A64 the first Cortex-A53 chip from Allwinner is now in production and cost only $5 in volume


A64

In January 2015 Allwinner announced that start working on their Cortex-A53 chip with name A64. Today we got notice that A64 now is in production and ready for ordering.

A64 target is tablets, it have quad core Cortex-A53 inside, with Mali400MP2 GPU, supports MIPI, RGB, LVDS, HDMI with 4K output. The video engine supports H.264 and H.265 encoding and decoding, Audio codec and 5Mpix camera sensor.

The connectivity is weak – no native Ethernet, but just USB-OTG and USB-Host, SPI, I2C, UARTs and LRADC.

The price is again smashing $5 for the A64 SoC probably this is the lowest cost Quad Core Cortex-A53 chip on the market.

A64 comes in small sexy 13×13 mm BGA443 package with 0.5 mm step which makes PCB escape a little bit expensive and minimum 6 Layer PCB design with quite demanding technology.

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. anonima
    Jun 30, 2015 @ 12:22:30

    Pocket olinuxino with this “chip”!

    Reply

  2. Jon Smirl
    Jun 30, 2015 @ 15:16:50

    I’m not wasting any more time on Allwinner until I have a copy of Android A64 that I can build from source and it works. I’ve wasted three weeks now trying to get an Allwinner H3 functioning and I’m giving up on it. I’ve switched to a RK3128 where everything built and booted on first try.

    Allwinner is the root cause of these problem. They do not distribute their SDKs using public version control. Instead I have to get them from OEMs who make random changes to the source, and since I don’t have access to the original Allwinner SDK I can’t tell what people are changing and messing up.

    Reply

    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Jun 30, 2015 @ 16:16:21

      we never were interested in Android so the friendly linux-sunxi community is what weights our decission to use Allwinner again and again, there is no such community for Rockchip, Mediatek neither for TI and Freescale.

      Reply

    • Linux_Dude
      Jul 02, 2015 @ 13:24:16

      Android suxx really hard when it comes to anythings beyond entarntainment – it is completely crippled system where you can’t use most programs and libs from opensource world. And if one needs yet another fancy android tablet or silly TV dongle – just go to shop and buy one?! There is no point to do things like this yourself, unless you got some really custom requirements. And android would be a major roadblock most of time if your requirements are beyound enterntainment.

      And I would agree: Linux Sunxi community ROCKS! I had experience using Allwinner A10 and A20 boards in numbers. While it has been initially annoying due to vendor kernels and proprietary boot loaders, now it is mostly works in mainline kernel and u-boot – thanks to Linux Sunxi community! And it has became my choice on various automation and somesuch. Mainline u-boot. Mainline kernel. Full boot sequence from source. Doing only what I need. Under my complete control. Then you can, say, do debootstrap and build some custom Debian image for custom automation task. No royalty payments shit, no trademarks, no patenrs, etc – 100% safe choice even for “commercial” deployments. Which is great, to say the least. And Olimex got some fancy A20 boards to mess with, I’ve got used to them due to good documentation. Thank you, Olimex!

      There is one thing to know about allwinner: software support somewhat lagging behind. Yet, in most networked automation tasks allwinner A20 with 1Gb RAM would have enough headroom to do almost anything. And all this at affordable prices. OTOH, Rockchip isn’t really Linux friendly and hardly counts for anything beyound enterntainment. Recently it started to improve, and some RK3xxx ICs got some mainline kernel support. Yet, half of rockchips can’t even boot from SD card (and it makes debugging and investigating wreked system much harder). Then they have encrypted boot and proprietary code in boot sequence, which is pain. And if you need to bring up, say, 20 boards or modules… okay, I would rather write 20 cards with system image I created using “dd” linux command, insert cards to devices and ready to rock-n-roll. But on rockchip it is not possible and it would take a lot of woes to deal with proprietary flashers and flashing to internal memory. On allwinner I can even build FULL BOOT LOADER from source. And it has been very critical couple of times, because I was able to shut down all debug output and use UART for GPS module. Which is unhappy if you try to send debug output shit into it. So unless Rockchip would have proper opensource boot loaders, I would stay miles away since it mostly kills custom automation tasks. And while mainline u-boot integration and kernel integration are not Allwinner achievements but Sunxi community achievements, at the end of day it is result and solved task what really counts.

