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Open hacker board takes aim at Raspberry Pi 3

Apr 11, 2017 — by Eric Brown 7,292 views

The $30 Orange Pi Prime combines a quad Cortex-A53 Allwinner H5 SoC with 2GB RAM, wireless, MIPI-CSI, GbE, and a 40-pin expansion header.

Another Orange Pi has shaken loose from Shenzhen Xunlong’s highly productive Orange Pi tree in the form of an Orange Pi Prime that matches up nicely with the Raspberry Pi 3. There were already a half dozen distinct Orange Pi models by our year-end Linux hacker SBC roundup, and in only about three months, that tally has almost doubled if you include every new variant. Within a few years, the company’s engineers will no doubt have tested out every possible combination of size, RAM, I/O, and hacker board layout possible with an Allwinner processor.

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

Like the recent Orange Pi Win and Orange Pi Win Plus, which are identical except for the doubling of RAM to 2GB on the Plus, the Orange Pi Prime is a $30, fully open source SBC built on a quad-core, Cortex-A53 Allwinner SoC. Like the more minimalist, $20 Orange Pi PC 2 and Orange Pi Plus 2 H5, the Prime taps the newer Allwinner H5 SoC, which has a more capable Mali-450 MP2 graphics processor than the Win boards’ Allwinner A64. As usual, no clock rate was listed, although the H5 typically clocks to 1.2GHz.

Whenever a new Linux hacker board happens to rise to the attention of the mainstream tech press, it’s often erroneously referred to as a Raspberry Pi competitor — even when price, size, and features vary considerably. In the case of the Orange Pi Prime and Orange Pi Win boards, however, as well as some other boards like the NanoPi A64 or the Odroid-C2, the price, performance, and feature set closely approximate the Raspberry Pi 3, right down to the RPi-compatible 40-pin expansion connector.

Orange Pi Prime (left) compared to Orange Pi Win
(click images to enlarge)

The Orange Pi Prime has much in common with the Orange Pi Win boards, including the generous 2GB RAM, which is also available on the Odroid-C2. Like the Orange Pi Win, the Prime offers a microSD slot, a GbE port, and 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth radios with antenna. It similarly offers HDMI, AV, and 3.5mm audio outputs, as well as MIPI-CSI and microphone inputs.


Other common features include the 40-pin connector, as well as GPIO, debug, and IR interfaces, and a temperature range of -10 to 65℃. Even the 98 x 60mm footprint is only slightly larger than the Win’s 93 x 60mm. The main difference is that there are only three USB 2.0 host ports instead of four, and there’s no battery connector, PMIC, or optional eMMC.

Orange Pi Prime details
(click image to enlarge)

The Linux distributions available on the Prime are slightly different, with Android 4.4, Debian Desktop, Ubuntu Desktop, and Arch Server on the menu. Unlike the two Win boards, it does not appear to be slated for future Windows 10 IoT support.

Specifications listed for the Orange Pi Prime include:

  • Processor — Allwinner H5 (4x Cortex-A53); ARM Mali-450 MP2 GPU
  • Memory/storage — 2GB DDR3 SDRAM; 2MB NOR flash; microSD slot (up to 64GB)
  • Wireless — 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0; antenna
  • Networking — 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet port
  • Multimedia:
    • HDMI port (supports audio, HDCP, CEC, 30 function)
    • RCA/CVBS/AV output (via 3.5mm audio output)
    • 3.5mm audio output
    • Mic input
    • MIPI-CSI input with 8-bit YUV422 CMOS interface, CCIR656 protocol for NTSC and PAL, SM pixel camera sensor, and capture at up to [email protected]
  • Other I/O:
    • 3x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB 2.0 OTG port
    • GPIO connector with 3x GPIO lines
    • Debug UART header (TTL level)
    • IR receiver
  • Expansion — 40-pin header compatible with Raspberry Pi
  • Other features — upgrade key
  • Power — 5V DC jack; power and reset switches
  • Operating temperature — -10 to 65℃
  • Dimensions — 98 x 60mm
  • Weight — 48 g
  • Operating systems — Android 4.4, Debian Desktop, Ubuntu Desktop, Arch Server, Raspberry Pi Image; Banana Pi Image

Further information

The Orange Pi Prime is available at AliExpress for $29.90, or $34.16 with shipping to the U.S. More information may be found on the AliExpress Orange Pi Prime shopping page, and more should eventually appear on the out of date Orange Pi community website.

(advertise here)

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5 responses to “Open hacker board takes aim at Raspberry Pi 3”

  1. chip says:

    I think if they sold directly the boards through other channels too it would help a lot to spread them. Right now I’d be forced to subscribe to Aliexpress + Alipay just to buy any Orange* board for cheap, or wait until they’re in stock at Banggood or elsewhere but at higher prices. That’s the only criticism I can move to them, as I’m a very happy owner of some of their boards.

  2. Goblin says:

    It supports network booting with the boot rom unlike RPi (you’d need a SD for that?). The 3 USB ports (micro USB OTG port can be used as fourth) each provide full bandwidth even when the ethernet is fully saturated. Basically the I/O capabilities beat RPi hands down. You’d need a USB3 gigabit ethernet dongle on the RPi 3 to compete with this and even then you’d lose.

  3. MOREAU Christophe says:

    Hello, Do you know if the Orange Pi Prime is open (Raspberry Pi is not) to the CSI-2 port in term of interfacing a special homemade camera with the ubuntu linux driver development made on my own? I have ask the same to Raspberry community and guess what – this is impossible as they want to sell the camera they support themselves – Raspberry is not Open source.

  4. No Ta says:

    Orange Pi boards are on eBay UK direct from china

  5. Fofu says:

    Why do you list Allwinner A64 when the pictures show Allwinner H5?

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