Yesterday in the post came the singularly impressive-looking NanoPi M4 unit complete with supplied eMMC for Android 8 and 16GB uSD for Lubuntu Desktop and the most spectacular heat-sink I’ve ever seen, not to mention (oh, go on then, if you insist) , a tiny Apple-reminiscent mains power supply able to deliver 5v at a stunning 4 AMPS. I’m IMPRESSED already.
This kit looks REALLY impressive. The NanoPi M4 is a RK3399 SoC (system on chip) based ARM board. It has the same form of factor as the Raspberry Pi B3+ and has ports and interfaces compatible with RPi B3+ too. It has a usb-C connector.
My board came with 2GB DDR3 RAM – there is a 4GB LPDDR3 option. The NanoPi M4 has an onboard 2.4G & 5G dual-band WiFi + Bluetooth 4.1 combo wireless module, four USB3.0 Type A host ports, one Gbps Ethernet port, one HDMI 2.0 Type A port, one 3.5mm audio jack and one Type-C port. In addition it has a RPi compatible 40-pin connector, dual MIPI-CSI camera interface, PCIe x2, USB2.0 x2, eMMC socket, RTC port and more.
According to the FA FAQ “the NanoPi M4 supports Ubuntu Desktop 18.04(64-bit), Lubuntu 16.04(32-bit), Ubuntu Core 18.04(64-bit), Android 7.1 and Lubuntu Desktop with GPU and VPU acceleration. With these rich resources and powerful performance it can be widely used in applications of machine learning, AI, deep learning, robots, industrial control, industrial cameras, advertisement machines, game machines, blockchain and more”
I won’t fill space with even more specs and claims – you can find all of that on their FAQ - http://wiki.friendlyarm.com/wiki/index.php/NanoPi_M4
CLEARLY there’s a lot more to follow but I thought I’d make a start. You can see the size of my (normal) hand there – that’s a small but powerful supply. I would have preferred an EU plug but that’s what I got. And while I’m on that subject, a few weeks ago I received a neat phone charger which i really fell in love with.
Sadly after a few days of lying around in the car, the charger I mentioned was toast thanks to the REALLY rubbish American 2-pin connector. I’m British so you’d expect me to slag off everyone else’s plugs. On the contrary I think EU plugs are great. American plugs are however often just very thin metal, easily damaged. That is my only gripe here – the supply itself looks marvellous as do the board and heatsink.
The M4 board has PCi (you’ll need an adaptor apparently) as well as the normal GPIO and other interfaces inc eMMC.
On AliExpress, the NanoPi M4 starts at £62 depending on RAM etc.
AND THERE WE HAVE IT.. eMMC plugged in, power on, Android working out of the box. The FriendlyElec logo pops up, rapidly followed by the normal Android screen – bang up to date Android 8. A camera demo (which crashes un-ceremoniously as there is no camera), something called Lightening – which looks like a browser – but.. am I missing something here? Where is the PlayStore?
Could this be about Google and their issues with Chinese censorship? It is at first glance hard to see how this board + Android can be useful without the Playstore or equivalent. I’ll ask FriendlyArm the question right now..
Meanwhile I’ve plugged in the lovely Sandisk Edge 16GB SD and…nothing – maybe I have to remove the eMMC. YUP, that’s it – straight into Lubuntu Desktop (based on Ubuntu 18.04 64) and hence to the Chromium browser, no problem.
Of interest while I’m here – UART0 is used by Bluetooth, UART1 is used by Gbps Ethernet, UART2 is the serial debug UART, UART 3 is also used by the Gbps Ethernet – which leaves UART4 or /dev/ttyS4 for general use. I’m glad I read that.
Ubuntu Software installer said that an update has been issued since Ubuntu 16.04, went off to get an update and immediately reported that the Application Software Updater had closed unexpectedly. Really !!? I went to “software updates” and that said there were updates and then that “closed unexpectedly”.
The WIKI is well worth a look… http://wiki.friendlyarm.com/wiki/index.php/NanoPi_M4