Orange Pi 2G-IOT Board Based on RDA8810PL Cortex A5 Processor to Support Bluetooth and GSM

[Update: The board featured below was initially announced as Orange Pi Zero Plus, but considering it may have confused people as it is not at all compatible with Orange Pi Zero, it has been renamed to Orange Pi 2G-IoT]

Linaro mentioned Orange Pi i96 board last fall at Linaro Connect US. It was supposed to be a $9.99 board powered by an RDA Micro Cortex A5 processor with 2Gbit RAM and 4Gbit NAND flash on-chip. There has not been any news since then, but Shenzhen Xunlong has apparently gone ahead with an RDA Micro Cortex A5 board since they’ve posted some pictures of Orange Pi Zero Plus (Note: very slow server) with an RDA Micro ARM Cortex A5 processor.

orange-pi-zero-plusOrange Pi 2G-IoT preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – RDA Micro 8810PL ARM Cortex A5 processor @ up to 1.0 GHz with 2Gbit (256 MB) on-chip LPDDR2 RAM, 4Gbit (512 MB) on-chip SLC NAND flash , 256KB L2 cache, Vivante GC860 3D GPU, and GSM/GPRS/EDGE Modem (Download datasheet)
  • External Storage – micro SD slot
  • Display I/F – LCD connector up to qHD resolution
  • Video – Decoding up to 1080p30, encoding up to 1080p30 H.264
  • Audio I/F – 3.5mm audio jack, one built-in micorphone?
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth and GSM/GPRS/EDGE with SIM card slot
  • Camera – MIPI CSI-2 connector for camera sensor up to 2MP
  • USB – 1x USB host port, 1x micro USB port (for power?)
  • Expansion – 40-pin GPIO header with SPI, I2C, ADC, GPIOs, PWM, etc…
  • Misc – 8 selection jumpers, button
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port; maybe one pin on header
  • Dimensions – ~70 x 44 mm(estimated)
  • Certifications – CE and FCC based on PCB silkscreen

rda-8810pl-development-boardWe don’t have much more info about the board, but since the processor is used in a few Android phones such as Aqua G2 or Challenger V40LD, so Android 4.4 Kitkat should be available for the board. Linaro, although they might not be involved, also mentioned an Ubuntu Linux for Orange Pi i96 board, so an Ubuntu Linux image is very likely to be provided. If Linaro has been involved in the kernel/software development, then you should expect somewhat OK support, but if they haven’t, I’m expecting a world of pain at the beginning, at least compared to the relatively well community supported Allwinner H3 based Orange Pi boards. If you intend to use the SIM card, you may want to check if your country has any plans to phase out of 2G, as several have already done so, and many others will shutdown 2G networks in the next few years.

The board is scheduled to be launched right after Chinese New Year in the first half of February. We don’t have pricing info, but I’d expect it to costs less than $10 + shipping as it was the price announced for Orange Pi i96 board, and you can get a complete Android RDA8810PL phone for around $25.

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61 Replies to “Orange Pi 2G-IOT Board Based on RDA8810PL Cortex A5 Processor to Support Bluetooth and GSM”

  1. Why do they call it 2Gbit ram.. to try to trick people when comparing to other boards. They should be honest, 256Mb Ram (yuk) and 512mb storage (yuk). POS!

  2. @Benjamin HENRION
    SoC datasheet is from 2014, Android version from 2013, chip is cheap as hell. So what to expect other than another ‘port and forget’ approach that happened some years ago?

    At least this ‘Zero Plus’ is absolutely incompatible to H3 based ‘Zero’ and also H5 based ‘Zero Plus 2’ (Xunlong’s naming scheme was already a mess but they managed now to go even ‘further’). Maybe there’s something going on at Linaro (but since ’96Boards IoT Edition’ focuses on Cortex-M and not A5 like here…)

  3. @abc

    2G is being shut down this year in much of North America and Europe. Some carriers have already shut it down. The 2G bands are being converted over to 4G use. The rest of the world is continuing to use 2G. But don’t count on long term 2G support anywhere, it’s days are numbered.

