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pcDuino goes quad-core, swaps Arduino for RPi compatibility

Oct 25, 2016 — by Eric Brown 4,515 views

LinkSprite’s $25, 64 x 50mm “pcDuino4 Nano” SBC is a re-spin of FriendlyARM’s NanoPi M1, offering a quad-core H3, Raspberry Pi expansion, and 3x USB ports.

Can you be a pcDuino without the Duino? For its latest open source pcDuino board, LinkSprite has switched from Arduino compatibility to a 40-pin Raspberry Pi expansion interface, breaking the mold of the three pcDuino SBCs, and five models total, that made it into our June HackerBoard SBC survey. The new pcDuino4 Nano, which is on pre-sale for $25, follows the $40 pcDuino3 Nano, which fell directly in the middle of the pack of our reader rankings of community-backed SBCs, but was the most popular of the pcDuino models overall.

As noted in a recent CNXSoft post, the pcDuino4 Nano is almost identical to FriendlyARM’s now $13 NanoPi M1. In fact, FriendlyARM built the 4 Nano for LinkSprite, according to the story.

pcDuino4 Nano (left) and NanoPi M1
(click images to enlarge)

As you can see from the images above there are some minor differences in the design. The pcDuino4 Nano measures 64 x 50mm, compared to 69 × 48mm on the NanoPi M1, down significantly from 92 x 54mm on the pcDuino3 Nano. (Note that one instance in the pcDuino4 Nano wiki lists the dimensions as 64 x 56mm, but the same wiki, as well as the shopping page also lists 64 x 50mm.) Like the newer $16 version of the NanoPi M1, but not the base model, there’s 1GB of RAM, and LinkSprite also added a microphone.


LinkSprite compares the board not to the $35, 86 x 56mm Raspberry Pi 3, but rather to the $10, 69 × 48mm Orange Pi One. Like the similarly RPi-compatible Orange Pi One, the pcDuino4 Nano runs on a quad-core, Cortex-A7 Allwinner H3 clocked to 1.2GHz, thereby advancing from the pcDuino3 Nano’s dual-core -A7 Allwinner A20.

pcDuino4 Nano (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The pcDuino4 Nano offers twice the RAM of the Orange Pi One, and it similarly foregoes the flash memory found on the 3 Nano, providing only a microSD slot. Other cost-cutting measures from moving to the NanoPi M1 design include swapping the 3 Nano’s GbE port for 10/100 Ethernet, and dispensing with the SATA interface.

The pcDuino4 Nano also adds a few features including one more USB 2.0 host port, for a total of three, along with the previous micro-USB OTG. It also adds CVBS (composite and stereo audio), plus a debug header. The Ubuntu MATE support is similar to that of the NanoPi M1, but unlike that board there’s no mention of Ubuntu Core or Android support.

pcDuino4 Nano sketch view (left) and rear view
(click images to enlarge)

The following specifications are listed for the pcDuino4 Nano SBC:

  • Processor — AllWinner H3 (4x ARM Cortex-A7 @ 1.2GHz); Mali 400MP2 GPU @ 600MHz
  • Memory/storage — 1GB DDR3 DRAM; microSD slot
  • Display — HDMI port; CVBS output
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • 3x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB OTG port
    • IR receiver
    • DVP camera interface
    • 3.5mm analog audio output
    • Serial debug 4-pin header
    • Raspberry Pi-compatible 40-pin expansion — GPIO, UART, SPI, I2C, PWM etc.
  • Other features — Power, reset buttons; 2x LEDs; onboard mic
  • Power input — 5V/2A via micro-USB; 5V via 4-pin serial header
  • Dimensions — 64 x 50mm
  • Weight — 91gm
  • Operating system — Ubuntu MATE, Debian with U-Boot

Further information

The pcDuino4 Nano is available for pre-order at $25 plus shipping from China. The board seems to have slipped past its intended Sep. 24 shipment target. More information may be found on LinkSprite’s pcDuino4 Nano shopping page and wiki.

(advertise here)

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2 responses to “pcDuino goes quad-core, swaps Arduino for RPi compatibility”

  1. chip says:

    Having used a few NanoPI M1 boards I can’t but share positive experiences with them. All devices are supported using Armbian (great distro that supports a lot of small boards), so I’d expect the same with this board. I would suggest though to add a decent heatsink to avoid too much frequency downscaling due to cpu heating.

    Now if only Allwinner wasn’t so hostile towards Open Source…

  2. Walter Hynson says:

    This product should have used purple circuit boards with orange lettering but the circuit board is just plain ugly its the color of the board that failed I bet someone could make the identical circuit on a purple circuit board with bright orange lettering and it will sell like hotcakes.

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