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Odroid-H2 is world’s first Gemini Lake hacker board

Oct 20, 2018 — by Eric Brown — 7411 views

Hardkernel unveiled the Odroid-H2, the first hacker board with an Intel Gemini Lake SoC. The Ubuntu 18.10 driven SBC ships with 2x SATA 3.0, 2x GbE, HDMI and DP, 4x USB, and an M.2 slot for NVMe.

When the Odroid-H2 goes on sale in November at a price that will be “higher than $100,” Hardkernel will join a small group of vendors that have launched a community backed x86-based SBC. This first open spec hacker board built around Intel’s new Gemini Lake SoC — and one of the first Gemini Lake SBCs of any kind — follows earlier Arm-based Odroid winners such as the Odroid-C2 Raspberry Pi pseudo clone and the octa-core Odroid-XU4.



Odroid-H2, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Odroid project had hoped to be launching its second or third-gen x86 board by now. In 2015, the project started working on an Odroid-H SBC based on the Intel Cherry Trail Atom x5-Z8500 — a close cousin to the Chery Trail x5-Z8350 found on Aaeon’s UP board and smaller UP Core hacker boards. However, it found that the “Z8500 had a very fine pitch of BGA which raised PCB cost and manufacturing cost twice more than expected.” In addition, “LPDDR3 RAM sourcing was another big hurdle,” says the Odroid-H2 announcement.

In 2016, the company built an Odroid-H1 based on an Intel Braswell Celeron N3160, which is found on the Udoo X86 board. The board was successfully used in a dedicated project, but Hardkernel decided not to release it publicly due to DDR3 shortages and concerns that Braswell was no longer competitive. The project considered an AMD Ryzen 5 2500U, but it was too expensive.

Then Intel announced Gemini Lake, which seemed to be just right. “It was slower than Ryzen but much faster than Intel Apollo Lake, and the price was reasonable,” says the project.


Odroid-N1
prototype

Earlier this year, Hardkernel had another false start with an Odroid-N1 board featuring a Rockchip RK3399 SoC. We included it in our reader survey of 116 Linux/Android hacker boards, but by the time we announced the survey results in late June, the Odroid project had scrapped the N1, once again due to RAM sourcing issues. The Odroid-H2 announcement, however, notes that an Odroid-N2 is under development based on an undisclosed SoC with cutting edge Cortex-A73 cores.

With the Odroid-H2 launch set for only a few weeks away, we’re confident that the third time around the x86 merry-go-round will be the charm. Hardkernel may need to work on its supply chain management, but it tends to make high quality, well supported boards backed up by a thriving community.

 
Inside the Odroid-H2

At this point, the presumably soon to be open sourced Odroid-H2 has only a partial spec list, but the block diagram fills in most of the holes. The 110 x 110 x 43mm Odroid-H2 taps the second fastest Desktop version of the Gemini Lake SoC family with the Celeron J4105, a quad-core 14nm-fabricated SoC with an official clock rate of 1.5GHz/2.5GHz burst that the Odroid project pegs at 2.3GHz. By comparison, the new, Linux-friendly Cirrus7 Nimbini v2 Gemini Edition mini-PC uses the dual-core Celeron J4005 or top-of-the-line, quad-core, 1.5GHz Pentium Silver J5005.



Odroid-H2 (left) and backside loaded with 8GB RAM and an NVMe SSD
(click images to enlarge)

Gemini Lake, which is the follow-on to the Apollo Lake Atom family, is due to arrive soon in DFRobot’s delayed LattePanda Delta board. (The similar, Kaby Lake based LattePanda Alpha just shipped with Ubuntu or Windows 10.) In addition to fueling the new Nimbini mini-PC, Gemini Lake has shipped on a few computers such as the Windows-equipped Alldocube KNote 5 2-in-1 tablet PC and Beelink S2 mini-PC.

The Odroid-H2 will ship with the Ubuntu 18.10 (Cosmic Cuttlefish) release that just showed up yesterday. The Odroid project notes that you can “run Dolphin on Ubuntu and enable Vulkan GPU driver.” It also shows several benchmark results, as well as a demo of the SBC running a smooth Nintendo Wii emulation.

