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Open spec, $29 COM shrinks Pine A64 to SODIMM dimensions

Jan 18, 2017 — by Eric Brown — 3,140 views
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Pine64’s open spec, 67.9 x 31mm “SoPine A64” COM has a quad-core -A53 Allwinner A64 and 2GB RAM, plus an optional baseboard that mimics a Pine A64+ SBC.

Yet another Linux-friendly, 64-bit hacker board has been squeezed into computer-on-module format, bridging the gap between the hobbyist maker market and commercial embedded manufacturing. Like the $25 to $30 Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 announced this week, Pine64’s SoPine A64 module integrates a quad-core, Cortex-A53 SoC into a compact SODIMM-style form factor. The SODIMM-DDR3 form factor makes it practical for developers to cluster multiple COMs on a motherboard, says Pine64.



SoPine A64 module (left) and mounted on SoPine Baseboard
(click images to enlarge)

Starting in February, the open-spec, Allwinner A64-based SoPine A64 module will launch for $29, and will be available with a $15 SoPine Baseboard Model A. When purchased together in a $35 package (or $40 with power supply), you essentially get a sandwich style, community backed version of the Pine A64+ single board computer. By comparison, the 2GB Pine A64+ sells for $29, so you’re only paying a little bit more for a more flexible, potentially upgradable, development platform.


Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 (left) compared to SoPine A64
(click images to enlarge)

There have been a growing number of community-backed, sandwich-style SBCs that feature separately available COMs. However, the RPi CM3 and SoPine A64 stand out as the only two 64-bit ARM products in this category. They are also notable for being among the few that offer full schematics for the COM as well as the baseboard. In the 32-bit world, The Next Thing does something similar with the Chip Pro COM version of its Chip SBC, which also offers a very fully documented, and separately available, Allwinner R8 SoC.


SoPine A64 detail views
(click image to enlarge)

The SoPine A64 module is so closely matched with the guts of the Pine A64 SBC that the datasheet link takes you directly to a Pine A64 wiki. The module measures 67.9 x 31mm compared to 67.6 x 31mm for the Raspberry Pi CM3, and its Allwinner A64 SoC has the same 1.2GHz quad-core Cortex A53 foundation as the Broadcom BCM2837 on the CM3. It differs, however, in the GPU, giving you a 500MHz Mali-400 MP2 GPU instead of the RPi CM3’s 400MHz VideoCore IV.

The SoPine A64 has 2GB LPDDR3 RAM, compared to 1GB LPDDR2 on the CM3. Instead of offering onboard flash, it features a microSD slot. By comparison, the CM3 gives you an option of 4GB of onboard eMMC ($30), or for $5 less, an interface that supports SD or flash memory on a carrier. The SoPine A64 is further equipped with 128Mb of SPI flash and a power management unit, and interfaces are expressed via a 204-pin SODIMM edge interface.



SoPine A64 with Baseboard block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The SoPine Baseboard feature set, layout, and 127 x 79mm dimensions appear to be almost identical to a PineA64+, but without the core section, which is replaced by the SoPine A64 COM. The main difference is that the Pine A64’s microSD slot has been replaced with a slot for optional eMMC. The SoPine A64’s module is apparently still accessible, despite being bottom-mounted.


SoPine Baseboard (left) and Pine A64 SBC
(click images to enlarge)

Like the $15 Pine A64 and $29 A64+, the SoPine Baseboard is equipped with HDMI, audio, dual USB 2.0 host ports. In place of the micro-USB port, there’s a 5V power jack. Expansion features include a Pi-compatible, 40-pin connector, a 14-pin Euler connector, and another 10-pin EXP 10 connector. There are also RTC and battery headers, and a connector for plugging in a WiFi/Bluetooth module.

Like the Pine A64+, there’s GbE instead of Fast Ethernet, as well as MIPI-DSI with touch support, and a MIPI-CSI camera interface. (See our previous Pine A64 coverage for more details.)

The software and SDK section is currently empty, but it would appear the SoPine A64 is supported with the same extensive list of images available for the Pine A64. This includes Android 5x, 6x, and 7x, Windows 10 IoT beta, and a wide range of Linux releases such as Ubuntu, Arch, OpenSuse, Fedora 24, Gentoo, DietPi, and Armbian.

 
Further information

The SoPine A64 and related boards will be available starting Feb. 10. The SoPine A64 module sells for $29 while the barebones SoPine Baseboard sells for $15. Sandwich-style combo packages sell for $35, or $40 with power supply. More information may be found on Pine64’s SoPine product page.
 

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One response to “Open spec, $29 COM shrinks Pine A64 to SODIMM dimensions”

  1. Nathan Lake says:

    I ordered a pine64 and selected yes on the power supply and the Bluetooth/Wi-Fi module and paid up front and almost a year later got a a pine64. No power supply no module. Sent 3 emails before I got a response that said they would have the shipping department send them out. Her we are at least 6 months later and 2 more email with no response and not power supply and no module. Would not recommend buying anything from this company unless it’s COD.

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