A80-OLinuXino OSHW 8-core Linux computer development begins

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Allwinner is about to release soon (end of this month hopefully) datasheet and info about their new 8-core monster processor with 4x Cortex-A15 + 4x Cortex-A7 and here we go and start preparing what to include in the new A80-OLinuXino.

We would love to hear your feedback and recommendation what do you think is important as value and “to have” on board, here are the major features (taken fromย Allwinner site) :

  • DDR3 ย standard 2GB, optional 4GB
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • optional NAND Flash 4GB
  • SD cards x4 possible
  • USB-OTG 3.0
  • USB hosts x2 2.0
  • MIPI camera interface
  • real ADCs x2
  • PWM
  • UART x7
  • I2C x7
  • SPI x4
  • I2S
  • LCD

Unfortunately A80 have no audio on chip so external codec is necessary if you want to have Audio connector how important is this if we already have audio on the HDMI connector?

If we go in to LIME form factor route we have to look just for the bare minimum of connectors due to the space limitation, if we go in max features direction the board will become big and expensive.

Let’s the wishes begin ๐Ÿ™‚

73 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Radu - Eosif Mihailescu
    Jul 15, 2014 @ 20:21:13

    If you do a LIME board with the A80 and you really really want a lot of interfaces, you could do targeted versions. For example the A/V one has HDMI and audio codec with S/PDIF output etc. and the network compute node one has multiple network interfaces and so on.

    You could also go the modular way in which you have the base LIME form-factor board which contains the bare minimum and you have a couple extra daughtercards which plug into the GPIO connectors and offer extra interfaces (similar to Arduino shields or BeagleBone capes).

    Having said all that, I’m afraid A80 is really meant for applications and not for automation or DIY and hacking — that is, for phones and tablets and not so much for IoT nodes, home automation, CNC controllers and the like.


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Jul 15, 2014 @ 23:21:23

      with 8 cores this is more close to pocket PC with desktop experience USB keyboard/mouse and HDMI display, or for intelligent IP cameras, running opencv, doing extensive computing, rather than to be used as dummy XBMC player which even $35 single core arm11 Raspberry PI could do , so I still doubt if to put expensive audio codec and waste space with audio connectors


  2. anne onyme
    Jul 15, 2014 @ 21:04:18

    Hi, why would you use an A80 which uses a PowerVR (G6230) gpu, given that it’s not as well supported (non free) as mali is ?


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Jul 15, 2014 @ 23:01:30

      Allwinner says a80 sdk will support 5 OS – Android, Chrome, Ubuntu, Firefox , Windows RT, if there is official Ubuntu support there will be GPU drivers as well


  3. Bill
    Jul 15, 2014 @ 21:08:49

    Please keep it tinker-friendly. By that, I mean keep options open for non-obvious use (e.g. having audio on HDMI implies a connection to HDMI device and not, for example, LCD and battery-operated form factor).

    I personally would love to make my own dual-screen dual-OS “laptop” for example so this would be a good fit.


  4. dornt
    Jul 15, 2014 @ 21:28:58

    It is possible to add two Gigabit Ethernet ports?


    • dornt
      Jul 15, 2014 @ 21:30:06

      …and PoE…?


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Jul 15, 2014 @ 23:01:54

      I’m afraid no


      • Phil White
        Nov 27, 2014 @ 20:36:19

        It would be really interesting to know why a multi-ethernet option cannot be offered, and whether a add-on module might be looked at to provide this option. I note the availability of the UEXT modules, but need a little more info about implementing a working prototype. To have a module with multiple ethernet ports AND a switch chip which I could use to build a firewall router would be a boon!

  5. Ali
    Jul 15, 2014 @ 21:50:54

    make it moduler so RAM can be upgraded and Flash can be upgraded too .


  6. Andreas Heckel
    Jul 15, 2014 @ 21:52:30

    USB 3.0 would be nice to have ๐Ÿ˜‰


  7. diego
    Jul 15, 2014 @ 22:10:59

    Do u see a chance for a som plus different baseboards? Or a lime that can be also used with a baseboard to “max” it?


