Chinese made Banana Pi arrives, wants a slice of the Raspberry Pi action

A newly developed bare circuit board style computer has been launched by the Chinese LeMaker organisation. It’s an obvious ‘tribute’ to the UK’s Raspberry Pi credit card sized computer board and even accepts existing Raspberry Pi parts and modules for expansion purposes. However the Banana Pi is considerably more powerful and modern than the Raspberry Pi, this is reflected in the price; approximately double that of the Raspi…

Banana Pi

Banana Pi

LeMaker describes its new entrant to the maker computer board market as “an open-source single-board computer. It can run Android 4.4, Ubuntu, Debian, Rasberry Pi Image, as well as the Cubieboard Image”. You can see from the diagrams below that the Banana Pi has all the ports you might need for your project, better than the influential Raspi in some respects. The components and ports are as follows:

  • CPU: A20 ARM Cortex-A7 Dual-Core
  • GPU: ARM Mali 400 MP2 (Complies with OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1)
  • Memory (SDRAM): 1GB DDR3 (shared with GPU)
  • Onboard Storage: SD (Max. 64GB) / MMC card slot UP to 2T on SATA disk
  • Onboard Network: 10/100/1000 Ethernet RJ45 (optional USB WIFI Dongle)
  • Camera Input: A CSI input connector allows for the connection of a designed camera module
  • Sound Input: Mic
  • Video Outputs: HDMI, CVBS , LVDS/RGB
  • Audio Output: 3.5 mm Jack and HDMI
  • Power Source: 5 volt via MicroUSB(DC In Only) and/or MicroUSB (OTG)
  • USB 2.0 Ports: 2 (direct from Allwinner A20 chip)
  • Buttons: Reset button: Next to MicroUSB connector, Power button: Next to Reset button, UBoot button (optional): Behind HDMI connector
  • GPIO(2X13) pin: GPIO,UART,I2C bus,SPI bus with two chip selects, CAN bus,ADC,PWM,+3.3v,+5v,ground.
  • LED: Power Status LED (Red), Ethernet Status LED (Blue), User Define LED (Green)
  • Remote: IR
  • Supported OS: Android, Debian, Ubuntu, Raspberry Pi
  • Physical properties: 92mm x 60m, 48g
Banana Pi board layout

Banana Pi board layout

So as you can see the Banana Pi improves quite considerably on the original in many ways; processor, memory, SATA storage, networking and more… The extra cash outlay might not put people off when considering one of these bare board computers as it is still very affordable. (Via Ali Express it’s available for under US$60 including shipping). A potential fly in the ointment is the slightly larger size of the Banana Pi – none of those nicely designed RasPi cases will fit it…

This makes us wonder why the Raspberry Pi Foundation hasn’t decided it’s time to upgrade and improve its own little computer. Last month it revealed that it had sold 2.5 million units as it reached its second birthday. A bit more horsepower is a common request from the buyers of these boards so a new one with faster processing could probably re-ignite sales.

Mark Tyson

Mark has worked for a number of years as a newshound on other technology news websites. He decided to write for Tech Assimilate thanks to this web site's open embracing vision of the fascinating world of personal technology. Mark has also worked in the printing and advertising industries for tens of years previously.

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