Home / Development Boards / Single Board Computer | Banana Pi BPI M3 Review Allwinner A83T Single Board Computer for Open Source Projects

Single Board Computer | Banana Pi BPI M3 Review Allwinner A83T Single Board Computer for Open Source Projects

Product Information

The Banana Pi BPI-M3 is SinoVoip latest single board computer equipped with an Octa Core processor using the A83T TSMC 28 nm chip, based on eight ARM Cortex-A7 CPU core operating at high frequency up to 2.0 GHz. Board hardware specs include 2G DDR3 memory operating frequency up to 800 MHz capable of smooth playback at 1920 × 1200 HD resolution, On-board SATA II interface for external hard drive and PowerVR SGX544 GPU that runs at frequencies up to around 700 MHz with high image processing performance ensuring the ultimate gaming experience and fluency.

In Multimedia processing, A83T is capable of playing [email protected] including 1080P @30fps videos with H.265 codec support, More than sufficient to meet the needs of end-users daily audio-visual entertainment. A83T built ISP image signal processor can support 8Mp camera interface and also integrates a full-color display Lai Chip technology that enhances image display quality

Integrated full hardware security system is another major feature of the A83T supports DRM solutions which include high-grade Widevine Level 1, HDCP 2.X for Miracast support secure boot / secure storage capabilities to ensure the security systems and data. In the power saving area 28nm advanced technology uses high energy-efficient Cortex-A7 architecture, performance and power consumption is very balanced in the PoweVR 5 GPU series due to software optimization.

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BananaPi-M3-Layout

Banana Pi M3 review:

  1. Product Introduction
  2. Main Highlights & Specifications.
  3. Package
  4. Unboxing
  5. A Closer Look at the Banana Pi M3
  6. Accessories
  7. Hardware Platform
  8. Testing M3 with SSD (Solid State Drive).
  9. HOWTO: Building an Ubuntu File Server ( samba file server ).
  10. Final Words
  11. Pros / Cons

 

Main Features:

  • SoC: Allwinner A83T eight processor cores (Octa core) Cortex A7 at 2.0 Ghz
  • GPU: SGX544MP1 PowerVR graphics OpenGL ES 2.0 / 1.1, OpenCL 1.1, 9.3 DX
  • 2 GB of RAM DDR3
  • 10/100/1000 Gigabit Ethernet
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0
  • SATA II interface
  • 8 GB eMMC flash memory
  • Audio output 3.5 mm
  • And Parallel Interface MIPI CSI camera
  • Infrared reciver
  • 40-pin GPIO support Raspberry Pi
CPU A83T ARM Cortex-A7 octa-core,512 KB L1 cache 1 MB L2 cache
GPU PowerVR SGX544MP1· Comply with OpenGL ES 2.0, OpenCL 1.x, DX 9_3
Memory 2GB LPDDR3 (shared with GPU)
Storage Support MicroSD Card(up to 64GB)/SATA (up to 2TB USB-to-SATA; GL830)/eMMC (8GB onboard)
On-board Network 10/100/1000Mbps ethernet (Realtek RTL8211E/D)
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n (AP6212)
Bluetooth BT4.0 (AP6212)
Video In Parallel 8-bit camera interface
MIPI Camera serial Interface(CSI)
Video Out HDMI 1.4 DHCP 1.2 with resolutions from(640×640 to 1920×1080)
MIPI DSI for RAW LCD panels
Audio Out 3.5 mm Jack and HDMI
Audio In On board microphone
Power Source Micro USB, optional 5V DC port (center positive 1,6 x 4,4 mm)
USB Ports 2x USB 2.0, USB OTG(Micro USB)
Buttons Reset button, Power button, U-boot button
GPIO 40 Pins: GPIO, UART, I2C bus, I2S bus, SPI bus, PWN, +3.3v, +5v, ground
LED Power LED(red), RJ45 LED(blue), user define LED(green)
OS Android and Linux etc.OS
Dimensions 92 mm x 60 mm
Weight 45g

 

Banana Pi M3 Package

 

Banana Pi M3 Unboxing 

A Closer Look at the Banana Pi M3

  1. HDMI 1.4
  2. SATA interface
  3. SATA Power
  4. OTG
  5. OTG (Power Supply)
  6. Micro SD Card Socket
  7. APX813 MPU
  8. eMMC Flash
  9. A83T Processor
  10. 2GB LPDDR3
  11. WiFi & BT4.0 Module
  12. Camera Interface
  13. Reset button
  14. Power button
  15. External WiFi Antenna Socket
  16. 40 Pins GPIO
  17. Microphone
  18. IR Remote
  19. CVB – Audio /  Video
  20. Realtek (LAN) Chip.
  21. 2x USB 2.0
  22. Ethernet LAN
  23. Debug TTL UART
  24. Uboot Key
  25. Display Interface.