  4. @abc
    bluetooth into phones modem depending on the linux installed. fatdog64-710 can do this and i use that method often. havent tried or havent succeeded in other linuxs, depends on the bluetooth installation

  5. @tkaiser
    Finally, I’ve found another phone where the specs say it’s running Android 4.4 (and updated post). It would be really odd to have two versions of Android for that processor.

    I guess it must be Android 4.4.2, so with something like Linux 3.4.

  6. @tkaiser
    96Boards IoT specs are a bit of a mess ->

    As with other 96Boards specifications, 96Board IoT Edition (IE) specification defines requirement for multiple revision of boards either using Cortex-A or Cortex-R/M profile, and IE standard (60x30x9mm) or IE Extended (85x54x12mm) form factor. On top of that you’ll also have board with 3.3V I/Os, and others with 1.8V I/Os.

  7. If you need cellular in a device, the safest solution is to buy bulk USB sticks. 3G USB sticks can be bought for $10. They are plug and play in Android if support for them is enabled. 4G sticks are still $40-50 in a few years they should be $10 too. Gotta make sure Qualcomm earns their $5B a year in patent royalties.

  8. @Jon Smirl

    I will not be so sure that 2G will go away anytime soon.
    Most probably 3G will go off first.

    “I hoped that we would just need LTE-M and 5G for the internet of things, but unfortunately it does seem as if we do still need a couple of improvements for GSM. We are aligned with our big customers, the operators, to make a couple of tweaks in terms of GSM capabilities.”

  9. tkaiser :
    (Xunlong’s naming scheme was already a mess but they managed now to go even ‘further’).

    Steven should have it named OPiMinus … 🙂

  10. @Jon Smirl
    > “2G is being shut down this year in much of North America and Europe. Some carriers have already shut it down. The 2G bands are being converted over to 4G use. The rest of the world is continuing to use 2G. But don’t count on long term 2G support anywhere, it’s days are numbered.”

    @Jon Smirl : I wouldn’t count on that (at least not on the historical 900 MHz band). My bet is that 3G is likely to disappear before 2G… :). There are far too many existing devices (especially for IOT i.e. devices that won’t be shutdown easily) using 2G, and anyway there are solutions now to introduce a few 2G carriers inside a 3G or 4G channel, with controlled interference (for example Huawei showcased recently the “cloudair” spectrum sharing solution)

  11. All of the US carriers are shutting down 2G.!/wireless/KM1084805

    AT&T 2G GSM 850/1900MHz network shutdown
    To help support increasing mobile Internet usage and continue to provide you with a great customer experience, we started to discontinue service on our 2G wireless network as of December 31, 2016.

    Verizon (NYSE: VZ) confirmed to FierceWireless that it is currently planning to shut down its 2G CDMA 1X network by Dec. 31, 2019.

  12. 2G/3G/4G shutdown is country specific. Ingenu release a document (email registration require) with some of estimated dates for shutdown.

    For example, the document says
    US: 2G – 2020, 3G 2023
    Australia & China: 2G – 2016, 3G 2023
    Norway: 2G – 2024; 3G – 2018;

    4G cutoff is after 2025 for all countries (meaning sometimes after 2025, could be 2028, 2030… not exactly 2025).

  13. I would seriously consider never buying another Orange Pi. The experience with the Orange Pi PC2 H5 Allwinner board is disgusting. Months after the release of the PC2 Board and a Linux image provided by Orange Pi will still not display 720p Video. I have spoken to several people on different forums and they all insist the problem is Lack of Software drivers that have to be provided by Allwinner or Orange Pi.

    Deal with these companies at your peril but I will be asking for my money back.

  14. @Seasalt
    Software is there, otherwise there would not be Debian image from the Xunlong. Issue here is that the code is in a very bad shape and nobody from community wants to deal with it.

