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Odroid hacker board jumps to faster octacore SoC

Jul 8, 2014  |  Eric Brown
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The Odroid project launched an “Odroid-XU3″ open source SBC based on Samsung’s HMP-ready Exynos5422, which mixes four Cortex-A15 and four Cortex-A7 cores.

Hardkernel’s Odroid project announced pre-orders for the Odroid-XU3 at $179, with shipments starting on Aug. 18. The open-spec single board computer is the fastest of over a dozen other Samsung-based Odroid siblings, including an Odroid-XU model that it essentially replaces. Whereas the $149-$169 Odroid-XU runs Samsung’s original eight-core Exynos5410 Octa system-on-chip, the Odroid-XU advances to the new Exynos5422, which was announced back at February’s Mobile World Congress.

Odroid-XU3 SBC
(click image to enlarge)

The Exynos5422 provides faster 2.1GHz and 1.5GHz clock rates for its quad-core Cortex-A15 and quad-core Cortex-A7 blocks, respectively. It also advances to a Mali-T628 MP6 GPU from the earlier PowerVR SGX544MP3, and supports 4K UHD resolution. More importantly, unlike Samsung’s original Octa-Core, it provides full support for heterogeneous multi-processing (HMP), enabling power and performance optimizations for each core in the SoC’s hybrid, Big.Little configuration.

Exynos5422 HMP task migration
(click image to enlarge)

In between the Exynos5410 and Exynos5422 was an Exynos5420 model, which fixed a nasty “coherence” bug in the original, while boosting clock rates, and adding the Mali-T628 GPU. However, it didn’t provide full HMP for power/performance optimization. At MWC, Samsung also announced a six-core Exynos 5 Hexa version with dual 1.7GHz -A15 and four 1.3GHz -A7 cores, similarly coordinated with HMP-ready Big.Little technology.

Odroid-XU3 port detail
(click image to enlarge)

On the Odroid-XU3, the Exynos5422 is clocked at close to its maximums, at 2.0GHz for the Cortex-A15 cores and 1.4GHz for the Cortex-A7 cores. Aside from the processor, the Odroid-XU3 is almost identical to the Odroid-XU. The 94 x 70 x 18mm dimensions are the same, as are most of the ports. However, the XU3 adds a DisplayPort to join the pre-existing micro-HDMI port, as well as an optional SPDIF optical output.

Antutu benchmark
(click to enlarge)

The biggest improvement aside from the processor is the addition of an eMMC 5.0 socket, up from the previous 4.5 version. The faster flash standard adds an HS400 mode that offers additional improvements in interface speed, at up to 400 MB/s vs. the previous 200 MB/s, according to the Odroid project. The project posted benchmarks showing much faster read and write times on the XU3 compared to the XU.

As before, you get 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM, now clocked at a faster 933MHz. Other standard features include a microSD slot and audio I/O. As before, an optional SATA adapter uses either the available USB 3.0 host or OTG ports. Also optional via one of the board’s USB 3.0 ports is a gigabit Ethernet adapter, although the board comes standard with a 10/100 Ethernet port. An optional WiFi module can use any of the Odroid-XU’s four USB 2.0 ports.

Odroid-XU3 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The Odroid-XU3 runs on a 5V 4A power supply, and once again features four energy monitoring chips for tracking the Big.Little cores. A plastic enclosure and an active cooler are available, along with numerous optional modules. OS support has been boosted to Android 4.4.2 and Ubuntu 14.04, available with full source code.

Schematics will be posted upon shipment, and community support is available via the Odroid project. The quad-core Exynos4412 based Odroid-U3 board came in at third place after the Raspberry Pi and BeagleBone Black in our recent Top 10 Hacker SBC survey.

Specifications listed for the Odroid-XU3 include:

  • Processor — Samsung Exynos5422 Octa SoC:
    • CPUs — 4x ARM Cortex-A15 cores @ 2.0GHz + 4x Cortex-A7 cores @ 1.4GHz
    • GPU — Mali-T628 MP6 (OpenGL ES 3.0 / 2.0 / 1.1 and OpenCL 1.1 full profile)
  • Memory — 2GB LPDDR3 (933MHz)
  • Storage:
    • microSD slot
    • eMMC 5.0 socket with optional data card at up to 64GB
    • Optional USB 3.0 module for SATA 3 adapter (2.5- or 3.5-inch HDD and SSD)
  • Wireless — Optional USB module for 802.11b/g/n 1T1R WLAN with antenna
  • Networking — 10/100Mbps (“Fast”) Ethernet; optional USB 3.0 to gigabit Ethernet adapter
  • Multimedia I/O:
    • Micro-HDMI
    • DisplayPort
    • 3.5mm audio out
    • Optional SPDIF optical output (USB module)
  • Other I/O:
    • USB — 1x USB 3.0 host; 1x USB 3.0 OTG; 4x USB 2.0 host
    • Serial console (debug)
    • 30-pin I/O connector
  • Other features — 4x energy monitor chips with breakdown by core; active cooler; plastic enclosure
  • Power — 5V @ 4A
  • Dimensions:
    • SBC — 94 x 70 x 18mm
    • With case — 98 x 74 x 29mm
  • Operating system — Android 4.4.2 on Linux Kernel LTS 3.10; Ubuntu 14.04 + OpenGL ES + OpenCL on Kernel LTS 3.10

Further information

The Odroid-XU3 is now available for pre-order at $179, with shipments beginning Aug. 18. More information may be found at the Odroid-XU3 product page.

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