Banana Pi BPI-M5 Amlogic S905X3 SBC in the Works

Banana Pi BPI-M5 is an upcoming Amlogic S905X3 SBC following the Raspberry Pi form factor, and that is pretty similar to Hardkernel ODROID-C4 launched earlier this year with the same quad-core Cortex-A55 processor.

BPI-M5 will come with 4GB LPDDR4 RAM, 16GB eMMC flash, and offers four USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, and on HDMI 2.1 output port for 4K/8K video output.

Banana Pi BPI-M5 preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Amlogic S905X3 quad-core Cortex-A55 processor @ up to 2.0 GHz with
    Mali-G31 MP2 GPU @ 650Mhz
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR4
  • Storage – 16GB eMMC flash (option up to 64GB), MicroSD slot up to 2TB
  • Video Output – HDMI 2.1 up to 4Kp60 with HDR, CEC, EDID
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack, digital HDMI audio
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB – 4x USB 3.0 ports via VL817 hub controller, 1x USB-C port (for power only?)
  • Expansion – 40-pin Raspberry Pi header with 28x GPIO, UART, I2C, SPI, PWM, and power signal (+5V, +3.3V, GND).
  • Debugging – 3-pin debug header
  • Misc – Reset, Power, and U-boot button; power and activity LED’s; IR receiver
  • Power Supply – 5V @3A via USB Type-C port
  • Dimensions – 92x60mm (Not the same as Raspberry Pi PCB size, but they probably included the connectors during measurement)
  • Weight – 48grams

The only real difference with ODROID-C4 is that the eMMC flash is soldered on-board instead of being offered as a module. There’s also a single LPDDR4 chip on the board meaning single-channel memory, and very likely lower memory bandwidth than the dual-channel configuration used on the Hardkernel board.

The company says it will provide Android and Linux images, as well as source code. We’ll have to see pricing once the board comes out, but Banana Pi BPI-M5 will likely be a tough sell against ODROID-C4 since Hardkernel’s software support and community have so far been much better then what Banana Pi has to offer. Another alternative is Khadas VIM3L development board powered by a similar Amlogic S905D3 SoC.

The company should eventually provide more details in the Wiki.

Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.

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tkaiser
tkaiser
10 days ago

> The only real difference with ODROID-C4 is that the eMMC flash is soldered on-board

There’s another major difference. The BPI folks love undervoltage hassles since their first design and by choosing dumb USB-C with 5V input they ensure USB consumers are likely to suffer from undervoltage under load.

Hardkernel folks learned their lessons and ODROID C4 has a power circuitry using wide range input voltage (5.5V~15.5V) to always provide stable 5V on the USB3 ports.

Salva
Salva
10 days ago

I can understand 12v as mandatory on an RK3399, not on this low power and poorly I/O featured amlogic socs

tkaiser
tkaiser
10 days ago

Seems you don’t understand why it’s important ‘to always provide stable 5V on the USB3 ports’…

Hint: it’s not about the SoC but about connected 5V peripherals like directly attached USB disks.

Salva
Salva
10 days ago

Bc you don’t understand my point. They should not be 4 usb 3.0 ports when they are all shared bc the soc is a crappy one.

Lloyd Seaton
Lloyd Seaton
10 days ago

On my desktop I have wired mouse, keyboard, printer and an SSD storage device. They all plug in to USB 3.0 ports without needing to pick and choose ports and there is more than enough bandwidth and no external hub. The SoC consumes 2 or 3 Watts. Yes, I’ll be pleased when hardware acceleration arrives for Chromium but in the meantime I enjoy the practice of “less is more”. Just what kind of use case do you think this cheap and efficient SBC is too “crappy” for?

