H3-OLinuXino-NANO is only 50×50 mm but has everything one computer must have



Nice to meet you! I am H3-OLinuXino-NANO, ultra small 50×50 mm Linux computer with

  • H3 quad core Cortex-A7 processor
  • 512MB of DDR3 RAM
  • 2x USB hosts for mouse and keyboard
  • Ethernet 100Mb interface
  • HDMI Full HD output
  • 4 buttons
  • micro SD card
  • UART console
  • USB-OTG which also is used to power the board
  • 4 mount holes
  • 2x 40 pin connectors (optional) which carry lot of GPIOs

We now try the software and test all peripherals if everything is OK will proceed with production, but we overall are very proud that managed to shrink in this space the complete board i only 6 Layers.

We learned our lessons from the first H3-OLinuXino prototypes, now this board consumes less power, DDR3L memory is used at lower voltage 1.35V and this helps the processor to not overheat like on our first proto.

Where this board could be used?

  • General purpose Linux computer
  • Digital signage
  • Low cost IoT home node server
  • Android TV box to play games and videos
  • Education

Due to the high integration of H3 SoC the price will be below the price of LIME, but no SATA and LiPo charger.

This design is made with Eagle, we have to make few more improvements before run production and put them on Github.

77 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Luca
    Feb 03, 2016 @ 15:47:49

    Very interesting!
    Few questions:
    * Is H3 faster than A20 (using single or dual core)?
    * Will you provide a more memory model (1G-2G)?


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Feb 03, 2016 @ 15:57:32

      H3 is faster, H3-OLinuXino is with 1GB, for 2GB memory I’m not certain


    • Linux34
      Feb 03, 2016 @ 19:51:02

      Hi Luca. I work with Banana Pi A20 and Orange Pi H3 boards. H3 is very sppeedly..
      But we need mini fan or good aliminum heatsink with H3…


      • Thomas
        Feb 04, 2016 @ 10:27:13

        @Linux34: With H3 you neither need a fan nor a heatsink with sane dfvs settings — compare with https://github.com/linux-sunxi/sunxi-boards/blob/master/sys_config/h3/xunlong_orange_pi_pc.fex#L745-L760

        When running at the same clockspeed then single threaded performance of H3 is a bit lower compared to A20. But H3 has twice as much cores (good when your workload makes use of many processes) and it can be clocked up to 1.3GHz safely _if_ core voltage can be set high enough. Since Olimex is still experimenting we simply don’t know how fast H3-OLinuXino-NANO can be clocked.

        Simple benchmark: “sysbench –test=cpu –cpu-max-prime=20000 run –num-threads=4”. On Orange Pi PC with 672MHz DRAM clockspeed you get at different cpufreq settings something like this when using all 4 cores: 912MHz: 202.8 sec., 1008MHz: 183.5 sec., 1104MHz: 167.5 sec., 1200MHz: 154 sec., 1296MHz: 142.5 sec.

        Here the results of 4 other quad core SoCs (and interpolated results for an A20 successor): http://kaiser-edv.de/tmp/myKhQ0/A40-sysbench.png

      • LinuxUser
        Feb 09, 2016 @ 17:56:57

        1) You can use aluminum enclosure, this way one can cool even large Core i7 🙂
        2) If it isn’t a case, one can downclock it a bit. And it can be good idea for systems meant to run more or less unsupervised, under arbitrary environment, so e.g. during hot summer it does not locks up, etc. It is a good idea to have some margins, and these china oversellers are clearly prefer to declare superb values isntead. One just have to take it into account.

  2. progmetalbg
    Feb 03, 2016 @ 15:58:02

    Looks good! But what happened with H3-OLinuXino and A33 SOM-like board? Prototypes were shown back in the beginning of November 2015. Yes, I know – Christmas holidays, FOSDEM, A64-OLInuXino, laptop, … so many other projects, are you going to release H3 boards this year? 🙂


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Feb 03, 2016 @ 16:59:12

      sorry, but if you want crappy designed boards with no Linux support which heats up to 60C at room temperature there are plenty of choices even now 🙂 we will release the boards when we are confident both hardware and software are good! H3-OLinuXino first protos overheating, now with NANO we saw some improvements could be made back to H3-OLinuXino, Linux support also improves. A33 still have some software issues, but we are close


  3. Thomas
    Feb 03, 2016 @ 16:14:42

    Since I can not spot anything on the pictures and no material is published on Github: do you use any voltage regulator to adjust the SoC’s Vcore voltage (eg. between 1.04V and 1.4V)?


