Two New Boards from PINE64

The original Pine A64, hailed by many as a “Raspberry Pi killer” during its Kickstarter campaign, shipped to backers back in 2015. However, unlike a number of other companies created around a crowdfunding campaign, PINE64 stuck around and continued to ship product—including an 11-inch and 14-inch laptop based around their boards that cost less than $100.

Their boards have an active community supporting them and, after a lot of work by the manufacturer, software support for their boards has been seriously improved over their release with the A64 which initially had somewhat poor reviews.

So their announcement, at the beginning of the month in the lead up to FOSDEM 2018, of two new boards to ship in next couple of months is somewhat intriguing.

Pre-production version of the Pine H64. (📷: PINE64)

The first board is the Pine H64, the successor to the company’s original A64 board, and is based on the new Allwinner H6. The H6 is a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 SoC with a Mali-T720 MP2 dual-core GPU capable of 4K60 playback and HDR. It will be available in three different variants with 1GB, 2GB, or 3GB of LPDDR3 RAM.

With support for 4K60 video playback, inclusion of a USB 3.0 port, and Gigabit Ethernet, the board is obviously intended as a media board. However the stand out feature for me is the mini-PCIe connector, which opens up a lot of options for expansion.

More information about the board is available on the PINE64 Wiki pages.

Pre-production version of the RockPro64. (📷: PINE64)

The RockPro64 is the more powerful of the two boards. Powered by Rockchip RK3399, a hexa-core SoC consisting of a dual-core ARM Cortex-A72 alongside a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53. The GPU on the SoC is a quad-core Mali-T860MP4 with support for OpenGL ES1.1/2.0/3.0 and OpenCL1.2.

The highlight here is the USB C — which can also be used to drive two 4K displays — as well as a PCIe4 connector for expansion. This is a serious board for serious purposes. It will be available in 2 different variants with 2GB, or 4GB of RAM.

A second version of the board will be built around the recently announced RK3399Pro, with similar capabilities, but with the addition of a Neural Network Processing Unit (NPU). This version of the board will only come with 4GB of RAM.

Family portrait. From left to right is the RockPro64, Pine H64, Rock64, Pine A64-LTS;, SOPine on a baseboard, and the Pine A64+. (📷: PINE64)

The Pine H64 is currently listed as “out of stock” with the first batch of boards already having already sold out, however it should be back in stock soon. The board costs $26 for the 1GB version, $36 for the 2GB version, and $45 for the 3GB version. Be warned a footnote on the order pages notes that the board is “…still in early stage development cycle, the current board is only suitable for developer and early adopter.”

The RockPro64 isn’t yet available, but is expected to ship in the middle of March, for the two boards built around the RK3399, and at the start of August for the board built around the RK3399Pro.

Final pricing is yet to be determined, but the 2GB board will be priced between $59 and $65, while the 4GB board will be priced at $75. The “AI” version, shipping in August, will be priced at $99. Notably the price is considerably below other recently announced RK3399-based hardware like the AAEON RICO-3399 Pico-ITX, or the Orange Pi RK339.

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