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Banana PI BPI-M2 Ultra
The Banana PI BPI-M2 Ultra a Single Board Computer developed by SinoVoip Company. This open source hardware platform is equipped with an Allwinner R40 Quad-Core Cortex-A7 CPU, 2GB DDR3 SDRAM, 8G eMMC flash, On-board WiFi/Bluetooth module, and an external SATA 2.0 interface.
AllWinner R SoC Series is capable of running most popular operating systems such as Android, Debian Linux, Ubuntu Linux, Raspbian system and can also run Microsoft’s Windows 10 IoT Core version, which is a slim type OS packed with the Azure IoT SDK, specially tailored for software developers. Based on Allwinner R40 Datasheet the BPI-M2 Ultra it’s capable of capturing video input signal at a maximum resolution of 1080P@30fps using the Camera CSI input connector that also can be used as a PVR (Personal video recorder).
That being said, Additional hardware specifications include a Mali 400 MP2 GPU, Gigabit Ethernet port, HDMI 1.4, TF Card Slot, and 40 pin GPIO header is pin-compatible with Raspberry Pi Making this product a good pick for DIY and Open source Projects. The board is currently sold in SinoVoip AliExpress store and can be found in the link posted below:
M2 Ultra Quick Review/ Overview
Banana Pi M2 Ultra specifications
- SoC – Allwinner R40 Quad Core ARM Cortex A7 processor with ARM Mali-400 MP2
- System Memory – 2G DDR3 SDRAM
- Storage – 8GB eMMC flash, SATA interface, Micro SD slot up to 256 GB
- Connectivity – 1x Gigabit Ethernet port, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 (AP6212)
- Video Output – HDMI 1.4 port up 1080p@60fps, 4-lane MIPI DSI display connector
- Audio I/O – HDMI, 3.5 mm headphone jack, built-in microphone
- USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
- Camera – CSI camera connector
- Debugging – 3-pin UART for serial console
- Misc – Reset, power, and u-boot buttons; IR receiver
- Expansion – 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible header with GPIOs, I2C, SPI, UART, ID EEPROM, 5V, 3.3V, and GND signals.
- Power Supply – 5V via a barrel connector, or 3.7V Lithium battery via battery connector on the back of the board. AXP221s PMIC
Banana Pi BPI M2 Ultra | Package
Banana Pi BPI M2 Ultra Board | Unboxing
A Closer Look at the Banana Pi M2 Ultra
- SATA Power
- USB OTG
- Power Supply ( DC 5V/2A )
- TF Card Slot
- Camera Interface
- Reset Button
- Power Button
- WiFi Antenna Socket
- 40 Pins Header
- IR Receiver
- 3.5 mm Audio Jack
- 2xUSB 2.0
- 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet
- Debug TTL UART
- Uboot Key
- MIPI DSI (Display Interface)
- eMMC Flash
- Allwinner R40 SoC
- 2x 512MB RAM
- 2x 512MB RAM
- External Battery Interface
- WiFi & BT 4.0 module
Banana Pi M2 Ultra
Without overcomplicating things. The process of burning Operating system Images can be done in two main basic methods. The first is the simplest one. For that you will need to use a formatted/empty Micro-SD Card, preferably in the capacity of 16GB and above it, depending on the Image size. Picking a higher capacity is preferred for maintaining some extra space for files when updating the distribution and installing new apps.
1 – Booting System via TF Card:
- Steps for Burning Images to Micro-SD Card with the following Windows Tools:
- SDFormatter – Formatting the SD card before burning the image file.
- Win32Disk Imager – Select the Image file and write to the SD Card.
2 – Booting System via 8GB eMMC Storage:
- Steps for Burning Images to 8GB eMMC Chip:
- Copying OS Image file to USB Flash Drive and connecting it to the board USB
- Booting the board from SD Card
- Running: umount /dev/mmcblk1p1 /dev/mmcblk1p2
- Accessing the device ( USB Flash Drive ) where the Image file is stored
- Running: dd if=Imagefilename.IMG of=/dev/mmcblk1 bs=10M
- power off & remove SD
- Turning board one.