  4. jdh2550
    Feb 03, 2016 @ 16:49:16

    Looks great! Would it be possible to have a low profile version that just had header pins for the USB and ethernet ports? I know the true hacker answer is that I can unsolder them myself – but you’ve obviously never seen me solder/unsolder! 😉

    It seems like all these SBC’s are lovely and compact and then WHAM! slap on ethernet and USB ports and they lose that sleekness…


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Feb 03, 2016 @ 19:39:21

      I understand what you mean and this is not your board, we work on new smaller super duper SOM but not reday yet


      • Chasx
        Feb 04, 2016 @ 22:03:01

        A SOM for the H3 would be really terrific! Considering the options and pricing, the A13 is OK but has no ethernet, the RT5350 has ethernet (with PHY) and is cheap but has only limited memory and connectivity (lots of ethernet and wireless but only 1x USB host for example). The A20 has everything you need but is therefore also a bit expensive (relatively; 40+ Euros VS 20- Euros for the others).

        I could really think of some interesting designs based on a H3 SOM with its embedded 100mbps PHY and the 4x USB host that the H3 has!

        Any idea when we can expect these designs in github?

  5. Shalabh
    Feb 03, 2016 @ 17:11:36

    Another great project ! looking forward to it !

    it would be rude to ask but how will it be different then existing H3 boards like the Orange Pi ?

    The hardware acceleration is not available for H3 (as far as I know), the heating issues can be adjusted by sane voltage values. But yes, it will have ATLEAST some support at all 😀


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Feb 03, 2016 @ 19:37:12

      OSHW, smaller form factor, lower power


      • LinuxUser
        Feb 09, 2016 @ 17:51:54

        This form factor really neat. Hopefully it would come with equally neat price, so here be dragons, uhm, I mean IoT and somesuch, everywhere :). Lite/stripped down SoM could be nice as well.

    • ssvb
      Feb 04, 2016 @ 06:19:27

      Yes, it may take a long time until hardware acceleration for 3D graphics and HD video decoding works with the mainline kernel. But if you don’t mind using the Allwinner’s 3.4 kernel, then both 3D acceleration and hardware accelerated video decoding is usable.


  6. pgquiles
    Feb 03, 2016 @ 17:33:23

    Any chance for a version with eMMC?


  7. anonima
    Feb 03, 2016 @ 17:59:19

    nice, thank you


  8. Gabriel
    Feb 03, 2016 @ 18:30:16

    How would I go about using UEXT modules with this board?


  9. Linux34
    Feb 03, 2016 @ 19:49:28

    Very good news, With 5 or 10 pcs can we build min data center.
    Web, ftp, sql server and cloud with python and bootstrap 😉

    Need price info plase!.


    • LinuxUser
      Feb 09, 2016 @ 17:43:54

      Things based on A20 are better for microserver/NAS-like storages/etc – due to “native” SATA, allowing one to attach a reasonable HDD/SSD with sane IOPS/speed and native Gigabit ethernet. While it would not do full gigabit, it still can give quite some networking. Sorry, but usb-to-sata bridges and somesuch are much worse. And if you’re serious about e.g. FTP-like use, you do not want slow and troublesome storage, right?


  10. Bill
    Feb 03, 2016 @ 19:53:05

    Make one that fits into a form factor of a wall adaptor and you’ve got something there.


  11. SK
    Feb 03, 2016 @ 20:25:12

    32 lanes to memory?


  12. Manjinder Bains
    Feb 03, 2016 @ 21:00:33

    Thank you for providing open source hardware. I really hope people realize the value of this because unlike some other popular linux boards, these can be used to make actual working products that are viable for mass production.


