H3-OLinuXino fresh out of reflow oven – our first quad core OSHW Linux SBC prototypes are ready



Here you can see the first prototype of H3-OLinuXino. Our first Quad core OSHW Linux SBC.

What it have:

  • H3 quad core Cortex-A7
  • 1GB DDR3 Ram
  • optional 4GB NAND Flash
  • micro SD card
  • 2x USB-HOST
  • LCD connector with 0.1″ step (not assembled on the pictire)
  • GPIO connector with 0.1″ step (not assembled on the pictrure)
  • UEXT connector
  • HDMI
  • Ethernet 100Mb
  • dimensions only 80×50 mm

Now these first prototypes will be put on heavy testing before we run the board in production. We want to see if they will be able to run Linux yet or just Android.

From what I’ve read on the net H3 is overheating big time, due to the integration of the Ethernet PHY to the SOC silicon. We will see how bad it is.

We have no price for H3-OLinuXino yet as there are just first prototypes and there may be changes in the design.

UPDATE: 20:00 o’clock – It works! … but even with aluminum heatsink it heats up to 80C 😦 we will take more experiments and measurements but so far it seems H3 consumes x3 times more than A20

45 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kenny
    Nov 13, 2015 @ 16:13:32

    Nice! I’m looking forward to having a box that’ll play h.265.


  2. progmetalbg
    Nov 13, 2015 @ 16:20:15

    yes, it is way too hot @ 1.5 GHz. Chip easily reaches 90+ degrees Celsius and starts to underclock and shutdown cores.
    See what is written here:


  3. anonima
    Nov 13, 2015 @ 16:26:26

    It’s very nice. Debian please.


    • LinuxUser
      Nov 16, 2015 @ 07:40:04

      > It’s very nice. Debian please.
      I would rather tell “mainline kernel support please” (as well as u-boot). Once this one ready, it’s not a major issue to debootstrap own image, etc. But before it happens, there is some trouble on the way.

      Sure, one can boot Debian with vendor SDK kernel like 3.10, BUT it tends to have long-term stability issues, outdated, some chinese drivers really bugged, etc. Then, they can use some proprietary components like it happened to Cedar lib.

      So at the end of day, it is moving target and imperfect world, and we have to live with it 😛


  4. Thomas
    Nov 13, 2015 @ 17:22:23

    Speaking of ‘Quad core OSHW Linux SBC’… any news on the potential A20 successor? But based on the experiences with the last quad core SoCs I played with (H3 and Actions Semi’s S500/ATM7059 — both suffering from overheating problems) I have mixed feelings when Allwinner puts two more cores on the die.


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Nov 13, 2015 @ 17:30:51

      ahhh the 4 core A20 upgrade will be ready probably second half of 2016, Allwinner actually were starting working on this when they told me and I didn’t understand correctly so blogged about it then they were not happy that I didn’t kept this in secret until they announce themself 🙂


  5. Thomas
    Nov 13, 2015 @ 17:42:45

    Understandably. 🙂 Back to the H3: I would strongly recommend using RPi-Monitor to get graphs for internal temperatures, cpufreq and DRAM freq and count of CPU cores (since Allwinner’s kernel code shuts CPU cores down). Data sources:

    expr 1 + `awk -F”: ” ‘/^processor/ {print $2}’ < /proc/cpuinfo | tail -n1`

    It's easy to adjust the templates. I did it for A20 in the past and just recently did it for the S500 (this beast and its PMU exceed easily 100°C under full load, I even managed to trigger emergency shutdowns at 125°C): http://wiki.linux-xapple.org/w/index.php/RPi-Monitor


  6. Morgaine
    Nov 13, 2015 @ 20:00:33

    Alas, on a “do-everything” OLinuXino board, the H3’s integrated Ethernet PHY can’t shine because the cost savings from integration are masked by the additional costs of the many other bits that are added. “Do-everything” carries a price penalty.

    To make an H3-based OLinuXino do what the SoC is best at (ie. low cost Ethernet), the board should have only the H3 itself + essential circuitry, RJ45 with magnetics, RAM, a GPIO connector and UEXT, nothing else. (Perhaps 1 USB port for the plug’n’play peeps, as it’s cheap.) Then it would be the perfect extremely low-cost wired IoT board, and the price would be able to reflect the H3’s high level of integration. Price down, sales up.

    Call it H3-OLinuXino-NET to emphasize that it’s entirely dedicated to Ethernet-based control applications (and not HI), and you’d have a new product for your “IoT” category which currently doesn’t have a wired member.



    • Bobby
      Nov 13, 2015 @ 22:10:19

      There seems to be H3-OLinuXino-NANO in the works, see next blog post


    • LinuxUser
      Nov 16, 2015 @ 07:28:11

      Uhm, well, in IoT you usually do not need 4 CPU cores. What exactly you want to compute on 4 cores? Though it does little harm…

      As for phys, its something really strange. I’ve took a look on quite a some various ICs and these vary wildly. Some crappy ARM SoC @ mere 250MHz with integrated phy is so hot I can’t touch it (CNS2132; partially supported by openwrt, but utter crap overall). Some 100M switch ICs like ADM6996 are very hot as well, even if I do not get why it have to be like this. Because… because, say, some usual Realtek switch which contains whole 5 gigabit ports at most getting a bit warm. So it seems some PHY implementations just happen to be very inefficient and it really depends on implementation.


