The Allwinner H2+, which integrates four ARM-Cortex A7 cores that can clock up khổng lồ 1.2GHz, is powering the Orange Pi Zero LTS. The tiny board, which measures just 52 x 46 mm, features 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Ethernet, up khổng lồ 512 MB of RAM, USB 2.0 Type-A & a microSD card slot. There is also a 26-pin unpopulated GPIO header along with a 13-pin header for a headphone, USB 2.0, TV-out, microphone & IR signals.

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This board is the next generation of the Orange Pi Zero that was first launched in November năm nhâm thìn for $7 and up. It should solve various issues with the Allwinner XR819 WiFi module that many developers reported. The main modification on revision v1.5 (vs. V1.1 - I did not find the datasheet for v1.4) is the power supply logic to reduce the interferences on the Wi-Fi module.

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Fig. 1: Orange Pi Zero LTS

The Orange Pi Zero LTS costs between US$8.49 và US$10.49 depending on the version you buy (256/512MB of RAM) & is available lớn order on AliExpress (shipping cost about US$4.89).

In this article, I will install the Armbian Buster OS. Then, using VSC & the Remote-SSH extension, I will install Pip3 lớn install some Python libraries và finally I will chạy thử the performance of the board using my testbench algorithm: N-Queens-Problem written in Python.

Hardware và Software

In this article, the following hardware & software will be used:


The Orange Pi Zero LTS v1.5 specifications are the following:

Orange Pi Zero LTS v1.5
CPUSoC – Allwinner H2+ quad-core Cortex A7 processor
1.2 GHz
GPUMali400MP2 GPU
600 MHz Supports OpenGL ES 2.0
System Memory256 khổng lồ 512 MB DDR3-1866 SDRAM (Shared with GPU)
StoragemicroSD thẻ slot
Connectivity10/100M Ethernet 802.11 b/g/n WiFi (Allwinner XR819 WiFi module) with u.FL antenna connector and external antenna
USB1x USB 2.0 host ports 1x micro USB OTG port
Expansion headersUnpopulated 26-pin GPIO header mostly compatible with Raspberry Pi (1) header 13-pin header with headphone, 2x USB 2.0, TV-out, microphone & IR receiver signals
Debugging3-pin header for serial console
Misc2x LEDs
Supported OSAndroid 7.0, OpenWrt, Ubuntu or Debian Desktop/server Armbian’s Debian 10 Buster or Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic
Power Supply5V via micro USB port or optional PoE
Dimensions - Weight52 x 46 mm - 26 g

Armbian Buster

I tested the board using Armbian Buster. I"ve downloaded the 7-zip zipped image và I used the Startup Disk Creator of Ubuntu lớn write the image on a Kingstone 16GB SD-card, which is the same SD-card that I used to thử nghiệm the Raspberry Pi performances.

To use VSC & the Remote-SSH extension, you need first to change the mặc định password (user: root, password: 1234). Use a terminal và connect to the board using SSH (enabled per default). You"ll get something like Fig. 2. After changing the password, it is possible khổng lồ connect to the remote OS using VSC và the Remote-SSH extension.

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Fig. 2: Orange Pi running Armbian Buster: Changing the mặc định password.

It is possible lớn monitor the CPU temperature using armbianmonitor -m under Armbian, but I got temperatures between 10.9°C and 14.5°C (Fig. 3), and this didn"t sound very good to lớn me. The CPU had definitively a higher temperature!... It should be a wrong thermal calibration. Reading the temperature directly, it also reported some wrong values (see Fig. 4)

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Fig. 3: Temperature monitor using armbianmonitor -m... The values are too low!
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Fig. 4: Temperature monitor. The values are too low!

WiFi on Armbian

To configure the wlan0 interface on Armbian, modify the following file:

sudo nano /etc/network/interfaces:

auto loiface lo inet loopbackauto eth0allow-hotplug eth0iface eth0 inet dhcpallow-hotplug wlan0iface wlan0 inet manualwpa-roam /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.confiface default inet dhcpsudo nano /etc/wpa_supplicant/wpa_supplicant.conf:

ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdevupdate_config=1network=ssid=""psk=""Then, you need to disable the NetworkManager & use iwd:

apt install iwdsystemctl disable wpa_supplicantecho -e " wifi.backend=iwd " >> /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.confMore info: here.

