NanoPi NEO Core and NEO Core2 Allwinner H3/H5 Systems-on-Module Launched for $7.99 and Up

FriendlyELEC has launched many cool NanoPi development boards such as NanoPi NEO2, NanoPi A64, or more recently NanoPi Duo based on Allwinner H- or A- series ARM processors, as well as some models based on Samsung/Nexcell or Amlogic SoC.

The company has now launched two other NanoPi products that are a bit different since they are systems-on-module – or could even be considered minimal development boards – with namely NanoPi NEO Core powered by Allwinner H3 quad core 32-bit processor, and NanoPi NEO Core2 based on Allwinner H5 quad core 64-but processor.

NanoPi NEO Core

Specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H3 quad core ARM Cortex-A7 processor up to 1.2GHz with Mali-400MP GPU
  • System Memory – 256MB or 512MB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – NC/8GB/16GB/32GB eMMC flash, micro SD slot
  • USB – 1x micro USB OTG port also used for power input
  • Expansion – 2x 2.54mm pitch 24-pin headers, 1x 2.54mm pitch 20-pin header exposing:
    • Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet
    • USB – 3x USB Host port
    • 4-pin debug serial port
    • 4-pin audio input/output port
    • UART, SPI, I2C, GPIO, IR etc…
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 40 x 40mm
  • Temperature measuring range – -40℃ to 80℃
Click to Enlarge

A Ubuntu Core Xenial image with Linux 4.14 is provided, and documentation can be found in the Wiki.

The board is sold for $7.99 with no flash and 256MB RAM, but a version with 512MB RAM and 8GB eMMC flash is also offered for $10 extra.

NanoPi NEO Core2

The 64-bit version of the board has basically the same specifications, except for the different processor, more memory, and an extra Realtek RTL8211E Gigabit Ethernet transceiver:

  • SoC – Allwinner H5 quad core ARM Cortex-A53 processor with a Mali-450MP GPU
  • System Memory – 512MB or 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • Storage – 8GB/16GB/32GB eMMC flash, micro SD slot
  • USB – 1x micro USB OTG port also used for power input
  • Expansion – 2x 2.54mm pitch 24-pin headers, 1x 2.54mm pitch 20-pin header exposing:
    • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet via RTL8211E transceiver
    • USB – 3x USB Host port
    • 4-pin debug serial port
    • 4-pin audio input/output port
    • UART, SPI, I2C, GPIO, IR, etc…
  • Misc – 2x LEDs for power and system status
  • Power Supply – 5V/2A
  • Dimensions – 40 x 40mm
  • Temperature measuring range – -40℃ to 80℃

Both NanoPi Core and Core2 modules appear to be pin-to-pin compatible. NanoPi NEO Core2 runs a different firmware image also based on Ubuntu Xenial with Linux 4.14, and more technical info is listed in the Wiki. I also suspect both boards are software compatible with NanoPi NEO / NEO2, so other firmware such as Armbian images may also run without modifications.

FriendlyELEC does not offer a version without flash, and actually only one version is for sale now with 1GB/8GB configuration for $24.99.

Mini Shield for NanoPi NEO Core/Core2

Mini Shield with NanoPi NEO Core Board and M.2 SSD

You could wire your NEO Core(2) board yourself, if you want to get started quickly, or something that works out of the box with USB, Ethernet, and audio connectors, as well an M.2 slot, the Mini Shield is here to help with the following specs:

  • Storage – 1x M.2 2242 SSD socket
  • Connectivity – 1x Ethernet port
  • USB – 2x USB Host
  • Audio – audio input and 1 x audio output
  • Expansion – 2x 13-pin GPIO header
  • Debugging – 1x Serial debug port and
  • Misc – 1x button, 1x IR receiver
  • Dimensions – 85 x 56 mm (Raspberry Pi form factor, compatible with enclosures)

Mini Shield can be purchased as option for $10.99 extra on NanoPi NEO Core or Core2 product pages. It has its own Wiki page where you can find additional hardware details.

