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RPi pseudo-clone features M.2 and PoE HAT support

Feb 13, 2019 — by Eric Brown — 1093 views

SinoVoip unvealed a mid-range “Banana Pi BPI-M4” SBC that runs Android 8.1 or Linux or a quad -A53 Realtek RTD1395 SoC plus HDMI, M.2, WiFi/BT, 40-pin GPIO, PoE support, and 5x USB ports.

SinoVoip is known for its Allwinner based SBCs, but last year it tried out a Realtek RTD1296 for its Banana Pi BPI-W2 router board, and now it has posted specs for a Banana Pi BPI-M4 SBC that uses a similarly quad-core, Cortex-A53 based Realtek RTD1395. There’s still no shopping page, but according to the CNXSoft post that alerted us to the BPI-M4, pricing may comes as early as next week.



Banana Pi BPI-M4
(click images to enlarge)

Like the octa-core -A7, Allwinner A83T based Banana Pi BPI-M3 and the quad -A7 Allwinner R40 based Banana Pi BPI-M2 Ultra, the Banana Pi BPI-M4 has a 92 x 60mm footprint and a 40-pin, Raspberry Pi compatible expansion connector.

There’s no clock rate listed for the RTD1395, but the Cortex-A53 foundation and Mali 470 MP4 GPU would make it more powerful than the BPI-M2 family of boards, which also include the quad-core, Cortex-A7 Allwinner based BPI-M2 Berry, BPI-M2 Magic, and BPI-M2 Zero. It’s unclear if it’s faster than the 1.8GHz, octa-core BPI-M3, which has an older PowerVR SGX544MP1 GPU.

The Banana Pi BPI-M4 generally approximates a Raspberry Pi layout, despite being a bit larger in both dimensions. Unlike the RPi SBCs, there’s an option for 2GB in addition to 1GB RAM, and it’s DDR4. You also get 8GB to 64GB eMMC and a microSD slot.

Despite SinoVoip hyping the RTD1395 as a video wizard with [email protected] and support for a variety of video protocols, the Banana Pi BPI-M4’s HDMI port is limited to 1080p. There’s also a note that there’s no support for H.265, despite Realtek claiming that capability for the RTD1395.



Banana Pi BPI-M4 front detail view
(click image to enlarge)

Ethernet is limited to 10/100Mbps, but there’s a Power-over-Ethernet connector that supports the official Raspberry Pi PoE HAT. The YouTube video farther below shows the SBC booting Android 8.1.1 via PoE power. SinoVoip also says it will run Linux, although with a new Realtek SoC, that may take a while.


Banana Pi BPI-M4 rear detail view (left) and with RPi PoE HAT
(click images to enlarge)

Like the Raspberry Pi, but not as many Pi pseudo-clones as you might think, there are 4x USB host ports. You also get a USB Type-C port that offers another power alternative.

The board ships with WiFi-ac and BT 4.2, and you could also add a cellular modem using the M.2 E-Key slot. The 5V board has a generous supply of power and boot buttons.

Specifications listed for the Banana Pi BPI-M4 include:

  • Processor — Realtek RTD1395 (4x Cortex-A53); ARM Mali-470 MP4 GPU
  • Memory/Storage:
    • RAM — 1GB or 2GB DDR4 RAM
    • 8GB eMMC expandable to up to 64GB
    • MicroSD slot for up to 256GB
  • Wireless — 802.11b/g/n/ac WiFi with Bluetooth 4.2 (RTL8821 module); antenna connector; M.2 (see farther below)
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet port; PoE connector for RPi PoE HAT
  • Media I/O:
    • HDMI port with support for 1080p and multi-channel audio
    • 3.5mm audio jack
  • Other I/O
    • 4x USB 2.0 host ports
    • USB 2.0 Type-C port
    • Debug UART
  • Expansion:
    • 40-pin, RPi 3-compatible expansion header with 28x GPIO, UART, I2C, power, SPI (or PWM), etc.
    • M.2 E-key (PCIe 2.0 and USB 2.0)
  • Other features — 2x LEDs; reset, power, install, UBoot buttons; boot select switch
  • Power — 5V/2A DC jack (or USB Type-C or PoE)
  • Weight — 48 g
  • Dimensions — 92 x 60mm
  • Operating system — Android 8 1 1; Linux




Banana Pi BPI-M4 booting Android 8 1 1, powered by Raspberry Pi PoE HAT

 
Further information

Pricing for the Banana Pi BPI-M4 should appear next week, probably via an AliExpress shopping page. More information may be found on the still incomplete BPI-M4 wiki, which should eventually point to schematics, image downloads, and other open-spec documentation, and more should eventually appear on the Banana Pi product page.
 

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