If you use the standard NetworkManager you are going khổng lồ get following errors when activating the wlan0 interface:

root
orangepizero:~# sudo ip links set wlan0 upRTNETLINK answers: Invalid argument

Performance Test

The N-Queens Problem library needs the tqdm module. And to install that, type the following:

root
orangepizero:~# grep -c ^processor /proc/cpuinfo4Because the Orange Pi Zero LTS does not have a GPU temperature sensor (or any function that provides that information), I modified the get_gpu_temp(...) function in the temperature.py file as:

def get_gpu_temp(self): #res = os.popen("vcgencmd measure_temp").readline() #res = float(res.replace("temp=","").replace(""C ","")) return self.get_cpu_temp()to return the CPU temperature.

For the test, I used the same heatsink as for the Raspberry Pi:


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Aluminum Heatsink Kit

The N-queens-problem benchmark (N=12) was launched & repeated 100 times with multi-thread & single-thread configuration:

root
orangepizero:~/N-Queens-Problem# python3 queenpool_multithread.py multithread_output.csv 12 4 100Calculating loop number 1 (of 100)Starting calculationElapsed time: 67.737995There are 14200 solutions for 12 queens.1566140517, 12, 4, 14200, 67, 737995, 51.79, 51.79<...>root
orangepizero:~/N-Queens-Problem# python3 queenpool_multithread.py singlethread_output.csv 12 1 100Calculating loop number 1 (of 100)Starting calculationElapsed time: 252.97670There are 14200 solutions for 12 queens.1566148971, 12, 1, 14200, 252, 97670, 27.71, 27.71<...>The N-queens-problem is a well-known problem that consists of placing N chess queens on an N×N chessboard so that no two queens attack each other. In this case, there are 14200 solutions for 12 queens.

The multi-thread and single-thread performances resulted as described in Fig. 5a và 5b, respectively.

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Fig. 5a: Multi-thread Configuration Fig. 5b: Single-thread Configuration

The multithread performance of the Orange Pi Zero LTS is comparable to lớn the performance of the Raspberry Pi 3B. In Fig. 5a, as the CPU temperature was under 70°C, the performance was better: It took the Orange Pi Zero LTS less than 67 seconds khổng lồ solve the N-queens problem. After the 17th iteration, the temperature increased to lớn over 70°C (as I mentioned, the sensor could not be correctly calibrated!) và the CPU performance was affected. Regarding the temperature, it increased slowly compared to lớn the temperature of the Raspberry Pi 3B. The single-thread performance of both boards (OPi and RPi 3B) is also comparable. They needed about 252 seconds to lớn resolve the N-queens problem.

The folowing table sumarizes the performance of the Orange Pi Zero LTS and compares it with the Raspberry Pi 3B và 3B+ models using Raspbian Stretch.

oPi

Zero LTS

rPi

Model 3B+

rPi

Model 3B

Avg. Multi-Thread Solving Time69.97 s62.66 s70.85 s
Multi-Thread Max. Temperature71.75 °C68.78 °C78.69 °C
Avg. Single-Thread Solving Time251.65 s213.34 s251.30 s
Single-Thread Max. Temperature31.10 °C54.22 °C52.61 °C


For the tests, the Orange Pi Zero LTS was running Armbian Buster with kernel 4.19.59-sunxi (TA: 21°C), while the Raspberry Pis run Raspbian Stretch with kernel 4.14.27-v7+ (TA: 19°C).

The single-thread kiểm tra was in average 3.65x slower than the multi-thread thử nghiệm (184.60 min vs 50.75 min to solve 45 N-queens problems). However, the temperature remained under 70°C and the system performance was not affected. The max. Temperature for the single-thread solution seems too low for me (again, I think it is not calibrated!).

Conclusions

With the release of the Raspberry Pi 4, the market has become more difficult for competitors. But in the low-cost segment, it is still worth thinking about alternatives lớn raspberry. Thus, the Orange Pi Zero LTS is definitely an alternative to the old Raspberry Pi models (older than 3B+). Its price and size make it optimal for small designs. Moreover, it supports more OS than the Raspberry Pi. Its performance is comparable lớn the Raspberry Pi 3B and positions itself here against the much lower-power, single-core variants of the Raspberry Pi Zero.

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The problems with the temperature that the older versions have seem khổng lồ be resolved. Unfortunately, the internal temperature measurement is not working properly (from my point of view)! However, I was positively surprised by the board. This was my first Orange Pi & it didn"t disapoint me at all, I"m thinking of buying one of its big brother (Orange Pi 3). I will demo the performance of Docker running on this system in a next article.