Home > Allwinner H-Series, Debian, Hardware, Linux, Ubuntu > $25 NanoPi NEO Plus2 Board Adds 8GB Flash, WiFi & Bluetooth, More RAM, and an extra USB Port

$25 NanoPi NEO Plus2 Board Adds 8GB Flash, WiFi & Bluetooth, More RAM, and an extra USB Port

NanoPi NEO 2 board has just got an update with NEO Plus2 board featuring the same Allwinner H5 processor and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity, but FriendlyELEC updated the RAM from 512MB to 1GB, added an 8GB eMMC flash, a WiFi & Bluetooth module, and an extra USB port.

NanoPi NEO Plus2 specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H5 quad core Cortex A53 processor with an ARM Mali-450MP GPU

    NanoPi NEO Plus2 vs Raspberry Pi 3

  • System Memory – 1 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash (Samsung KLM8G1WEPD-B031) +  micro SD card slot
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (via RTL8211E-VB-CG chip), 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 (via Ampak AP6212A wireless module)
  • USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB port (for power only), 2x USB via headers
  • Expansion headers
    • 24-pin header with I2C, 2x UART, SPI, and GPIOs
    • 12-pin header with 2x USB, IR pin, I2S, and GPIOs
    • 5-pin audio 2.0mm pitch header with microphone and LINE out signals
  • Debugging – 4-pin header for serial console
  • Misc – Power and status LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port or VDD pin on headers.
  • Dimensions – 52 x 40 mm

The header pinout and spacing appear to be identical to the ones of other NanoPi NEO boards, so accessories like NanoHat Hub and BakeBit Starter Kit should work with the board, but with the extra features, they also had to make the board a little longer, so enclosures like NanoPi NAS Kit won’t be compatible. They’ve used the cheapest 8GB Samsung eMMC flash with 5K/0.6K R/W IOPS, so don’t expect the best performance from it, but it may or may not matter that much depending on your application.

 

The company has still released Ubuntu Core 16, Debian NAS (with OpenMediaVault), and Ubuntu OLED images based on Linux 4.x for the board, which you’ll find together with the rest of the documentation in the dedicated Wiki. eFlasher tool will allow you to install the image to the internal eMMC flash. An experimental Armbian image is also likely to be released soon enough.

NanoPi NEO Plus2 is sold for $24.99 plus shipping apparently with all 2.54mm pitch headers soldered by default, a WiFi antenna, and a user manual. You may however prefer to purchase the “basic kit” for $29.00, which adds a micro USB cable, a heatsink & thermal pad, an acrylic case, and – for the first 200 orders – a USB2UART board for debugging.

  1. tkaiser
    July 3rd, 2017 at 12:52 | #1

    ‘1x micro USB OTG port’ is wrong. Micro USB is for powering only (silly idea but when choosing the whole kit at least the Micro USB cable sold by FriendlyELEC is high quality and will prevent under-voltage).

    Since this vendor acts responsibly we can look into schematics since released timely: USB0 is routed to the additional host port. On Allwinner H3/H5 the ‘OTG port’ can be switched between an OTG controller and an own EHCI/OHCI controller pair. So the additional USB receptacle might be able to be used as OTG port but will normally be just another real USB host port: So it’s no OTG but 4 x USB2 host here.

    Since we fortunately can study schematic there’s another improvement confirmed: the NEO Plus2 unlike NEO 2 gets back voltage switching, CPU supply voltage can switch between 1.1V and 1.3V (NEO2 is 1.1V only) which will allow for higher clockspeeds and higher peak performance (with heatsink applied also higher sustained performance as well). Interestingly this hardware improvement was the result of a software improvement and vendor listening to community 🙂

  2. Mum
    July 3rd, 2017 at 14:00 | #2

    @tkaiser
    Yes, it looks really nice!

    The only complaint I have is that they have not put HDMI, but for headless this board looks ideal!

  3. Sander
    July 3rd, 2017 at 14:09 | #3

    @tkaiser … so this NanoPi NEO Plus2 board will be (or: is?) supported by Armbian?

  4. tkaiser
    July 3rd, 2017 at 14:14 | #4

    @Mum
    No display output at all IMO is the greatest NanoPi NEO feature since this limits the target audience to people who know what they do. Seriously.

  5. tkaiser
    July 3rd, 2017 at 14:32 | #5

    @Sander
    No idea about Armbian support. The last weeks I tried hard to change how Armbian adds new devices but obviously to no avail. I believe we already support way too much devices (some of them added more by accident and questionable in the meantime) so before we add something new developers should talk about use cases, the level of support the device gets by its own manufacturer (FriendlyELEC here being the exact opposite of the Banana nightmare for example) and benefits for both users and developers if we add something new to list of supported devices.

