$35 Atomic Pi Cherry Trail Linux SBC is now available worldwide

At the very end of last year, I covered Atomic Pi single board computer powered by an Intel Atom x5-Z8350 processor which was mostly interesting because of its incredibly low price: $34 and up. Getting an Intel board fof the price of a Raspberry Pi looked too good to be true, and being launched via a Kickstarter, the crowdfunding campaign raised suspicions. The board would also only ship to the US.

Shipping was scheduled for January 2019, backers received their board around two months ago, and most people appear to be satisfied with the main struggle being powering the board since it requires some manual wiring for people who did not purchase the breakout board.

ATOMIC PiSo it’s real, it works, and the good news is that the board now sells on Amazon US for $34.50 with the company (DLI – Digital Logger Inc.) shipping worldwide.

Here’s a reminder of the specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8350 quad core processor @ up to 1.92GHz with Intel HD graphics
  • System Memory – 2GB DDR3L-1600
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash, slot for SD expansion up to 256GB
  • Video Output – HDMI port
  • Connectivity
    • Gigabit Ethernet via Realtek RTL8111G transceiver
    • Dual band 802.11b/g/n WiFi 4 via RT5572 with IPX connectors on board
    • Bluetooth 4.0 via CSR8510
  • USB – USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports
  • Sensor – 9-axis inertial navigation sensor with compass (BNO055)
  • Expansion – JST style connectors and a 26-pin header for power & GPIO
  • Debugging – TTL serial debug and expansion serial ports up to 3.6Mbps
  • Misc – Real time clock & battery
  • Power Supply – 5V/4A recommended. 4-15 watts typ. power consumption
  • Dimensions – 130 x 100 x 50 mm

The board is pre-loaded with Linux, and the company provides both Debian and Ubuntu images for the SBC using LXDE desktop or the bare minimum (minimal image). The board may not be suitable for non-technical people as you need to provide you own 5V/4A power source, and the power requirements are explained in the FAQ, or you may want to read the Getting Started Guide (PDF) dealing mostly with power supplies.

Amazon Atomic Pi
Click to Enlarge

Shopping on Amazon from overseas can be fairly expensive due to the cost of shipping, and Amazon will often add a custom duty guarantee on top. So I tried to see what it would cost to ship the board to Thailand, and shipping adds only $8.80 bringing the total to $43.30 with the estimated taxed being zero. Again that’s only for the board itself, and you need to add power supply, and potential a case depending on your project.

Thanks to Brad for the tip.

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60 Replies to “$35 Atomic Pi Cherry Trail Linux SBC is now available worldwide”

  1. This looks like a design for a product that never launched and they are clearing out inventory. It could also be recyclers ripping the board out of some product. Good deal since it’s basically at or below BOM if you need it for a quick and dirty x86 box and don’t need long term supply.

      1. from Amazon:

        Question: Hello, i’m looking for an sbc for a project that we are working on, how many of these do you have in stock? break on larger order?
        Answer: Thanks for looking.
        We have over 6000 in stock. As of 4/25/19 Amazon has around 500. We’ll add some quantity discount pricing to Amazon today.
        Thanks again
        -Martin & Team see less
        By Digital Loggers Direct Seller on April 25, 2019

          1. It’s still early Monday morning in the US, maybe if you check in a few hours or tomorrow it will be back in stock.

          2. I tried to buy from Amazon today, shipping to Thailand. It does not accept my address.
            I tried my address in the Netherlands, same thing. Cannot deliver 🙁

          3. Thanks. I checked them all. Either not available or transport cost too high. Or import tax levied already ( i particularly hate that one). I checked on eBay and decided on a base board only. Shipment of the carrier board was making the price for that to high (i will use my own backboard made of perforated pcb). So i paid $45.95 for the board, shipping $9.95 Total $55.90
            Thanks for your article. It points to several useful options (direct and indirect 🙂

        1. sadly the internet is full of fools, nonsense, and lazy people who won’t research anything before opening their pie holes.

  2. Well, it’s basically the same specs as the UP board for twice the size and half the price. I’m pretty sure there are quite some developers who would be happy with having this for whatever purpose, just an x86 box lying on the desk to throw whatever workload at or serving as a proxy or VPN box to reach whatever external service. I also tend to think it looks like a recycled design but that’s not necessarily negative.

      1. Except that in order to get 5V out of the micro-USB you need to provide 5.4V due to the huge losses in the connector. I had to try 8 different power supplies to stop power outages on a 3B+. You probably believe that the red blinking led is the power led, it’s not, it’s the low-voltage indicator.
        Also based on my experience on the UP board which uses the same components, this board does definitely run fine starting with 1.8A and I could power mine out of my laptop’s USB3 port, with the gigabit port connected and working.