  8. villala1
    Jul 15, 2014 @ 22:23:18

    For such powerfull processor I would definitely add:
    —- must have —-
    – Gigabit ethernet
    – Dual A/V output
    – SATA connector
    —- optional—–
    – spdif output


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Jul 15, 2014 @ 23:06:34

      a80 have no native SATA, nor audio (just I2S) when you already have audio out to HDMI why one would need another audio connector and pay for external codec? if you want to play music you do not need 8 cores


      • onefang
        Jul 16, 2014 @ 18:13:05

        Sure if you have a HDMI monitor WITH speakers, then HDMI audio is all you need. The problems are – DVI monitors used via HDMI, LCD screens, and headphones. And audio is used for more than just music. With an octo core and lots of RAM, you might want to play high end Android games on your LCD. So some non HDMI audio will be needed for lots of uses of such a high end board.

        For me my use case is a portable desk top replacement, but not quite a laptop. Something small I can use at home, plugged into my DVI monitor, and non HDMI speakers, then carry to various clients offices and plug into their network / keyboard / mouse / what ever random monitors they might supply. Probably hooked up to a LCD touch screen when travelling between the two, and non HDMI headphones.

        I would also have a use case of making virtual world servers out of them. Maybe even combining the two use cases into a virtual world server / client combo.

        So, my wish list –

        4GB RAM
        micro SD card slot, four would be nice, but at least two.
        Ethernet, gigabit would be nice, but not mandatory.
        2 USB + 1 USB OTG
        Battery connector and charger.
        HDMI output, suitable for pluging into ordinary DVI monitors via the usual style of adaptor cable.
        Headphone output, only needs to be stereo.
        LCD + touch screen connector (resistive actually, I’m one of the few that prefers them over capacitive), really high res OLED if possible.
        UEXT ports
        RTC with super capacitor backup.

        I really don’t understand why all of your computer boards that include an RTC fail to include any sort of backup power supply, only the UEXT one includes a battery. On top of that. I don’t understand why the industry in general only uses batteries, I was putting super caps in hardware designs decades ago, these days it’s all you would need to keep an RTC running.

      • kasbah
        Jul 16, 2014 @ 18:21:20

        Personally I use these high powered boards as audio effects processors and music computers.

      • Danny
        Jul 19, 2014 @ 10:51:55

        If you go the HDMI-only route, there are HDMI -> DVI adapters (originally by ATI, now everyone builds them) that also “deliver audio to the monitor/TV”. How that works is they intercept the I2C traffic from the monitor (containing monitor capabilities info) and add that they support audio to packages so gotten, then pass them on to the computer. So as you can see it should be easy to just have the driver enable audio out in the first place (if the DVI monitor / TV has audio, and if it actually uses the speakers that are in the chassis ๐Ÿ˜› – some don’t) and indeed Linux has an option to do so.

        Unfortunately, HDMI audio is digital so it’s not simple to build an adapter that converts it to a normal 3.5mm analog audio socket.

        Even when not having analog audio, audio is not bandwidth hungry, so one can just add an audio dongle on USB (USB speakers do that anyway) and still have 90% of the USB bandwidth available. Or use a PWM or DAC.

        (an audio DAC chip is about EUR 3. The amplifier is mainly one OPV, about EUR 1 per item, on the other hand for about EUR 4 you can get USB speakers on eBay)

        The only things that are so bandwidth sensitive that they must be onboard are graphics and the RAM connection.

        But having a graphics part (PowerVR) that passes hundreds of different C structs around via shared memory at high speed (which probably has about as many buffer overflows left, both on-chip and in the binary driver) is bad. But what can you do…

      • Slackstick
        Jul 24, 2014 @ 19:21:20

        Why I need more audio connectors?
        I want to use the computer for VOIP, so I need microphone in and headphone out. I want to play quality sound. So I need S/PDIF. My monitor is switched off when I don’t compute and the sound quality is just terrible.

        What I need else?
        Fast flash of at least 8GB for the system.

        Everything else I don’t care much.