One argument for x86 hacker boards is that Linux drivers tend to work more reliably than on a typical Arm board. The downsides are high price and high power consumption. However, the Odroid project is claiming a reasonable 14W consumption under CPU stress and a 4W idle.

The Odroid-H2 stands out with its dual-channel memory, with support for up to 32GB DDR4. The photo shows a standard 8GB model with two 4GB modules. It also offers dual SATA 3.0 ports, bootable eMMC, and an M.2 slot that supports PCIe x4 and NVMe storage.

Dual [email protected] displays are provided via the HDMI 2.0 and DP 1.2 ports, and there’s an audio jack with S/PDIF support. You also get dual GbE ports, which is pretty standard on commercial x86 boards, but is still something special in the community hacker board world.

There’s no WiFi, so if you use the M.2 slot for storage, you’ll need to tap one of the four USB ports. The Odroid-H2 is equipped with a pair each of USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, as well as a rather skimpy 20-pin GPIO connector. Clearly this less of an IoT tinkering board than it is a media and gaming platform.

There’s a wide-range 14-20V DC input, a power management IC, and a real-time clock. A large heatsink keeps the CPU running smoothly at 2.3GHz even at 70°C. Since the heatsink is so high anyway, the design can afford to stack the coastline ports in towers like a mini-PC. So you get has a compact footprint, but a high profile.



Odroid-H2 block diagram (left) and Type IV enclosure
(click images to enlarge)

The Odroid project devotes much of the announcement to showing off four different enclosure types. Some are rather elaborate, including a Type-IV chassis that supports dual 2.5-inch drives or a single 3.5-incher.

Preliminary specifications for the Odroid-H2 include:

  • Processor — Intel Celeron J4105 — 4x 14nm Gemini Lake cores @ 2.3GHz; 10W TDP; Intel UHD Graphics 600 (Gen 9.5, GT1) @ 700MHz; SSE4.2 accelerator (SMM, FPU, NX, MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE4.1, SSE4.2, AES)
  • Memory — Dual-channel DDR4-PC19200 (2400MT/s) RAM up to 32GB via 2x slots
  • Storage:
    • eMMC slot (bootable)
    • 2x SATA 3.0 slots
    • M.2 slot (PCIe x4) with NVMe support
  • Networking — 2x GbE ports (Realtek RTLG111G)
  • Media I/O:
    • HDMI 2.0 port at up to [email protected]
    • DisplayPort 1.2 port at up to [email protected]
    • Dual simultaneous display support
    • Audio jack (headphone, mic, SPDIF) with ALC662 5.1 ch. HDA codec)
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.0 host ports
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • 20-pin expansion port (3.3V) with 2x UART, 2x I2C, etc.
  • Other features — Heatsink; RTC with battery; multiple enclosure types
  • Power — 14-20V DC input; PMIC; power and reset buttons; 4W consumption at idle, 14W with CPU, 22W with CPU and GPU
  • Operating temperature — undisclosed, but claimed to operate at 2.3GHz even at 70°C
  • Weight — 320 g with heatsink, full RAM and NVMe SSD
  • Dimensions — 110 x 110 x 43mm
  • Operating system — Ubuntu 18.10 with Linux Kernel 4.18

 
Further information

The Odroid-H2 will launch in November for more than $100 (probably closer to $150). More information may be found on Hardkernel’s Odroid-H2 announcement.
 

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2 responses to “Odroid-H2 is world’s first Gemini Lake hacker board”

  1. Silvio Fonseca says:

    In Intel’s specs (https://ark.intel.com/products/128989/Intel-Celeron-J4105-Processor-4M-Cache-up-to-2-50-GHz-), the max memory is 8Gb, strange they pulled 32Gb. If they do it will be a great hacker board!

  2. zorcher says:

    Nice board – the main advantage of such boards is the size. The price should be squeezed between V1000-platform (UDOO BOLT ~ 220 USD) and the ASRock J4105-ITX (~75 USD). Price estimation in article is reasonable.

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