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Tiny, open, $18 quad-core SBC has WiFi, BT, eMMC, microSD

Sep 28, 2016 — by Eric Brown 12,341 views

FriendlyARM’s 40 x 40mm “NanoPi Neo Air” hacker SBC runs Ubuntu Core on an Allwinner H3 with 8GB eMMC, WiFi, BT, a DVP cam connector, and a microSD slot.

The NanoPi Neo Air is a respin of the astonishingly affordable, $8 NanoPi Neo that shipped in July, and has the same 40 x 40mm dimensions as the Neo, making the two boards the smallest quad-core SBCs around. The Neo Air adds WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, 8GB eMMC, and a DVP camera connector while sacrificing the Ethernet and USB host ports. It debuts at $18, but will eventually move to $20.

NanoPi Neo Air from both sides
(click images to enlarge)

NanoPi Neo
(click to enlarge)

Like the NanoPi Neo, the NanoPi Neo Air is open source, with schematics available for free download at its wiki page. It also similarly runs the lightweight, transactional Snappy Ubuntu Core on a quad-core Cortex-A7 Allwinner H3 clocked to 1.2GHz with a 600MHz Mali-400 MP2 GPU.


The NanoPi Neo Air’s footprint is actually a bit smaller than that of the Neo, which cheated by having the Ethernet and USB ports hanging over the edge. With the two ports removed, there’s virtually no overhang, and more importantly, the board has a much thinner profile. The Neo Air weighs only 7.5 grams without pin headers.

NanoPi Neo Air detail view
(click image to enlarge)

Other features are similar, but all the removals and additions have resulted in a substantial redesign. The 256MB RAM option has disappeared, so every board ships with 512MB of DDR3, and there continues to be a microSD slot in addition to the new 8GB eMMC.

NanoPi Neo Air pin assignments
(click image to enlarge)

As before, the micro-USB is a host/client OTG port as well as a power input, but for other USB and power connections you’ll need to turn to the 12-pin expansion connector. There’s also a low-speed 24-pin connector, for 36 GPIO pins overall. As with the Neo, but unlike other NanoPi hacker boards, there’s no Raspberry Pi expansion compatibility.

Neo Air 12-, 4-, and 24-pin headers (left) and optional 5-megapixel camera
(click images to enlarge)

A variety of accessories include 5- or 2-megapixel camera modules that connect to the DVP interface, as well as sensors, GPS, RTC, a case, and more. The NanoPi Neo Air ships with open source boot-loader, kernel, and file systems. There are also new Wiki and Git repositories, numerous tutorials, and a new forum.

NanoPi Neo Air

Specifications listed for the NanoPi Neo Air include:

  • Processor — Allwinner H3 (4x Cortex-A7 @ 1.2GHz); ARM Mali-400 MP2 GPU @600MHz; 256KB L1, 1MB L2 cache
  • Memory – 512MB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Storage — 8GB eMMC; microSD slot
  • Wireless — 802.11b/g/n; dual-mode Bluetooth 4.0; IPX ant.
  • Other I/O:
    • Micro-USB 2.0 OTG port (with power input)
    • Debug serial port header (4-pin)
    • DVP camera interface with optional 5MP or 2MP cam modules
    • 12-pin GPIO with 2x USB, IR, mic, line-out, SPDIF, power, etc.,
    • 24-pin GPIO with UART, SPI, I2C, GPIO, etc.
  • Options — heat sink; case; RTC; GPS; sensors, etc.
  • Power — +5V @ 2A via micro-USB input or GPIO
  • Dimensions — 40 x 40mm
  • Weight – 7.5 g w/o pin headers, 9.7 g w/ headers
  • Operating system — Ubuntu Core; with U-Boot

Further information

The NanoPi Neo Air is now shipping for $17.99, a promotional price that will eventually rise to $19.99. More information may be found at FriendlyARM’s NanoPi Neo Air wiki and NanoPi Neo Air shopping pages.

(advertise here)

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One response to “Tiny, open, $18 quad-core SBC has WiFi, BT, eMMC, microSD”

  1. Ashwin Patel says:

    Does it allow network connection via USB-Ethernet converter?
    Can I port my Raspberry Pi code with minor changes?
    RTC optional, at what cost, how it is mounted or installed?
    GPS optional, at what cost, how it is mounted or installed?
    Is it in stock, What is the delivery time for quantity of 1 to 5?

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