A64-OLinuXino Open Source Hardware Allwinner A64 Development Board Launched for 50 Euros

Several boards based on Allwinner A64 quad core 64-bit ARM processor have been available on the market for a while, with products such as Pine A64(+), NanoPi A64, or Banana Pi BPI-M64. Olimex also has been working on A64-OLinuXino since late 2015, and the company has now formally launched the board for 50 Euros, which also happens to be the very first open source hardware board based on Allwinner A64.

A64-OLinuXino Rev. C board specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner A64 quad core Cortex-A53 processor with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1 or 2GB DDR3L @ 672 MHz
  • Storage – micro SD slot, Optional 4 or 16GB industrial grade eMMC flash, optional SPI Flash
  • Video Output & Display I/F – HDMI, 20-pin MIPI & 40-pin LCD display connectors
  • Audio – Via HDMI, 3.5mm Audio In and Out jacks (Headphone output and microphone input can be changed to Line-in and Line-out via jumpers)
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, optional BLE/WiFi module
  • USB – 1x micro USB OTG port, 1x USB host port, 1x unpopulated HSIC header
  • Expansion Headers
    • Unpopulated 40-pin GPIO header
    • Unpopulated UEXT header for compatible Olimex modules
  • Debugging – Debug header for serial console
  • Misc – Power, battery charging, and user LEDs; UBOOT, RESET and POWER buttons; RTC battery expansion
  • Power Supply – 5V power jack;  battery connector for 3.7 Li-Po battery; AXP803 PMU with Lipo charger and step-up
  • Dimensions – 90×62.5 mm

Three models will be available with only the second one for sale right now:

  • A64-OLinuXino-1G0G with 1GB RAM, no Flash, no WiFi/BLE
  • A64-OLinuXino-1G4GW with 1GB RAM, 4GB eMMC and WiFi/BLE
  • A64-OLinuXino-2G16G-IND with 2GB RAM, 16GB eMMC with industrial grade components (-40 to +85°C temperature range)

You can also request to have the SPI flash and/or header soldered for an additional fee.

The hardware design files for the latest revision of the board – with schematics designed with KiCAD – should soon be pushed to Github, as currently only Rev. A and Rev. B board files are accessible. The board is said to run Linux and Android, but I have not been able to located firmware images and source code specific to the board yet.

You can purchase A64-OLinuXino-1G4GW board now for 50 Euros plus shipping.

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24 Replies to “A64-OLinuXino Open Source Hardware Allwinner A64 Development Board Launched for 50 Euros”

  1. Wrt software support: the relevant pieces for legacy kernel (3.10.x) can be found in Dimitar’s repo since months (boot0 blob and device tree stuff): https://github.com/hehopmajieh/a64_blobs

    By exchanging two files it’s rather easy to transform any of the available Pine64 images for A64-OLinuXino. Applies to both legacy and mainline (though I’ve no idea about mainline u-boot and the DDR3L DRAM Olimex uses).

  2. Are there any advantages to this board over the Pine64? Open source hardware is great and all, but what exactly is the advantage? If you wanted to make any modifications to the board, you’d have to have a new PCB manufactured anyway.

    They’re using the same SoC, memory sizes, etc. except the price is much higher than the Pine64. Similar to the Pine64, the wireless module is optional and (presumably) an additional purchase. Unlike Pine64, this WiFi module is soldered, which would make after-purchase installation much harder.

    Maybe I’m too cynical, but I don’t see any advantage to this board over the Pine64 (and I’m sure tkaiser will point out that the A64 is a bad choice of SoC due to USB…)

  3. @Mum
    Well, Wi-Fi/BT (same RTL8723B as on Pine64 BTW) is not really ‘optional’, it’s soldered on the 2 non-industrial board variants by default and is missing on the industrial one since RTL8723B is toy grade hardware and not available in industrial temperature range (and a PCB antenna will most likely not perform that great in metal enclosures where these boards will end up anyway).

    Speaking about ‘industrial’ you already got the answer: different target audience, different components to provide such an industrial version (for example they started with a RTL8211 PHY but replaced it soon with a better PHY from Microchip). And then we’re talking about a product ready to be included into other products (see HSIC, UEXT connector, battery connector compatible to the range of batteries Olimex sells and so on) and real OSHW (open source hardware) where you get everything as source to rely on Olimex’ hardware design.

    I consider this A64 board more as a replacement for their A20 boards now (twice the CPU performane though less IO bandwidth but that shouldn’t matter that much for the majority of their customers).

    BTW: In the list of A64 boards above at least three are missing: Orange Pi Win, ‘Win Plus’ and Theobroma’s A64-µQ7.

  4. Ok, wrong again. Currently only the 1G4GW variant for €50 has RTL8723B soldered, the 1G0G variant for €10 less saves the 4 GB eMMC and this chip. So it’s ‘optional’ as in ‘default on one variant now but if you order in volume we’ll add it for an additional fee on other variants as well’.

    I would believe they’ll provide a variant with SPI NOR flash soldered later once there’s an universal UEFI available to boot from USB or netboot Server Base System Architecture (SBSA) compliant linux distros.

  5. They released KiCAD schematics & PCB print file. Real open source spirit! Maybe the only one full open-source hardware which can run Linux.

  6. fkpwolf :
    They released KiCAD schematics & PCB print file. Real open source spirit! Maybe the only one full open-source hardware which can run Linux.

    this made me laugh 🙂

  7. @tkaiser
    > since RTL8723B is toy grade hardware

    So is the A64, if you’re talking to industrial folks. According to the A64 datasheet, the Ambient Operating Temperature is between -20 and +70C.