  9. Guest
    Jul 15, 2014 @ 23:22:23

    Hmm… Gigabit? Sure? The specs sheet says EMAC not GMAC.
    Then, no SATA, no analog video, no analog audio, PowerVR instead of MALI, that stupid big.LITTLE design. Well, if you want an Android gaming console/set-top-box or tablet that may be the right SoC but as a development board? Not really.

    The only thing that sounds reasonable to me would be an A80-SOM that’s pin-compatible to the A20-SOM.

    If you want to make a better LIME: A20 with 32bit memory, gigabit switch chip instead of a single phy, a case with a place for a small LiPo and a HD/SSD, more LEDs, a beeper, internal sdcard instead of NAND. Oh, and regular .1-mil headers (with through hole pins, not smd)!


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Jul 15, 2014 @ 23:25:51

      if there is Ubuntu vendor support who cares if it’s PVR or Mali?


      • anne onyme
        Jul 16, 2014 @ 02:44:17

        If there is Ubuntu vendor support who cares if itโ€™s PVR or Mali?

        I do, like every people who want to use a free and opensource system. I don’t want to support a non free design, I want to know what is going on in my system, and be able to hack it if I want to.
        I don’t want to be dependent on a corporation even with a pseudo ยซ Ubuntu support ยป. Plus, they can’t give any warranty about how long they will support it and Ubuntu is not *nix.

      • OLIMEX Ltd
        Jul 16, 2014 @ 07:41:07

        can you share what system you are using now to work?

      • dmsc
        Jul 16, 2014 @ 15:29:32

        Problem with PowerVR is the bad support we got with Intel GMA500 chip. PowerVR provided a binary only driver for an already old Linux distro, an

      • dmsc
        Jul 16, 2014 @ 15:31:53

        Problem with PowerVR is the bad support we got with Intel GMA500 chip. PowerVR provided a binary only driver for an already old Linux distro, full of bugs, and never updated it.

        So, I strongly suspect this time will be the same, a buggy driver with no upgrades.

  10. GeeKen
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 00:04:29

    – More SPI channels is better than I2C channels. (Or at least have the same amount ?).

    – And plenty of UEXT’s ?

    Say 6xSPI, 4xI2C and 6xUEXT Ports ?


  11. Spas
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 00:31:29

    Audio In/Out is nice.

    SATA would be too, but from what I see this will not happen – so you just saved some space on the board ๐Ÿ™‚

    It is about time to think for some boards that will be used as nodes for processing, network and etc. => More Ethernet ports and SATA (an A20 design here with say at least 2 gigabit ports would be great for router, NAS, personal cloud, many computing nodes interconnected and etc.)


  12. Amer
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 00:49:54

    Glad to hear this is coming alone!
    I plan to use it as a wireless media and web server appliance. In addition to your basic list, support for hardware onboard audio and video codec is critical also 2 x 1GB ethernet and sata. Either they are basic or optional. A20 OlinuXino MICRO 4GB form factor would be ideal.

    Thanks, keep up the good work!


  13. pingi
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 01:19:44

    I would be interested mostly in (sorted approx. by priority):
    as mentioned before – regular pins or t least 50% in regular size
    2x micro SD cards
    USB 2(+)x & otg (maybe for space preservation some or all as micros)
    battery connector
    2+GB RAM
    camera interface
    ideally in LIME size or smaller ๐Ÿ˜‰

    giga ethernet

    audio is not a priority..


  14. manuti
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 02:45:31

    I only think in a normal PC use:

    DDR3 standard 2GB, optional 4GB – yes
    Gigabit Ethernet – yes
    optional NAND Flash 4GB – yes
    SD cards x4 possible – 2 without NAND or 1 with NAND
    USB-OTG 3.0 – yes
    USB hosts x2 2.0 – yes but maybe 3 ports like ODROID-U3
    MIPI camera interface – no
    real ADCs x2 – no
    PWM – yes maybe to control a fan
    UART x7 – no
    I2C x7 – no
    SPI x4 – no
    I2S – no
    LCD – no


  15. BRULE Herman
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 04:42:49

    Just to do 2 type of server node: with hdd/ssd in sata, or with SD card. Then just 1000Mbps as ethernet, and debug interface, with big care of power consumption.