        1. Their FAQ talks about 5V @ 2.4A so no idea where the 4A in the blog post originate from. And comparing to an UP board there’s a bit more hardware present, e.g. a TI TAS5717 audio amp (that can provide up to 5W per channel but then the board has to be fed with additional 12V)

  3. I got 2 from the Kickstarter. They work great. Whoever said they are an overstock failed design, i agree. The shipping was so fast and it has a really overloaded focus on audio connections. There are 2 multi pin headers for audio.

    1. > it has a really overloaded focus on audio connections

      As their FAQ explains the board can even be powered with additional 12V to operate the integrated ‘class-D audio amp at its full power 2x5W’. When powering only with 5V the amp ‘will produce about 1.5W/ channel’.

    2. It is possible they were designed for synthesizers. Some high-end synths (e.g. from Korg) simply include a PC and even a fan… This allows them to run whatever OS supporting a touch panel, various applications that can do wavetable synthesis and process MIDI in/out. At such a price, it becomes very appealing to use a PC on the whole product range instead of maintaining alternative OS for low-end platforms. With 2x5W you can directly drive the integrated speakers, with 16GB of flash, you have plenty of room for an outdated windows embedded variant and wave tables. Bluetooth/WiFi are appreciated to support tablets. However I see no possible use case of the accelerator here. Or another option might be related to embedded car entertainment devices.

  4. Interesting, compared with an Amlogic TV box 2/16GB at roughly same price (but better specs!)

    Looking at Amazon.com specs:

    1. So is this AtomZ a “true” x86 or ARM ( what version)?
    2. Any “GPU” here with the quadcore CPU?
    3. How many USB 2.0 and 3.0? One each?
    4. Will this run Kodi 18? What res, 1080? Any performance bottlenecks compared with S905/x/w?

    1. Atom x5-Z8350 is a “true” x86 CPU missing some ISA extensions (like AVX for example but that’s even true with most recent Atoms called ‘Celeron J’ or ‘Pentium N’ from the Gemini Lake range). CPU performance of the x5-Z8350 is roughly comparable with an Allwinner H6 and as such lower than e.g. a RK3288 or any popular ARM big.LITTLE design (RK3399, Exynos 5422, S922X, etc.)

      And of course it features an integrated GPU (check ark.intel.com or any search engine) but unlike recent Atoms the old x5-Z don’t support QuickSync.

      1. In my compilation tests (http://wiki.ant-computing.com/Choosing_a_processor_for_a_build_farm) it’s about twice as fast as the H6, very close to the Odroid MC1/XU4, and slightly slower than the RK3288 indeed. However it runs on very low power (I disconnected the fan on my UP board and it never overheats). So it is a very good CPU for those looking for a good efficiency (perf/watt). It’s not interesting if the focus is peak performance first (Gemini Lake or RK3399 etc will be much better).

        With an enclosure and a proper power supply it would allow to make very nice home appliances. It would even make sense to power them from 12V to permit use of 12V (or LiPo/LiFePO4) batteries serving as a cheap UPS; such low-power devices could run a very long time on battery.

        A few years ago I would have bought a dozen of them to build a cheap 10 Gbps becnhmark lab 😉

        1. > A few years ago I would have bought a dozen of them to build a cheap 10 Gbps becnhmark lab

          How? The SoC has nearly no IO capabilities. No network, no SATA, only a single Gen2 PCIe lane (the more expensive Z85x0/Z87x0 feature at least two lanes) and the single USB3 port’s performance sucks.

          When using the PCIe lane for an NBase-T Ethernet controller I doubt 5GbE could be saturated…

          1. Are you blind or just lazy? The product clearly has “Gigabit Ethernet, AC WiFi, Bluetooth…”
            You can even see the antenna connectors on the board.

          2. > Gigabit Ethernet, AC WiFi, Bluetooth…

            The single PCIe lane is wasted for an RTL8111G (GbE), Wi-Fi is USB 2.0 attached and whatever connection is used for BT.

            Again: ‘The SoC has nearly no IO capabilities’ and I still wonder how willy would have used these boards ‘to build a cheap 10 Gbps becnhmark lab’.

          3. > still wonder how willy would have used these boards ‘to build a cheap 10 Gbps benchmark lab.

            Just connecting 12 of them to a 12-GigE + 1SFP+ switch. That’s roughly $400 of machines, which is not bad, even today. Nowadays an mcbin is around the same price to get comparable results, but it saves you the cost of the switch.

          4. I was speaking about using only the GigE port. At $34 per gigabit device, believe me, it’s cheap to build a 10G lab. The switches to connect these tend to be more expensive per port 🙂

        2. very interesting build farm project, considering the 32bit vs 64bit results and long term observations. wonder why there are no products by pine included ,such as rock64, rockpro64 and sopine cluster board. with a docker farm as a usecase it would be quite interesting to know more about comparative results in io and memory performance when switching from arm64 to armHF, especially when scaling up the number of nodes and observing efficiancy in perf/watt.

