A new version of the Orange Pi, one of the Raspberry Pi competitor boards built around the hexa-core Arm-based Rockchip RK3399 SoC and with a distinctive Wi-Fi antenna, is now available for pre-order, with prices starting from $55, as spotted by CNX-Software.
The Orange Pi 4 LTS (not Long-Term Support, but LTS versions of Orange Pi boards tend to be more compact versions of previous releases) features a six-core processor that sees two Arm Cortex A72 cores matched with four A53 cores and a Mali T860 GPU. There's a choice of either three or four gigabytes of LPDDR4 RAM, and a 16GB eMMC chip can be specified.
The main difference between the Orange Pi 4 LTS and the 4 and 4B boards that preceded it is the GPIO. While previous boards contained 40 pins on their headers, the LTS houses just 26, just like the original Raspberry Pi. And while we can use some Raspberry Pi HATs designed for 40-pin GPIO with the original Pi. Don't expect true GPIO compatibility with the Orange Pi 4 LTS, a quick glance of the GPIO layout shows that I2C is mapped to different pins, effectively breaking compatibility with cards which use this protocol. The audio chip also seems to have been changed, from a Realtek ALC5651 to an ESS ES8316.
Elsewhere on the Orange Pi 4 LTS board you’ll find a USB-C port that can be used for power, data or display, a 5v/3A power jack, a full-size HDMI port, micro SD, two USB 3.0 and one USB 2, gigabit Ethernet, a 3.5mm headphone socket, a 24-pin mini PCIe slot, and ribbon cable connectors for two cameras and one LCD monitor. There are also recovery and reset buttons, while the board measures just 56mm x 91mm (2.2 x 3.6in). There's Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5.0 too, delivered by an Allwinner chip last seen in the Orange Pi 3 LTS.
Software should consist of a range of Linux distros, including Armbian, Debian Bullseye, and Ubuntu, plus Android, as these were compatible with the original Orange Pi 4. The issue will be updated drivers for the audio and wireless systems, so these will need to be checked before fully compatible images are available.
At the time of writing the Orange Pi 4 LTS was available for pre-order on Aliexpress ($62.90 for the 3GB RAM/16GB eMMC version), but wasn’t yet listed on the official Orange Pi site. Estimated delivery is at the end of March.
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Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.