Building a computer and computer-based devices is far easier today than it was five or 10 years ago, especially with products like the Raspberry Pi, which offer an affordable way for enthusiasts to create prototype devices.
The problem with some of these computers, however, is their lack of power. Pine64 Inc. is hoping to change that, with its Pine A64, a 64-bit expandable single board computer that includes an ARMv8 Cortex-A53 processor that starts at just $15.
As part of the Pine A64's bid to be more powerful than its competitors, it offers the quad-core ARM processor noted above, as well as a dual-core Mali 400 MP2 graphics processor, a microSD card slot, support for up to 2 GB of RAM, and a range of ports, including two USB 2.0 ports, an HDMI 1.4 port, and a minijack audio port. The company is also offering separate modules for the computer, including a 5-MP camera port, touch panel port, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, and a MIPI video port.
"Pine A64 is not just a media player, Linux platform, learning tool, or gaming device. It's a full 64-bit, 4K capable, fully expandable, single board supercomputer," said Pine64 in the Kickstarter campaign. "By being so affordable at $15, Pine A64 now opens up doors to new opportunities for everyone. Use it to build just almost anything."
The great thing about ARM-based boards like this is that they can be set up to be used as a minicomputer, connected home controller, gaming console, and so on. Users can install operating systems like Android 5.1, Ubuntu, Kodi and so on.
The new device could certainly cause Raspberry Pi to up its game. The company continues to release devices that use ARMv7 architecture, despite the fact that ARMv8 chips are available. According to the company, using the newer, more powerful chips would come at a price bump. Earlier this year, however, companies began releasing 64-bit system-on-a-chip platforms at very low prices, which is why Pine64 is able to sell its board so cheaply.
Those interested in the Pine A64 can head to the Kickstarter page to buy one for themselves. The board comes in three different models, with users paying more for things like more memory and connectivity. At the time of this writing, the campaign had raised $107,652, quite a bit more than the funding goal of $31,416, and it still has 44 days to go. Estimated shipping for the device is January 2016, so those that buy it won't have to wait long before they have one in their hands.