  13. Edgar Albuquerque
    Feb 04, 2016 @ 00:30:07

    This board seems really great for our project, really thrilled to get our hands on one. Great experience with LIME A10 and A20. Thanks. When will you release them? Thanks



  14. Trackback: Olimex H3-OLinuXino-NANO is a Smaller Allwinner H3 Board with HDMI, Ethernet, and Many I/Os
  15. Trackback: Rivales Raspberry Pi: H3-OLinuXino-NANO Olimex | Raspberry para torpes
  16. LIME-fan
    Feb 04, 2016 @ 12:55:05

    Is it possible to power the board via one of the GPIO-Pins or are there some other 5V/GND Pins where i could connect a external DC-plug style power supply?

    Is the OTG power limited to the USB standard or can it draw more if needed?


    • Thomas
      Feb 05, 2016 @ 09:33:25

      @LIME-fan: I don’t know whether there are additional pins or test points for DC-IN but since H3 has no support for a PMIC it seems obvious that DC-IN is just routed directly to USB/HDMI and that for the other voltages fixed voltage regulators are used.

      Based on the picture above it seems also Olimex is using Micro USB (I really hate it) and if that’s true it will be close to impossible to inject more than 2W (1.8 max. by specs). I would suspect that 5V/GND from the OTG receptacle are used for DC-IN and RX, TX and the ID pin are routed to H3?


  17. Anonym Anonym
    Feb 04, 2016 @ 18:04:11

    Yey another useless board because it doesn’t have POE (802.3af). 😦


  18. jernej
    Feb 04, 2016 @ 23:21:23

    Any chance that you will have working HDMI-CEC driver?


  19. Bryant
    Feb 05, 2016 @ 06:50:07

    Does it have two UARTs? I’ve been looking for a small but powerful Linux SBC that has two UARTs and so far only the option is the Odroid C1+, it’d be great if there were more options.


  20. RandomUser
    Feb 05, 2016 @ 08:48:55

    Everything, except SATA port…yeah, “everything”


  21. erjigit
    Feb 05, 2016 @ 09:49:16

    Just what I was looking for, I’m willing to buy 1,000. Could you write to me?


  22. Edgar Albuquerque
    Feb 05, 2016 @ 13:47:42

    Two questions:
    – Is the only power input via the USB OTG (ackward for embedded projects) or is there another way (GPIO, barrel, header, etc)? What are the power requirements (2Amps)?
    – Does any one have a GPIO table with pin description? How many UARTS are available for general use?

    Thanks, regards


    • OLIMEX Ltd
      Feb 05, 2016 @ 13:57:36

      where 2A requirement comes from? this board needs 0.3-0.5A to operate


      • Edgar Albuquerque
        Feb 05, 2016 @ 14:19:37

        Hi, excellent, seems a great board comming up. Can you please just let me know the number of usable UARTS on the GPIO?
        Does the H3 processor have analog audio outputs capable of directly driving headphones?
        Thanks, regards

      • LinuxUser
        Feb 09, 2016 @ 17:29:43

        Maybe it takes USB into account? Each port means there’er 5V 500mA extra to consider.

  23. Marek
    Feb 05, 2016 @ 15:37:49

    When we can expect release date ?


  24. Matej
    Feb 07, 2016 @ 23:27:47

    Nice! This made my day! So cute! So small! I have iMX233-MICRO and had LIME but sold as I was planning to buy Pi Zero. But now is clear I will buy H3-Nano! Any plans for 4GB RAM model in future?


  25. Sunix
    Feb 08, 2016 @ 09:50:51

    do you plan interfacing an LCD display to GPIO-1/2 as you have options in your Lime series? Thank you.


  26. wtarreau
    Feb 08, 2016 @ 09:53:39


    I already ordered a pcduino8-uno running an H8-octacore at 1.8 GHz. It’s very interesting, but suffers a lot from overheating causing it to be heavily throttled. I would love to see a small design like the H3 OLinuXino nano with an H8.

