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Hardware Technology

FriendELEC Releases $40 NanoPi K2 Board That Competes With ODROID-C2, Raspberry Pi 3 (cnx-software.com) 80

DeathByLlama writes: The single board computer market, broken wide-open just a few years ago by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, continues to flourish today as FriendELEC releases their $40 NanoPi K2 board. This SBC packs a 1.5 GHz 64-bit quad core Amlogic S905 processor, and paired with 2GB of DDR3 RAM and the Mali-450MP GPU, it is able to stream 4K at 60 FPS. Add in gigabit ethernet, onboard Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, IR (and a remote!), eMMC compatibility, a familiar GPIO header, and a $40 price tag, and you end up with some stiff competition for other market leaders like Hardkernel's ODROID-C2 and Raspberry Pi's flagship Pi 3. The release is clearly in early phases with Ubuntu images and house-sold eMMC modules still on their way. It's amazing to see such strong competition in this market -- and with so many sub-$100, incredibly capable SBC options, which will choose?
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FriendELEC Releases $40 NanoPi K2 Board That Competes With ODROID-C2, Raspberry Pi 3

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  • I've recent purchased a couple of Android TV box for usage as digital signage. They had the the same specs with the same price. But they came with a case and power supply. Why doesn't some Chinese manufacture make a vanilla Android box that is hacker friendly? Let us easily the OS as we see fit.
  • Is it FriendELEC, or FriendlyELEC? You owe it to the manufacturer to, for God's sake, AT LEAST GET THEIR NAME RIGHT!
  • These little ARM boards are great but, I'd love to see some super cheap ARM/FPGA boards become available. Something like a Zybo but in the $50 price range with just enough FPGA fabric to offload tasks that the CPU is abysmal at. The RPI brought embedded computing to the masses and it's been great but, a $50 ARM board with an FPGA could bring some flavor of High Level Synthesis (and AXI) to the masses. That's whole new level of nerdiness and enables a proper next generation type of hobby embedded stuff.

  • by c ( 8461 )

    A Pi clone is just a cheaper Pi. Nothing we really haven't seen before.

    Now, FriendlyElec's Neo series is a bit more interesting... 40mm x 40mm, no GPU... sort of a riff on the Pi Zero, but not a slavish clone and with more port options (ethernet/full-USB on one, WiFi/camera on another, etc). I've got a couple of them running around the house in places a Pi would be overkill, but a Pi Zero would require extra components.

    • But it has Mali. That's a big fail unless you want to use it as a little server, for which you'd want SATA or USB3. Which it doesn't have.

      • by c ( 8461 )

        Yeah, I/O isn't blazing, but the Neo's are quite adequate for the workloads I use it for (some of which I've migrated from wifi routers using optware+USB keys, so the bar is quite low). OctoPrint works decently. YMMV, of course, but that's why it's nice to have a broad ecosystem of Pi-like devices rather than just a bunch of pin-for-pin clones.

        I wouldn't use the FriendlyElec products for something like a media server; get a proper Pi for that stuff.

  • And more memory. 2Gig ain't what it used to be. (I had 16Meg in my 386SX rig back in the day.)
    Waiting for my ExpressoBINs to arrive.
    • (I had 16Meg in my 386SX rig back in the day.)

      Ee, when I were a lad I 'ad 32K and I were grateful for it.

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        Wow, you had the expensive memory upgrade hey?

      • 32K? Christ, your generation was spoiled.

        I still have my old ZX81 with the 16K RAM pack. You have to put ice cubes in Ziploc bags and rest them on the plastic above the heat sink, or else thermal expansion makes the edge connector lose contact with the board. Of course you can always go old school and just use the onboard RAM chip with 1024 bytes.

        Of course by 2050 we'll be cracking up at the thought of a Raspberry Pi- another British computer.
      • (I had 16Meg in my 386SX rig back in the day.)

        Ee, when I were a lad I 'ad 32K and I were grateful for it.

        Well, I was referring to my 386SX rig, not the first Apple ][ I had access to.

