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Tiny, $9 Orange Pi may be first 96Boards IoT SBC to run Linux

Jul 6, 2017 — by Eric Brown 5,469 views

The “Orange Pi i96” is a 96Boards IoT-like SBC with a Cortex-A5 based RDA8810PL SoC, WiFi and Bluetooth, USB and micro-USB, and a 40-pin header.

Shenzhen Xunlong’s 60 x 30mm Orange Pi i96 appears to be the second 96Boards IoT Edition (IE) board after the BLE Carbon from SeeedStudio, and the first to run Linux. While the Carbon runs Zephyr on an ST Cortex-M4 SoC, the Orange Pi i96 uses the same Cortex-A5 based RDA8810PL SoC from RDA Microelectronics adopted by the $10, 68 x 42mm Orange Pi 2G-IOT, but without the 2G GPRS baseband component.

Orange Pi i96, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Although the board was previewed last September at Linaro Connect 2016 in Las Vegas (LAS2016), and Shenzhen Xunlong states: “We are cooperate with 96Boards to development this Orange Pi i96,” there is no Orange Pi i96 entry on the 96Boards IoT Edition page, and may never be. The SBC implements the 60 x 30mm “Standard Micro” IE format’s 40-pin low-speed expansion connector option that’s required on the “Extended” format, rather than the 30-pin subset used on the Carbon board.

Slide from LAS2016 keynote (left) and 96Boards IoT Edition Standard form-factor spec with the 40-pin low-speed connector option
(click images to enlarge)

This appears to an open-spec board like the other community-backed Orange Pi SBCs, but the links to Orange Pi i96 resources at the downloads page currently point to nonexistent pages. There’s a shopping page that sells the AliExpress for $8.80, but at publication time there was also a note stating the item is no longer available.

Orange Pi i96
(click image to enlarge)

The Orange Pi i96’s RDA8810PL SoC, which is billed by RDA as supporting up to 1GHz speed, is once again paired with a Vivante GC860 GPU. The board is said to be available with Android, Ubuntu, and Debian images, and it likely runs the same images available with the Orange Pi 2G-IOT.

Orange Pi

Like the Orange Pi 2G-IOT, there’s an onboard RDA5991 WiFi/Bluetooth module with external antenna, as well as 256MB LPDDR2 RAM, 500MB NAND flash, and a microSD slot. Following the IE spec, there is both a USB host port and a micro-USB OTG port.


The Orange Pi i96 offers a CSI interface supporting an up to 5-megapixel camera, but there are no discrete LCD or audio interfaces listed. No pinout appears to be available for the 40-pin connector. There’s also a 3-pin GPIO connector, and the 5V board has optional battery support.

Specifications listed for the Orange Pi i96 include:

  • Processor — RDA Microelectronics RDA8810PL (1x Cortex-A5 at up to 1GHz); Vivante GC860 GPU
  • Memory (via RDA8810PL) – 256MB LPDDR2 RAM; 500MB NAND flash
  • Storage expansion — microSD slot
  • Wireless:
    • WiFi (2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, and FM via RDA5991 module
    • Antenna
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 2.0 host port
    • Micro-USB OTG port
    • MIPI-CSI interface
    • GPIO (1×3) header
    • 40-pin expansion connector
  • Other features — Boot selector; LED
  • Power — 5V via micro-USB; optional battery input; power button
  • Dimensions — 60 x 30mm
  • Operating system — Android, Ubuntu, Debian,

Further information

The Orange Pi i96 may be available for $8.80 at this AliExpress Orange Pi i96 shopping page, which currently lists it as out of stock. As usual, shipping to the U.S. starts at a low $3.80. More information should soon appear on the Orange Pi website.

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4 responses to “Tiny, $9 Orange Pi may be first 96Boards IoT SBC to run Linux”

  1. chip says:

    Before anyone complains about the lack of memory: this board is probably aimed at data collecting from sensors or surveillance and retransmission using Wifi. For this task it would likely use a heavily stripped down Linux image from the internal flash (no SD card required) and also no video or audio output would be needed. In this context less cores, less devices and less memory is a good thing because it equals to low costs and lower power consumption.

  2. Mehmet says:

    It would be really nice to have rgb lcd and larger memory option. 256mb is way too low for applications beside ip camera or simple iot devices.

  3. Tom says:

    I think the CSI interface is limited to 2mp. that is what the data sheet says anyway not sure why?

  4. Griff says:

    I’ve tried a couple of these boards, and they aren’t reliable enough for production with the supplied distro…the MAC address for WiFi regenerates at every reboot and Ethernet connectivity is a suggestion most of the time, even with a wired dongle plugged into the USB. I watched the boards bind to an address (as reported by the router) and then simply ignore any traffic to it.

    I was really disappointed because these are a nice low power low heat board that would be ideal for embedded work, considering they have a real usb port and an antenna port. It’s not to be, and the Armbian folks say they probably won’t be able to offer support.

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