    • Max
      Nov 16, 2015 @ 17:56:51

      “…“IoT” category which currently doesn’t have a wired member.”

      Sure it does – only it’s hiding in the “Olinuxino” category: the RT5350F-OLinuXino, more wired ports than one could possibly need, all you need are the magjacks… 😉


  7. Morgaine
    Nov 13, 2015 @ 20:32:49

    By the way, integrating Ethernet PHY doesn’t *have* to make a chip hot. I have some TI TM4C1294-based LaunchPads which integrate 10/100 Ethernet PHY on their microcontroller SoC, and their normal operating temperature with Ethernet active isn’t much warmer than ambient. I guess it must depend on the specific implementation.



  8. GeeKen
    Nov 13, 2015 @ 20:52:13

    I guess these temp measurements are occurring when running Linux of some kind ? There might be some flaw in Linux that causes over-heat somehow, or perhaps a hardware issue where the are bus-conflicts, or similar effect ? Bus conflicts essentially cause temporary but recurring shorts for the chip. Suggest turning things off or removing components to find if there is a conflict at play, somewhere.

    Although mentioning an opposition board is not ideal, does anyone know if the PCduino-8 (it has an Allwinner H-8 chip – i,e, 8 x cores), is overheating too? Its picture shows no heatsink – – –

    I have read articles where is even where A-20’s are using everything at full speed (DDR, GPU & CPU) it will need a HeatSink. Perhaps Allwinner are cutting corners – – –

    Something may be unseen here – – – although the idea of the onchip-PHY complicating the H3 die too much is a good explanation..

    * *


    • Thomas
      Nov 14, 2015 @ 13:26:34

      The ‘problem’ with the H3 is that it’s being marketed as “up to 1.6 GHz” but that’s just marketing bullsh*t suitable to provide higher Antutu scores. When you do benchmarking for your tablet’s press release you also switch off the ‘thermal controls’ contained in Allwinner’s 3.4 kernel: Normally the CPU cores are being shut down one after the other. To work with this chip in a realiable way you simply don’t exceed a core voltage of 1.2V which translates to the H3 being a 1.0 GHz chip (try 960 MHz as the maximum clock speed and you’re safe). Again: https://linux-sunxi.org/Orange_Pi_PC#CPU_clock_speed_limit


    • LinuxUser
      Nov 16, 2015 @ 07:45:58

      You’re right: A20 could get pretty hot when running without heatsink for a while doing some intense computations. E.g. try “7z b” or “openssl speed” commands and take a look on CPU temperature. It would get kinda hot.

      Furthermore, claims about 1.5GHz are crap and you better count on it to be able to do 1 GHz. Sure, you can clock it to 1.5GHz but it would overheat and lose stability or would be extremely unstable. On other hand, even 1GHz with 2 CPU cores isn’t bad for many uses. It happens to be reasonable as NAS/microserver like thing, thanks to SATA, and cheaper, faster, and overall better replacement is yet to be seen in this area (yeah, SATA beats USB 2.0 any day).


  9. Martin Ayotte
    Nov 13, 2015 @ 22:11:28

    Interesting !
    Amazingly, as a pure coincidence, I’ve received my first OrangePI-PC yesterday.
    It cheap price of $15 attracted me. I’ve tested it a bit, and it is well faster than my A20. The only caveat I’ve found : no SATA.


  10. Freire
    Nov 14, 2015 @ 18:12:58

    Allwinner H3 has display LCD?


  11. jonsmirl
    Nov 16, 2015 @ 14:48:49

    Any signs of Android 5.1 for the H3?


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Nov 16, 2015 @ 15:22:44

      the internet to/from China is quite unreliable, from Allwinner try to upload H3 SDK to our ftp for a long time but they can’t complete, same happen with the cloud service they use, we start to download but the file is huge 7-8GB and always broke unfinished, so I have no access to latest H3 SDK to check what android it have


      • jonsmirl
        Nov 16, 2015 @ 15:37:14

        Secret software always leads to a giant mess. If they’d put it on a public git server we could sync to the US hosted AOSP servers and then only pull in the deltas from them. Lobbing tarballs is no way to develop software and it is a security patch nightmare.

        Amlogic has this nice git system, but they won’t give me access.

        Since I have no AMLogic access I working on the RK3128 instead. Firefly has their Android 5.1 SDK up in a public git repo. Rockchip is also making considerable effort to mainline their kernel using their own employees.

      • jonsmirl
        Nov 16, 2015 @ 15:44:21

        Have them make a new gmail account which will give them 15GB of free storage. Upload it with GDrive. Apparently that is not too hard to do from China since Google has servers in Asia. Once it is GDrive it is easy to get to from anywhere. But it is still a tarball with no way to get security patches.