  16. rafael duarte
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 04:59:47

    HDMI 2.0 in/out
    2×2 mimo dual band
    Gigabit Ethernet
    Audio channel


  17. GeeKen
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 06:19:40

    Ah – we have competition for Octo-space at Olimex between PC’ers and Real-Time afficionados.

    Maybe its time for a set of Olimex shield designs that adapt the Octo to the various customer tastes/requirements ?


  18. ahmet
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 06:26:14

    When do you think it will be on shelves to buy?


  19. David Burke
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 07:59:03

    A four core Intel Lime would be more useful for those of us who want a PC replacement to tinker with!

    Ram 2G
    Battery Backup with charger
    HDMI with sound
    UEXT ports
    Digital expansion port ( 32 I/O lines at least to add our own stuff )
    Keybord and Mouse via USB
    Debian Linux

    Keep it simple and cheap(ish). ๐Ÿ™‚

    Arm is good but we use a great many Intel binaries…….


  20. Lucio De Re
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 08:45:12

    My interest would be educational: how to teach young adults to develop their own software and hardware on an open _platform_. For that, you need an open BUS and _no_ closed graphics.

    Before anyone asks, my operating system of choice is Plan 9, a wonderful distributed operating system crippled by the absence of simple and powerful platforms capable of supporting all its features (as well as a large community of sophisticated developers).


  21. Petr Moses
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 09:53:30

    One thing to consider: greatest part of this SoC is based around Video, 3D graphic. I hope that AllWinner will release Open Source drivers, or at least specifications, which enable use of their hardware in open-source manners.
    I have to fight with 14 years old system, keep Socket 370, only because one library prevents me to upgrade to fx Core2Duo.
    It would be amazing to use OpenCl on this SoC.


  22. Matej
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 17:21:07

    What about http://www.vlsi.fi/en/products/vs1053.html for audio? Can replay Ogg,Flac,Mp3…. Plus beautiful wavetable for MIDI…
    Keep it “LIME” form factor and philosophy…
    HDMI is nice but people often have audiosystems near their TV so stereojack will be fine… 4GB vs 2GB ram depends on price.When there will be bootable SATA i dont need flash.I will buy 32gb ssd disk…


  23. Ibrahim Ng'eno
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 18:00:19

    Does the SOC support eDP?


    • 2_kamikaze_2
      Jul 16, 2014 @ 21:07:35

      Make it low cost no super hyper conector… Like this:

      1 or 2gb ROM,
      Some USB,
      Maybe sata
      And sd card


  24. christian
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 21:20:29

    Please, could you post into GitHub the docs made from Allwinner (like datasheet, reference manual and a development board schematic/design files)?

    Thanks! ๐Ÿ˜‰


  25. giovanni.v
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 00:02:22

    Please consider eMMC instead of NAND.


  26. Morgaine
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 21:44:22

    As others have pointed out above, the A80 will take Olimex more strongly into the “small personal computer” camp than has been the case so far. Traditional embedded uses will no doubt continue to appear and expand (for example embedded image processing will be extremely happy with all those cores), but an A80-OLinuXino could also become an ordinary personal computer for many people.

    This makes me wonder whether a jack-of-all-trades design is the right way forward for the A80-OLinuXino. Already the A10/A20-OLinuXino boards dedicate much of their valuable board area for lots of 0.05″ pitch expansion connectors that will never be used by those employing their boards as small Internet servers or as media interfaces for TV say. They’re very useful (of course) for those who are using the GPIOs for traditional embedded interfacing, but this highlights the problem — a jack-of-all-trades design will never be optimum for any given use case, and there are at least two major use cases that differ strongly in their requirements: embedded interfacing, and small personal computer or Internet server.

    It’s worth keeping in mind this distinction and the conflict between differing use case requirements, because it’s important to understand which market is being served. If both markets are being served, then perhaps two different designs should be employed so that their appeal is stronger in each category?

