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Raspberry Pi Alternative Banana Pi BPI-M2S Boasts Six Core CPU, 4GB RAM

A render of the BPI-M2S
(Image credit: Banana Pi)

Fans of the Raspberry Pi alternative, Banana Pi will be getting a new, more powerful board to tinker with following the appearance on Twitter and the company’s wiki of the BPI-M2S. Fitting into the same 2.6 inch footprint as the M2 Pro, what’s notable about this board are its six processor cores and two gigabit ethernet ports. 

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BPI-M2S has plenty of other ports too, like a single USB 2.0, a Type-C for power (which can also be delivered through a pin header) and an HDMI port, plus those two gigabit ethernets. There’s a three-pin serial header, and a 40-pin GPIO array, plus DSI and CSI connectors for cameras and displays. Compatibility with accessories designed for the Raspberry Pi is currently unknown, but the GPIO looks to have a similar pinout to the Raspberry Pi, but support depends on vendor software libraries.

The SOC at the heart of it all is the Amlogic A311D, which sees a quad-core ARM Cortex-A73 supplemented by a dual-core Cortex-A53 CPU. The GPU is a Mali G52 MP4, and there’s a neural processing unit offering up to five TOPS (Trillion Operations per Second) for good measure. You get 4GB of LPDDR4, and 16GB of eMMC flash, with up to 128GB eMMC as an optional extra. A Micro SD slot appears on the renders, but isn’t mentioned in the specs.

The Cortex A53 is a long-running ARM favourite used in the Raspberry Pi 3 and the Nintendo Switch, as well as some Roku media players and Amazon Fire tablets. The A73 is a newer model, often found as the big cores in big.LITTLE arrangements from Qualcomm and Samsung, and the successor (with 30% greater performance) to the A72 used in the Raspberry Pi 4. Interestingly, it supports out-of-order execution and branch prediction, while the A53 does not. 

As yet, we don’t have much more information about the BPI-M2S, including clock speeds and whether a version with 8GB of RAM will be available. Operating systems will include Android and Linux, but details there are scarce too. The Banana Pi Twitter account, however, suggests that the design phase is over and they’re sampling boards now, so we probably won’t have much longer to wait.

  • cjmcgee
    Two Ethernet ports is useful for running an open source firewall. But, at this point I am starting to look at 10 GbE. WiFi 6 supports up to 10 Gb and the routers for it are starting to come with 2.5, 5, or 10 GbE ports. So, if I was going to invest in a firewall only device I would like it to be faster than 1 GbE. There is also the CPU side of it; how much processing power is needed to drive a 10 GbE firewall? Would this class of device be able to keep up? Can it keep up with even 1 GbE?
    Reply
  • jakjawagon
    The Cortex A53 is a long-running ARM favourite used in the Nintendo Switch
    Nope. There are four A53 cores physically present in the Nintendo Switch, but they are disabled.
    Reply