Hands on the new Banana Pro

Today, in the mail, I had the great surprise to find a package coming from Lemaker.

Inside the package is their new Banana Pro. Let’s have a first look at it.

Picture 0 Picture 1

Great packaging, good job Lemaker ! They even added a « First start » booklet, with instructions and hardware specifications.

Picture 2
The new Banana Pro board. The external WiFi wire antenna is part of the bundle.

First, the complete features list :

Hardware Specification of Banana ProTM

Soc Allwinner® A20(sun 7i)
CPU ARM® Cortex™-A7 Dual-Core1GHz (ARM v7 instruction set)
GPU Mali400MP2 Complies with OpenGL ES 2.0/1.1 (hardware acceleration support)
SDRAM 1GB DDR3 (shared with GPU)
Power 5V @ 2A via MicroUSB (DC in Only) and/or MicroUSB (OTG)
PMU AXP209

Features

Low-level perpherials 40 Pins Header,28×GPIO, some of which can be used for specific functions including UART, I2C, SPI, PWM, CAN, I2S, SPDIF, LRADC, ADC, LINE-IN, FM-IN, HP-IN.
On board Network 10/100/1000Mbps ethernet (Realtek RTL8211E/D)
Wifi Module WiFi 802.11 b/g/n (AP6181, datasheet)
On board Storage MicroSD (TF) card,SATA 2.0
Display Supports multi-channel HD display : HDMI 1.4 (Type A – full)LVDS / RGB / CPU display interface (DSI) for raw LCD panelsComposite video (PAL and NTSC) (via 3.5 mm TRRS jack shared with audio out)11 HDMI resolutions from 640×480 to 1920×1080 plus various PAL and NTSC standards
Video HD H.264 2160p video decoding Mutil-format FHD video decoding, including Mpeg1/2, Mpeg4, H.263, H.264, etc H.264 high profile 1080p@30fps or 720p@60fps encoding
Audio outputs HDMI,analog audio (via 3.5 mm TRRS jack shared with composite video out), I2S audio (also potentially for audio input)
Camera Parallel 8-bit camera interface
Audio input On board microphone
USB 2 USB 2.0 host, 1 USB 2.0 OTG (all direct from A20 chip)
Buttons Reset buttonPower buttonU-boot button
Leds Power status led (red)Ethernet status led (blue)User defined led (green)
Other IR receiver

Dimensions / Weight

Sizes 92 mm × 60mm
Weight 45g
Banana ProTM and Banana PiTM are trademarks of LeMaker

Changes since Banana Pi A-20

Banana Pi A-20 Banana Pro
GPIO 26 Pin, Raspberry Pi A/B compatible 40 Pin, Raspberry Pi A+/B+ compatible
Onboard Storage SD (Max. 64GB) / MMC onboard, SATA 2.0 MicroSD (TF) card,SATA 2.0
WiFi None WiFi 802.11 b/g/n (AP6181, datasheet)
Display / Audio Composite video (PAL and NTSC) via RCA plugAnalog audio via 3.5 mm TRRS jack Composite video (PAL and NTSC) and Analog audio via a common 3.5 mm TRRS jack

So, we now have a Raspberry Pi A+/B+ compatible 40 pins GPIO header, MicroSD slot, onboard WiFi, and audio/composite video output now share a common 4 pins 3.5mm jack.

Of course, Banana Pro still have a Allwinner A20 DualCore 1GHz CPU, HD capable Mali 2 GPU, 1 GB DDR3 RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, 2xUSB2.0, 1xUSB OTG, SATA 2.0, HDMI 1.4, onboard microphone and IR receiver, CSI camera and LVDS connectors, 3 LEDs and 2 buttons.

Pictures

40 pins GPIO header

40 pins GPIO header

Composite RGB / Analog audio common 3.5 jack, onboard microphone

Composite RGB / Analog audio common 3.5 jack

Gigabit ethernet, 2xUSB 2.0, IR receiver

Gigabit ethernet, 2xUSB 2.0, IR receiver

Display connector, uBoot key and Debug TTL UART header

Display connector, uBoot key and Debug TTL UART header

5v SATA power, 5v DC-IN micro-USB, SATA 2.0 data connector,  HDMI 1.4

5v SATA power, 5v DC-IN micro-USB, SATA 2.0 data connector, HDMI 1.4

Power and reset buttons, Camera connector, USB-OTG

Power and reset buttons, Camera connector, USB-OTG

Micro-SD slot, AP6181 wifi chip (datasheet), wifi external antenna connector

Micro-SD slot, AP6181 wifi chip, wifi external antenna connector

AP6181 datasheet

Li-po / Li-ion battery solder pads

Li-po / Li-ion battery solder pads and DC-IN micro-USB

 

Allwinner A20 DualCore 1GHz SOC and 1GB Hynix DDR3 RAM chips

Allwinner A20 DualCore 1GHz SOC and 1GB Hynix DDR3 RAM chips

Overall, the build quality looks great. Compared with the original Banana Pi A-20, the Banana Pro PCB is thicker : 1.5mm vs 1mm.

The main improvements over the previous version are the 40 pin GPIO header and of course onboard WiFi. Worth noting, I don’t see any PCB antenna and AP6181 chip doesn’t seem to have one, so wifi external antenna is very important. It’s great Lemaker added one to the package, I will test it later. It’s also possible to use a SMA to U.FL cable and a « real » wifi antenna.

I don’t have any details about the GPIO new functions, but I will try to find them and update this blog article.

The video / audio common output reduces the board footprint, let’s hope it shares the Raspberry Pi pinout.

LEDs are now grouped in the same spot and well aligned. The blue LED now shows mmc activity (it was a network activity indicator on the Banana Pi, redondant with the ethernet socket LEDs). I bet this blue LED is now user definable, like the green one. These LEDs are aligned behind the GPIO header, so they may be blocked by a daughter card, but it’s still an improvement.

The battery solder pads are also still present on the Banana Pro, but are way smaller.

Banana Pi A-20, Banana Pro, Banana Pro (early prototype)

Banana Pi A-20, Banana Pro, Banana Pro (early prototype). Main differences between prototype and final revision are the wifi chip (RTL8189ETV on the prototype) and a new piece of circuitry next to the LEDs, The prototype also had some RAM issues causing mine to malfunction after a while. It is fixed according to Lemaker.

Next time, I will install the operating system and conduct some tests on it.

Banana Pro is available via Lemaker approved shop : http://www.lenovator.com/
It’s also possible to get an almost free board via Lemaker STEAM program : http://www.lemaker.org/news/10-61/apply_for_banana_pi.html

About Captain Stouf

Spécialiste en systèmes informatiques, Développeur matériel et logiciel, Inventeur, Maker : électronique, Systems on Chip, micro-controlleurs, Internet of Things, Modélisation / Scan / Impression 3D, Imagerie...

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