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GuidoL
GuidoL
2 years ago

NanoPi Neo Core2 has a H5-Quadcore-CPU – and not H6 🙂
but the Feature-Icons for the Core2 show H5 OctaCore on their webpage 🙂 – couldnt be right 🙂

M2 Port on the MiniShield seems to be full-size against the half-size of the NanoPi Duo MiniShield

Jeroen
2 years ago

Is the M2 Native?, or is it another usb to sata chip?

Abbadon
Abbadon
2 years ago

@Jeroen
According to the wiki page it uses a JMS567 USB to SATA IC on the Mini Shield.

Philipp Blum
Philipp Blum
2 years ago

How do they connect the M.2?

Pushpendra
Pushpendra
2 years ago

Board description says Qt application and gyi support but it didn’t have any HDMI or VGA port.

Da Xue
Da Xue
2 years ago

Excruciating that they hobble it with 16-bit DDR interface.

Sander
Sander
2 years ago

The NanoPi Neo Core provides no headers, so you have to get & solder them yourself?

The NanoPi Neo Core 2 has headers, but is quite expensive, making the combination no too interesting.

Pity … I would certainly buy a M2-capable 64-bit setup of 25 USD.

mindee
mindee
2 years ago

You can use SPI or I2C LCD, we hava a demo( https://github.com/friendlyarm/QtE-Demo ), see the file “https://github.com/friendlyarm/QtE-Demo/blob/master/boardtype_friendlyelec.cpp”.
@Pushpendra

Lalith
Lalith
2 years ago

I like NanoPi’s – their boards are good
At this point they should have looked at adding a processor with USB3 to their product mix.
Rock64 is now the most attractive kit at a very good price point.

theguyuk
theguyuk
2 years ago

@Lalith

Things to come, and busy programmers.

Mike Schinkel
2 years ago

M.2 SATA?!? Woohoo, finally!

pushpendra
2 years ago

@mindee
thanks for ur kind information @mindee

noone
noone
2 years ago

At this form-factor and this price-point, the VoCore2 is a much better option.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/vocore2-4-coin-sized-linux-computer-with-wifi

tkaiser
tkaiser
2 years ago

@Mike Schinkel I don’t get it. Same with the other commenters excited about ‘M.2’… M.2 is just a rather boring mechanical connector. There’s no performance associated with it, this connector can transport various protocols and the only one used here is SATA. Slow SATA, ultra slow SATA, USB2 SATA. It’s the same as attaching an SSD in an USB enclosure to any other USB2 only SBC. So why being excited? The good news: – while it’s USB SATA here, UAS can be used since FriendlyELEC took care to use a good bridge chip (they chose JMS567) – FriendlyELEC seems to… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
2 years ago

@Da Xue
Why should 16-bit memory interface vs. 32-bit matter with the use cases these boards are made for? There’s fortunately no HDMI so what should be high memory bandwidth needed for?

pitsch
pitsch
2 years ago

stacking them on top of each other to build a little cluster/tower.. possible?

tkaiser
tkaiser
2 years ago

@mindee
Can you please confirm that if someone buys the NEO Core together with the Mini Shield that then the Core will be shipped with presoldered pin headers?

Sander
Sander
2 years ago

@tkaiser:

About the excitement about M2 (and slow USB2 SATA): for me, the compact size & on-board is also important; no bulky USB hanging from the (one) USB port my Nanopi has.