    The problem we’re always seeing is that the CPU is put on the top of the board, making it hard to cool it down, especially when you need a large heatsink. A board designed with the CPU at the bottom would simply have to be screwed against an aluminium plate to serve as a heatsink. This would make it much easier to cool down and spread the heat into the enclosure or the ground if it’s just an open-case design.


  27. Matej
    Feb 08, 2016 @ 20:12:13

    When I will have one home. I will do 3D printed case and also maybe I can add small cube to CPU so someone with CNC will be able make cheap aluminium case which will works also as huge headsink… What you think? I have at home Zalman VGA heatsinks… I will try them too…


  28. LinuxUser
    Feb 09, 2016 @ 17:33:11

    Hmm, looks great, quad core in 50×50 mm is really nice 🙂

    But as for releasing boards: those who mess with software neeed some HW to chew on. Not like if one can test HW-dependent SW parts on emulator or something. It have to be real HW. And Allwinner’s documents are, erm, something.


    • ssvb
      Feb 09, 2016 @ 17:41:09

      @LinuxUser Regarding the availability of Allwinner H3 devices, you can buy an Orange Pi PC board right now and start developing/testing software on it. The same software should work on the H3-OLinuXino-NANO too, maybe with some minimal changes. AFAIK the majority of linux-sunxi developers doing the mainlining work for Allwinner H3 have Orange Pi PC boards.


  29. Zupo Llask
    Feb 24, 2016 @ 02:06:16

    Any estimation on the availability date for this product? ☺️



  30. Trackback: Olimex H3-OlinuXino-Nano, pequena, mas, extremamente poderosa! – Sistemas Embarcados
  31. Drasko
    Mar 10, 2016 @ 00:35:57

    Does it have I2S on the connector header?


  32. Mishev
    Mar 26, 2016 @ 09:45:36

    Any update for this project?


  33. Mishev
    Mar 26, 2016 @ 09:55:27

    Any update for this project


  34. Chasx
    Jul 10, 2016 @ 15:59:34

    It has been almost half a year since this post but there does not seem to be any progress on the H3 board(s). Can you give us an update?

    You also replied to ‘jdh2550’ about a more ‘SOM’ like board. Are you going to release this? I am still looking for a A13-SOM alternative that has Ethernet (and a good price). Today I ordered the NanoPI NEO. Somewhere between this 50×50 H3 Olimex board and a SOM: http://www.friendlyarm.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=69&product_id=132 and a very good pricetag!


    • Zupo Llask
      Jul 10, 2016 @ 17:12:06

      Some months ago, I knew from Olimex that “H3 processor is not good for reliable products, it overheats to 50-60C under normal ambient temperature 20C”… Unless Allwinner changes manufacturing process for H3 or reviews H3 itself, I guess we must rule out this product for reliable solutions.


      • Thomas
        Jul 11, 2016 @ 10:00:07

        If H3 is overheating too much it’s most probably caused by broken settings. That was the case in the beginning with Orange Pis where 3rd parties provided OS images that insanely overvolted the SoC (1.5V — absolute maximum according to specs is 1.4V and for normal use cases 1.32V is enough to let H3 run reliably at 1296MHz). And FriendlyARM made a mistake when releasing their NanoPi M1 encoding the dvfs settings wrong so that H3 there didn’t switched between 1.1V and 1.3V but remained at the latter voltage all the time.

        At least the various larger Orange Pis run pretty stable at 1296MHz and do not throttle that much if used together with a cheap heatsink (it seems the PCB contains copper layers that spread the heat away from the SoC since components all over the board get warm). But they use a programmable voltage regulator able to adjust VDD_CPUX in 20 mV steps which helps a lot when it’s about to choose whether the device should run at high speed or stay cool.

      • OLIMEX Ltd
        Jul 11, 2016 @ 11:35:35

        we didn’t saw yet board with H3 which do not heats below 50-60C at 20-24C ambient temperature, what are your observations? what happens when you run stress test on H3 board?