    There is little doubt in my mind that a large proportion of A80-OLinuXino users who intend to run their boards as personal Internet servers or as small personal computers would prefer to trade off most of the GPIO expansion board area found on a LIME in exchange for more memory, say. This is not the only relevant trade-off, just an example that highlights one important requirement common to both servers and personal computers, namely ample memory.

    In summary, I suggest that you think hard about the possibility of offering two different designs for your A80-OLinuXino family, targetting these two very different umbrella use cases.

    (I’m interested in both application areas, but since gigabit Ethenet and a large number of cores is a new combination for OLinuXino and it would let us build excellent little Internet servers, I would like to see it well endowed with memory.)



  27. Morgaine
    Jul 17, 2014 @ 23:52:41

    Olimex wrote that A80 does not have native (analogue) audio, just I2S, and that adding an expensive codec doesn’t seem like a good idea. This is probably a reasonable argument given that analogue audio users could just add an external USB audio device, and most important for low cost, it avoids the board requiring low noise analogue circuitry. I tend to agree, but there is an alternative available.

    Since audio data is already present on I2S, why not leave it in the digital domain and offer it as coaxial or optical S/PDIF? That would make best use of the A80 without requiring a quality codec for decoding into analogue, and it avoids the need for low noise circuitry, power or shielding on a low-cost board. Audio bufs will appreciate the better quality of a digital audio connection too.

    I tend to prefer “horses for courses” to keep costs down and to avoid paying for what one doesn’t use, so perhaps a small add-on board interfacing to the I2S signals on an A80-OLinuXino header would be in order. It could offer both coaxial and optical/Toslink presentations in parallel since bit-wise they’re identical.

    This would provide the quality audio interconnect for non-HDMI applications which A80-OLinuXino will otherwise lack, will add a little money to Olimex coffers, won’t take up any OLinuXino board area, and would avoid the low-noise analogue design issues and costs mentioned earlier.



  28. rose28357
    Jul 18, 2014 @ 12:48:46

    How about integrating a USB3 to SATA chip to have a convenient SATA connector for server applications ?


  29. Pete
    Jul 18, 2014 @ 12:50:47

    What would I actually *use* a board like this for?
    Well, for me it’s too powerful (and maybe with a high power consumption / heat output? anyone know) for embedded use.
    It would make a handy “home console” part DVR, part video phone, environmental monitor. Though this sort of thing is converging with more traditional PC applications.

    With all that power, I’d like to see a couple of USB (USB 3?) hubs on the board but with careful board layout so that all the USB ports are accessible without obscuring any other features or connectors. May be a long, thin board instead of a square-ish one? It would be helpful to have an RTC + battery backup on the board as well. It would be nice if some of the SPI could be run to onboard peripherals, such as digital I-O. Finally, it might be wise to have a CPU temperature monitor and some voltage monitors on the board, too.

    So far as add-ons go: how about a daughter board that brings all the peripherals out to just one side, so we can easily encase the system without having a Raspberry Pi situation where there are sockets and connectors on all sides.


    • Pete
      Jul 18, 2014 @ 13:11:52

      Oh, and it would be kinda neat if the on-board USB ports could be power-switched on/off under software control.


  30. SencillamenteIvan
    Jul 18, 2014 @ 13:38:18

    Good morning!
    It’s a great new.
    Now that you are asking for sound, and it’s my area, I would like to make a suggestion: why not let it small and cheap and you do an audio plugin with a great i2s codec like wolfson pi (drivers are made) or something better like an adau1761/adau1701 (linux drives in main kernel) with multiple inputs & outputs.

    With that you have a cheap as possible 8-core and a brilliant audio board to the people that don’t want to use an usb quality poor sound card.


  31. isimeonov
    Jul 18, 2014 @ 18:13:08

    Can somebody explain me the PowerVr vs Mali debate ?!?
    As far as I know they are EQUALLY free and open source (i.e not at all).
    In FOSS: ARM Holdings (Mali) = Imagination Technologies(PowerVr). = no support.

    Or show me the source for the Mali driver ?

    Mad props Luc Verhaegen and Connor Abbott.
    But as far as I know Lima has long way ahead.

