A month with the BPI-M3

My first thought was that no one is being served by the flame war going on between Rival Chinese chip makers.

The Banana Pi is a derivative of the original Rasberry Pi as is the other Pi varieties out there. I never selected a Pi product because none of the offerings had fit my needs. Mostly ardunio Mega 2560s will do the micro controller to electronics fit nicely. I use about 10 to 15 arduino nano per month for various devices. The pi always seemed like it was short on gpios and had no real advantage over machine code. Even the arduino nano has a tcp/ip stack that will serve web content. Anything that actually used PHP or mysql I used a BeagleBone Black. Lower priced than Pi in volume and much more important the beagle bone fits with more IO and more mature software.

Until recently I never considered using any of the Pi boards, what changed was a need to do dedicated multithreaded applications. So looking around I considered the ODRIOD XU4 and found the BPI-M3. This board seemed to fit my needs better than the others.

I can see the animosity and anger being spewed from the boards detractors. And I wonder what their expectations had been. So far I see the software is in a state of disarray and the community is at war. This does not change the fact that I can make use of these boards with a better fit than the other Pi products.

So my posts will not be complaining about the company or arguing with someone. Just the information that I have found to help the other people who may like this board as well.

To that end I have discovered that the BPI-M3 with the USB power in port will exceed the wattage ratings of the PMIC and resistors adjacent. If you push your M3 with a usb power in it will burn the resistors next to the connector. To solve this issue I read the schematics and found that the first pin of the GPIO header is behind the PMIC and will continue to function even after the PMIC is burned. So hook your power leads up to the header rather than the usb or even the 4mm jack.

The A83T runs hot, not a little hot, but very hot. The temperature is not as important as the actual amount of heat that it puts off. Without a heatsink capable of at least 20W at 20LFPS air flow the processor will throttle down and drop cores. This is normal operation and fine just not the same as the other Pi products. Because of this I designed a billet aluminum heatsink and machined two of them. The pieces take about 3 hours each to machine on my CNC so I will be looking to get them cast rather than machined. When compiling you must use a fan to move the heat away from the heatsink. I ran a burnin at 1800 Mhz 47C for 24 Hours on one of the two M3s I have.

The SATA power port - In my experience you can not power a SATA drive from this board. Power consumption exceeds design intent. Thats how I burnt my first one. This is ok if you simply use an additional power supply for the drive. I am uncertain but I think the same would be true for the two on board USB ports.

Mostly I see the community is using wall warts (Wall Socket Mounted PS) with their boards. I happen to have a 25A 5V USB power supply at my lab so I did not see the power problems others had. I did use a 4A 5.7V wall wart on unit 2 model OPENPEAK OP-20004 LFS054000D-ABS works great power fed into GPIO header rather than USB or 4mm.

Last thought this little board is pretty cool once you get past all the bickering and hate. It is one of the few boards that I can use core affinity and run MPI in series for my software needs. If you actually understand RISC and ARM machine code this is a cheap way to implement some pretty advanced stuff. If you are looking for Microsoft Windows Style support or a large monolithic community than other devices are better suited.

I am happy that I selected this board.