    Technically speaking this device is ‘just another H5 board’ using only well known components so it’s easy to support (take NEO2 settings/image, add one line to u-boot config to get the eMMC working, add a few config bits somewhere else to get Wi-Fi/BT working) so most probably once H5 mainline kernel support is ready (maybe already shortly after 4.13 release) it will be added.

    On the other hand FriendlyELEC does an excellent job wrt software (being the exact opposite of the Banana nightmare for example), we could convince them to drop Allwinner’s smelly Android 3.x kernel crap, they support their own hardware with an own fork of something being almost mainline kernel. And as an interesting byproduct of talking about software limitations (Allwinner’s H5 BSP crap not able to correctly implement voltage switching) their dev immediately realized that by switching to mainline kernel they could implement dvfs (dynamic voltage frequency scaling) allowing for higher performance. That’s why NEO 2 is stuck at 1.1V (912 MHz) while NEO Plus 2 here will clock up to 1.2GHz (tbc). At the same time they stopped development of 2 other H5 boards to improve the hardware there too now that switching to mainline kernel allows them to make use of dvfs.

    In other words: FriendlyELEC’s software offers are usable, there’s not that much need for 3rd party images. But since they don’t act like brain damaged retards they also make it very easy for 3rd parties like Armbian to support their hardware. For the simple reason that they listen to their users and community and understand the meaning of ‘open source’ and how that works (in two directions).

  6. Mum
    July 3rd, 2017 at 14:36 | #6

    tkaiser :
    @Mum
    No display output at all IMO is the greatest NanoPi NEO feature since this limits the target audience to people who know what they do. Seriously.

    Orange Pi Zero also lacked display output (well, except for crappy AV cable) and yet clueless people bought it in dozens. I don’t see the same issue with the Orange Pi PC2 which has HDMI, and apart from lacking EMMC, has similar specifications to the Neo Plus2.

    I think the fact that this has a higher price will keep most people away. People who don’t have a clue probably won’t spend $34 on a board.

  7. tkaiser
    July 3rd, 2017 at 15:58 | #7

    @Mum
    Advertisements and Aliexpress listing show OrangePi Zero as being a display device (even ‘HD video’ mentioned) and so ‘always buy as cheap as possible’ folks end up buying such a device with 256MB DRAM and the add-on port featuring ‘AV out’ on the TRRS jack for less than $9 expecting a great ‘Linux Desktop’ experience for whatever reasons.

    Anyway: IMO it’s about use cases and price. Looking at OPi PC 2 and NEO2 half a year ago was different than today (back then these were the cheapest Gigabit Ethernet equipped boards with somewhat decent storage performance). In the meantime we talk about RK3328 dev boards with ROCK64 coming soon (the 1GB variant most probably for the same $25 as Plus2 here) featuring the fastest USB3 implementation on any SBC so far. If anyone asks me about the ‘energy efficient single disk NAS’ use case today there clearly won’t be any Allwinner device amongst my answers any more. The only Allwinner niche remaining for me is IoT and then it’s all about low price and consumption.

    And after looking at the huge Allwinner ‘tinalinux’ code vomit from ten days ago I’ve lost all hope they’ll ever improve with software so even if their upcoming H6 is interesting hardware I already doubt it’s worth the efforts since I expect a lot of incompatiblities to their current SoCs so community would’ve to start from scratch again (with H5 it was different since H5 being more or less an already community supported H3 with A7 cores exchanged with A53 ones).

  8. CampGareth
    July 3rd, 2017 at 16:52 | #8

    This is relevant to my interests. 64bit, enough RAM, gigabit ethernet, on board flash so it can boot unaided. This could do well for NAS usage.

    Before I get jumped on, yes I’d rather have an espressobin but $50 plus shipping plus microSD is beaten by $25 plus ($5) shipping for cheap experimentation.

  9. tkaiser
    July 3rd, 2017 at 17:40 | #9

    @CampGareth
    The EspressoBin has some SPI NOR flash fully loaded with a bootloader. Haven’t checked in detail yet but AFAIK it already allows to netboot without any SD card being used. And unless you can make use of the special Marvell extensions (eg. CESA crypto module) at least CPU performance is lower than NEO Plus2 while wrt storage performance EspressoBin is the obvious winner.

    Speaking about ‘cheap experimentation’: OPi PC 2 is faster (clocks slightly higher and shows also higher memory bandwidth due to 2 x 4Gb instead of single channel 1 x 8Gb here), comes with SPI NOR flash where you could write a netboot capable bootloader to and is at least for EU customers way cheaper since remaining below €22 EU VAT exemption treshold.