  15. jernej :
    Software is there, otherwise there would not be Debian image from the Xunlong. Issue here is that the code is in a very bad shape and nobody from community wants to deal with it.

    Hi Jernej.

    The spec sheet for this PC2 Board H5 Allwinner says it will do 4000 line video. Ok I bought some assuming it would give me a better video reproduction and the ability to play 10 bit HEVC video. But unfortunately the current software that comes with the Orange Pi PC2 cannot play 720p Video let alone anything complex. The Debian image for the Orange Pi PC2 is so bad, if it was a horse they would shoot it.

    Xunlong should hang their head in shame for saying it does 4000 line Video and then it puts out this crap image.

    The H3 Orange Pi PC was such a delight to use and the Openelec you did worked magically with it.

    But now I buy the Orange Pi PC2 and I discover it is so bad the community has disowned it.

    Xunlong you need to sort your software out as well as your hardware. The small board market is getting very competitive and I doubt I will trust your company again.

  16. @Seasalt
    Shenzhen Xunlong mostly does hardware, and not so much software. That’s why they can sell boards so cheaply.
    If you need video the best bet is to use Android, as hardware video video in Linux normally comes several months later, if ever.

    Their choice of boards names will confuse people since they all call there boards “Orange Pi”, and for example “Orange Pi Zero” and “Orange Pi Zero Plus” are not compatible at all. But normally if you see a board with a new processor (e.g. Allwinner H5 / RDA8810PL) you should always assume some stuff won’t work at the beginning, and be ready to work on it yourself. Otherwise better take a wait and see attitude for boards with a new processor.

    1. (Un)luckily I have been part of flaming on Armbian Forums on exactly such issues which are chicken-egg:

      1. Small SBC ARM vendors cannot compete in the already price sensitive niche hobbyist market if they spend on software, a very expensive proposition.

      2. Xunlong likely has the best price/performance in this market and can now proceed to the bigger IoT commercial market, with great efforts by linux-sunxi kernel and Armbian OS forums, jernej being a prominent open source contributor.

      3. Xunlong also has weird naming, and this Zero Plus, IMHO, is in fact OPi minus, as another commentator suggested 🙂

      4. H5 support will take months but H3, except some XR819 driver issues on OPi0, is great with Armbian OS. Just think CPU regulation- no heat sink needed.

      5. Armbian Forum devs say themselves they spend 50% time on SD card and another 20-30% time on power issues !! So they are left with precious little volunteer time for development. Let’s hope there is restructuring.

      6. CHIP stands out as it took a big risk with its seed money to pay Free Electrons to help mainline. Their bet seems to have paid off handsomely and they can now quickly expand market share. Good study case on risk- reward.

      7. But other vendors can co-opt quickly. I really hope so.

      8. Don’t know if Armbian does a better job than Android x.x re: main issues of video, WiFi, CPU/ power, and others…

  17. @cnxsoft

    For example, the document says
    US: 2G – 2020, 3G 2023
    Australia & China: 2G – 2016, 3G 2023
    Norway: 2G – 2024; 3G – 2018;

    Those are the dates that the final towers will be shut off. 2G is already being shutdown in wide areas of US today by some carriers. Unless you live next to that final tower, you will lose service earlier. There is too much money to be made by reallocating 2G bandwidth to LTE.

  18. Jon Smirl :
    There is too much money to be made by reallocating 2G bandwidth to LTE.

    Yes the device manufacturers and the politicians (in special, the corrupt ones) are loving this move.
    But the battle to keep 2G working is far from over.
    There are many complex implications at stake, including patents rights.

  19. They want everyone to switch to CAT-M1 LTE for IOT. AT&T had 650,000 active 2G devices when they turned off 2G. They had succeded in migrating several million 2G devices before the shutdown. T-Mobile is trying to pick up the stranded AT&T customers to give them another year or two to finish moving.

  20. @nz1
    That’s a nice move from Xunlong’s side and again another sign they do listen to community. Nice.

