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Firefly COM dual-boots Android and Ubuntu on hexa-core RK3399

Sep 20, 2017 — by Eric Brown — 1,207 views
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Firefly’s “RK3399 Coreboard” module features Rockchip’s hexa-core RK3399 with up to 4GB RAM and 16GB eMMC, and is supported with a new carrier board.

Firefly has taken the guts of its Rockchip RK3399 based Firefly-RK3399 SBC and squeezed it onto a computer-on-module. The RK3399 Coreboard sells for $95 with 2GB of DDR3 and 8GB eMMC, or $119 for 4GB RAM and 16GB eMMC. The spec list also indicates 32GB and 128GB flash is available, but these are not included in the standard SKUs. The RK3399 Coreboard is available with dual-booting Android 6.0.1 and Ubuntu 16.04.



RK3399 Coreboard, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The RK3399 Coreboard is listed on its product page with an unnamed and unpriced “backplane” carrier board, which would create a sandwich-style design much like that of the Firefly-RK3288 Reload. Although the similarly MXM 3.0-style, but RK3288-based, COM on the Reload was not originally available separately, it now sells for $105 with 2GB RAM and 16GB eMMC as the Firefly RK3288 Reload CoreBoard.

Images of the carrier board are listed on Firefly’s RK3399 Coreboard product page (see farther below), but not on the AliExpress shopping page. At publication time, Firefly had not yet replied to our request for pricing and availability info on the carrier board. We have not yet seen a wiki, nor any indication this is an open hardware design like other Firefly boards, but we imagine schematics and other documentation will eventually appear, just as it did with the Reload and its CoreBoard COM.

The RK3399 Coreboard follows other COM spin-offs of open-spec hacker boards including the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3, The Next Thing’s Chip Pro, and Octavo Systems’s BeagleBone-like OSD335x and new OSD335x-SM, which shrink down to a tiny System-In-Package (SiP) module. At 82 x 63mm, the RK3399 Coreboard is larger than any of these modules. In part, this due to the substantial hexa-core RK3399 SoC and available memories. However, there’s plenty of empty space, including several millimeters that separate two of the four mounting holes from the 314-finger MXM 3.0 expansion connector so it can fit into the carrier board’s connector.

The Rockchip RK3399 features two server-class Cortex-A72 cores clocked to up to 2.0GHz, as well as four Cortex-A53 at up to 1.42GHz. There’s also a high-end, quad-core Mali-T864 GPU with OpenGL ES1.1/2.0/3.0/3.1 and OpenCL support.

In addition to appearing on the Firefly-RK3399, which is currently selling for a promotional price of $149 with 2GB RAM and 16GB flash, the SoC has shown up on a Videostrong VS-RD-RK3399 SBC. It has already appeared on a COM — Theobroma’s 70 x 40mm µQseven form factor RK3368-µQ7 — as well as several Android media players.



RK3399 Coreboard detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The RK3399 Coreboard is equipped with a Realtek RTL8211E GbE controller and an SDIO interface to enable WiFi and Bluetooth add-on modules on a carrier board. The module supports 2x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, and a PCIe expansion interface, as well as SDMMC, I2C, I2S, SPI, UART, ADC, PWM, and GPIO.

Displays are supported with HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 interfaces, both with up to [email protected] support and audio output. There’s also a dual-channel MIPI-DSI interface for up to 2560 x 1600 @60fps, an eDP interface, an SPDIF audio output, and an I2S audio input and output. Dual MIPI-CSI interfaces support a single 13-megapixel or dual 8-megapixel cameras, and there’s a 5-megapixel DVP connection. The 24-gram, 8-layer PCB design supports 5V 3A input, and has an onboard PMIC and RTC.

 
RK3399 Coreboard carrier board

The unpriced companion carrier board extends the module with real-world ports including 2x USB 2.0 and a single USB 3.0 host port, and USB 3.0 Type-C port. Around the side there’s also a micro-USB port. Also on the coastline you’ll find a microSD slot, optical SPDIF port, an HDMI 2.0 port, a 12V DC jack, and GbE and Fast Ethernet ports.



RK3399 Coreboard carrier, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

WiFi and Bluetooth radios and antennas are available, as well as a mini-PCIe slot and SIM card socket for LTE expansion. A PCIe-based M.2 M-key slot is onboard, which would typically support PCIe and mSATA. A SATA 2.0 interface is on the back of the board.


RK3399 Coreboard carrier board detail view
(click image to enlarge)

There’s no DP port, but you get DSI, CSI, DVP, eDP, and multiple audio connections. There are also 30x free GPIO pins, among other details shown in the detail view above.

 
Further information

The RK3399 Coreboard is available on Firefly’s website or AliExpress for $95 with 2GB of DDR3 and 8GB eMMC, or $119 for 4GB RAM and 16GB eMMC. On AliExpress, add $23.16 for shipment to the U.S. More information may be found on Firefly’s RK3399 Coreboard product page.
 

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