Acrylic Case – If you don’t want to spend time designing and building one the Transparent Acrylic Case can be a great option. The case is composed of six separated segments/parts assembled together and strengthened with a series of bolts and screws. From first impression and additional checking overall quality was excellent and all interfaces were very easy to access, including buttons and header pins. The only thing I would improve is adding 4 holes and a few cuts for 30 mm fan mounting, just above the heat sink to get the extra heat out.
Banana Pi M2 Ultra | Case Unboxing
Banana Pi M2 Ultra Case
Banana Pi M2 Ultra Inside the Case
Heatsinks – Sinovoip offers two types of aluminum heat sinks with flat type fins for both CPU and memory chips. For this review, I used a better CPU Heatsink, originally designed for video card cooling with the same dimensions (14 x 14 mm). This one had a higher finish quality and most importantly, high-length films that greatly improve air contact which improves the cooling efficiency. That said, the overall results were pretty good. The CPU temperatures measured with the case closed without a fan ranged between ~40 – 55C.
- CMD used to Check CPU Temperature:
Banana Pi Heatsinks
Optional CPU Heatsink
Get it Here
The M2U board currently supports Ubuntu, Debian, Android 6.0, and Tina OS, which is a tailored open-source Linux distribution designed for the Allwinner SoC, developed by Allwinner Tina TEAM based on OpenWrt. This OS offers development tools for designing IoT products for designing drones, robotics, education, servers, toys, and smart home products.
For users that like to experience a wider selection of systems, it can be somewhere limiting compared to the Raspberry Pi board. But overall the experience of “playing” with the board running Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS was nothing but good. WiFi, LAN, Sound, and an onboard microphone were configured and worked well.
Ubuntu 16.04.1 System Information
Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS | Desktop Screenshots
To power the M2U board you will need to buy a DC 5V / 2A type AC adapter unit, or connect to the board through the USB OTG interface with a simple USB to Micro-USB Cable connected to a USB type power adapter/charger, which is very commonly included with mobile phones and Tablet PCs accessories. Also important to mention that if you are planning on connecting an external Hard drive such as SSD to the OTG interface, the power through the OTG will not be sufficient to power an external drive, therefore you will need to use a proper AC type adapter.
M2U connected to ORICO Q1-BK Power Bank (Top view)
Testing M2U with SSD (Solid State Drive)
Drive was tested twice with SSD C3000-120 (120GB) from Kingspec using ‘gnome disks‘ benchmark tool running under Ubuntu 16.04 .1 LTS.
- Challenger C3000 series
- Model: KingSpec C3000-120 ( 120GB )
- Capacity: 120GB
- Interface: SATA III – 6GB/s
- Size: 2.5 inch – 7 mm
- MLC NAND Flash
- Sustained Read – 500 MB/s
- Sustained Write – 470 MB/s
- Average Access time 0.2 ms
M2U Connected to C3000-120 SSD
Test #1 : Under NTFS Partition
Under the NTF partition, writing speed results were pretty low with a very low write speed of 37.6 MB/s.
Test #2: Under EXT4 Partition
Under EXT4 partition read/write speeds remain pretty much the same as in test #1 without any impact on general performance.
Based on the above results and personal opinion, the low write speeds on both tests are a result of Allwinner hardware platform limitations, therefore don’t expect high transfer speeds as you are getting used to a P.C. Although adding a SATA 2.0 interface is a nice idea, it’s not really feasible if you can’t use the drive to its maximum potential and achieve high writing speeds.
The M2U board is a very good product that worked and performed well. The only disadvantage is that the current user is limited to a few distributions and also the fact this board only has two USB hosts and not more, so it’s a bit limiting if you want to connect more than two external devices.
Pros / Cons
- High performance
- 2GB RAM
- Only Two USB Host Ports.
- Limited OS Support
- Slow writing speeds via the SATA interface.