    As far as I know Freedreno is progressed much further. Mad props Rob Clark.

    Some time ago (a couple of years) I read a post that the first one to make ARM board with SO-DIMM will “kill the market”.

    What do you think ?

    To summaries two directions:
    1. PC/Server/Thin client
    2. Embedded

    Wild guess: Olimex has already made plans , this is only verifying them.

    Props Olimex.


  32. Ana
    Jul 18, 2014 @ 23:47:37

    VGA would be great for desktop PC.


  33. Morgaine
    Jul 19, 2014 @ 01:23:32

    isimeonov writes:
    > Wild guess: Olimex has already made plans , this is only verifying them.

    I’m sure that Olimex designers already have some idea of where they want to be in terms of A80 product, but since they haven’t yet received a datasheet from Allwinner, the plans are probably just bullet points at present.

    Although they haven’t explicitly stated that our feedback has the possibility of affecting their plans, Olimex has never struck me as the kind of outfit that would deliberately waste their customers’ time purely for PR purposes. I think we should assume that the feedback really will be taken into consideration (alongside their own requirements and insights) before plans are cast in stone. I believe it’s implied strongly enough.

    Your “two directions” echo the first of my posts above. I’m not very confident that these two directions can be satisfied well with a single product. It’s certain that they can’t be satisfied *optimally* for each of the two use cases with a single board, because to do so a board would have to be large and costly. That would please nobody, and it would be the kiss of death for sales.

    They warned about this directly (in the context of A80 LIME), namely “if we go in max features direction the board will become big and expensive”. I doubt they’ll make that mistake, since it’s clear that they understand the “Pi effect” — extreme low cost creates the market. I’ll just add that this effect applies to both types of use case. A high price would destroy sales in this new sector, which is why I suggested earlier that S/PDIF output could be on a separate add-on product to avoid affecting the price of the core board.



  34. Martin Weinberg
    Jul 20, 2014 @ 18:33:57

    Please don’t use the 1.27mm Headers, use 2.54mm instead!
    I don’t think that anyone wants to use all GPIOs on the chip, but if someone wants to tinker he don’t want to use any adapters but stick some sensors, buttons and led’s on standard connectors and play with it…
    I’m working in a small electronic components shop and if you have to explain a customer that the lime is very cool and cheap and the customer tells you he want to use a LCD (or anything else which uses gpios) you have to explain him that he has to use a special cable AND a special adapter for this he wont buy anything because the price is “much” higher then… (follow-up costs are not good in a customer pitch, as small as the increase in price may be…)
    – only a little bit bigger than the lime, much smaller than the a20 boards
    – 2.54mm connectors (one for LCD and two or three smaller (20-pin?) ones to connect peripherals?)
    – no audio (many customers ask for that but i think its wasted pcb-area and to much extra costs)
    – connectors on the pcb: HDMI, 2xUSB 2.0, 1xUSB 3.0, (MIPI CSI optional), GPIO+LCD, Ethernet, LiPo, DC-Jack


  35. ee
    Jul 21, 2014 @ 15:46:00

    I’m afraid I’d have to agree. 1.27mm dual-in-line are the worst, they are hard to use. If you have to go for 1.27mm pitch I’d rather have some JST type header where I can get cheap board-to-wire connectors, or even flat flex at 1mm or 0.5mm pitch since the flex and connectors are not too expensive. Anything other than 1.27mm DIL headers which are difficult to solder. Board-to-wire for 1.27mm DIL headers is exceedingly expensive too.
    2.54mm is most convenient, followed by 2mm. Please avoid 1.27mm.


  36. karakai andras
    Jul 21, 2014 @ 19:51:07


    I think, the Lime form factor is great.
    The IO ports could be the same, and to the place of the SATA connector (As I see, the A80 has no SATA, if I am right.) an extension connector could be placed, with UART I2C and maybe SPI. In this way, there would be still an extension available in the boxed form.
    An optional Flash (or an internal SD card) would be great, and also the internal headers (with some easy connectors) for more extensions.

    Thank You, for asking us.


