While the Raspberry Pi continues to dominate the single-board computer market, there are a few other names that come to mind like BeagleBone, and Pine64. Amongst those is the Banana Pi, if only for the sprawling product range and pretty reasonable documentation.
The Banana Pi BPI-P2 Zero
The new Banana Pi BPI-P2 Zero is very similar to Banana Pi’s original BPI Zero board, which—perhaps unsurprisingly considering the name—shares a form factor with the Raspberry Pi Zero. However, the newer P2-Zero departs from that Zero’s form factor in order to provide some extra capabilities.
The larger footprint of the new board, 65×52.5 mm compared to the Zero’s 60×30 mm, has let Banana Pi squeeze in an extra 8GB of eMMC flash on the board. Yet the rather obvious, and much more important, addition is the 100MB Ethernet interface.
However, other than these changes, the hardware on the board remains the same from the previous iterations. Based around the same Allwinner H2+ processor, a quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 with 512MB DDR 3 SDRAM, it offers mini HDMI and both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, as well as the important 40-pin GPIO Raspberry Pi compatible header.
The Banana Pi BPI-R64
The new Banana Pi BPI-R64 is a very different sort of beast indeed, and is intended as a router development board. It can run on a variety of open source operating systems, including OpenWrt. It has 4 Gigabit LAN ports, along with a single Gigabit WAN port, and Wi-Fi access point functionality.
This is not a hobby board, and the closest board in their current lineup is probably the BPI R2, which like the new board uses a MediaTek processor.
The new BPI-R64 has been built around a MediaTek 64 bit dual-core ARM Cortex-A53 processor. The board features 1G DDR3 SDRAM and 8GB of eMMC flash, alongside mini PCIE, SATA, a micro SD Card slot, USB 3.0, 5×1GB Ethernet ports, and of course PoE support.
Hopefully the arrival of the new BPI-P2 Zero won’t lead to the original BPI Zero board being discontinued. While at $20 it’s a lot more expensive than a “real” Raspberry Pi Zero, it was sort of useful to have it around with the same form factor as the Raspberry Pi.
Right now there’s no pricing or shipping information for the new Banana Pi BPI-P2 Zero and BPI-R64 boards. But given past experience, I’d expect them to appear on AliExpress within the next few months as SinoVoIP have a history of announcing hardware well in advance of shipping.