    FYI: You still don’t get most of what you’ve been told here and there.

    Interesting approach. You want a TV box but buy a development board instead. Why? Instead of waiting for an independent review showing what you get with a brand new H5 device mis-used as media player you blindly trust in some obscure chip specs you obviously don’t understand (‘4000 line video’) and add weird assumptions to this (’10 bit HEVC’).

    Why do people do this? If you want a boring Android TV box why not buying just one? If you can’t deal with glitches and want to use a dev board as a dev board (fixing stuff yourself) why do you play early adopter? Why do people buy ‘as cheap as possible’ and also expect enterprise class software and support?!

    Situation with this ‘new’ H5 SoC is already great, mainline kernel runs already, USB is working, one user came up with reasonable DVFS settings (of course no display is working but who needs this stuff on dev boards anyway?!). It looks really great… and as usual community did the job.

    I wouldn’t expect the same for this OPi 2G-IoT now since SoC is uncommon and state of software support unknown apart from Android and kernel version number (if it’s really 3.10.62 and an ‘SDK’ will be available it should at least be possible to patch the kernel up to latest 3.10 LTS version — currently 3.10.104 — but we’ll see whether anyone spends some time on this)

    1. @tkaiser

      Let the facts speak for themselves. #5 directly came from a dev after long thread conversation, and a couple other Armbian devs expressed concerns highlighting the snippet.

      No point hiding behind tech jumbo, or being sore about CHIP taking a different path and doing well. Btw, another vendor agrees here and might be taking a not so beaten path!

      I appreciate H5 development, but why not complete work on your own favorite device, OPi0, and fix the Wifi driver plus other tweaks? It is the user that counts. No sales, no product , no employees, AND no open source- what will it run on?

      And let’s admit it. Linux has made life difficult for its adherents by not having a PC BIOS like structure whereby you don’t have to customize a lot for every new board. Calling Linux, a great OS, a unifier is a farce, especially on ARM.

  21. @tkaiser
    Situation with HDMI monitor is actually a bit better. Icenowy tested my H3 HDMI U-Boot patches on H5 and they work, I think even with no modification. So at least simplefb is possible, which is ok for simple, desktop usage. There is additional feature too – it actually uses preffered monitor resolution.

  22. @Athar
    Talking to virtual product managers is kinda boring 🙂

    Good to know that situation with H5 is already as great as with H3. But we’re speaking only about community driven development here which — to be on topic again — is a real concern regarding the OPi 2G-IoT since as far as I know there exists no community around this specific SoC or RDA in general.

  23. @Athar
    You are confused about the PC world. There is only one chip maker, Intel. Everyone else clones them. Things are simple because there is only one very dominant vendor. The PCBIOS is only used at boot time, once the OS is running it is ignored. The OS stopped making calls in the PCBIOS around the time Windows 3.1 shipped. While a PC OS is running it uses device drivers just like ARM does. The ARM parallel to PCBIOS is uboot which is also ignored once the OS is loaded.

    If ARM had one chip maker with 97% share and several clones, the software would look the same as it does on the PC. Instead ARM has fifty or more vendors making chips and no vendor is dominant. So we end up with fifty different architectures. Probably why you can get a 64b quadcore ARM chip for $5 and a similar chip from Intel will run you $50.

    1. @jon smirl

      Yes I see what you mean. But the real question then is how come one vendor became dominant with x86?

      The answer simply is that this can (has) also happen in the ARM- Linux world regardless of many licensees the moment. X86 had tons of market wars too…AMD is still around. And clearly Intel now finds it difficult to move to ARM in any significant manner.

      In the end ARM- embedded Linux should and could have imposed market discipline and done the end users a big favor. After all that is what Android is all about ! It does have a dominant market.

      Ultimately all small ARM vendors hope to become bigger commercial entities, but many are not investing enough in software.

      CHIP stands out with its approach. Others can learn too. Open Source is a general trend not a particular solution since volunteers need not have particular focus.

