Chinese chip maker Allwinner is launching its first octa-core chip this year, and the company plans to show it off at the Consumer Electronics Show using a new developer board called the Allwinner A80 Optimus Board.

The board is basically a small single-board computer with an 8-core processor, USB ports, developer pins, and other goodies to help hardware and software hackers build applications around the new chip.

Allwinner also plans to showcase tablets based on its existing A23, A31, and A31S processors.

Allwinner A80 optimus board

The Allwinner A80 features 4 ARM Cortex-A15 processor cores and 4 ARM Cortex-A7 cores. They’re arranged using ARM’s big.LITTLE technology so that you can use just the cores you need to perform a certain task, which means the chip is optimized to offer high performance and low power consumption, depending on the application.

Samsung has been offering similar chips since early 2013, but Allwinner is known for offering low-cost chips for use in cheap devices, so the A80 chip could end up in cheap tablets from Chinese device makers and others in the coming months.

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20 replies on “Allwinner introduces A80 Optimus Board with octa-core CPU”

  1. It this Vaporware? Lots of anouncement but if one asks them, they say it is just an internal dev board with not plan to sell it.

  2. This could be good for a fairly powerful ARM/Linux laptop.

    While we are waiting for the new Exynos 5420 Chromebook from Sammy, this could make the competition a bit more lively.

    Someone should sell an Ubuntu laptop with an ARM SOC like this, 4GB RAM, decent keyboard/screen and with an emulator for Android applications (or dual boot with Ubuntu & Android).

  3. I wonder what the price will be when you can get one. Doesn’t that look like 2gigs of memory?

  4. Damn, that’s some serious specs for an ARM development board, from Allwinner no less. I was so sure RockChip would be the first out the gate with A15 cores. Any indications of clock speed?

  5. i can’t wait until arm overtakes x86. my phone is has better specs than my netbook. i wouldn’t mind having only arm devices if linux was easier to use and install on it.

    1. If Linux is your choice of OS, then ARM overtaking x86 isn’t what you’re waiting for. You’re really waiting for open bootloaders and the software and drivers you want to use being available on the ARM version of Linux, basically waiting for the ecosystem to catch up.

      1. Not entirely. The software is already there. At this point all of the Open Source stuff is there. Firefox, LibreOffice, etc. are ported. Most arm devices use an open source boot loader even if they use it to lock down the device.

        What is missing is open source video drivers and the final fiddly bits so as to finally permit a full open source distro that can update the kernel instead of being locked to a couple of supported vendor supplied ones. Then we need actual devices that are useful for Linux (defined as the full Linux+GNU+X stack instead of a Linux+Android stack) instead of yet another tablet. Very few laptops equipped with arm tech and pretty much none in outside the bottom feeder rubbish. I would certainly consider an arm when it is laptop replacement time… if an option existed.

        I’m typing this on a Thinkpad X200s, and Lenovo no longer sells anything with a decent keyboard anymore so I’m going to have to find something soon. But odds are it will have Intel Inside because AMD is stuck on the very bottom end of the laptop market and arm isn’t even playing.

        1. Well, when I said “open bootloaders” I meant bootloaders the end user would have easy control over. 🙂

          Well, there are blobs, even if not open source, they could get the job done. Conversely, windows on ARM appears to be dead now.
          For a while there it looked like Google would pioneer ARM laptops with the Samsung Exynos version of its Chromebook, but they went back to x86 based models, very sad to see that.

          You might find it surprising, but Lenovo offers quite a few laptops with AMD inside. One of the places I work at get the X220 series which is actually quite nice. I personally won’t get Lenovo laptops because of the BIOS whitelist issues.

          1. Totally false, there was x86 chromebook before exynos version, there was an HP version using exynos, and samsung will sell a new chrombook with more powerfull exynos. Lenovo (with it’s interesting Ideapad A10 with RK3188 one) and several vendors make smartbook (ARM laptop) but specification are generally low, or in the case of chromebook, some USB and standard connectors really miss.

            Not all application will run on ARM, If 99% of linux applications and peripheral already work, the limitation, is only on OpenGL (so no blender for example), because ARM SoCs, only run OpenGL ES (3.0 for high end), not Open GL. So there is a huge work to port every 3D applications to OpenGL ES.

          2. Forgot to mention, that the PowerVR GPU in A80 is compatible with OpenGL 3.2 (not only OpenGL ES), nvidia GPU too are compatible with full OpenGL specs (at least they are sold as is, as lot of people/software project said, there are always compatibility bugs in specs conformances, but that’s not specific to graphics area, that’s a constant in complex hardware stuff.

  6. Wish they would design these to a form factor standard. Like PICO ITX, similar to what via does with there Arm board

    1. Give it some time. Development boards have a while to go before things like form factor get standardized.

    2. why? I’d rather they make them as small and cheap as possible and for them to include a cheap black plastic case with it.

      1. Well if you have a standard for all the devices you are going to see the cost come down. This would also allow other companies to build cases for them. I never said the form factor needed to be big, you can have a small form factor. Look at what Via does with there Wonder board, you can install that into any ATX case (PICO ITX, ITX, MATX, ect). Plus you get all the connectors on one side which would allow for even small boards. Also then I could easily upgrade my board without having to get a new case. I see alot of benefits to a standard form factor. I think the only think holding it back is agreement between all the board makers.

  7. If past offerings are any indication it would be my guess that it will be reliable enough if underpowered when compared with similar offerings from Rockchip and the rest of the SOC makers when they kick in with them.

    1. I read somewhere that it was OpenGL 3.0 ES compliant, which would point to something like a Mali 6XX.

      1. allwinner signed agreements with arm for mali gpu designs so it is pretty much a certainty that it will be a mali gpu.

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