NanoPI NEO2 Black Allwinner H5 SBC Adds an eMMC flash Module, Up to 1GB RAM

NanoPi NEO2, now called NanoPi NEO2 LTS, is a great little Allwinner H5 SBC designed for server/headless applications with Ethernet & USB ports, as well as I/O headers.

FriendlyELEC is now about to launch a new variant called NanoPi NEO2 Black with the same form factor and Allwinenr H5 64-bit Arm SoC, but adding an eMMC flash module, supporting up to 1GB RAM, modifications to the I/O headers, and featuring a black PCB instead of the blue PCB found in NEO2-LTS. NanoPi NEO2 BlackNanoPi NEO2 Black SBC specifications with changes in bold or stricken-through:

  • SoC – Allwinner H5 quad-core Cortex A53 processor with an ARM Mali-450MP GPU
  • System Memory – 512 MB or 1GB DDR3
  • Storage – MicroSD card slot, eMMC flash module connector
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (via RTL8211E-VB-CG chip)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x micro USB OTG port, 2x 1x USB via headers
  • Expansion headers
    • 10-pin header with I2C, 2x UART, SPI, GPIOs, PWM, and power signals (5V in/out + GND)
    • 6-pin header with 1x USB, Line Out (stereo), 1x GPIO, I2S
    • 5-pin audio header with microphone and LINE out signals
  • Debugging – 4-pin 2-pin unpopulated header for serial console / debugging
  • Misc – Power and system LEDs
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port or VDD pin on headers.
  • Dimensions – 40 x 40 mm
  • Weight – ~16 grams

Allwinner H5 Headless BoardThe main advantage of this board is the extra memory and storage options. You’ll find some more details on the (Work-in-Progress) Wiki, where software information is still missing, but NanoPi NEO2 Black should support Ubuntu 16.04 (FriendlyCore), OpenWrt (FriendlyWrt), and Armbian built Ubuntu 18.04 and Debian 10 “Buster” images.

The board is not yet listed on FriendlyELEC store, but since the Wiki is up, we should just be a few hours or days from the actual launch. The eMMC modules are already used on other NanoPi boards, and the price starts at $9.95 (8GB module) and goes up to $28.95 (64GB).

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willy
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willy

Nice! The eMMC was the reason I used to prefer the Plus2 to the Neo2 for some use cases (mini-servers). Having it in a slot is an acceptable alternative making it compatible with existing Neo/Neo2 enclosures.

theguyuk
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theguyuk

Why do they use the H5, it is end of life ?

willy
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willy

Probably because it’s cheap and well supported everywhere. EOL doesn’t mean it’s *your* problem since the software is not EOL. EOL is *their* problem in that if you need them to engage on providing them over 3 years they will have to make sure it is possible.

blu
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blu

If you’re a sizeable client Allwinner will deliver EOL devices no prob. Case in point, Olimex.

dgp
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dgp

That only works as long as whatever fabs AllWinner uses keep the lines for those parts running. At some point the fabs will move on and even if AllWinner wanted to do a run just for you they won’t be able to. (This has come up in the past in reference to Olimex -> https://www.eevblog.com/forum/embedded-computing/for-those-who-are-worrying-about-the-longevity-of-allwinner-v3s/msg2558763/?PHPSESSID=o7e7u7ieeshb8lo6jc8hjisf75#msg2558763)

Either way for most AllWinner parts there will be trays of components floating around Shenzhen for a while and this board will be produced until those trays are scarce enough that the price goes from decreasing because the part is EOL and no one wants it to increasing because the brokers holding the part see that the stock is drying up and they can make more money from someone that really needs 10 parts than selling all of the tray they have at the going rate.

Vendors like TI and NXP don’t say they can supply a part for 10 years because they think they can make it for 10 years. They project how many parts they will need to cover the next 10 years on the final run and jack the price up so that it’s totally uneconomical for anything but military applications.

blu
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blu

> That only works as long as whatever fabs AllWinner uses keep the lines for those parts running. At some point the fabs will move on and even if AllWinner wanted to do a run just for you they won’t be able to.

Of course. The opposite is also true — if the demand is high enough a vendor may extend the life of a part beyond what was originally planned, including up-port to new fab lines, with or without bug fixes / minor updates, etc.

dgp
Guest
dgp

> if the demand is high enough a vendor may extend the
> life of a part beyond what was originally planned,

If demand is high enough and it’s profitable the chip wouldn’t go EOL in the first place. You generally don’t use a chip that is already EOL’d unless you can secure all of the chips you will ever need and some spares so I think it would be pretty unusual for an EOL chip to suddenly become popular enough that it goes back into production.

It’s possible that the 50,000 number given to Olimex is what AllWinner holds as unprocessed stock from the final run. If you buy all of them they’ll package them for you. I don’t know how many of a single board Olimex shifts but I think it might be a little difficult for them to justify a few hundred thousand $USD for a special order of a single old part.

I also don’t see them wasting capacity that is dumping out two or three times more profitable chips to do a special run of some old A7 chip unless you are paying a premium for that.

blu
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blu

>If demand is high enough and it’s profitable the chip wouldn’t go EOL in the first place. You generally don’t use a chip that is already EOL’d unless you can secure all of the chips you will ever need and some spares so I think it would be pretty unusual for an EOL chip to suddenly become popular enough that it goes back into production.

