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Under $40 quad-core Cortex-A9 SBC offers expansion shields

Sep 17, 2015 — by Eric Brown 3,696 views

[Updated: Sept. 18] —’s “Sparky” SBC runs Linux or Android on a quad-core, Cortex-A9 SoC, and offers RPi compatible shields for amp, WiFi, eMMC, GbE, and LCD.

Allo is a Canadian company established in Bangalore, India, where it manufactures VOIP hardware such as digital telephony cards, VOIP gateways, hybrid PBX systems, IP phones, ATAs, UTM security appliances, and SBCs (Session Border Controllers). Now, Allo is trying out an entirely different type of SBC with a Linux- and Android-ready single-board computer dubbed Sparky.

Allo Sparky SBC
(click image to enlarge)

Allo primarily aims its Sparky SBC at networking applications such as telecom, networking, NAS, and security applications. In fact, the board forms the foundation for the latest Allo PBX device, as well as its SIP Threat Manager, and UTM, as well as that other SBC product, which is used to protect Asterisk PBX systems.

The board also supports media play, gaming, and home automation, however, and it has a fetching sub-$40 price and Raspberry Pi expansion compatibility in order to address that broader market. There are no signs that this is an open-spec, community backed project, however, although the company notes that “more and more open source projects join forces with Allo and offer their software solution for our platform.”

Allo Sparky details, top (left) and bottom
(click images to enlarge)

The Sparky SBC offers 1GB or 2GB of DDR3 RAM, as well as a microSD slot and optional NAND or eMMC expansion. A 10/100 Ethernet port is provided along with a USB 3.0 port, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, and an HDMI port, among other I/O.


The Sparky SBC is slightly larger than the Raspberry Pi at 95 x 58mm, and it similarly offers a 40-pin expansion connector that is said to support Raspberry Pi HAT-compatible shields.

Sparky shields that will be offered by include, but are not limited to:

  • Amplifier — 138mW Direct Path stereo headphone amp with 102dB signal to noise ratio, supporting 50W output
  • TI DAC — 384KHz/32-bit DAC with 138mW stereo headphone output
  • Camera — 5-megapixel autofocus
  • LCD — 7- or 8-inch, 1024 x 600 touchscreen with high-end glass frame
  • eMMC — 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB eMMC flash
  • Wireless — WiFi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee
  • USB Ethernet (GbE) — 2x gigabit Ethernet ports via USB 3.0

Amp (left) and TI DAC shields
(click image to enlarge)

Specifications listed for the Sparky SBC include:

  • Processor — Actions Semi S500 (4x Cortex-A9 @ up to 1.6GHz); PowerVR SGX544 GPU
  • Memory:
    • 1GB or 2GB DDR3 RAM
    • Optional 8GB to 64GB eMMC flash
    • Optional NAND flash
    • MicroSD slot
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet port (2x GbE via shield option)
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 3.0 host port
    • 2x USB 2.0 OTG ports
    • Micro-USB port (for power)
    • HDMI port up to [email protected]
    • 34-pin LCD connector
    • 24-pin 5-megapixel camera interface
    • IR interface
    • 50-pin telecom connector
    • Uext connector for Olimex board
  • Expansion — 2×20 pin Raspberry Pi HAT-compatible header with optional shields
  • Other features — LEDs; power, reset, volume, home buttons
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 40°C
  • Power — 5V DC via micro-USB
  • Dimensions — 95 x 58 x 16mm
  • Operating system — Android; Linux (Ubuntu 14, Arch ARM, OpenELEC, Fedora)

Further information

The Sparky SBC will be available “in several weeks” for an MSRP of under $40. More details will soon become available at

(advertise here)

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3 responses to “Under $40 quad-core Cortex-A9 SBC offers expansion shields”

  1. Nameless Observer says:

    Based on the photo, the processor appears to be an Actions Tech TM7059/S500.

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