      But it is not going to create winners like Intel, MS, Android or now Alexa ( the only IoT success story to date.) Of course all they claim to be Open Source to various degrees.

      My bet is still on OPi with the best price/performance so far. Point is they cannot ask too much of their volunteers and thus the funny twists.

  24. I heard that Linus does not like SBC’s because there are so many closed source blobs that have to be used to get the Android/Linux hybrids to run.
    I watched a seminar that cnx software posted some months ago where an arm engineer got up to speak and spent a lot of his time apologising that arm didn’t understand uefi and they were taking steps to remedy their past mistakes. It was quite instructive to watch as he was wearing shorts and the rest of his comrades wore suits. I’m not sure about his footware but its good to watch rebels blasting away at staid institutions like arm.
    Another video I saw had the speaker complaining about the state of linux on phones. Most compaines had armies of engineers writing software for each phone they made. If they only open sourced their work they could eliminate lots of wasted effort.
    And then there is Android. Why can’t we just scp software rather than using adb? And why is it so hard to get root access? Its our phone after all. We should be allowed to do what we want with our own hardware. And why did playstore decide to update itself on my phone, completely wrecking it because it didn’t have enough ram. Why is it impossible to move playstore to the sdcard without rooting it? And why did rooting my phone break it so the only way to fix it is to reset it, losing all my apps, including my ones which are difficult to replace.
    I suppose I could be thankful that I don’t have to convince someone to approve an iphone app.
    Why are we complaining about a small Chinese company who produce great hardware when there are so many more worthy targets to direct our attention to?

    1. @Nz1

      At least I have great appreciation for OPi if you read me.

      What users like myself want to see is OPi do much more because it can, spending some software resources! Just like Armbian has done a great job but can do better by cutting down on its self-mentioned 70-80% of time entertaining repair jobs with SD cards and power issues.

      But Armbian are “open source” volunteers who please themselves with no boss or focus. It is an escape from their day jobs and I get that.

      The whole idea of open source is to create an alternative universe ( Dr. Moreau Islands) with only talk of freedom, openess, and “seamlessness.” Open Source today is a big mess and another branding/marketing exercise, except they don’t admit it as opposed to their 9-5 day job employers !

      I love all this 🙂 Electronics is cheaper, better and faster precisely because of Open Source threats ( that are routinely co-opted by vendors), vendor competition and no-regulation. I wish in 10-15 years open source makes the auto industry build $3000 cars with 100km/liter…

      But small ARM vendors need to invest in software too, unless they want to remain insignificant while claiming “community service.” People including techs still remember a Jobs but not Wozniak ( self confessed IWoz.)

      Serving your market and growing it with great product is the best public service.

  25. Nz1 :
    Why are we complaining about a small Chinese company who produce great hardware when there are so many more worthy targets to direct our attention to?

    Since this small Chinese company sells too cheap which attracts weird kinds of people. Those that always buy as cheap as possible without thinking once. Those that want just a TV box but since an OPi costs less choose an Allwinner dev board instead of an Amlogic TV box for 15 bucks more.

    With H3 they were lucky since Jernej did an inofficial OpenELEC port. Now they expect the same to happen with H5. And if Xunlong will price the OPi G2-IOT very competitively ($5 for example) the ‘as cheap as possible’ crowd will instantly order this board and later complain that it can not play video.

  26. @theguyuk
    Thinking that ‘onboard storage’ in general would be superior to SD cards is also weird. While that might be true for most eMMC chips used on more recent development boards raw NAND was and is always somewhat PITA. Just see the issues the CHIP users had (or have) when they switched from 8GB Hynix to 4GB Toshiba MLC NAND recently… or all the flashing issues their forums are full of. And then there are many people loving to do ‘off-site backups’ by simply cloning their SD cards on another host.