    Your own testing shows that the CPU speed is severely throttled when the SoC temperature rises: https://forum.odroid.com/viewtopic.php?f=136&t=19158#p127223

    So I can’t imagine this thing will be very usable at industrial temperatures.

    > Speaking about ‘industrial’ you already got the answer: different target audience

    Hah, funny. Go look for embedded solutions being sold to industrial customers. They are all ridiculously old SoCs (for a lot of money). People are just now getting to sell the Raspberry Pi in a DIN form factor, but even that is not rated for industrial temperatures (Revolution Kunbus). I would be very surprised if industrial customers are willing to go anywhere near this, which means it’s too expensive for consumers and not robust enough for industrial customers.

    Maybe you will find it in some digital signage or kiosks though.

  8. memeka :

    fkpwolf :
    They released KiCAD schematics & PCB print file. Real open source spirit! Maybe the only one full open-source hardware which can run Linux.

    this made me laugh


  9. @Mum
    A few come to mind.
    1. It ships from Europe so no hassle with customs for Europeans.
    2. WiFi and eMMC flash are included in the 50 Euros version
    3. LiPo battery support
    4. Extra display interfaces

    But that’s true Olimex is usually more expensive for the same feature set as others.

  10. @Mum
    Well, believe it or not but industrial customers are Olimex main customers. You find their boards in 3D printers, in mining equipment (not crypto currency crap but heavy equipment) or in products like this: egpr.pro (their engineer relies on a customized Armbian and shared all the problems he ran into over almost a year so we got a nice view from the outside and could include all necessary changes in the build system so other users can benefit from too) — those users also aren’t stupid and start whining when they read that A64 is specified -20/+70C and not -40+85C since then they take countermeasures like those guys: olimex.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/a20-olinuxino-micro-works-hard-inside-open-source-rover-octanis-project-in-freezing-antarctica/

    Don’t find it right now but some Olimex users posted pictures of their heat dissipation solutions in Armbian forum (using milled metal and enclosures). Anyway: that was just to elaborate on why those boards are slightly more expensive and Olimex has no problems to sell them at this price even if all their designs are 100% open (full OSHWA compliant so everybody can easily copy them).

  11. It has a working OTG connector unlike the Pine64! So it is easy to use with Android Studio. And wifi and eMMC and MIPI display. Compare this board to the BPI M64 which is $59 including shipping on Aliexpress. Also note that the $19 Pine is 512MB and the 50EU Olimex is 2GB. That’s like $20 of memory chips.

  12. @theguyuk

    No eMMC on NanoPi and the M64 has a better wifi module. I would not embed anything with SD card instead of eMMC. Over time the connections will corrode and get flaky. Then you will have to disassemble and play with the SD Card until it works again. For desktop toy NanoPi is way better than Pine64.

    Does that microUSB jack work on the NanoPI? Or is it power only?

    Olimex tends to have far, far better support than any of NanoPI, M64, Pine64. Olimex also tests their hardware much more rigorously. I doubt if a Pine64 would last a month in an outdoors enclosure. Olimex should last for years.

    Is that 50EU the European price with the 17% VAT in it? If so, board will probably be $40 outside of EU.

  13. @Jon Smirl
    Olimex prices are without VAT, NanoPi’s Micro USB is power only and they also forgot to add battery support (which is IMO one of the few advantages A64 has compared to the H series). If I would have to decide between A64 boards as toys I would most probably choose either Olimex or Orange Pi.

  14. @Jon Smirl
    One of the things often over looked is Friendlyelec do not just sell to makers or as toys to non businesses. I guess many other SBC manufactures are the same.

  15. So who can tell me what the right price for a Qualcomm APQ8064 is?

    This is a really nice chip, datasheet

    Plus it has mainline Android and Linux support.

    You say $12! but.. it has dual band 802.11ac and BT support on-chip.
    It also has a GPU that can run GPGPU code.
    And it supports 15MP camera with enc/dec hardware that actually works!

    The MSM equivalent of this chip (MSM has cell phone support) is in Google Nexus phones. These APQ chips should not have the patent mess the MSM ones have since APQ ones have no cell phone support.

    Can someone make a dev board for it? Intrinsics wants $1,000 for theirs. Kind of high for a $12 chip.

  16. @Jon Smirl
    APQ8064E would be easier to source, as it’s the embedded version that it supported to be easier to purchase.
    Inforce 6410Plus SBC (they have both APQ8064 and APQ8064E) costs $143.
    I don’t know about the SoC price.

  17. I’m a bit surprized that A64 boards are still created. My understanding of A64 is that it’s older, slower and less power-efficient than H5, and has less connectivity. Is there any real benefit in issuing such a board right now ?

  18. @willy
    The only real benefits are LCD capabilities and battery support (since tablet SoC). Olimex experimented with H3 but gave up on the SoC since boards were overheating too much (other vendors don’t care, eg. SinoVoip still sells their Banana M2+ oven where they ‘forgot’ voltage regulation at all and want to sell this thing now with H5 too).

    Other H3 boards don’t show this thermal behaviour for whatever reasons but for example latest PCB revision 1.4 of Orange Pi Zero also overheats a lot (people report 80°C while idling but I get just around slightly above 40°C for an rev 1.0 Zero serving 24/7): https://forum.armbian.com/index.php?/topic/4313-new-opi-zero-yet-another-high-temperature-issue/

    BTW: next Allwinner designs are just around the corner: A63 and H6 are both made in 28nm but two different chips. A63 is meant to be an A64 successor for tablet markets (no RGMII, no HDMI but eDP instead) while H6 is for TV boxes (gets USB3 and PCIe 2.x x1). And both come with a somewhat decent GPU (A63 –> Mali T760, H6 –> T720).

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