Salva
Salva
10 days ago

Both N2/C4 arr very bad SBC bc their soc are only good for gaming, not as desktop sbcs due the terrible I/O they have. And they aren’t good neither for gaming bc they not use 5V type C so you can’t make a handheld with them. ARM sbc’s are good bc they are low power. This boards can run without any problem at 5v, the rest is ridiculous bc they aren’t desktop class soc’s like rk3399

P.P.A.
P.P.A.
10 days ago

The pricing will make or break this – my bet is on breaking. S905X3 TV boxes are extremely cheap on AliExpress and the likes, going for as little as 30–35 € sometimes with 4 GB RAM and 32–64 GB eMMC. They’re shoddily built, unreliable, and badly supported of course, but if you wanted a higher-quality product, you would buy an Odroid C4 instead (or skip the S905X3 and get a RPi4, RK3399, or H6 board, depending on your needs). Given the M5’s single-channel memory, internal USB3 hub, and powering issues mentioned here, I don’t see anyone paying a premium for… Read more »

P.P.A.
P.P.A.
10 days ago

Mea culpa: the C4 has an internal USB3 hub too.

Hasan Hraki
10 days ago

What about price and availability?

Salva
Salva
10 days ago

The amlogic soc doesn’t support dual channel. Having 2 separate RAM chips by themselves aren’t dual channel. It’s like saying than those 4 usb 3.0 have each one an usb 3.0 buffer. They don’t. It’s just false advertisement on both odroid/banana pi.

Willy
Willy
10 days ago

There is no such “false advertisement”, as none of them claims dual channel. Odroid says “DDR4 4GiB with 32-bit bus widthData rate: 2640 MT/s (PC4-21333 grade)”, and VIM3L says “2GB LPDDR4/X 1608MHz, 32bit”; it’s just that Jean-Luc got confused about it, but there’s no bad intent here.

Salva
Salva
10 days ago

The 4 usb 3.0 are false advertisement.

tkaiser
tkaiser
10 days ago

This sort of ‘false advertisement’ has been established by the Raspberry Pi. All iterations except the most recent RPi 4 have all USB ports behind at least one internal USB hub (the RPi 3B+ even managed to cascade two hubs internally).

Salva
Salva
10 days ago

Rpi4 have 2 usb 3.0 for one pci lane, not 4. Rpi4 have mesa drivers from day 1. Rpi4 have VPU for h264 from day 1. Aside not having emmc it’s far superior than C4, and cost wise superior than N2. The only one than compete with rpi4 is rk3399. Those odroid boards are fancy tv boxes. I use my C4 as a tv box abd it will be like that forever.

Igor Pecovnik
10 days ago

RPi is a proprietary video player from the day 1 and still not having a reliable storage which means its in fact too slow desktop class, acceptable video player, perhaps retro gaming … Outside such use cases it has many competitors. Many of them are better in the purpose they were designed for.

willy
willy
9 days ago

What exactly didn’t you understand in this sentence copy-pasted from the odroid page : “Since four USB host ports share a single root hub, the transfer rate will be lower if you use multiple USB3 devices at the same time” ?

I think it’s extremely clear and the most transparent possible from a vendor. If at least all vendors would be that transparent!

P.P.A.
P.P.A.
9 days ago

Thanks for clarifying. My initial impression when seeing one vs. two RAM chips is to assume single- vs. dual-channel (and apparently M. Aufranc’s too), so it’s good for this to be cleared up.

willy
willy
9 days ago

As a hint you’ll note that often the 32-bit chips are much wider, almost as large as eMMC chips, just due to the extra pins. Once you get used to recognize them, you’ll immediately spot them on boards in an eye blink.

Lloyd Seaton
Lloyd Seaton
10 days ago

I see no provision for a heat sink on this board. OTOH Odroid-C4 comes with an adequate, properly fitted passive heat sink. For my usage, this heat sink allows the device to operate without thermal stress when mounted in the optional (cheap) plastic enclosure and overclocked to 2.1 GHz.

Willy
Willy
10 days ago

While I generally agree with your point, the S905X3 SOC is so much low power that even a tiny 2cmx2cmx1cm heat sink will be sufficient and can be glued on top.

Lloyd Seaton
Lloyd Seaton
7 days ago

Watching YouTube on Chromium the Odroid-C4 CPUs are pretty well maxed out, about 40% of frames are dropped and reported SoC temperature sits at approx 55 C above ambient. Using Firefox instead, the CPU load is more like 50% and no frames are dropped except a few during start up. Reported SoC temperature sits at approx 50 C above ambient. I’m happy with SoC temperatures of 70~75 C but expect that SoC temperature would be significantly higher if a less substantial heat sink was in place and I would be less comfortable.

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