Innovation

Raspberry Pi-sized NanoPi M4 packs 4 x USB 3.0, six-core CPU, and 4K playback into $65 Android board

The NanoPi M4 improves on many of the specs of the $35 Raspberry Pi but at $65 is almost double the price.

The new NanoPi M4 is the latest low-cost computer to launch in 2018 that modernizes the specs of Raspberry Pi-sized boards.

The NanoPi M4 improves on many of the specs of the $35 Raspberry Pi but at $65 is almost double the price.

Notable features include four USB 3.0 ports, a USB Type-C port, 2GB DDR3 memory, a six-core processor, support for 4K displays and hardware-accelerated 4K video playback, and 64 general-purpose input-output (GPIO) pins for hooking up hardware. It also includes an interface that supports two 13-megapixel cameras.

SEE: Hardware spotlight: The Raspberry Pi (Tech Pro Research)

In contrast the Raspberry Pi uses slower USB 2.0 ports, has 1GB of slower DDR2 memory, a quad-core processor, can only output to 1,920x1,080 displays and has 40 GPIO pins.

While the Pi supports a far wider range of operating systems, the NanoPi M4 is listed as supporting Android 7.1, alongside Ubuntu 18.04 Desktop and Ubuntu Core.

The board's makers say the NanoPi M4 is suited to developing a wide range of software and hardware. The NanoPi M4 shares the same 40-pin header layout as the Raspberry Pi, as well as being the same size, so on paper should be compatible with some Pi-based hardware add-ons.

As with most single-board computers, it's worth noting that few boards are as accessible or offer the same breadth of stable software as the Pi. Some users of recent NanoPi boards have also encountered driver problems and system setup issues, so this board may be one for the more technically proficient.

Specs

CPUModel: Rockchip RK3399
Cores: Six cores, 2GHz 64-bit dual-core Cortex-A72 and 1.5GHz quad-core Cortex-A53
GPUMali-T864, supports OpenGL ES1.1/2.0/3.0/3.1, OpenVG1.1, OpenCL, DX11, and AFBC
Supported codecs4K VP9 and 4K 10bits H265/H264 60fps decoding, Dual VOP
MemoryDual-channel 4GB LPDDR3-1866 (for an additional $30) or dual-channel 2GB DDR3-1866
StorageeMMC: no Onboard eMMC, but has a eMMC socketMicroSD
Slot: MicroSD for external storage up to 128GB
ConnectivityEthernet: Native Gbps Ethernet
WiFi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combo module, dual antenna interface

Audio3.5mm dual-channel headphone jack, or HDMI
Audio Input: microphone input interface
Video InputOne or two four-Lane MIPI-CSI, dual ISP, up to 13MPix/s, supports simultaneous input of dual camera data
Video OutputHDMI 2.0a, supports 4K@60Hz, HDCP 1.4/2.24-Lane MIPI-DSI*1
USB4 x USB 3.0 Type-A ports
USB Type-C: Supports USB2.0 OTG and Power input
2 x USB Host, included in GPIO2 2.54mm pitch pin header
Pin-headers40-pin GPIO, 2.54mm pitch pin-header

3 x 3V/1.8V I2C, up to 1 x 3V UART, 1 x 3V SPI, 1 x SPDIF_TX, up to 8 x 3V GPIOs, 1.8V 8 channels I2S

24-pin GPIO, 2.54mm pitch pin-header

2 x independent native USB 2.0 Host interfaces, PCIe x2, PWM, PowerKey

Serial Debug Port: 2.54mm pitch four-pin-header, 3V level, 1500000bps
LEDPower LED(Red), GPIO Controlled LED(Green)
OthersRTC: Two-pin 1.27/1.25mm RTC battery input connector. Working Temperature: -20℃ to 70℃
PowerDC 5V/3A
nanopim4.png
Image: Friendly Elec

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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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