          1. > rock64, rockpro64 and sopine cluster

            All the magic happens inside the SoCs and as such individual products and SBC makers are irrelevant. For Rock64 check willy’s ‘Firefly ROC-RK3328-CC’ numbers, for RockPro64 it’s NanoPi M4 and SoPine is uninteresting anyway (old and boring Allwinner A64 in 40nm, prone to overheating even at clockspeeds slightly above 1GHz).

            In theory different RK3328 or RK3399 devices could show different performance due to memory used here and there (for example RockPro64 with its LPDDR4 should have a theoretical advantage over a NanoPi M4 with DDR3) but the unfortunate reality is bootloader BLOBs doing the DRAM initialization and clocking different types of DRAM identical (might change in the future though).

  5. as a quick comparison i bought an alfawise x5 “android tv box” late 2017 for about 60e “discounted”.
    it’s basically the same hardware minus the gpio port, as expected it runs any mainline linux distro (i use ubuntu server).
    Heavy network load (>10Mbps bidir continuous) including openvpn runs smoothly with moderate (<30% single core) cpu load.
    USB3 & Gigabit show nominal performances.
    A last comment on win 10, i don't know if it's my box that would be faulty or the board design, but i found win10 to be completely unstable, random crashes, reboots, apparently something to do with the intel gpu driver but i could not fix it.

  6. It is okay if you have a case, power supply spare, but if you need to buy those and shipping of motherboard costs, when added up you are getting around $25 dollars short of a more modern design or with larger flash. If you buy without Win 10 and shop around.

    Comes down to design needed and user ability.

        1. Both of these are slowed and hotter Z3735F (22nm). And twice the price (admittedly for $34 above you have neither the enclosure nor the power adapter).

    1. But your avatar makes you looks like Lady Cassandra O’Brien.Δ17, after the completion of all cosmetic surgeries.

  7. And now right off the bat, the Amazon link says “Currently unavailable.” What’s up with that???

    1. They only stocked 500 at Amazon. Might have to order from their site for the time being until it’s available again. Shipping is quite expensive/slow though.

      1. They just listed a (IMO strange) dev-kit on their site that included two APi SBC’s, power supply, both breakout boards, etc for around $100. NOT on Amazon! so prob will not ship outside USA

    1. The two N2 entries — are these just from two arbitrary runs of the bench or is there something tweaked?

      1. More or less result variation. I asked one N2 betatester for numbers while in the meantime Hardkernel’s Dongjin sent me his sbc-bench results collected weeks before (answering all our open questions when N2 was introduced — no idea why Hardkernel kept the results back for weeks and wasn’t even able to answer most basic questions).

  8. It costed me ~52 euro (32,15 for SBC, 10,61 handling and shipping, 9.59 Import fees deposit) but I were fast and I bought it. Thanks CNX. I’ll emulate a Macintosh Classic with this SBC and a 8″ IPS LED display inside a real Mac Classic case,”with some plus”! 🙂

  9. Made some tests during the weekend. the SBC has a customized ubuntu 18.04.1 installation, and with apt-upgrade it arrives to 18.04.2 but showing errors upgrading grub (seems because it has a >500MB EFI partition). I’ve powering it with ad industrial 5V 20A power adapter, connected to aPI with 4 short dupont cables, so using 4 pin on aPI’s connector (2 for +5V, 2 for ground). At the beginning (Logitech duo kouse + keyboard) all seems to correctly works, only no HDMI audio. When I tried to add an USB HUB, even powered, I registered any kind of issues: reset, reboot, integrated LAN stopped working, and so on. Trying to install a “normal” 19.04 Ubuntu the result is a system reset after login; trying to install the aPI 18.10 ubuntu image the system gained the HDMI audio but had alway system reset trying to open full-screen app (KODI for instance).

    Resuming: currently it seemed a bad buying. Even as an headless system it doesn’t work (now the LAN stopped working even with 1 USB mouse connected).

    I’ll try to double the power dupont cables hoping this can solve something; otherwise it seems a crappy hardware.

    1. Sounds like undervoltage. You might want to explore a 26 pin ribbon cable with a good connector like this for example. This link is from a german user also pointing out that Debian Buster RC1 works flawlessly on the Atomic Pi (check the links at the bottom of @TheLinuxBug post above)

  10. I would not buy because of 2Gb of RAM. If it had 2 memory sockets up to 32Gb of RAM I would definitely buy.

    1. The x5-Z83xx Atoms are limited to 4GB (Intel’s specs even talk about just 2GB) while x5-Z85xx/x5-Z87xx can address 8GB.

      Asides that simply use a modern operating system like e.g. Linux with zram (even better zswap) or Win10 which implements something similar to zram unlike older Windows versions.

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