  10. July 3rd, 2017 at 17:50 | #10

    @tkaiser
    If I understand correctly, that article says they will scrap the 22 Euros exemption. So if you buy a 1 Euros USB microphone on eBay you’d have to pay 20 cents VAT on it. They even mention companies outside the EU would have to register via a “EU-wide online VAT portal”… and I like how the article ends up saying it will be a “welcomed simplification that may help reduce red tape for businesses”…

  11. tkaiser
    July 3rd, 2017 at 18:07 | #11

    @cnxsoft
    I’ve not the slightest idea how things will evolve but at least now for EU customers who want to buy a Gigabit Ethernet equipped H5 board OPi PC 2 and NEO2 are way cheaper than NEO Plus 2 since the former staying below the €22 barrier.

    If this changes in the future I would believe EU will encourage customers to get a so called EORI number which makes customs processing a lot easier (the goods aren’t stuck at customs any longer requiring you to get in touch with them but customs will process the stuff and send you an invoice or maybe even allow direct debit authorization). Or maybe the carrier deals with that stuff then like today with eg. the EspressoBin. When I order from Amazon US they charge ‘$49.00 + $16.45 Shipping & Import Fees Deposit to Germany’ with the $16.45 being $6 for ‘AmazonGlobal Shipping’ and $10.45 ‘Estimated Import Fees Deposit’ (customs+VAT). No idea…

  12. Mum
    July 3rd, 2017 at 19:22 | #12

    tkaiser :
    If this changes in the future I would believe EU will encourage customers to get a so called EORI number which makes customs processing a lot easier (the goods aren’t stuck at customs any longer requiring you to get in touch with them but customs will process the stuff and send you an invoice or maybe even allow direct debit authorization).

    Would be a dream to automatically pay duties and not have to go to the customs office with invoice, waste time, etc. But it would need to be automated and with very low fees. Right now DHL charges 25 Euros to handle this for you, which is far too high for anything not worth hundreds of Euros. If they automate this, I would expect there to be little/no overhead fee for customs billing. Seller sends invoice to EU, EU assesses taxes and charges you, end of story. No “processing fee” required since everything is automated.

    But anyway, I have not had issues with VAT unless the item is worth over 80-90 EUR. Anything below that, even 50 EUR items, I haven’t been charged VAT.

    CampGareth :
    This is relevant to my interests. 64bit, enough RAM, gigabit ethernet, on board flash so it can boot unaided. This could do well for NAS usage.
    Before I get jumped on, yes I’d rather have an espressobin but $50 plus shipping plus microSD is beaten by $25 plus ($5) shipping for cheap experimentation.

    Anyway, ESPRESSObin has only 1 SATA port, so while it is a better choice if you need SATA+USB3+PCIe, for simple NAS use with a hard drive or SSD, ROCK64 should be fast enough.

    Any hard drive cannot saturate USB3, but anyway you will hit the limit of Gigabit Ethernet first.

  13. Mum
    July 3rd, 2017 at 19:32 | #13

    Also Globalscale never made a case for espressobin since that stretch goal wasn’t met. So if you are buying it, you will have to figure out some case yourself. The ROCK64 should have a case, if the previous Pine products are anything to go by.

  14. tkaiser
    July 3rd, 2017 at 19:53 | #14

    @Mum
    ROCK64 fits in every RPi 2 or 3 case (maybe some drilling needed since fortunately ROCK64 uses an 3.5/1.35mm barrel plug and not Micro USB for DC-IN) and the perfect ESPRESSOBin enclosures you find on every scrap yard around (old 3.5″ SCSI disk enclosures equipped with dual voltage PSUs 😉 ). Since IMO an ESPRESSOBin without attached SATA disks is pretty useless and you can easily add 2 or 4 more SATA ports here (by using an ASM1062 or Marvell 88SE9215 mPCIe card) I think it’s pretty impossible to come up with only a single enclosure variant anyway.

    Back to NEO Plus2 here while speaking about enclosures and use cases: I wouldn’t be surprised if FriendlyELEC combines this board with their NAS PCB and a 3.5″ HDD enclosure variant (maybe even a large dual bay enclosure with a new NAS PCB featuring 2 JMS567 or JMS578 since with the Plus2 and the 4th USB port exposed to the outside they can attach 2 USB-to-SATA bridges while still providing 2 USB receptacles accessible from the outside)

  15. Jon Smirl
    July 3rd, 2017 at 20:01 | #15

    Can you use both Ethernet simultaneously on the H5?

  16. July 3rd, 2017 at 21:43 | #16

    “In other words: FriendlyELEC’s software offers are usable”

    Well, latest Friendlyelec Ubuntu does not boot 🙂 but Armbian does … with Neo2 image … of course no eMMC nor Wifi / BT support: https://dl.armbian.com/nanopineo2/

  17. Razz Pi
    July 3rd, 2017 at 23:18 | #17

    tkaiser wrote: “No display output at all IMO is the greatest NanoPi NEO feature since this limits the target audience to people who know what they do. Seriously.”