Banana-pi-BPI-M3-Layout

 

 Banana Pi M3 | Full View

  • Banana Pi M3 | Right View
  • Banana Pi M3 | TOP View
  • Banana Pi M3 | Rear View
  • Banana Pi M3 | Left View
  • Banana Pi M3 | Back View

 

Accessories

The items I received, in addition to the BPI-M3 board where the acrylic plastic case and the external 2db Antenna, which are both not included for free with the board and cost a few extra dollars. All items came in excellent condition and I didn’t have any issues. That being said, The case is composed of six segments (parts) assembled and mounted together to form the box housing envelope using a series of technology cuts and strengthened with four screws and bolts.

 

Banana Pi M3 | Case and Accessories 

  • Banana Pi M3 Case Package
  • BPI-M3 Case Transparent Acrylic Case
  • BPI-M3 Board Assembled inside Case
  • BPI-M3 Case | Upper Cover Removed

 

Hardware Platform

The Platform of the Banana Pi BPI-M3 is based on the Allwinner A83T Octa-core SoC. Hardware Tested with Ubuntu MATE 16.04 image file, loaded from a Class 10 Micro SD Card.  From first impression hardware was strong enough to run applications smoothly and also used as a low cost Mini PC running Ubuntu Linux, which is considered to be very popular among Linux distributions. The power PoweVR 5 GPU provided above decent performance and it was able to play and stream 1080P (1920×1080 px) videos.

 

System Temperatures

The A83T Processor nominal clock frequency measured under Ubuntu was 1.6GHz. at this frequency it tends to heat up, but based on my tests, running apps it can still operate well in temperatures up to ~75C depending on type usage. CPU Temperatures measured where approximately between 61-75C for moderate system usage with few applications opened in the background, such as the Firefox browser and doing simple tasks like surfing the internet, watching YouTube. It’s also important to mention that in my tests the BPI-M3 board was assembled inside the acrylic case without any heat-sink and tested with a 5V-2A Power supply adapter.

Ubuntu OS System Information

  • Banana Pi M3 | Ubuntu OS Informtion
  • Banana Pi M3 | CPU Temputure in Idle Mode
  • Banana Pi M3 | CPU Clock Frequency 1.6GHz
  • Banana Pi M3 | Displaying all Devices
  • Banana Pi M3 | Kingspec C3000-120 SSD
  • Banana Pi M3 | Memory Display

 

Testing SSD Performance

 

Drive Parameters:

  • Model: Kingspec C3000-120
  • Capacity: 120GB
  • Flash: MLC NAND Flash
  • SSD Interface: SATA-III
  • Interface Connection : SATA II with Power Cable
  • File System: NTFS
  • Cluster Size: 4KB

 

Maximum Data Transfer Rate (Based on Kingspec Specs ):

  • Maximum sustained read: 500MB/s
  • Maximum sustained write: 470MB/s

 

Kingspec C3000-120 SSD

 

Kingspec C3000-120 Connected to the Banana Pi M3 

 

 

Testing SSD in Windows 7 OS (64-Bit)

Test Software: AS SSD Benchmark Software 

 

Testing SSD in Ubuntu OS

Test Software: Gnome Disk Utility

Conclusions and Results

Despite the external SATA II interface built on the M3 board and the separated power connector, we are talking about a NATIVE SATA (AHCI) interface with misleading appearance because it’s actually a type of USB II interface and not a “real” SATA with high transfer speeds from 200MB/s and above as you may expect.

As for the actual test results, the Kingspec C3000-120 Read / Write Performance under both Linux and Windows operating system were pretty much the same. For the first test the SSD was connected with SATA II trough a USB cable to a PC USB Host, and on the second it was tested under Ubuntu Linux. Average read transfer speeds for both operating systems were between ~30 – 36MB/s. The write speed under Ubuntu were much lower compared to testes done under Windows 7 64-bit Operating system, But I am sure that with additional tweaking the write rate can be improved.

 

HOWTO: Building an Ubuntu File Server ( Samba file Server )

Step 1: Selecting Preferred configuration where system files will be installed.

  • Option #1: Burn Image on Micro SD Card ( Minimum Storage required : 16GB ).
  • Option #2: Burn Image on 8GB eMMC and Mount the Micro SD Card.