    • by Trongy ( 64652 )

      The reason these boards are cheap is that they are using surplus SOCs designed for smart TVs and set top boxes. A board that had SATA or PCIe support would cost much more than $5 extra.

      • The reason these boards are cheap is that they are using surplus SOCs designed for smart TVs and set top boxes. A board that had SATA or PCIe support would cost much more than $5 extra.

        Whatever. $5 more, $10 more. My point is that these SOCs are cute, but not worth wasting my time on.

  • Of course they did, because I just got my RPI3 yesterday, and I had been hemming and hawing for months about what device to get for an HTPC. Decided on PI3 for software and community support, so while this one looks real nice spec-wise, I might still have gone with the PI had I seen this one first. My initial impressions of the RPI3 is that it's surprisingly responsive for such a modest machine. It'd probably be usable as a primary desktop for most non-gamers. I've only played with it for a short time,

    • by hughbar ( 579555 )
      Yes, I actually used a Pi3 as a desktop for a few weeks when I managed to hose my main desktop. It was a little like the early 1990s but OK.
  • Specs (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 14, 2017 @09:18PM (#54237787)

    The specs of this new NanoPi are closer to the specs of the Odroid than to those of the RPi. NanoPi and Odroid have Gigabit Ethernet (and NanoPi has wireless on top of that), the RPi only has 10/100 Ethernet (internally connected to the USB interface) and wireless.

    Raspberry Pi Specs:

    SoC: Broadcom BCM2837
    CPU: 4× ARM Cortex-A53, 1.2GHz
    GPU: Broadcom VideoCore IV
    RAM: 1GB LPDDR2 (900 MHz)
    Networking: 10/100 Ethernet, 2.4GHz 802.11n wireless
    Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.1 Classic, Bluetooth Low Energy
    Storage: microSD
    GPIO: 40-pin header, populated
    Ports: HDMI, 3.5mm analogue audio-video jack, 4× USB 2.0, Ethernet, Camera Serial Interface (CSI), Display Serial Interface (DSI)

    Odroid C2 Specs:

    * Amlogic ARM® Cortex®-A53(ARMv8) 1.5Ghz quad core CPUs
    * Mali-450 GPU (3 Pixel-processors + 2 Vertex shader processors)
    * 2Gbyte DDR3 SDRAM
    * Gigabit Ethernet
    * HDMI 2.0 4K/60Hz display
    * H.265 4K/60FPS and H.264 4K/30FPS capable VPU
    * 40pin GPIOs + 7pin I2S
    * eMMC5.0 HS400 Flash Storage slot / UHS-1 SDR50 MicroSD Card slot
    * USB 2.0 Host x 4, USB OTG x 1 (power + data capable)
    * Infrared(IR) Receiver
    * Ubuntu 16.04 or Android 5.1 Lollipop based on Kernel 3.14LTS

    FriendELEC NanoPi:

    SoC – Amlogic S905 quad core cortex-A53 processor @ 1.5 GHz with penta core Mali-450MP GPU
            System Memory – 2GB DDR3
            Storage – eMMC module socket, micro SD slot
            Video Output – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60 Hz
            Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek RTL8211F), 802.11 b/g/n WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6212 module) with chip antenna + IPX connector
            USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports (GL825G USB hub) + micro USB OTG port for power and adata
            Expansion Header
                    40-pin header with GPIO, I2C, UART, ADC, PWM, SPDIF, and CVBS
                    7-pin I2S interface
            Debugging – 4-pin Serial console port (3.3V)
            Misc – Status & power LEDs, IR receiver, power key (populated)
            Power Supply – 5V/2A DC input via 4.0×1.7mm power barrel, or micro USB port
            Dimensions – 85 x 56mm

  • Hey BeauHD. Nice to see that you're still not bothered by the complex editing job of seeing that what you post actually makes sense.
  • If it can be controlled completely by Free Software then it becomes interesting. If there are any binary blobs -- or worse, blobs that cannot be replaced due to DRM -- then it's utterly worthless.

