Innovation

Cheap but powerful Raspberry Pi rival: $25 Pine H64 offers 4K HDR video, PCIe and USB 3.0

The specs of single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi keep improving -- with Pine64 announcing a slew of powerful new boards.

The specs of single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi keep improving — with Pine64 announcing a slew of powerful new boards.

First up is the Pine H64, which with its ability to playback 4K video at 60 frames per second is targeted at those wanting a beefy machine to use as a media center.

The H64 offers a single USB 3.0 port, HDMI 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and a dual-core GPU in a $25 board.

In comparison, the $35 Raspberry Pi 3 Model B lacks all of these features. However the Pi does trump the H64 in some respects, offering more USB 2.0 ports, four in total, and supporting 802.11n Wi-Fi.

The H64 also has extensive options for expansion, with the mini-PCIe connector providing options for storage, Wi-Fi cards and USB 3.1 — opening up the possibility of using the board for network-attached storage or as a server.

The H64 is based will support version 4.9 of the Linux kernel 4.9, with Pine64 promising it will run a variety of Linux-based operating systems, including Android.

SEE: Hardware spotlight: The Raspberry Pi

The Pine H64 board will be available from January 31st for $25 for the 1GB version, $35 for the 2GB version, and $45 for the 3GB version.

One thing to bear in mind is that most rival single-board computers are at somewhat of a disadvantage compared to the Pi range, lacking their breadth of stable software, tutorials and community support.

Pine H64 Specs

  • System-on-a-chip: Allwinner H6
  • CPU: Quad-core, Arm Cortex A53-based processor
  • GPU: Dual-core Mali-T720 MP2
  • Memory: 1/2/3GB LPDDR3
  • Storage: eMMC flash module, micro SD card (bootable), 128 Mbit SPI flash
  • Video: HDMI 2.0a output
  • Audio: 3.5mm stereo earphone/mic plug
  • Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB: 2 x USB 2.0 host, 1 x USB 3.0 host
  • Expansion: 2 x 20 Raspberry Pi 2-compatible GPIO header, mini-PCIe connector, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module header, SDIO 3.0 and UART
  • Misc: IR receiver
ibwdib2.jpg

The H64 board.

Image: Pine64

Pine64 also announced the more powerful RockPro64. This board features a hexa-core processor, with cores clocked at up to 2GHz, and is available in a version that bundles a dedicated Neural Network Processing Unit (NPU).

The NPU board is targeted at developers who want to experiment with AI and machine learning.

Pine64 says this NPU can accelerate the performance of deep neural network models—such as Inception V3, ResNet-34 and VGG16—by almost 100x, with a peak performance of 2.4 TOPS (trillion operations per second), while also being more efficient than using GPUs.

The RockPro64's powerful on-board GPU can also drive two 4K displays, there is a single USB 3.0 port, a PCIe slot for hooking up fast storage, Gigabit Ethernet, and HDMI.

Again the RockPro64 should run a variety of Linux-based operating systems, including Android, with Pine64 promising to confirm which systems at a later date.

The 2GB RockPro64 board will be available for around $60 and the 4GB version for $79 from March 15th. The RockPro64-AI board, which features the NPU, will be available from August 1st for $99.

RockPro64 specs

  • System-on-a-chip: RK3399
  • CPU: Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor with 2x ARM Cortex A72 cores up to 2.0 GHz, 4x Cortex A53 cores. RockPro64-AI has a Neural Network Processing Unit (NPU)
  • GPU: Arm Mali-T860 MP4
  • Memory: 2/4GB LPDDR3
  • Storage: eMMC flash module, micro SD card (bootable), 128 Mbit SPI flash
  • Video: HDMI 2.0 output, eDP connector, MIPI connector & TP connector & backlight supply, DisplayPort via USB type C
  • Audio: ES8316 audio codec, headphone / mic jack
  • Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet, SDIO socket for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth module
  • USB: 2 x USB 2.0 host, 1 x USB 3.0 host, 1 x USB 3.0 type C port with DisplayPort Alt-mode
  • Camera: Parallel CSI, 2x MIPI CSI
  • Debugging: 3-pin serial header
  • Expansion: 40-pin GPIO header (I2C/SPI/I2S/UARTs/GPIOs), PCIe x4 slot
  • Misc: Heatsink mounting holes & fan header, power/reset/recovery buttons, IR receiver
  • Power supply: 12V DC input via power barrel jack
  • Dimensions: 133mm x 80mm x 19mm
n8lgosp.jpg

The RockPro64.

Image: Pine64

Read more about single-board computers

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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