    +1, exactly. IHMO the Raspberry Pi model of a “general purpose” SBC means compromises are made. That’s fine for its target audience.

    Ideally special purpose SBCs should be, and are being, developed: models meant for video decoding; models with SATA support meant for NAS; headless models to bridge ethernet/wifi to GPIO, etc. It doesn’t make sense to compare SBCs that have different design goals.

  18. tkaiser
    July 4th, 2017 at 00:44 | #18

    Razz Pi :
    models with SATA support meant for NAS

    Unfortunately that’s not true. Most somewhat affordable ARM SoCs with real SATA are pretty slow. You’ll find numbers by searching for ‘Some storage benchmarks on SBCs’ in Armbian forum. The only ARM SoCs I know of with both superiour SATA performance and good Linux support are from Marvell currently. If I would build today a cheap low-end/low-consumption NAS that can saturate Gigabit Ethernet I would clearly look for RK3328 (USB3) instead of the stuff average customers search for with ‘native SATA’ (as an example: Banana Pi M2 Berry featuring ‘native SATA’ scores 37/285 MB/s sequential write/read while ROCK64 ‘only’ equipped with USB3 achieves 320/340 MB/s with the same test. ‘Native SATA’ on slow ARM SoCs is questionable)

  19. July 4th, 2017 at 09:43 | #19

    @tkaiser

    Do you know of any RK3328 headless SBCs with at least 1GB RAM (preferably 2GB) and support for SATA, ideally mSATA?

  20. tkaiser
    July 4th, 2017 at 13:25 | #20

    Mum :
    Anyway, ESPRESSObin has only 1 SATA port, so while it is a better choice if you need SATA+USB3+PCIe, for simple NAS use with a hard drive or SSD, ROCK64 should be fast enough.

    As already mentioned: on any board equipped with appropriate high speed interfaces like (m)PCIe you can always add an ASM1062 (low end, potential NCQ issues when connecting more than 1 disk at the same time) or Marvell 88SE9215 (m)PCIe card to add 2 or even 4 more SATA ports. 🙂

    For simple NAS use cases ROCK64 will always be ‘fast enough’ especially if you compare with most commercial NAS boxes or x86 DIY PC used as NAS (most of them are slower). But ‘simple NAS use cases’ are all about bandwidth since people only moronically let Windows Explorer move large files from/to NAS and are happy seeing something above 90MB/s. Real storage is also about low latency, for specific use cases like storage clusters this is the most important metric. And then bad USB implementations (not UAS capable) show way lower performance than an appropriate SATA solution (making use of NCQ — native command queueing — to improve performance with many requests in parallel. This needs driver, controller and drive support!).

    @Mike Schinkel
    There are none and there will never be since RK3328 lacks SATA capabilities. But USB3 implementation there is rather performant so all you need is an UAS capable USB-to-SATA bridge. Whether your use case will benefit from high sequential performance (ROCK64 will be fine, faster than any ‘native SATA’ on other SBC != Marvell anyway) or needs high IOPS and low latency only you can tell.

    Again: it’s all tested and analyzed already, just search for the ‘Some storage benchmarks on SBCs’ thread in Armbian forum. It’s 2017 and at least I really don’t want poor performing ‘native SATA’ provided by i.MX6 or Allwinner SoCs any more. For low-end purposes they get outperformed by USB3 capable other SoCs in the meantime and for high-end it’s Marvell currently (due to Linux support situation).

    Ordered yesterday an ESPRESSOBin just for fun and will try out NVMe performance (using a mechanical mPCIe to M.2 adapter — PCIe 2.x x1 will result in crappy sequential transfer speed but I’m more interested in IOPS and low latency)

  21. albedo2
    August 5th, 2017 at 02:35 | #21

    The third day of testing under load. The impressions are positive.
    Pros
    – tiny
    – powerful
    – 1 Gb
    – did not notice any slowdown when working with microSd
    – in Ubuntu with apt-get, etc. (armbian too)
    – docker!!!
    – already installed WirePi, GPIO

    Cons (maybe)
    I can’t find the cables 24pin.
    – A couple of times a day, zabbix can’t get data for 5 minutes, then fine. The cause is still unclear. Maybe not NanoPi

  22. Ricardo
    September 3rd, 2017 at 02:51 | #22

    Hello,
    Does this device support creating more than one access point through its wireless interface (AP6212A)?
    Can anyone paste the output of this command “iw list”
    Thanks a lot.

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