tcmichals
    September 28th, 2016 at 09:44 | #11
  11. Theguyuk
    September 28th, 2016 at 16:37 | #12

    In UK GBP you can get the Orange Pi PC Plus, delivered for under £19 off Aliexpress.

    Just make Raspberry Pi look over priced.

  12. September 28th, 2016 at 19:30 | #13

    Canonical has just announced they’ve join Linaro LITE group -> http://insights.ubuntu.com/2016/09/26/canonical-joins-linaro-and-co-founds-lite-project/

    So I assume they will be the ones working on Ubuntu for Orange Pi i96.

  13. Benjamin
    September 28th, 2016 at 19:31 | #14

    i’m sure it’s not completely free. I bet i costs a cent or two for the manufacturer. Money that can be put to uses elsewhere.

  14. tkaiser
    September 28th, 2016 at 20:00 | #15

    cnxsoft :

    Wonderful read, money quote: ‘NextCloud box is a great example here’… when product development is driven solely by marketing guys and not engineers ensuring that hardware and software do absolutely not fit 🙂

  15. Jacob Gadikian
    October 2nd, 2016 at 10:31 | #16

    @Suraj Bhawal
    Rpi is competing in the realm of software, which Opi seems to have largely absconded from. these are entirely different fields which have a troubling tendency not to intersect.

  16. Ali
    October 3rd, 2016 at 09:22 | #17

    @Jacob Gadikian

    All the Orange Pi boards are well supported by Armbian. You can choose between Debian based builds or Ubuntu. RPi was my primary choice for home automation. Now I’ve moved to OPi, mainly because of cost, CPU performance and better OS support from Armbian

  17. OvCa77
  18. tkaiser
    November 2nd, 2016 at 17:10 | #19

    Wi-Fi on Orange Pi Zero is provided by ‘XR819’ (Wi-Fi Alliance Certification ID: WFA61880 belonging to Allwinner directly) and it seems Xunlong listened again to community and integrated passive PoE support 🙂

  19. Mic_s
    November 3rd, 2016 at 00:42 | #20

    At that pricepoint it would kill pi zero 1.2/1.3 … but pi zero is a moving target … I doubt it would kill a pi zero 2.x/3.x

  20. klein
    November 5th, 2016 at 18:06 | #21

    i dont known why use rda micro… seems to be not so popular, so not good support in open source.
    the slide show ‘2x usb 2.0’, and rda8810 is just 1 usb otg, so maybe other or hub?

    there are android phones w/this soc… anybody found any open source code?
    cortex a5 + h264 is good for many projects, i hope they sell a compatible camera…

    any news for release date?

  21. Athar
    December 19th, 2016 at 10:54 | #22

    Comparing the Linaro poster to the text: 2GB sdram + 4GB Nand vs 256 MB + 512MB ?

    Which is correct? According to the RDA A5 1 GHz specs the latter…

    If the latter then OPi0 is the winner with the 512 MB RAM model at $9, H2+ processor with Ethernet interface thrown in. And extra 2 USB ports and TVout port with $2 expansion card.

    What is the role of RDA A5 GSM RF support?

  22. December 19th, 2016 at 11:23 | #23

    That’s because the slide actually refers to Gbit instead of Gigabytes.
    Something with 2GB RAM and 4GB flash can’t be sold for $10 (yet), and RDA Micro website makes it clear it’s 256 + 512 MB.

    • Athar
      December 19th, 2016 at 18:46 | #24

      Sure. But why not buy the superior $7 Zero with 256 RAM, then buy a 4GB card for SD slot?

  23. tkaiser
    December 19th, 2016 at 14:40 | #25

    Regarding OPi Zero and expansion cards…Xunlong did it again, listened to community and prepared a NAS expansion board with 2 superiour USB-to-SATA bridge ICs and the other connectors available on the 13-pin header.

    • Athar
      December 19th, 2016 at 18:49 | #26

      Thanks. Any price indicated on NAS card?

      Btw, the 2MB SPI flash is now presoldered on Zero 512 MB version, and will be in next production batch of the 256 MB version, according to zhaofiyan via email.

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