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Open-spec SBC is a clone of a clone of a clone of a Raspberry Pi 3

Apr 25, 2018 — by Eric Brown 3,137 views

FriendlyElec has launched a $35, open-spec “NanoPi K1 Plus” SBC with a quad -A53 Allwinner H5, 2GB DDR3, WiFi, GbE, a 40-pin expansion header, and Ubuntu Core and Armbian images.

A year ago when FriendElec launched its $40 (now $45) NanoPi K2 SBC, we called it an Odroid-C2 clone with wireless, as well as a near clone of the Raspberry Pi 3. The new NanoPi K1 Plus is a slightly reduced, but more media-rich, version that switches from the Amlogic S905, which is also found on the Odroid-C2, to an Allwinner H5, which is used by several other NanoPi boards. Both SoCs give you 4x Cortex-A53 cores and a Mali-450 GPU, but the H5 tops out at 1.4GHz instead of 1.5GHz.

NanoPi K1 Plus, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Like the very similar NanoPi K2, the NanoPi K1 Plus has an 85 x 56mm footprint, and almost an identical feature set and layout as the RPi 3 and Odroid-C2. It’s really a clone of a clone of a clone.

FriendlyElec has swapped out the K2’s WiFi/Bluetooth module for a 2.4GHz WiFi-only chip, and has demoted its HDMI 2.0 port to an HDMI 1.4 that has its 4K support throttled back to 30fps. The K1 Plus has also subtracted one of the USB 2.0 host ports, leaving 3x USB 2.0 ports total along with a micro-USB OTG port with power input support. The previous DC-in jack has been removed.

NanoPi K1 Plus detail views
(click images to enlarge)

On the other hand, the K1 Plus add some multimedia features. There’s a new DVP camera interface, an onboard mic, and a 3.5mm audio jack that also outputs the CVBS signals. CVBS was previously available only via the continuing, Raspberry Pi compatible 40-pin expansion connector.


Other features are the same, including the 2GB RAM, microSD slot, eMMC socket, and GbE port. Once again, you get an IR receiver, a heatsink, and a debug header, among other details. The open spec board is available with schematics and other documentation, as well as images for Armbian and the Ubuntu Core based FriendlyCore.

NanoPi K1 Plus (left) and with heatsink and case
(click images to enlarge)

Specifications listed for the NanoPi K1 Plus include:

  • Processor — Allwinner H5 (4x 64-bit Cortex-A53 cores @ 400MHz to 1.4GHz) with Mali-450 GPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 2GB DDR3 RAM
    • MicroSD slot for up to 128GB (bootable)
    • eMMC socket
  • Wireless — 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n; PCB antenna
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port (Realtek RTL8211E)
  • Media I/O:
    • HDMI 1.4 port (4K@30fps video and audio)
    • DVP camera 24-pin header
    • 3.5mm audio jack with CVBS output
    • Onboard mic
    • I2S/PCM via 7-pin header
  • Other I/O:
    • 3x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB 2.0 device/OTG port with power cable
    • Serial debug 4-pin header
    • 40-pin RPi 3 compatible expansion connector (I2C, GPIO, UART, PWM, SPDIF, SPI)
  • Other features — LEDs; IR receiver; GPIO button; heatsink; optional acrylic case
  • Power — 5V2A DC input via micro-USB; PMIC
  • Dimensions — 85 x 56mm
  • Operating system — Images for Armbian and FriendlyCore (based on Ubuntu Core) with Linux 4.x

Further information

The NanoPi K1 Plus is available now for $35 plus shipping. More information may be found on FriendlyElec’s NanoPi K1 Plus shopping and wiki pages.

(advertise here)

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3 responses to “Open-spec SBC is a clone of a clone of a clone of a Raspberry Pi 3”

  1. chip says:

    There’s no such thing as a Raspberry PI clone because Broadcom won’t sell the chips anyone but the RPi Foundation. Not a huge problem since Allwinner MCUs are cheaper and more powerful than the ones used in the RPi boards.

  2. Goswin von Brederlow says:

    Is the Gigabit Ethernet port connected to the CPU directly or via USB like on too many other boards?

  3. chip says:

    It’s directly connected. More info, including data sheets, on the Sunxi site.

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