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RK3399 based Odroid-N1 SBC doubles up on SATA III

Feb 6, 2018 — by Eric Brown
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Hardkernel unveiled a community-backed “Odroid-N1” SBC with a Rockchip RK3399, GbE and HDMI 2.0 ports, a 40-pin GPIO, and a pair each of PCIe-based SATA III, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 ports.

The Rockchip RK3399 juggernaut continues to roll through the open-spec single-board computer world, with Hardkernel’s Odroid project the latest to tap the hexa-core SoC. Hardkernel released images, specs, and extensive benchmarks on a prototype for its storage-oriented Odroid-N1 board, which it plans to launch for about $110 in May or June.



Odroid-N1 viewed from two angles
(click images to enlarge)

The 90 x 90 x 20mm SBC is notable for offering dual SATA III interfaces and 4GB RAM. The Odroid-N1 will run Android 7.1, as well as Ubuntu 18.04 or Debian Stretch with Linux Kernel 4.4 LTS. Presumably, the board will continue the open source tradition of the other Odroids, including its previous flagship Odroid-XU4.


Odroid-N1 front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Hardkernel’s benchmarks show the hexa-core RK3399 based Odroid-N1 running significantly faster on most tests compared to the Odroid-XU4’s octa-core (4x Cortex-A15, 4x -A7) Samsung Exynos5422. The RK3399 features two Cortex-A72 cores that are clocked at up to 2.0GHz, as well as four Cortex-A53 cores, which are clocked to 1.5GHz. (Some other RK3399 boards have listed 1.42GHz.) There’s also a high-end ARM Mali-T864 GPU.


Odroid-N1 Helios benchmark results
(click image to enlarge; source: Odroid-N1 announcement)

Despite its much higher price, the RK3399 appears to be beating out the quad -A53 Allwinner H5 and H6 (found on the Orange Pi One Plus) on the high-end models of major hacker SBC lines. This appears to be as much about superior Linux and I/O support than the two extra -A72 cores.

The first major RK3399 SBC was Firefly’s Firefly-RK3399, which was followed by Vamrs’ similarly open source Rockchip RK3399 Sapphire. More recently we’ve seen Shenzhen Xunlong’s Orange Pi RK3399. Pine64’s quad -A17 RK3328-based Rock64 SBC will soon be joined by an RK3399-based RockPro64. Vamrs, meanwhile, is coming back with a second RK3399-driven SBC with a Rock960 board that’s compliant with the 96Boards spec.

The RK3399 is also finding takers among commercial board makers. We just saw Aaeon take the plunge with its OEM-oriented RICO-3399 PICO-ITX SBC. Earlier, Videostrong announced a VS-RD-RK3399 SBC.

Whereas the similarly priced ($109 with 2GB RAM) Orange Pi RK3999 and cheaper ($60 to $100) RockPro64 offer an extensive choice of display, camera, and audio interfaces, the Odroid-N1’s media ports are limited to an HDMI port. Like the other RK3399 based boards, however, it’s HDMI 2.0 for full 4K support.

While the Orange Pi gives you an mSATA interface plus an optional second interface via mini-PCIe, the Odroid-N1 has dual PCIe based native SATA III ports. (The RockPro64 has no SATA or mSATA.) Hardkernel was able to achieve up to 380MB/sec SATA throughput, which it admits was not as much as expected, but “is not a bad number in the ARM SBC world.” Indeed, it’s an upgrade from the USB-based SATA connection on the Exynos5422 Odroid-HC2 NAS system.



Odroid-N1 block diagram (left) and 40-pin GPIO header pinout
(click images to enlarge)

The Odroid-N1 lacks a free PCIe interface, so you’ll need to use one of the USB ports for wireless. The Odroid-N1 is equipped with a GbE port, 2x USB 3.0 ports, and 2x USB 2.0 ports. There’s also a 40-pin GPIO header. As with the other RK3399 boards, there are no promises of Raspberry Pi add-on compatibility.

Note that the specs are rather fluid, with potential options such as IR still up in the air. In fact, the product could be substantially revised following the debug period. “If the N1 board is not affordable, or there are too many unresolved issues then mass production will be delayed,” states Hardkernel’s Odroid project. “If there is enough demand, we can consider an ODROID-N1-Lite model. It will have 2GByte RAM and omit the SATA ports at a $75 price point.”



Example Odroid-N1 system setups
(click images to enlarge)

Then again, Hardkernel might consider offering both 2GB and 4GB versions, like most of its competitors do, and perhaps making one of the SATA ports a free PCIe slot. On the other hand, SATA III is in high demand on hacker boards, so differentiation may be welcomed here.

Preliminary specifications listed for the Odroid-N1 include:

  • Processor — Rockchip RK3399 (2x Cortex-A72 @ 2.0GHz, 4x Cortex-A53 @ 1.5GHz); Mali-T860 MP4 GPU with OpenGL ES1.1/2.0/3.0, OpenCL 1.2
  • Memory/storage:
    • 4GB DDR3-1866 dual-channel RAM
    • eMMC 5.1 flash (amount unspecified but debug model has 16GB)
    • MicroSD slot with UHS support
    • 2x native SATA III via PCIe Gen2
  • Display — HDMI 2.0 out port for up to 4K
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.0 ports
    • 2x USB 2.0 ports
    • Serial console interface
    • Expansion — 40-pin GPIO expansion header
  • Other features — passive or active heatsink; acrylic case; SPI boot, reset, and power switches
  • Power — 12V at 2A jack (Attaching two 3.5inch HDD requires a 12V/4A PSU.); RTC; PMIC; battery; possible addition of IR receiver
  • Dimensions — 99 x 99 x 20mm (excluding cooler)
  • Operating system — Android 7.1, as well as Ubuntu 18.04 or Debian Stretch 9.3 with Kernel 4.4 LTS (possibly Kernel 4.14)

 
Further information

The Odroid-N1 is expected to go on sale in May or June for about $110 with 4GB RAM. More information may be found in the Odroid-N1 announcement.
 

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PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

4 responses to “RK3399 based Odroid-N1 SBC doubles up on SATA III”

  1. EnCee says:

    4GB RAM and SATA III? *swoon* Finally.

  2. Shark says:

    Why doesn’t anyone do dual nics.

    • Spydermonkey says:

      You might check out the espressobin, depending on what you’re planning to use it for. Can be had for around $50 as well.

  3. toto says:

    Still no version of Fedora 27 or 28 for it planned seriously (same pbm with C2 who can ignore Red HAt product and focus only on Ubuntu Debian forking…) : -> I wont buy it !

Leave a Reply to EnCee Cancel reply