      • OLIMEX Ltd
        Nov 16, 2015 @ 17:24:42

        Gmail is not accessable in China

      • jonsmirl
        Nov 16, 2015 @ 17:37:32

        Gmail is not ‘officially’ accessible in China. VPNs are commonly used to bypass the great firewall. Firefly is using one to put the Rockchip Android distributions onto GDrive.

      • Thomas
        Nov 16, 2015 @ 17:54:25

        You should think about setting up a fex server for such situations (it has been made for exactly that kind of stuff): http://fex.rus.uni-stuttgart.de/index.html (more technical details: https://fex.rus.uni-stuttgart.de/doc/concept )

      • LinuxUser
        Nov 16, 2015 @ 19:48:54

        If you run Linux on FTP, can access command line and able to install programs, try “axel” program. This small 40Kb program makes wonders. It splits file to blocks and downloads them in parallel, achieving remarkable speed. But best of all, it proven to be extremely robust to all kinds of network errors. I once faced weird misconfigured server, which breaks connections for something like every 40-120Kb, which is far worse than most of chinese servers could be. Yet I managed to get 4Gb file AND it even passed md5sum verification. Kinda impressive, granted HTTP does not haves any checksms on its own. and when connection breaks it is really up to downloader program to be smartass enough.

      • vonfritz
        Nov 17, 2015 @ 11:02:17

        If it is on baidu there are tools to help you download better.
        But I honestly do not think it’s changed anything from the first / second release. probably the usual kernel 3.4.39 and Android 4.4

  12. Erdogan
    Nov 16, 2015 @ 19:09:57

    Hi Im from TURKEY 😉
    What are you think about this boards price? Can you give a little info plase.
    I work with OrangePi PC. H3 is working with 75C. H3 is very hot. Your board is come with heatsink? Maybe chage the freq. andwork 1gz !



  13. anonima
    Nov 17, 2015 @ 13:26:52

    I think that would be good: A20, 2GB RAM, wifi integrated and NAND flash. And reduced price.


  14. Thomas
    Nov 19, 2015 @ 15:30:14

    I asked in the OrangePi forums whether people can do a little benchmarking with ‘default’ settings (overclocked: 1.53GHz cpufreq and 672 MHz DRAM) and more sane settings (1008/480 MHz). When the H3 is not actively cooled with both heatsink and fan then it performs identical with both settings since overheating/throttling occurs with default/overclocked settings: sysbench time 183.7 vs. 184.6 seconds



  15. Thomas
    Nov 27, 2015 @ 00:48:33

    Today I adjusted dvfs settings for H3 and was curious whether 4 low clocked cores work more efficient than 1 fast core. The quad-core attempt makes really sense: http://www.orangepi.org/orangepibbsen/forum.php?mod=redirect&goto=findpost&ptid=743&pid=6976&fromuid=29411


  16. Erdogan
    Dec 13, 2015 @ 21:22:23

    Plase chnge H3 with A83t or A64. We hate fans and aliminium heatseak. 😉
    I love A20 & Debian with ARM Boards.


    • LinuxUser
      Dec 14, 2015 @ 04:44:18

      Why “change”? Just make all kinds of boards and let us try ’em. We’ll see what we prefer. Btw, A20 can also get pretty hot if you run it on 1GHz for a while. Try e.g. “openssl speed” or “7z b” while looking on CPU temperature. Without heatsink it can burn your skin if you touch CPU. And A20 just would not be stable at advertised 1.5GHz. Some CPUs would start up on 1.5GHz, but if you’ll dare to put anyhow strong load, it would overheat and all sorts of weird things would happen.


    • Thomas
      Dec 14, 2015 @ 10:03:36

      The H3 doesn’t need a heatsink at all when the moronic dvfs settings from Xunlong are fixed. It idles at 1.5W consumption and even the 4 CPU cores are a good thing for IoT stuff: http://forum.armbian.com/index.php/topic/504-quick-review-of-orange-pi-pc/

      Really looking forward to OSHW H3 boards from Olimex!


  17. Thomas
    Dec 15, 2015 @ 21:13:36

    Small addendum: The H3 running with kernel 4.4.0-rc4 is able to benefit from UASP (USB Attached SCSI). It’s the fastest USB 2.0 device I ever measured: 39 MB/s write and 41.5 MB/s read: http://forum.armbian.com/index.php/topic/504-quick-review-of-orange-pi-pc/#entry3244

    And the H3 has 4 independent USB ports and not just 2 or 3 like most of the other recent Allwinner SoCs 🙂


  18. vickycq
    Dec 18, 2015 @ 12:34:47

    Agree with @Thomas: An H3 board with GbE and all 4 USB exposed would be nice!


  19. J.P.
    Sep 17, 2016 @ 14:30:32

    Would be nice if there could be a variant without the big connectors assembled, similar to the A33-board, so hat the user can solder on these connectors by themselves if they need them. These big connectors are always a pain to desolder, which is necessary when the project has height constraints for the board.


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