    • If it can be controlled completely by Free Software then it becomes interesting. If there are any binary blobs -- or worse, blobs that cannot be replaced due to DRM -- then it's utterly worthless.

      That's a foolish thing to say. Most users have binary blobs, and still manage to get worth out of their devices.

      On the other hand, what it is IMO is completely uninteresting, because we already have multiple options which have binary blobs, like Raspberry Pi or Pine A64+. (Banana Pi is an unreliable POS, or I would have mentioned it.)

    • AFAIK you can use it as headless server with free software only right now with a bit of google fu. There is a guy balbes150 (on cnx and armbian etc), who works for a company I've forgotten the name of that is bringing s905 and s905x support to the mainline kernel. He has a presentation of his efforts somwhere on youtube.

  • These are surplus s905 chips that nobody wants to use anymore, as they've move on to updated SoCs with x265 support.

    Still, this might be slick to build a MAME tabletop arcade box.

  • It amuses me how all these SBCs advertize decoding high definition video. Of all the things I can think of to do with a Pi--robotics, remote sensing, UAVs, etc--decoding video is just not on my radar. Besides that I tried using a Pi once for a XBMC/Kodi box and found the experience to be lacking. 1080p video did play just fine most of the time until something crashed.

    These devices can be used for amazingly cool projects. But I suspect 90% of them end up in the bottoms of drawers. I've got 4 in a drawer

    • I've got a raspberry pi3 plugged into an Xbox One TV Tuner running TVHeadend. It records all my tv shows for me onto my Western Digital Mycloud. I can watch them from any phone, tablet or TV in the house. I don't have it cutting out the commercials because it would bog it down so much...

    • Besides that I tried using a Pi once for a XBMC/Kodi box and found the experience to be lacking. 1080p video did play just fine most of the time until something crashed.

      You found it lacking and your complaining about companies attempting to improve those problems where it's lacking?
      Crashing? How did you crash a Raspberry pi running Kodi? There's a lot of ways to describe it, but unstable isn't one of them, and while the original RPi was a tad slow on the interface subsequent ones made them almost the perfect media centres.

      So here's a question: Why are they lying in a drawer? Because they were not suitable for your purposes? Why then complain that competition is driving an

      • On very rare occasions, in the past, a movie could indeed crash the player on a Pi. Haven't seen this for a year or two, though.
    • There are so many SBCs out there today. I wish there was at least _one_ that ran fully free software as defined by the FSF but I guess it is not a big deal for people.(https://www.fsf.org/resources/hw/single-board-computers)
  • Making a slightly better Pi for a slightly higher price isn't going to turn heads. The pi just works. There is lots of code and it is a known quantity.

    To beat the Pi there has to be some zing. Some problem that I am having needs to be solved.

    I can think of a few things that would wow me(one or more would be great). Lots of RAM. Really small footprint. Really cheap. Very low energy usage. Really good GPU. The whole thing on a single chip. A zillion cores (even if they are slow). vxWorks Compatible. And w
  • "It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for 'em"
  • The hardware side of all these Pi "clones" is fantastic. They blow past the original Raspberry version all the time. There are varieties that are smaller, cheaper, more powerful, more innovative, more features.

    However their operating systems and general support are awful. What little information is available is usually only made known by amateurs who's interest waxes and wanes, The operating systems are largely undocumented, old, and hit'n'miss as to whether they will work on any particular board - and fr

  • Are we returning to the good old days of computing, where there was more than two or three main platforms? Remember the days of MS-DOS, Mac, Amiga, Atari ST, TRS-80, C64, etc? The more fragmented the world because, the harder it becomes for viruses and all that crap to migrate and grow.

  • How far away is such a device from becoming able to be a good desktop PC from non gamer types of users?
  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Saturday April 15, 2017 @12:57PM (#54240129)

    Still waiting for the day when someone finally releases one of these small computers with SATA interfaces so I can make my own NAS.

Where are the calculations that go with a calculated risk?

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