PINE64 : A 64-bit Contender for the Raspberry Pi

Earlier, a DIY computing project could cost an enthusiast hundreds of dollars. Now, with single board computers such as the Raspberry Pi or RBPi or its latest kin, the Raspberry Pi Zero, anyone can start a new project at the cost of a cup of coffee. Seen from the other side of the fence, a competitor has to include a better choice of components, offer a better price or both. PINE64 Inc. has taken the third route.
PINE54 Inc. is attempting to improve on the legacy so far built up by the RBPi. According to the team, two mathematical constants make up the name of their board – Pi and Euler’s Number e. As it has a 64-bit processor, the name also includes the number 64 along with an A to differentiate it from future versions. The PINE A64 runs on an ARMv8 processor, the Cortex-A53, and is available for just $15.
PINE A64 measures 12.7×7.94cms and uses a 64-bit processor, a quad-core ARM Cortex A53 running at 1.2GHz. A dual-core Mali 400 MP2 handles the graphics. Memory includes a micro SD slot to handle cards up to 256GB and 2GB DDR3 SDRAM onboard. Ports available on the PINE A64 include one gigabit Ethernet, two USB 2.0, one HDMI 1.4 connector for 4K output, a stereo mini-jack connector and a charging circuit for a 3.7V Lithium battery.
PINE64 Inc. will also be offering separate modules to augment the functionality of PINE A64. The modules will add a touch panel port, a 5MP camera port, Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi connectivity and a 4-Lane MIPI video port. The board runs on 5V power via its micro USB connector, but can fall back on its internal battery with on-board power management.
According to Johnson Jeng, the co-founder of PINE64 Inc., the company has designed a simple, smart and affordable computer. People can use this to bring their next big ideas to life. The 64-bit quad-core single board computer is available at an exceptional price. It is compatible with several open-source platforms, enabling people to build a community of innovation and creativity.
Just like other ARM-based single board computers, you can set up PINE A64 to operate as a gaming console or a mini-computer. You can control your connected home or allow it run your own media center. PINE A64 can operate with Android 5.1, openHAB, Ubuntu Linux, OpenWRT and Kodi. Additionally, it supports Miracast and offers the H.265 video standard to give your 4Kx2K output.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation concentrates on delivering performance without increase in costs, and hence, prefers to retain the ARMv7 architecture for the RBPi family even when ARMv8 64-bit chips are readily available. According to Eben Upton, the founder of the RBPi series, a more powerful processor will certainly come with a boost in the prices.
With companies now launching new Systems-on-a-Chip or SoC platforms that are 64-bit and super-cheap, PINE64 Inc. has decidedly stolen a march over the RBPi series. Allwinner started this trend with the 64-bit Cortex A53 processor for their tablets and now PINE64 Inc. has used it to power their PINE A64, A64+ and A64+ 2GB boards.