  37. karakai andras
    Jul 21, 2014 @ 19:52:03

    Oh, and what I forgot: a connector for the RTC backup, if it is any…


  38. MiPnamic Von Wirklichkeit
    Jul 21, 2014 @ 22:46:59

    8 Gb NAND


  39. Morgaine
    Jul 22, 2014 @ 23:53:47

    Price determines sales more than anything else when the price is below the point where one needs to think twice (the “Pi effect”). This makes it interesting to consider what would be the absolute smallest feature set that would still be effective and interesting (albeit not for everybody), so that a rock-bottom board could be introduced that sacrifices almost everything for low cost. (This would not be a LIME at all, but a new type of OLinuXino.)

    There are many possible candidates for a constrained feature set, but one in particular appeals to me because despite its lack of features it is entirely perfect for its intended use case: the small Internet server. The potential audience for this could be quite enormous, because after all, the Internet is fairly popular. :P.

    An A80-based small Internet server would require no HDMI nor other video, just a console on UART0. It wouldn’t require fast storage either, because its gigabit Ethernet and USB OTG 3.0 allow fast network storage or fast USB storage to be mounted after boot. Only booting would require local storage, but this can be slow and cheap. Once booted then the fast non-boot storage becomes available so online operation will be very snappy.

    I’m running a tiny low-power x86 mini-ITX board off a USB-3.0 flash drive, and the speed of storage is absolutely astounding compared to any uSD card or indeed any USB-2.0 flash drive that I’ve ever used. This is only anecdotal, but it’s worth examining the possibility of keeping costs low by leaving storage to USB-3.0. Of course if USB-OTG allowed A80 boot devices then that would just be perfect, but I expect that it doesn’t so a uSD slot for booting would still be required.

    Needless to say, all the hardware interfacing headers could be omitted — remember that this would be a different category of product, so don’t complain that it lacks features that another product like LIME provides. In exchange for losing almost everything that isn’t dedicated to Internet service, it could offer more RAM, as that’s always welcome and important for servers feeding a gigabit pipe.

    Any changes or additions to this extremely cut-back spec for a cheap Internet server product? Or, any alternative feature specs for cheap A80 products that are not in the current OLinuXino “do everything” category so that prices can be kept very low to benefit sales?



    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Jul 23, 2014 @ 12:55:49

      A80 board can’t be with shocking low price, let’s not forget we talk here for 8 core super duper powerful SOC which alone will cost more than RaspberryPi,
      two PMU surrounding ICs, Gigabit interface and 2GB RAM (RAM prices now are again in the sky) and we must be realistic

      if one is after low cost there are plenty of options but A80 will not be one of these like there is no low cost imx6 4 core board

      The hardware face recognition feature Allwinner speak in the video is interesting if open sourced, so people can further develop video and image processing features


      • Morgaine
        Jul 23, 2014 @ 14:54:58

        That’s unfortunate, if the SoC alone will cost more than a Pi. It takes the end product out of the petty cash niche where price is no barrier to sales.

        The general notion that there is room for a product optimized as an Internet server by omitting unnecessary features still stands though, at any price level. Likewise, there is room for a communications appliance with 2 or more NICs. The sheer number of people who have had to hack commodity routers because there is no suitable board available on the market is quite astounding.

        Perhaps both of the above ideas describe different versions of a hypothetical new product range — OLinuXino-INET. ๐Ÿ˜›


  40. notzed
    Jul 25, 2014 @ 07:41:47

    my 2c … however much memory it is, it should be the fastest (reasonable/economical/power source) configuration the memory controller can support as that has the biggest impact on performance particularly with so many cores to keep busy (and could be a market differentiator if there is a difference). TBH with all that cpu power 2GB seems like a mismatch.

    Same for the gigabit ethernet.

    Short-list for a minimal ‘net terminal/entertainment console’ configuration:

    + 4GB ram
    + 1x or 2x sd-card, no on-board nand
    + 2x usb host, 1x usb otg (if that’s all it has, if more, then headers for extra)
    + ethernet
    + hdmi
    + expansion/lcd connector(s) that can can connect a daughter board

    – non-hdmi audio can be added via usb (find a small/cheap dongle that works well in linux/android, and sell that?).
    – bulk storage can be via nas rather than sata.


