The $39 hackable “pcDuino3Nano” SBC runs Android or Ubuntu on a dual-core Allwinner A20 SoC, and offers GbE, HDMI, and 3x USB, plus Arduino-style expansion.
It appears we have a new price/performance standout in the open source single board computer game. Longmont, Colorado based LinkSprite Technologies, which hosts the open source project for Allwinner-based pcDuino SBCs, has just announced a $39 board with a set of features that would typically go for about $60. The pcDuino3Nano offers the same dual-core, 1GHz Cortex-A7 system-on-chip and all the other features of the $77 pcDuino3 SBC except for the LVDS interface, I2S stereo digital audio output, and built-in WiFi. It also adds a second USB 2.0 host port, and upgrades the LAN interface from 10/100 to 10/100/1000 Ethernet.
The pcDuino3 may have been just a bit on the pricey side at $77 — the CubieBoard2 offers a very similar set of features, including WiFi, for $59 — but the $39 price is still impressive, to say the least. The only other hacker SBCs at this level include a stripped-down, 300MHz, x86-based 86Duino from DM&P, and the $35 Raspberry Pi and the similarly priced Banana Piclone, which offer ARM11 and single-core Allwinner A10 SoCs, respectively.
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The 3.63 x 2.13-inch pcDuino3Nano runs Ubuntu 12.04 or Android 4.2 on the Allwinner A20. With the help of the Mali-400 GPU, the SoC enables the SBC to perform multi-format, 1080p 60fps video decoding, as well as 1080p, 30fps H.264 and MPEG4 encoding, according to LinkSprite.
Like the pcDuino3, the Nano model ships with 1GB of DDR3 RAM, 4GB of flash, and a microSD slot. It also similarly offers an Arduino Uno compatible expansion header that supports Arduino Shields. The pcDuino3Nano is further equipped with a gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI port, dual USB host ports, a USB OTG port, and an IR interface. A SATA host connector and MIPI camera interface are also available.
LinkSprite’s announcement notes the lack of LVDS compared to the pcDuino3, but not of the WiFi and stereo output, which are both missing from their spec sheet. On the other hand, the company says that IR has been removed, as well as some GPIO headers, although the spec table shows these to be identical with the earlier SBC. For our spec table below, we’ve gone with their specs as opposed to their announcement, but make sure you know what you’re getting before you launch a pair of Andrew Jacksons toward the Rockies.
Software components include an “Arduino-style” programming IDE, as well as Scratch for pcDuino. The SBC also supports programming languages including C/C++, Python, and Java, says LinkSprite. Like other pcDuino boards, the Nano provides open source code, and other community services, including a forum.
Summary of pcDuino3Nano specs
The following specifications are listed by pcDuino.com for the pcDuino3Nano SBC:
- Processor — AllWinner A20 SoC (2x ARM Cortex-A7 cores @ 1GHz); Mali 400 (supports OpenGL ES2.0, OpenVG 1.1)
- Memory — 1GB DRAM; 4GB flash
- Storage — microSD slot for up to 32GB; SATA interface
- Display — HDMI 1.4 with HDCP support; 1080p@60fps
- Networking — gigabit Ethernet port
- Other I/O:
- 2x USB host
- 1x USB OTG
- IR receiver
- MIPI camera interface
- 3.5mm analog audio output
- Arduino Uno-compatible headers — 14x GPIO, 2x PWM, 6x ADC, 1x UART, 1x SPI, 1x I2C
- Power input — 5V @ 2000mA
- Dimensions – 3.63 x 2.13 in.
- Operating system — Android 4.2, Ubuntu 12.04
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