It’s also pretty unusual 40nm fabline would go out of fashion soon, and yet we’re discussing the possibilities..

> It’s possible that the 50,000 number given to Olimex is what AllWinner holds as unprocessed stock from the final run.

I’d love to hypothesis some more, but here’s what Olimex have said:

‘Today 39.6 K pcs A13 arrived to our warehouse. This is partial shipment of our 90 K pcs order placed in April, the balance is testing now and will be shipped this month. Allwinner produced these A13 SOC exclusively for us. As you can see from the label these left factory 27th of August 2019..’

dgp
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dgp

>It’s also pretty unusual 40nm fabline would go out of fashion soon

It’s not just the process node. The A13 comes in a high pin count TQFP when everyone has moved to QFN or BGA for similar chips. Will AllWinner be able to get the lead-frames for those packages at a good price forever? Will the lines they use keep the encapsulation tooling around for those packages if no other line is using them? Will they even be able to get the trays for the final chips?

>I’d love to hypothesis some more, but here’s what Olimex have said:
>‘…As you can see from the label these left factory 27th of August 2019..’

Those could have been made years ago and encapsulated recently. The real test is if Olimex can still get these chips in 5 years time and they aren’t 5 times the price.

blu
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blu

> Those could have been made years ago and encapsulated recently. The real test is if Olimex can still get these chips in 5 years time and they aren’t 5 times the price.

We can also look at the part’s availability in 50 years, but let’s first look at the data at hand. The fact is that in August ’19, approx 2 years since Olimex say (their claim) it’s been unlikely to find new lots of A13 floating freely on the market, they get a shipment of 90K (in two batches — second pending), of the long EOL’d chip. To me that perfectly supports their other claim that Allwiner are willing to indefinitely supply the part at quantities, as long as they have the physical capabilities (masks usable, access to fab lines, home planet not destroyed, etc). ‘At quantities’ being key here, it’s ultimately the end customer’s decision when the part actually dies out. Yes, it does pose some risk to small projects when everybody else will have eventually moved on. But *today* is not that day — today I can buy 5 OlinuxinoA13’s from Olimex and enjoy excellent mainline support. Which gets us back to the original subject matter of this conversation: The fact something was EOL’d does not automatically mean it’s a ‘no do’ for a project, however small it might be — it’s a matter of a complex combination of factors like vendors’ flexibility, part’s popularity, acts of God, etc.

dgp
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dgp

>it’s been unlikely to find new lots of A13 floating freely on the market

You can buy boxes of them on taobao right now. I would take Olimex’s claim that they are all desoldered parts with a massive pinch of salt. That might be true for something more valuable like 68060’s.

>it’s ultimately the end customer’s decision when the part actually dies out.

It doesn’t mean that at all. It means AllWinner either had stock or they can still make runs in the short term. That says nothing about their long term availability. It would take on single piece of tooling to fail for that part to never be available from AllWinner again. There’s an obvious reason Olimex ordered 90K of them.

>The fact something was EOL’d does not automatically mean it’s a ‘no do’ for a project,

For anything you expect to produce for 10 years like a consumer device an EOL’d part from an asian vendor that has no availability guarantee and doesn’t work through distributors like digikey would be a massive “no do”. At $DAYJOB we had to stop making a still popular model because a reputable first world silicon vendor shut down the sub-unit for the main chip, put out a last order notice and the part became unobtainable within months.

For mass produced SBCs from China with basically no warranty crank those babies out until all the chips are gone and then delete it from your website.

blu
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blu

> You can buy boxes of them on taobao right now.

It’s extremely easy to claim things when you’re not in the supply chain. So excuse me if take Olimex’s word with much less salt than yours.

> It doesn’t mean that at all. It means AllWinner either had stock or they can still make runs in the short term. That says nothing about their long term availability.

Newsflash: nothing gives absolute guarantees about long-term availability. Those 10-yrs-available embedded parts by FSL? Tomorrow XPN buys them and shuts down the division. Large customers who had iron-clad contracts inked get some compensation, small customers get boned. It’s all ‘supplier’s best intents’ for the small fish. And low and behold, supplier’s intent is the subject of this conversation.

> It would take on single piece of tooling to fail for that part to never be available from AllWinner again. There’s an obvious reason Olimex ordered 90K of them.

You mean there’s a vendor on the planet who’s not vulnerable to ‘a single piece of tooling failure’ for them to ‘fulfill your order next year, maybe’ and thus kill your product? For all we know, the obvious reason Olimex ordered 90K of them is they sell their A13 boards at certain rates, and that’s the batch size that makes best sense for them.

dgp
Guest
dgp

>It’s extremely easy to claim things when you’re not in the supply chain.

You can go on taobao and order them just as easily as I can. If you want them cheaper I can give you the contact details of some brokers in Shenzhen that’ll hook you up.

