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Tiny quad-core Cortex-A53 hacker SBC debuts at $25

Dec 24, 2016 — by Eric Brown 8,964 views

FriendlyElec’s open source, 64 x 60mm NanoPi A64 ships runs Ubuntu Core and MATE on an Allwinner A64, and provides WiFi, camera, and 40-pin RPi connectors.

Considering how prolific FriendlyELEC (AKA FriendlyARM) has been in churning out open spec NanoPi branded single board computers, it’s surprising the Guangzhou based company has is only now getting around to the mainstream platform of 2016: a quad-core Cortex-A53. The $25 NanoPi A64 is not FriendlyElec’s first 64-bit ARM SBC — earlier this year it shipped the $60 octa-core -A53 NanoPC-T3 and $35 NanoPi M3. The NanoPi A64 goes up directly against the $35 Raspberry Pi 3, Odroid-C2, and the like for the main event in the hacker board competition.

NanoPi A64, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Instead of using a Samsung SoC, as did the NanoPC-T3 and NanoPi M3, the NanoPi A64 goes with an Allwinner model, following in the steps of lower-end NanoPi models like the quad -A7 NanoPi M1 or the tiny, $8 NanoPi Neo and similar, wireless enabled, $18 NanoPi Neo Air. The NanoPi A64’s Allwinner A64, which is clocked here at up to 1.152GHz, appeared on the $15 and up Pine A64, as well as Sinovoip’s more feature rich, $80 Banana Pi BPI-M64. Other quad-core 64-bit Allwinner based SBCs include the recent, Allwinner H5 based Orange Pi PC 2, which sells for $20.

The NanoPi A64’s Allwinner A64 is joined as usual with a Mali-400 MP2 GPU. Like the Raspberry Pi 3 and Orange Pi PC 2, but unlike some 64-bit ARM boards, the NanoPi A64 is limited to 1GB of RAM. (2GB is standard on the Banana Pi BPI-M64 and is optional in a $29 version of the Pine A64.)

NanoPi A64 detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The 64 x 60mm footprint makes the NanoPi A64 one of the smallest 64-bit ARM boards to date, matching the dimensions of the octa-core NanoPi M3. The Orange Pi PC 2 measures a Raspberry Pi-like (and Odroid-C2-like) 85 x 55mm, and the Pine A64 and Banana Pi BPI-M64 are larger still.


There are only two USB host ports aside from the power-only micro-USB, but you get HDMI, MIPI-DSI and DVP camera connections, as well as an audio jack. The NanoPi A64 offers GbE and WiFi, but not Bluetooth.

Angle views of the NanoPi A64
(click images to enlarge)

Notable features include the 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible expansion header, an IR receiver, an I2S header, and a PMIC. You also get ready-made custom Ubuntu Core and Ubuntu MATE images.

Specifications listed for the NanoPi A64 include:

  • Processor — Allwinner A64 (4x Cortex-A53 cores @ 648MHz to 1.152GHz with DVFS); ARM Mali400-MP2 GPU with OpenGL ES2.0, OpenVG1.1 support
  • Memory — 1GB DDR3 RAM; microSD slot
  • Display/Camera:
    • HDMI 1.4 out port
    • MIPI-DSI
    • DVP camera
  • Wireless — 802.11b/g/n
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port (RTL8211E)
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB port (power input only) with conversion cable
    • Audio out/mic jack
    • Serial debug
    • I2S
    • 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible with UART, SPI, I2C, PWM, I/O etc
  • Other features — 2x LEDs; IR receiver
  • Dimensions — 64 x 60mm
  • Power — DC 5V/2A via micro-USB; PMU (AXP803) with software power-off; power button
  • Operating system — Ubuntu Core with Qt Embedded; Ubuntu MATE

Further information

The NanoPi A64 is available now for $25 plus shipping (about $10 to U.S.). More information may be found at FriendlyElec’s NanoPi A64 product page and NanoPi A64 wiki.


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2 responses to “Tiny quad-core Cortex-A53 hacker SBC debuts at $25”

  1. mikeschinkel says:

    Sad that such a little board does not support USB OTG. Otherwise its specs are amazing. :-(

  2. xenon says:

    that audio shall be replaced with usb otg

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