Pine Microsystems

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Pine Microsystems, Inc. is a US-based company which designs, manufactures and sells single-board computers, notebook computers and smartphones aimed at hobbyists.[1]

History[edit]

The first product was the Pine A64, a single-board computer designed to compete with the popular Raspberry Pi in both power and price. The A64 was first funded through a Kickstarter crowdfunding drive in December 2015[2] which raised over $1.7 million.[3] The Kickstarter project was overshadowed by delays and shipping problems.[4]

Although the original Kickstarter page mentioned a company called "Pine64 Inc.", all devices are manufactured and sold by Pine Microsystems Inc. based in Fremont, California. Its founder is TL Lim, the inventor of the PopBox and Popcorn Hour series of media players sold under the Syabas and Cloud Media brands.[5]

Devices[edit]

After the initial Kickstarter orders for the Pine A64 single board computers had been satisfied, the company went on to create several successors and later also added notebooks and a smartphone to the "Pine" family.

Single board computers[edit]

The original Pine A64 boards released in 2016 are powered by an Allwinner A64 system-on-chip. It features a 1.2 GHz Quad-Core ARM Cortex A53 64-Bit Processor, an ARM Mali 400 MP2 graphics processor unit, one HDMI 1.4a port, one MicroSD slot, two USB 2.0 ports and a 100 Megabit Ethernet port. The A64 board has only 512 megabytes of RAM, the 1 GB and 2 GB versions are labeled "Pine A64+".[6] While the 512 MB model only works with Arch Linux and Debian GNU/Linux distributions, the A64+ with more memory can also run other operating systems including Android, Remix OS, Windows 10,[7] FreeBSD,[8] and Ubuntu.[9] Optional eMMC storage modules can be plugged into special headers on the board.

A compute module called SOPINE A64 was introduced in January 2017. It features the same system-on-chip as the Pine A64, but mounted on a SODIMM DDR3 form factor board without the USB/HDMI/Ethernet connectors.[10] It competes with the Raspberry Pi Compute Modules. Pine Microsystems Inc. sells a "Clusterboard" with an inbuilt 8-port Gigabit Ethernet switch which can be used to build a cluster system out of up to seven SOPINE modules.[11] A review by Hackaday noted problems with production quality, software, and user support.[12]

2017 also saw the addition of a "Long Term Supply" (LTS) version of the Pine A64/A64+ boards called "Pine A64/A64(+)- LTS". The LTS versions are identical to the A64/A64+, but are guaranteed to be available until the year 2022 at a slightly higher cost.[13]

In July 2017 the company added a new line of single board computers based on Rockchip SoCs. The ROCK64 features a Rockchip RK3328 Quad-Core ARM Cortex A53 64-Bit Processor, a Mali-450MP2 GPU capable of playing 4K HDR videos, 1/2/4 Gigabytes of RAM, two USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI 2.0 port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a MicroSD slot and several other peripheral ports.[14]

Its larger brother, the ROCKPro64, is based on a Rockchip RK3399 Hexa-Core (dual ARM Cortex A72 and quad ARM Cortex A53) 64-Bit Processor instead. It features a Mali T-860 Quad-Core GPU and, in addition to the standard USB/Ethernet/HDMI/MicroSD ports, also has an eDP interface and an open-ended PCI Express x4 slot. An optional PCI Express to Dual SATA-II adapter and an optional Wi-Fi module are offered by Pine Microsystems.[15]

In 2019 a new Allwinner-based board was added as a direct competitor to the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+. The Pine H64 is based on the Allwinner H6 Quad-Core ARM Cortex A53 64-Bit Processor. It features a Mali T-722 GPU, two or three Gigabytes of RAM, two USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI 2.0 port, onboard 802.11n Wi-Fi, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a MicroSD slot and several other peripheral ports.[16]

Notebook computers[edit]

In November 2016 the Pinebook, a Netbook built around an Allwinner A64 SoC with 2 GB of RAM and a 16 GB eMMC module was announced. Pre-release comments in Make wrote that the A64's closest analog was two to three times the A64's price,[17] and that the A64 continued the Raspberry Pi's trend of breaking barriers for engineers.[18] Production started in April 2017. The Pinebook can only be obtained via a build-to-order system, potential buyers have to wait weeks or even months for an order code which then has to be redeemed within 72 hours. The hardware is priced at 99 US-$, but due to a 30 US-$ shipping fee and country-dependent import duties and taxes the final price is higher.