  41. Tomek
    Jul 25, 2014 @ 08:14:40

    Hi Olimex,

    As those boards with Allwinner processors are mostly used for multimedia, SPDIF connection is a must have. This board then could by a dlna server connected directly to amplifier with high audio quality. Personally i miss board with sata connection to make a dlna server with at least 2 hdd’s.

    Bets regards,


  42. Martin Weinberg
    Jul 25, 2014 @ 11:35:24

    Oh, daughter board, very good idea!
    Cheap daughter board to have 2.54mm headers on it ๐Ÿ™‚ another possibility! But then with the headers of the lime so it can be used by both of the boards


  43. lime-fan
    Jul 30, 2014 @ 01:57:33

    Hi Olimex,

    nice to hear that you are working on a A80 based solution!

    What i would need for my application:
    – Debian Linux (most important)
    – High CPU clock for the A15 Cores
    – 2GB RAM (Even 1GB would be ok)
    – 1 Gigabit Ethernet
    – 1 USB-Port
    – 1 Micro-SD slot
    – 2 x I2C
    – 1 x UEXT
    – >100 GPIOs (like LIME)
    – As small as possible
    – widest possible temperature range (larger CPU heatsink)
    – NO flash, HDMI, SATA

    Also very important: connectors for Ethernet, USB and Power on 1 single side, micro-SD on the other (= LIME-Design, NOT A20-Micro Design).

    In my opinion you can leave out additional SATA and Audio chips. Micro-SD Cards are large enough for every possible application and for more you can use USB oder network disk space. Audio is included in HDMI, that should be enough.

    For my part you could also leave out battery and OTG.

    So maybe you could make 2 versions:
    – minimal: like A20-LIME, but without audio,flash,sata, HDMI, Battery, OTG, 2GB RAM (for realtime,automation,webserver)
    – deluxe : with SATA, SPDIF, HDMI, flash, 4GB RAM (for multimedia)


  44. CephDon
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 06:17:33

    I have been waiting for a board that provides lots of computational power / Ram / Network but with out lots of extra stuff that I don’t need. An A80 with GigE and lots of ram in the “Compute Module” form factor would be perfect for what I want. Slap it on a dimm and build carrier boards for it that expose different capabilities. That way, people that want all of these features can have them, and people (like me) that don’t want them can get just the CPU/Ram/Flash/GigE and GPIO.


  45. Aristide
    Aug 03, 2014 @ 20:14:19

    I’m happy to heard that ๐Ÿ™‚ But don’t add SATA is not a good thing ๐Ÿ˜ฅ


  46. Budman
    Aug 15, 2014 @ 07:56:15

    I need a SATA and I don’t know who wouldn’t? If not, a mSSD Bay, The audio is important as well as the video, it needs hardware acceleration for use with Dolby! Like the tablet, the Micro SD Card should support 128GB and a larger Nand than 4GB at least 2GB RAM, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi ac dual band, why not have a board worthy of, or different models of it, HDMI in and out! If I was to build a board for sale it would have all the bells and whistles! It will sell and big!


  47. lime-fan
    Aug 16, 2014 @ 16:20:17

    one thing to add: no matter what format you choose, please add normal screw-holes instead of or additional to the lime-srewless-fixations.


  48. Trackback: Rivales de 8 cores | Raspberry para torpes
  49. customer
    Jan 17, 2015 @ 04:38:36

    Device permitting:

    Please consider one or more mini-PCIe connectors. Multiple GigE. Multiple USB3.0 host, not necessarily with connector.

    Lack of SATA connector is a bother. What high-density memory interfaces could be put on the board instead? SDHC would probably be insufficient for most users who need mass storage.

    There is no need for a discrete audio connector and codec. Most of these devices will probably end up being run headless anyway; those that need audio will probably be connected to a screen. Please continue to use the high density connectors for GPIO.

    I am excited for the planned board, especially as it is coming from a more reputable company.


  50. Trackback: Rivales de 8 cores contra la Raspberry Pi

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