BTW: My *assumption* is that the USB2 SATA M2 SSD combination is still faster and more reliable than a flash card.

tkaiser
tkaiser
2 years ago

Sander : BTW: My *assumption* is that the USB2 SATA M2 SSD combination is still faster and more reliable than a flash card. Faster? Sequential performance with optimal settings means ~40MB/s maximum, random IO performance depends on the SSD used but here the USB layer again will decrease performance but in a rather linear way (use an SSD that is able to achieve 10,000 random IOPS at 4K size on a good SATA port and you’ll end up with 2,000 behind such an UAS capable USB-to-SATA bridge — numbers based not on assumptions but on tests). So for anything that… Read more »

tkaiser
tkaiser
2 years ago

Most probably people keen on using M.2 SSDs on the Mini Shield always buying as cheap as possible will end up with KingSpec for example: http://www.kingspec.com/products_detail/productId=60.html Users should know that reputable SSD manufacturers specify a TBW (Terabytes written) value for each of their products. Usually the larger the capacity, the larger the TBW value. These TBW numbers are specified by JEDEC (JESD218B) and differentiate between an enterprise (high focus on random IO) and client profile (almost only sequential write access which is a bit surprising to me since this is not what happens with SSDs as OS drive) A great… Read more »

willy
willy
2 years ago

tkaiser :
Besides that I’m curious how well ‘Gigabit Ethernet on pin headers’ will work with the Core2.

I don’t worry for this. For having tortured gigabit connections for a while making tens of knots between some wires, the encoding is extremely tolerant to abuses. What you need to avoid in fact is long lines not respecting pairs. But even 50cm of flat wire (non-twisted pair) will not report any measurable error rate. Some mini-pcie boards like the dual gig i350-based boards also provide gigabit over pin headers and work quite fine.

theguyuk
theguyuk
2 years ago

There are many lists for fastest Sdcard in the Camera, Video market but SBC, embedded etc are more interest in A1 rating and random read/write speed, as that is what is need.
But I will link to a article that is meant for Camera, Video users, as it may help beginners understand the different ratings and interfaces of SDcards better.

https://havecamerawilltravel.com/photographer/fastest-sd-cards/

tkaiser
tkaiser
2 years ago

And a final elaboration on why (reducing) write amplification matters: Good SSDs expose what’s happening at the flash layer. SSDs from all reputable vendors correctly report how much data has been really written at the flash layer in contrast to the filesystem layer. In the below example that’s SMART attribute 241 called ‘Total_LBAs_Written’ (one LBA is 512 bytes in sizes — never trust in this but simply test it with the SSD you bought). A smartctl call at the begin of the test showed that I’ve written to this Samsung EVO 840 already 7.6 TB: Shell 241 Total_LBAs_Written ... 15979401851… Read more »

theguyuk
theguyuk
2 years ago


Has anyone done a usb3 to UFS card reader yet?

tkaiser
tkaiser
2 years ago

willy : tkaiser : Besides that I’m curious how well ‘Gigabit Ethernet on pin headers’ will work with the Core2. I don’t worry for this. I’m only concerned about potential GbE TX/RX delay adjustments (without those some boards show horribly low performance or no network connection with GbE at all) but hope that PCB design took care of this here and it’s sufficient to simply use traces of exactly same length to connect the MagJack to the board’s pins. If that’s the case and Core2 uses the primitive VDD_CPUX regulation jumping between 1.1V and 1.3V then all OS images suitable… Read more »

Jerry
Jerry
2 years ago

@noone
Vocore2 can’t run IoT apps designed for Scratch or Node.JS? Not enough CPU power and RAM. Some won’t even consider NanoPi since it doesn’t have USB3 and octacore ARM64. Also less than 4 GB of RAM with no OpenGL 4.6 GUI. There needs to be platforms for everyone.

theguyuk
theguyuk
2 years ago

Friendlyarm now have Neo Core and Neo Core 2 starter kits for sale case, shield, heatsink, screws, Neo Core 2 , USB2UART, micro USB.

Sfinx
Sfinx
2 years ago

Are they were smart enough to route correctly the RTC battery backup at any of their board ? The boards are still expensive comparing to NanoPi Neo

theguyuk
theguyuk
2 years ago

Friendlyelec are now listing a 0.96’128×64 OLED for NanoPi NEO Core/Core2 in their latest section.

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