A craving for cheap 64-bit computing

January 21, 2016 // By Julien Happich
Judging from the nearly 30,000 backers Californian startup PINE64 Inc. gathered around its $15 64-bit single board computer on KickStarter, 64-bit is the way to go for makers and electronics hobbyists of all horizons with the promise to run any complex task including graphics processing for multimedia streaming.

With only 48 hours to conclude its crowd-funding campaign, the company had secured USD 1,362,677 well over 40 times its initial goal.

Based on Allwinner Technology's recently released 64-bit tablet processor Allwinner A64 (itself only costing USD5), PINE A64 is described as a 64-bit high performance expandable single board computer (SBC). The Allwinner A64 features a quad-core ARM A53 64-bit processor that runs at 1.2GHz and a dual-core MALI-400 MP2 running at 500MHz for the GPU, capable of 1.1 Gpixel/s throughput. The GPU provides OpenGL ES 2.0, hardware-accelerated OpenVG, 4Kx2Kp30 H.265 decode, and 1080p60 H.264 high-profile encode and decode.

The founders claim their SBC delivers up to 20-30% better performance than other 32-bit open source boards (think Raspberry Pi or Arduino-type). While providing the same power of desktop computing, it only draws 2.5 to 3.5 watts, either from a 5V supply through MicroUSB or using a 3.7V battery through on-board power management.

Of course, they make the PINE A64 an open source platform, ready to be tweaked and loaded with your own OS flavour, though they suggest Ubuntu, Android or openHAB IoT to maximize app access (from the existing 1.7 million Android apps available today). Both units are bootable from a removable MicroSD card capable of supporting up to 256GB. This allows users to simply update, re-install, or even swap operating systems by simply removing a card and inserting a new one. Extra storage can be added by plugging in a USB thumb drive or an external hard drive.

Two models are available: Pine A64 “BASIC” (512MB system RAM and 10/100 Mbps Ethernet port) and the Pine A64+ “PLUS” (1GB system RAM, Gigabit Ethernet port, camera port, LCD panel display port, and touch control port). So far, 90% of the backers opted for the beefed up version, which heavily suggest multimedia is on their agenda.

Check their kickstarter campaign while it’s still running

Visit PINE64 Inc. at http://pine64.com