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Latest quad-core Banana Pi offers SATA support at $32

Jun 20, 2017 — by Eric Brown 5,425 views

SinoVoiP’s open-spec, Linux- and Android-ready “Banana Pi BPI-M2 Berry” SBC has a Raspberry Pi-like layout, WiFi, BT, GbE, HDMI, 4x USB, CSI, and SATA.

SinoVoip’s Banana Pi project has introduced a variation on its $40 Banana Pi M2 Ultra hacker SBC with a smaller, Raspberry Pi like, 85 x 56mm footprint instead of the Ultra’s 92 x 60mm. The quad-core Banana Pi BPI-M2 Berry offers fairly similar features to the Ultra, which is also somewhat like that of the older, 92 x 60mm Banana Pi M2. The main difference compared to the M2 is that the Berry and the Ultra models add SATA support, and not just the under-powered USB variety.

Banana Pi BPI-M2 Berry, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

As the Elektor review that alerted us to the Berry notes, if you don’t need SATA in a smaller RPi-like form factor and price point, there is little reason to choose the Berry, as it offers a quad-core, Cortex-A7 SoC for only three dollars less than the faster quad -A53 Raspberry Pi 3.

But if you do need that combination at a low price, you’ll be hard pressed to find it elsewhere. SinoVoip is leading the way among hacker boards with its SATA support, which draws upon the native SATA support added to newer Allwinner SoCs. You can also find native SATA on the octa-core Allwinner A64 based Banana Pi BPI-M3, but at a price of $74. In our recent hacker survey, in which readers selected their favorites among 98 SBCs, the M3 model ranked 25th and the Ultra ranked 35th. Both trailed the 20th ranked, quad -A53 Banana Pi BPI-M64, which lacks SATA.


The reason we have not yet named the Banana Pi BPI-M2 Berry’s SoC is that it’s rather unclear which model SinoVoip is offering. The Elektor review and SinoVoip’s own photos indicate an Allwinner R40, which is used on the Ultra. However, SinoVoip documentation lists it as either an unnamed quad-core -A7 Soc or as either supporting the Allwinner V40 or R40. CNXSoft, meanwhile, says it’s the V40. In either case, the SoC has four Cortex-A7 cores (probably clocked to 1.2GHz), and ships with an ARM Mali-400 MP2 GPU.

The CNXSoft post goes indepth on the confusing state of Allwinner SoC models, stating that it’s quite possible there are no physical differences between the R40 and V40 models. Allwinner often spins several different brands from the same SoC aimed at different segments and supported with different SDKs. So the R40 is aimed at IoT while the V40 targets video cameras, but they may be exactly the same SoC. A similar situation occurs with the Allwinner A64 and Allwinner R18. As the story notes, the existence of multiple SDKs likely slows any repair of bugs from one version to the other.

Banana Pi BPI-M2 Berry detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The main difference from the Ultra aside from the dimensions is the Berry’s lack of onboard eMMC storage and its allotment of only 1GB DDR3 instead of 2GB. On the other hand, the Berry adds a fourth USB 2.0 host port and a MIPI-CSI connector, which would fit with the shift to the Allwinner V40 camera SoC. In place of a 5V jack, you draw power from the micro-USB OTG port, and it lacks the Ultra’s battery support, IR receiver, or debug UART. Like other Banana Pi models, of course, it features a Raspberry Pi compatible 40-pin expansion connector.

SinoVoip claims the board fits into standard Raspberry Pi enclosures, and it posts an image to that effect. Yet, the Elektor review encountered some slightly non-standard port placements that required modifications to fit into the RPi enclosure. Otherwise, the review found no major problems with the board, which like other Banana Pi models is supported with open specifications and community support.

Specifications listed for the Banana Pi BPI-M2 Berry include:

  • Processor — Allwinner V40 or R40 (4x Cortex-A7); ARM Mali-400 MP2 GPU @ 500MHz
  • RAM — 1GB DDR3
  • Storage:
    • MicroSD slot for up to 256GB
    • SATA interface
  • Wireless — 802.11b/g/n WiFi (AP 6212); Bluetooth 4.0
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Multimedia I/O:
    • HDMI 1.4 out with audio, TV out
    • 4-lane MIPI-DSI out
    • MIPI-CSI
    • 3.5mm audio jack with mic support
  • Other I/O:
    • 4x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB 2.0 OTG port for power
    • 40-pin, RPi-compatible expansion header with GPIO, UART, I2C, SPI, PWM, I2S, etc.
  • Other features — 2x LEDs; reset, power, U-Boot buttons
  • Power — 5V/2A via micro-USB OTG
  • Weight — 40 g
  • Dimensions — 85 x56mm
  • Operating system — Debian, Ubuntu, Raspbian Linux; Android

Further information

The Banana Pi BPI-M2 Berry is available now for $32. More information may be found on SinoVoip’s Berry shopping and product pages.


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4 responses to “Latest quad-core Banana Pi offers SATA support at $32”

  1. LinAdmin says:

    Unfortunately all SATA support of the Allwinner SOC lack good writing speed.

    • chip says:

      Also single SATA isn’t of much help when any decent NAS should have at least two ports for basic soft mirroring.

      • Goblin says:

        Raspberry Pi would support infinite number of NAS drives. You can plug them to the same USB host with USB/SATA bridges.

        • chip says:

          USB is too slow and unreliable for anything serious. Even if the USB2 ports would allow true 480Mbit/s transfer (which is science fiction), that in the real world would be much slower even compared to the slowest SATA implementation. Moreover, using a HUB every USB port would share the bus among devices while a multiport SATA controller would move data to/from each disk at full speed. They’re not even remotely comparable.
          I’m 100% sure a 2+ SATA port *PI like board would be a killer product. There’s so much room for product diversification: just think of two more *PI like boards; both lacking the GPU but the first has 3*gigabit LAN and the second 2+ native (not mapped to USB) SATA ports. The 1st one would be a heck of a firewall board while the 2nd would make a darn interesting NAS platform.

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