>Large customers who had iron-clad contracts inked get some compensation

Which is better than being left totally high and dry with a vendor that is totally outside of your legal reach. Also vendors like freescale/NXP work through distributors, provide announcements for product changes and usually provide notice well in advance. They don’t always do that of course.

>You mean there’s a vendor on the planet who’s not vulnerable to
>‘a single piece of tooling failure’ for them to ‘fulfill your order next year

Of course not but if I have contracts that say I’m going to supply a part for ten years and face potentially getting sued for damages means I have more incentive to do the EOL planning a bit better than “hey buddy, you order 50,000 and we’ll make um just for you even if the raw materials aren’t available anymore.”.

blu
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blu

> You can go on taobao and order them just as easily as I can. If you want them cheaper I can give you the contact details of some brokers in Shenzhen that’ll hook you up.

Order just as easily how many? 5 pcs? 10 pcs? 1000 pcs? Here’s a suggestion for you: since you’re apparently skilled at procuring parts that Olimex, a vendor that’s been sourcing those since 2012, apparently totally suck at, to the point of depending on Allwinner for scrap runs, why don’t you hook up Olimex, for a small commission for yourself — hey, it’s free money! Oh, and let us know how it went, please!

dgp
Guest
dgp

>Order just as easily how many? 5 pcs? 10 pcs? 1000 pcs?

Buying 10 pcs can be harder than buying 1000pcs because a full sealed tray is more valuable to brokers. The packaged unit for the A13 seems to be 600pcs so you’ll be looking at ordering multiples of that if possible.

>you’re apparently skilled at procuring parts that Olimex,
>a vendor that’s been sourcing those since 2012, apparently totally suck at,

They haven’t totally sucked at it. They have 90K of them in their inventory. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t caches of them with brokers and so forth. The brokers will probably never totally sell out as I mentioned before the price will shoot right up once the supply thins out and that’ll make them uneconomical for almost everyone.

>to the point of depending on Allwinner for scrap runs,

Hold on .. lets wind back a bit. You were trying to claim that AllWinner will be able to produce these chips no problem forever and now Olimex had to depend on scrap runs? Which is it?

>why don’t you hook up Olimex, for a small commission for yourself

So the chips aren’t readily available even with a direct contact to AllWinner now? So the ~7 comments where you were trying to make out that these chips are totally available and not going away any time soon was bs?

blu
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blu

Erm, I was impersonating you, dgp. Sorry for flying over your head.

dgp
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dgp

>Why do they use the H5, it is end of life ?

Because they can get the chips and people will buy the boards. It’s not like they have to supply them for 10 years, provide a last order date or anything.

manuel
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manuel

If H5 is EOL, what is the allwinner procesador that is not EOL? H6? H3?

willy
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willy

H6 which is better but I’m not sure is as well supported yet in mainline.

theguyuk
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theguyuk

Also the H603 the cut price version

Diego
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Diego
Igor Pecovnik
Guest

Exactly. Jernej did a lot of the hard work here. H6 is also planned to move under the Armbian “stable” in next major release. Stability issues expressed on some boards are last remaining nasty known bug, fix coming with 5.4.y. Core stuff is operational for some time.

Guest
Guest
Guest

I love the tiny form factor, plus the eMMC connector. If it’s really using a SY8106A regulator controlled via I2C then this should be clockable to 1.4GHz (like on the NEO Core2), which would be great.

However it’s really unfortunate that they don’t bring SPI out on the I/O pins. I use several NEO2s (and Plus2s) today and utilize SPI on all of them…sigh

Willy
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Willy

At this point I think they’re really victim of their form factor. There’s simply no more physical room on the board to even add connectors. And having the eMMC on a connector already saves room by placing it above the PCB and only taking the PCB place needed for the connector. The next huge thing to remove should be the SD connector but most users would rightfully complain.

I’m seeing that the connector has GPIOA0 & GPIOA2, you can probably bit-bang SPI there.

dgp
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dgp

>There’s simply no more physical room on the board to even add connectors.

They could use SMD 2.54MM headers for the common signals and place the less used signals underneath on a mezzanine.

The i2c/uart/gpio connector is ~10mm wide, a 0.4mm mezzanine connector[0] under there gets you 50 connections in that space if it’s actually possible to route.

0 – Something like this https://www.digikey.com/product-detail/en/panasonic-electric-works/AXT650124/255-2399-2-ND/1986593

Willy
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Willy

> They could use SMD 2.54MM headers for the common signals and place the less used signals underneath on a mezzanine
Not that much in fact, because the sole reason for this form factor is its compatibility with existing enclosures, and this implies that a flat aluminum plate/heat sink is placed underneath.

dgp
Guest
dgp

If you were using the mezzanine connector it would be up to you to work out how to put it in a case… but if really has to go in an existing case use SMD headers and then put an FFC connector sticking out from the edge of the board. You wouldn’t get as many pins but better than them not being broken out at all.

theguyuk
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theguyuk

Wonder why they have not tried the Core6818 SoC S5P6818 for one of these form factors?

Willy
Guest
Willy

The chip is quite large. On my Fire3 there are a number of components around that I’m not sure would fit in 4cm*4cm. It’s true however that it would bring an impressive amount of power per square cm!