    The problem is that the ‘buy as cheap as possible’ folks also love to buy crappy or fake SD cards (‘hey, 256 MB for just $10. A true bargain!’). That’s why I like so much Xunlong’s move to put at least 8Mb (1MB, in reality currently they use 2 MB but it’s not guaranteed that this will remain) SPI NOR flash on their most recent Allwinner boards. Since for my use cases I can put the boot loader on the flash and boot from network. And in the future when community developed a somewhat universal bootloader we can use this as something comparable to a PC’s BIOS and implement there also something like an SD card check so we can encourage people more easily to rule out problems related to crappy storage.

    Reminder: the SPI NOR flash from 2nd paragraph has nothing to do with OPi G2-IOT since this is an Allwinner thing.

  27. @Athar

    Read the Wikipedia article on how Wintel because dominant. I worked for both companies and lived through it. The answer is something called ‘network effects’ on the packaged software market. These effects created a natural monopoly and drove all of the competitors out of the market. AMD exists because Intel wants them to exist, if AMD went under Intel would have 99.9% share and receive an anti-trust breakup from the US government.

    The conditions that formed the Wintel monopoly were a one time event, they no longer exist in the market place. The Internet has destroyed what allowed Wintel to form. ARM processors are never going to monopolize like Wintel unless market conditions significantly change. But that’s good, intense competition drives prices down.

    Here’s one to think about, why are there over a hundred companies manufacturing cell phones in Asia and only seven selling phones in the US? Why is cell service in the US among the most expensive in the world?

    1. @jon smirl

      I believe we agree on most points 😉

      But there is no such thing as one time events because you end up having different one time events. That is why the new quasi monopolies Google, FB, Amazon, Netflix et al are beating older ones we talked about in very different ways, and also each other.

  28. @theguyuk @tkaiser

    The big difference is, CHIP actually learned from its early mistakes, acknowledged problems, then corrected them. Just as it mainlined, very sensibly. The 8GB to 4GB issue isn’t recent at all- CHIP has been advertising 4GB since long ago.

    Positive change happens with positive customer friendly attitude. Then the market (users) builds up quickly.

    Now compare this to “volunteers” who have nothing to lose; and keep contradicting themselves by calling their own fav SD cards as “crap.” That 2MB SPI NOR on OPi0 or other SBCs has precious little use case applicability: many Armbian devs question it.

    Users need a solution not rhetoric. Being defensive with NIH syndrome doesn’t help. Think 50% time going nowhere.

  29. i find they shutdown batteries, and chargers, external cases, before they shutdown the network. trying to get new of these parts is a difficult task. my old phones still work fine but these parts are hard to come by.

  30. So China has shut down their 2G but keep making new 2G chip.

    I hope my country doesn’t follow any time soon or China makes 3G module cheaper.
    3G module for Arduino is like US$50, while Neoway M590E GSM/GPRS is like US$2.

    For OPi 2G-IoT, I’ll also see if Armbian supports.

  31. @jon smirl

    I checked. Yes 3G USB dongles go for $8-10 on AliExpress and other big sites with volume purchases.

    4G USB dongles are still insanely expensive at $30-40 but many mobile providers discount them heavily hoping to gain market share.

    I really don’t see much hope for 2G- OPi could have done 3G too at little cost difference?

    Similarly I believe it is a good idea to have 4-8GB eMMC (“soldered SD card”) on board as opposed to making users feel disappointed with cheap SD cards. Compared with Class 10 SanDisk Ultra SD cards being recommended for many boards, eMMC likely will cost same or less.

    It’s about convenience and standardization.

  32. @theguyuk

    on the targeting, that’s close (and certainly a use-case) but no cigar. I assure you that Xunlong has a much larger market in mind: EVERYTHING. Consider the 2g just a speed bump; it wont’ be around long in the real world, and neither will the 2g-only chipset, either.

  33. @Jon Smirl
    true, 2g is going away here in the usa. but some carriers have claims to keep it running here to 2020. by then the new chipsets will also be $9. Until then, there’s a big market for this type of device at this price point here and abroad.

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