  35. Thomas
    Jul 11, 2016 @ 14:08:46

    Using ‘stress’ is too lightweight 😉

    We (linux-sunxi devs and Armbian team) did some extensive testing a while ago (first for Pine64 then partially relying on that with H3 boards) trying to optimize THS/throttling settings. We use cpuburn-a7 (worst case scenario if it’s about generating heat through CPU cores — with our new sun8i kernel and Mali400 clocked at 600 MHz we’re able to generate more heat only using ssvb’s lima-memtester).

    You find some results here (and maybe the whole issue is worth a read for your devs): https://github.com/igorpecovnik/lib/issues/298#issuecomment-223031359

    Summing up the experiences with a few H3 devices: The large Orange Pis using DDR3L DRAM and the SY8106A voltage generator (adjustable in 20mV steps through I2C) perform the best (read as: throttle down less), the smaller OPi One/Lite heat up a little more (and throttling isn’t that efficient since the voltage regulator here switches only between 1.1V and 1.3V), NanoPi M1 heats up way more and Beelink X2 and Banana Pi M2+ even more (both not switching VDD_CPUX at all and feeding H3 with 1.3V all the time).

    It seems Xunlong’s recipe to keep temperatures low are copper layers inside the PCB spreading the heat accross the whole PCB. I thought it would also be related to DRAM type but it’s not (that much) since OPi One/Lite also use DDR3 @ 1.5V.

    According to the datasheet H3 is specified to run at up to 125°C — In Armbian we start to throttle way earlier and keep 105°C as shutdown temperature (using legacy kernel if this temperature will be reached a shutdown is initiated). It should be noted that thermal readouts differ between OS images that rely on mainline u-boot (like Armbian does) and the outdated u-boot Allwinner provides in the BSP (2011.09).

    I tested running an Armbian image with the old 2011.09 u-boot and got ~10°C higher internal readouts (no idea why but we kept that in mind when defining the throttling settings). And people who fear running a H3 constantly above 50°C (why not? This isn’t A10 any longer) can rather easily adjust the settings: not by limiting cpufreq but simply by adjusting the so called ths_para section in the fex file (and later with mainline kernel the specific device tree nodes) so single threaded performance is still high while throttling jumping in pretty early to keep temperatures low when more than one CPU cores is busy.

    Have you already decided how you define VDD_CPUX for your H3 boards? Since this will determine maximum (reliable) clockspeeds anyway. And then by choosing sane throttling settings (read as: do not use Allwinner’s defaults or the settings popular with Orange Pi OS images last year!) you’re done.


  36. Thomas
    Jul 11, 2016 @ 14:42:13

    Additional note: I assumed you are using a fixed 1100mV VDD_CPUX on the H3 NANO and therefore 816MHz is maximum cpufreq for industrial applications. By simply tweaking the relevant sections in the fex file — see http://pastebin.com/waKZzpbW — 816MHz is the upper limit and a thermal limit of 90°C is defined.

    Simply give it a try, download a server Armbian image for BPi M2+ for example — http://www.armbian.com/banana-pi-m2-plus/ — use fex2bin and the aforementioned fex file to store the stuff as /boot/bin/h3-olinuxino-nano.bin and do a “ln -sf /boot/bin/h3-olinuxino-nano.bin /boot/script.bin” afterwards, then reboot. Installation of RPi-Monitor to get a clue what’s really going on is also easy: ‘sudo armbianmonitor -r’ and afterwards you’ve a nice user interface waiting on port 8888: http://www.cnx-software.com/2016/03/17/rpi-monitor-is-a-web-based-remote-monitor-for-arm-development-boards-such-as-raspberry-pi-and-orange-pi/


  37. Chasx
    Jul 11, 2016 @ 15:03:36

    I don’t care so much about the speed or having 4 cores. The A13 is more than enough for our needs but the H3 has more USB hosts, more UARTs and Ethernet which is not on the A13 at all.

    I have added the 10 (MOD-ENC28J60) and 10/100 (MOD-ENC624J600) Microchip SPI Ethernet devices to the A13 and although it works fine, the speed is rather low. Even the 10/100 can only be accessed over SPI at a max of 14MHz.