The Pinebook was notably used by the KDE team to improve Plasma on ARM desktops.[19] In a review of final hardware by Linux.com, the reviewer was surprised at his ability to have the full, albeit slow, Mate desktop environment at the A64's price.[9] Phoronix's benchmarks indicated similar CPU performance to a Raspberry Pi 3.[20]

In July 2019 the company announced the PineBook Pro, a netbook based around the Rockchip RK3399 SoC which is also used in the ROCKPro64. The preorder system went live on July 25, 2019. The device is priced at 199 US-$, though the final price after shipping and import duties/taxes is higher.[21]

Smartphone[edit]

As of 2019, Pine64 was working on a Linux smartphone, "PinePhone", using a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 64-Bit System on a chip (SoC). The aim was for the phone to be compatible with any mainline Linux kernel and to "support existing and well established Linux-on-Phone projects", as a community developed smartphone.[22] In August 2019, PinePhone was expected to be highly competitive with the Librem 5, with PinePhone being about a factor of four cheaper, and Librem 5 being more strict in terms of using free software and having more powerful hardware.[23]

Smartwatch[edit]

In September 2019, Pine64 announced the PineTime smartwatch.[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Filing for Pine Microsystems, State of California". Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  2. ^ Brian, Matt (December 9, 2015). "PINE A64 is a $15, 'high-performance' take on the Raspberry Pi". Engadget. Archived from the original on June 11, 2019. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  3. ^ Matney, Lucas (January 21, 2016). "The Pine A64 Is A $15 PC With Endless Possibilities". TechCrunch. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  4. ^ Shah, Agam (March 15, 2016). "Meet the Raspberry Pi's new rival: The $15 Pine 64 finally ships with 4K video support". PCWorld. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  5. ^ "About Us – Cloud Media". Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  6. ^ "PINE A64 512MB BOARD – PINE Store". Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  7. ^ "Microsoft Azure IoT Device Catalog". Microsoft Azure. October 16, 2016. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  8. ^ Obuch, Milan (February 20, 2017). "FreeBSD on Pine64 experience". Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Bhartiya, Swapnil (August 9, 2016). "Build a $20 Computer with PINE64". Linux.com. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  10. ^ "SOPINE A64 COMPUTE MODULE – PINE Store". Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  11. ^ "CLUSTERBOARD with 7 SOPine compute module slots – PINE Store". Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  12. ^ Benchoff, Brian (April 21, 2016). "PINE64: THE UN-REVIEW". Hackaday. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  13. ^ "PINE A64-LTS – PINE Store". Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  14. ^ "ROCK64 SINGLE BOARD COMPUTER – PINE Store". Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  15. ^ "ROCKPro64 2GB Single Board Computer – PINE Store". Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  16. ^ "PINE H64 "Model B"-2GB Single Board Computer – PINE Store". Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  17. ^ Scheltema, David (December 9, 2015). "The $15 PINE64 Just Launched on Kickstarter, and it's Already Funded". Make. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  18. ^ Epstein, Zach (December 9, 2015). "Meet Pine A64, a 64-bit quad-core supercomputer that costs just $15". BGR. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
  19. ^ Riddell, Jonathan (August 22, 2018). "KDE Plasma on ARM Laptop Pinebook". dot.kde.org.
  20. ^ Larabel, Michael (December 26, 2016). "Benchmarking The Low-Cost PINE 64+ ARM Single Board Computer". Phoronix. Retrieved December 28, 2017.
  21. ^ "PINEBOOK Pro". PINE64. April 5, 2019. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  22. ^ "An Open Source Smart Phone Supported by All Major Linux Phone Projects". Pine64. 2019. Archived from the original on June 16, 2019. Retrieved June 16, 2019.
  23. ^ T., Raffaele (September 3, 2019). "Librem 5 vs. PinePhone: comparison of two Linux smartphones". Tuxphones. Archived from the original on September 3, 2019. Retrieved September 3, 2019.
  24. ^ @thepine64 (September 13, 2019). "This is the #PineTime (actual photo) - a #Linux smartphone companion and a side-project of ours. Are you a @real_FreeRTOS or @ArmMbed developer with an interest in smartwatches? - let us know" (Tweet) – via Twitter.

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