Orange Pi takes on Raspberry Pi with new computer boards

Orange Pi takes on Raspberry Pi with new computer boards

Raspberry Pi may be the most well-known board computer, but rival Orange Pi is rolling out a much larger range of boards at a furious pace and at cheaper prices.

The number of board computer users is growing, with Raspberry Pi's shipments passing 10 million units last year. Orange Pi hasn't shipped as many devices but is trying to customize its boards to meet a wider set of computing needs. 

The latest board computer is the US$30 Orange Pi Prime, which is almost identical to Raspberry Pi 3 in terms of features. The Orange Pi Prime has better graphics by using a Mali-450 GPU, which can process 2K video.

Another recent board released was the $9.90 Orange Pi 2G-IoT, a small development board for IoT devices, similar to the Raspberry Pi Zero W. But the Orange Pi 2G-IoT includes a twist with a 2G modem, useful for short bursts of data transfers over long distances. With shipping, the board will cost $13.68.

These new boards aren't yet listed on the website of Orange Pi, which offers nine other development boards. Some boards can be used as PC alternatives, while others can be used to make smart devices, robots, and other electronics.

The Aliexpress website lists even more Orange Pi boards not on the company's website.

Orange Pi is backed by Allwinner, a chipmaker that builds ARM processors for low-cost smartphones, tablets, and set-top boxes. The Orange Pi Prime uses Allwinner's H5 processor, which has four 64-bit Cortex-A53 cores.

Other features on the board include 2GB of RAM, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi b/g/n, three USB ports, and an IR receiver. It also has a Gigabit Ethernet port and other common expansion ports found on developer boards.

It also has an HDMI port to connect displays.

The board supports the Android, Ubuntu, and Debian operating systems. The Aliexpress website says the board will support a Raspberry Pi OS image, which likely means the Linux-based Raspbian OS.

But Raspberry Pi has a more established software ecosystem, which could make it easier to use than the Orange Pi boards.

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