 

Step 2: Checking Windows machine is set on Domain WORKGROUP or other

net config workstation

 

Step 3: Giving the Server a Static IP for your server that won’t ever change.

to get your gateway’s IP address right click the network/connection icon in your Notification Area (i.e. ”Task Bar” for Windows users) and select ”Connection Information”.

or

Finding the LAN Gateway Address:

You will see an address that will look like G next to IP 192.168.1.X, where the first three numbers separated by dots are the same as the first 3 of your gateway and the X is a number between 2 and 254.

You now know see your gateway address, which is probably something like 192.168.X.X ‘

  • Go to System > Preferences > Network Connections
  • find the server’s active connection to the router, in the appropriate tab, select it and click ”Edit”.
  • Go to the IPV4 tab
  • change the Method to ”Manual”
  • Click ”Add” next to the ”Addresses” box
  • Type your chosen server IP address (”192.168.10.4”) in the Address column
  • Type ”24” (no speech marks) in the Netmask column
  • type the gateway address from above in the Gateway column, and again in the ”DNS Servers” text box.
  • Apply the changes

Now your server now has a static IP address.

 

Step 4: Downloading the package lists from the repositories

 

Step 5: Installing Samba Packages

Note: you will be prompted for YOUR password (because of sudo) then twice for a new samba password for sharer.

 

Step 6: Make a safe backup copy of the original smb.conf file

 

Step 7: Edit smb.conf Configuration File

 

Step 8: Deleting file content of the snmb.conf  :

CTRL + K

 

Step 9: Settings up share path and restrictions inside smb.conf file

#===================== Global Settings ======================
[global] workgroup = WORKGROUP
server string = Samba Server %v
netbios name = srvr1
security = user
map to guest = bad user
name resolve order = bcast host
dns proxy = no

#==================== Shared Folders =======================
[pi] path = /mnt/ssd/pi
browsable =yes
writable = yes
guest ok = yes
read only = no

 

Step 10: Installing NTFS Support:

sudo apt-get install ntfs-config

 

Step 11: Setting the hard drive to mount automatically on boot

to get a list of mounted devices, for example:

 

Step 12: adding you’r device name to fstab file:  mounting path, file system

Mounting all Devices:

 

Step 13: Creating a directory for Mounted Device

 

Step 14: Creating Samba User and setting Password

 

Step 15: Setting the correct user permissions

 

Step 16: Starting the Service demon

 

Step 17: Checking configuration

 

Step 18: Changing network settings in Windows

Now we should let Windows know that there’s a WINS server active in the network.

If you had to change “wins support” to “no” above skip this step!

– Click “START”
– Click “Control Panel”
– Click “Network Connections”
– Find your “LAN Connection”
– Right-click the icon and select “Properties”
– Select the “TCP/IP” Protocol and click the “Properties” button
– Click “Advanced”
– Select the third Tab entitled “WINS”
– Click “Add”
– Type in the ip-address of your Linux box
– Click “Add”
– Select “Use NetBIOS over TCP/IP”
– Click “OK”
– Click “OK”
– Click “OK”
– Reboot Windows

Upon reboot you may now map the network drive within Windows.

With WINS enabled:
– Click “START”
– Right-click “My Computer”
– Select “Map network drive”
– Choose the drive letter
– Type \\DAPPER\MyFiles
NOTE: Adjust this to the hostname and sharename you chose above!
– Click “Finish”
With WINS disabled:
– Click “START”
– Right-click “My Computer”
– Select “Map network drive”
– Choose the drive letter
– Type \\<ip-address>\MyFiles
NOTE: To find out the ip-address of your Linux box type “ifconfig” inside a terminal and find the ip for the correct interface (i.e. eth0). Don’t forget to adjust the sharename to the name you chose above.
– Click “Finish”

 

Step 19: Mounting the Share from a Windows Client

  • Right-click on My Computer and select “Map Network Drive
  • Enter the IP address and the name of the share:

\\IP-DES-REMOTE-SERVERS\Share-name

 

 

Final Words

Overall the M3 Provides good performance with and above decent software support. Applications ran very smoothly without lags. The A83T hardware platform is powerful enough to be used as a basic Mini PC, a media file sharing server, and also for other open source projects that require above average CPU “juice power”. The BPI M3 is currently on sale for a retail price of $74 including non shipping. For further detail you are welcome to visit SINOVIP official AliExpress store Here.

 

 

Pros

  • 2 GB DDR3 RAM
  • On board Gigabit Ethernet LAN and WiFi.
  • High Performance Hardware (Octa Core Processor).
  • Good Software Support.

 

 Cons

  • 32 bit Processor.
  • Only has two USB Ports.
  • Native SATA II Interface with Low Read/Write Speeds).

 

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