CubieBoard6 Development Board Powered by Actions Semi S500 Processor Comes with SATA, LiPo Battery Support

CubieTech launched Cubieboard with Allwinner A10 processor in 2012, and while they may not be as popular as some other boards like Raspberry Pi, ODROID, or Orange Pi boards in 2017, the company is still around after around 5 years, and their latest board is Cubieboard6 powered by Action Semi S500 quad core Cortex A9 processor with 2GB RAM, 8GB flash, HDMI, wired & wireless connectivity, SATA, battery support and more.

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Cubieboard6 specifications:

  • SoC – Actions Semi S500 quad core ARM Cortex-A9 processor with Imagination PowerVR SGX544 GPU
  • System Memory – 2GB LPDDR3
  • Storage
    • 8GB eMMC flash
    • SATA 3.0 port for 2.5″ HDD/SSD up to 4TB
    • micro SD card slot up to 32GB
  • Video Output  – HDMI 1.4b up to 1080p60
  • Audio I/O – Via HDMI output, 3.5mm audio output (HP) jack, 3.5mm audio input (MIC) jack
  • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE (AP6212) with u.FL antenna connector
  • USB – 2x USB host ports, 1x mini USB device
  • Expansion – 2x 48-pin headers with I2C, CSI for camera, FM-IN, ADC, CVBS output, Audio output, RGB, LVDS, MIPI DSI, SPI, HSIC, INT GPIO…
  • Misc – IR receiver, RTC with battery, power and ADFU key (to flash firmware), Power LED, 2x User LEDs
  • Power Supply
    • 5V @ 2.5A via power barrel
    • 5V via mini USB input
    • 3.7V Li-Po battery support via 2-pin header
  • Dimensions – 100mm x 60mm x 18mm
  • Temperature Range –  -20℃ ~ 70℃
  • Certifications – FCC, CE & RoHS
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The company provides Android 5.1.1 and Debian Jessie Desktop with 3D graphics acceleration (OpenGL ES 2.0) and hardware video decoding support. Software and hardware files, as well as documentation is available on MEGA outside of China, and on Baidu for people located in China.

Actions Semi S500 does not support SATA, so it’s important to look at the schematics to see how it was implemented, and while many boards are simply limited by their USB 2.0 interface, CubieTech used the USB 3.0 interface for the SATA implementation, which should lead to much better performance than most non-native solutions on the market. It’s disappointing that networking is limited to Fast Ethernet.

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We’ve see both a USB 3.0 switch and USB 3.0 to SATA bridge (JMicron JMS578) in the schematics in order to provide good performance between the processor and the SATA drive, while also allowing to use the board as an external USB 3.0 hard drive from your computer. Actions Semi S500 is not quite a new processor, and if you want to check out what it’s capable you may want to check out my hands-on posts about Roseapple Pi and Allo Sparky.

You’ll find more pictures and a few extra details on the product page. The official price of the board is $69 without shipping, but Cubieboard6 is only sold on a couple of website, including Amazon US for $98, and an Australian website for $115 AUD. Note that the board is sold as part of kit with several accessories namely USB to power jack cable, USB to mini USB cable, a WiFi antenna, a SATA cable, and a heatsink. There’s also an optional case, but I could not find it for sale yet.

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