Banana Pi Reveals Raspberry Pi Alternative BPI-M6 SBC

Banana Pi has revealed (opens in new tab) its next-generation board, known as the BPI-M6, which follows the same design trend as the Raspberry Pi (opens in new tab) and features an NPU alongside a quad-core CPU, an M.2 socket, and an HDMI input.

While it may look like yet another small blue SBC, there’s a lot going on here. The BPI-M6 has a CPU made up of four 64bit Cortex-A73 cores clocked at 2.1 GHz, with an additional Cortex M3 core, a 32bit processor often seen in microcontrollers (opens in new tab), IoT devices, and which acted as the motion co-processor in Apple M9 devices, such as the iPhone 6S. Given the remarkable amount of work you can get out of the Raspberry Pi 4 (opens in new tab)’s 1.5GHz Cortex A-72 cores, this faster and more capable CPU should be a nice upgrade, though it may require cooling.

The Banana Pi BPI-M6

(Image credit: Banana Pi)

The Imagination GE9920 is Banana Pi’s GPU of choice for this board, and is bundled with the CPU and a 6.75 TOPS NPU into a package known as the VideoSmart VS680. There’s also 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, 16GB of eMMC flash (which can be specced as high as 64GB) and a Micro SD slot, while as the back edge of the board is an M.2 socket capable of holding Key E devices, which include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth cards – useful, as there’s no on-board wireless capability. Video output is as high as 4K60, and it can run a 4K screen through a micro-HDMI port as well as a 1080p screen connected via MIPI DSI.

The other micro-HDMI port is an input, pointing to potential uses in DIY set-top boxes or other video processing and IoT applications. The rest of the board will definitely look familiar to Raspberry Pi (opens in new tab) aficionados, with four USB ports (all 3.0) and a Gigabit Ethernet socket at one end, and 40 GPIO pins. There’s also a header for PoE, and power is delivered through a USB-C port.

There’s no information yet about software support for the new board, though previous Banana Pi SBCs such as the BPI-M5 (opens in new tab) have had Android, Ubuntu, Debian and even Raspbian images available for them. Prices and availability have also not been announced, but there is a wiki article (opens in new tab) detailing the hardware.

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