I’ve always had bit of a soft spot for the FriendlyARM range of boards. Despite the array of bewilderingly similar names that they hang on them, the boards are cheap, and reasonably durable. They also provide relatively good documentation for their boards, and unlike many others, solid software support.
The NanoPi Neo Plus2 is their latest board based around the Allwinner H5 processor. However, while it confusingly might share most of a name with it’s big brother the NanoPi K2, which doesn’t even have the same processor being based around the Amlogic S905, the NanoPi Neo Plus2 is somewhat smaller.
While we’ve seen the emergence of the Raspberry Pi form factor as an almost up and coming de facto standard for the single board computer market in recent months—with the arrival of the ASUS Tinker board, the new ROCK64 board from Pine64, and others—at 40mm × 52 mm the NanoPi Neo Plus2 is roughly half the size of a Raspberry Pi.
At the heart of the board is an Allwinner H5 quad-core Cortex-A53 ARM processor running at 1.2GHz. Designed to drive 4K TV set top boxes, it comes with an onboard Mali400 MP2 ARM GPU running at 600MHz supporting OpenGL ES2.0.
The new board comes 1GB of RAM, an 8GB eMMC module, as well as Gigabit Ethernet, and both WiFi and Bluetooth support. It also has 2×USB ports and an micro SD Card slot, which can be used for storage or for booting the board.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the board is the multiple header blocks—for instance audio support is via 5-pin header block rather than a more normal barrel jack. However, while the board sports two GPIO header blocks the enticingly sized 24-pin block to the right of the board is, perhaps somewhat regrettably, not pin compatible with the Raspberry Pi.
The board is available for $24.99, with an extra $3.00 for shipping via China Post to the United States, or rather more for shipping if you live elsewhere.