      On side note, only allwinner has managed to offer SATA connector and Gigabit port at same time at adequate price point, making it almost perfect choice for devices with requirement for both decent connectivity and reasonable HDD speed. Be it DLNA server, some video security system, or “microserver”, allwinner A20 can deal with it. Using real HDD/SSD at real SATA port and gigabt, giving more or less sane speeds, beating cheap NAS boxes. Somehow, nobody else came close to these results at this price😛. Basically, rockchip and some multicore allwinners, including A64, are rather pointless: they have bunch of CPU cores but … very limited I/O. So what is the point to have 4 * 64-bit cores if you can’t supply them with decent amount of data to chew on – due to weak set of I/O interfaces? So, in fact, Allwinner A20 still seems to be a decent option for places where you need fast storage and/or decent networking speed. Cores matter if you want to do some games or video playback. Yet, it’s not something one would want on boards and modules like oLinuxino things.

      p.s. as for communities, Rockchip has got some community, after all. Yet it is nowhere as close to Sunxi Linux. Ti, i.MX? Okay, they’re just too expensive and too slow to deal with highly-competitive markets. This made them unpopular across people, so no real alive communities around. Ti have got some community, but it quite boring and nowhere close to Sunxi. And real Linux instead of android enterntainment crap makes it much easier to craft various (networked or computer-like) automations.

      Reply

      • SK
        Jul 02, 2015 @ 13:40:31

        I wonder when will Allwinner awaken from their sleep and realise there is need for mutlicore chip with good IO (not only video) – many usages in networking, headless, NAS and etc conditions – imagine a 8 core 64-bit chip (A-57/A-53) with 2 SATAs and 2 Gigabit Ethernets at a reasoable pricepoint🙂

        AMD will be making much more IO capable server chips (ARM based, 8 x SATA, 2 x 10 GbE) but they are dealyed 1 year (Opteron A1100), and I expect a triple digit price in dollars (they are server chips after all, with special features, ECC DDR3/4, PCIe and etc.)

      • OLIMEX Ltd
        Jul 02, 2015 @ 14:32:38

        their sales are tablets and IPTV dongles, when their market moves to servers they may make one such device

  3. Zack
    Jul 01, 2015 @ 23:15:08

    Is it possible to buy this chip from you?

    Reply

    • Linux_Dude
      Jul 02, 2015 @ 14:39:56

      And what I’m supposed to compute on 8 cores using such device? Not to mention awful peak power consumption and resulting power supply and heat dissipation requirements. You see, one can run A20 and especially A10 board from common “USB charger” aka 5V, 1..2 A supply (high-quality 2A supply needed to handle HDD, though). All this with fully passive cooling (no bloody blowers!). This makes things simple and straightforward, allowing decent automations easily. Custom/expensive power supply is an issue for many applications. As well as small FANs which tend to break, screwing up reliability of device as whole.

      And if someone needs something “quick, dirty and cheap” but custom router, or to be exact, something between router, NAS and microserver – feel free to google for “banana pi router”. Chinese guys finally did obvious thing and soldered gigabit switch IC to gigabit interface of A20, as well as some wireless module, resulting in A20-based “router”. This way you can get dirt-cheap “half-gigabit” router with SATA, which comes with 2 * 1 GHz cores, 1GB RAM and so on. Not so bad for $50 mark or so and beats any “usual” soho $50 router, some NAS things and so on. Gigabit managed switch is a bonus. The only real downside is that it is relatively recent idea and so, there is no distro ready to handle it as is. So it is not a device for noobs. But Linux gurus can have a lot of fun and reasonable results at good price point.

      Reply

  4. Raphael
    Jul 02, 2015 @ 13:57:32

    Do you know the version of the USB of this chip? USB2.0 ? USB3.0? An USB3.0 would compensate the lack of IO…

    Reply

  5. Terry Ross
    Dec 23, 2015 @ 09:16:39

    My thoughts exactly. We now have SSD speed, USB sticks hitting the market.
    Lexor has one that claims 400 meg read, 270 meg write. Already at $100 for 128 GB. Requires USB 3 of course. Small, low power, low heat. A perfect compliment to everything else this chip achieves. The Pine64 proclaims it’s self a mini super computer. When it has USB 3 and can accommodate mini SSD’s (a USB 3 stick),
    I will agree with that “Super computer” thought.
    Thanks for the “state of the union” Linux_Dude. A lot of good information.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: