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Sunday, 11 May 2014

Banana pi the new raspberry pi?

I was sent one of these $50 devices that look pretty much a cloned pi.  In fact when it arrived I placed it to the side thinking it was till I took another look.

So today I decided to take a look in detail at it and spent a good eight hours with it. Firstly I found bananapi.org to be useless and ended up after several googles finding www.leemaker.org which also has links to os images as well as a forum where they keep saying it's not a clone, but surely if that was the case you would move the sockets around a bit?

So here are the specs:

Banana PI hardware: 1Ghz ARM7 dual-core processor, 1GB DDR3 SDRAM,

Banana PI with Gigabit ethernet port, SATA Socket. It can run with Android 4.2.2 smoothly. The size of Banana PI M1 like the credit card, it can easily run with the game it support 1080P high definition video output, the GPIO compatible with Raspberry Pi and can run the ROM Image directly

Hardware specification
 
CPU
A20 ARM Cortex™-A7 Dual-Core
GPU
ARM Mali400MP2Complies with OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1
Memory (SDRAM)
1GB DDR3 (shared with GPU)
Onboard Storage
 
SD (Max. 64GB) / MMC card slot UP to 2T on 2.5 SATA disk
Onboard Network
10/100/1000 Ethernet RJ45,optional WIFI
Video Input
A CSI input connector allows for the connection of a camera module
Video Outputs
HDMI, CVBS , LVDS/RGB
Audio Output
3.5 mm Jack and HDMI
Power Source
5 volt via MicroUSB(DC In Only) and/or MicroUSB (OTG)
USB 2.0 Ports
2 (direct from Allwinner A20 chip)
Buttons
Reset button: Next to MicroUSB connector
Power button: Next to Reset button
Boot button (Optional): Behind HDMI connector
GPIO(2X13) pin
GPIO,UART,I2C bus,SPI bus with two chip selects,
CAN bus,ADC,PWM,+3.3v,+5v,ground.
LED
Power Key & RJ45
Remote
IR (Optional)
OS
Android 4.2,Firefox OS and Linux etc. OS
Interface definition
Product size
92 mm × 60mm
Weight
48g


The cloners or makers depending which side of the fence your sitting like to point out how fast and how much extra it has to a raspberry pi and whilst that is true you could buy nearly two pi s for the price of one banana. Also the raspberry pi was brought out as a way to teach programming for as little money as possible which it has achieved with great support for users and those in the education facilitation area.


I had to use a 16gb card as the 8gb image wouldn't fit to a 8gb card.  I did notice the speed increase doing an update and upgrade of the raspbian image.


I wasn't happy with how long the soldered legs sat underneath and maybe another day I will tidy this up to stop the risk of shorting. Maybe this is something that will be sorted before major shipping starts.

Next was to try the gpio board although the same as the pi it didn't like pibrella as my example board lighting up many of pibrella LEDs although I had not told it to.


The site says it supports multiple os's including Debian, android, Firefox and Xbmc which I see being popular due to the memory, processor speed and the ability to add a sata drive which could have all your films on.


There are also other possibilities for this board and on closer inspection has an option to add a battery for rtc, camera and screen through the dsi and csi which they are working on but will not take the raspberry pi s camera due to different connections etc.



So would I buy one? Well at this early stage no, but providing they can get the support in and decent gpio documentations then maybe.

I can't see schools buying into them when the raspberry does everything they need for half the price along with lots of support and downloads from raspberry pi, so for now the jury is out as we wait to see what happens over the coming months.