    Therefore a H3 SOM would be a better fit than the A13, still compact and probably a better price than the A20 SOM.


    • Thomas
      Jul 11, 2016 @ 15:35:37

      If CPU clockspeed is no concern at all, then H3 is still a pretty good choice. If Olimex would use eg. 1100mV as VDD_CPUX voltage then according to Allwinner H3 can be clocked with 816 MHz max (at Armbian we did extensive testing and found 912 MHz to be reliable too — but Olimex’ customers might better keep some safety headroom for industrial applications).

      In such a case the following fex could be used: http://pastebin.com/113cYC5Z (limiting max. cpufreq to 816 MHz, starting to throttle at 65°C with 83°C as maximum). Without USB consumers and stuff like that with these settings it’s not possible to exceed 3W consumption even with 400% CPU utilization. And by simply adjusting cooler_table and exchanging 4 with 2 in the middle row H3 will be forced to be a dual-core SoC further lowering consumption and heat emissions.

      @Tsvetan: Simply try it out, get any Armbian H3 image (eg. http://www.armbian.com/banana-pi-m2-plus/), use fex2bin and the aforementioned fex file to overwrite /boot/script.bin and enjoy your H3-OLinuXino without overheating.


  38. Thomas
    Jul 11, 2016 @ 19:21:39

    Another thought: If Olimex would plan another PCB revision and wants to add a primitive voltage regulator like SY8113B or AX3833 then by choosing the resistor value VDD_CPUX could be adjusted between 1040mV (good for 648 MHz max) and 1340mV allowing 1296 MHz according to Allwinner’s dvfs table: http://linux-sunxi.org/Orange_Pi_PC#CPU_clock_speed_limit (I made some tests half a year ago and when running headless H3 can be easily undervolted preventing higher temperatures/consumption)

    At 648 MHz H3 is still a lot faster than A20 when workloads are multithreaded but consumption won’t exceed 2.5-3W and I doubt throttling is an issue at all (due to core voltage remaining at 1040mV). The higher VDD_CPUX is configured through the resistor value the higher the clockspeed can be increased and the earlier throttling will happen (that’s not an issue since it simply prevents overheating by adjusting clockspeeds and active CPU cores as last resort — only Allwinner’s THS defaults are somewhat strange since killing CPU cores is preferred over throttling and killed cores never come back, we fixed the latter in Armbian’s sun8i kernel already).

    So Olimex could provide eg. 3 NANO variants with different resistor values (or allow the customer to choose the value via jumpers or something like this) allowing 648MHz @ 1040mV, 1008 MHz @ 1200mV and 1296MHz @ 1340mV, the first showing no throttling issues and minimal consumption, the last good for highest performance at higher consumption (with some performance degradation due to throttling after a few minutes running heavy workloads depending on heatsink/fan used) and the middle in between.

    But replacing such a static VDD_CPUX configuration with a more flexible voltage regulator like SY8106A would be preferrable (configurable through I2C, support in both legacy *and* mainline kernel already, works perfect on the $15 Orange Pi PC and above)


  39. Alex A
    Feb 27, 2017 @ 16:37:22

    As far as I can see the project is totally abandoned.

    I try to develop my own board with the H3 processor as a hobby project.
    I’ve downloaded your schematics and pcb.

    Everything seems to be clear except of the pcb stack up. It is important for the memory trace impedance.

    Can I get any information regarding copper thickness, plating thickness and prepreg thickness?

    All memory vendors recommend 40 Ohm traces but with your design it seems that impedance is about 60 Ohm. Am I right?


  40. paddlestroke
    Apr 18, 2017 @ 20:41:08

    Thank you for opensource files! I learned a lot having a look at them.

    On the Github there is only the files for the H3-olinuxino, not for the H3-olinuxino-nano.
    I read that you made some improvement for heat problem with the nano that can be made in the normal size too. Are the files in the github been corrected with the heat issue?
    Are the nano files available too?

    I would like to develop a H3 pcb as a hobby.


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