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$59 open SBC runs Linux on quad-core Exynos

Dec 24, 2013 — by Rick Lehrbaum 31,428 views

Hardkernel and its community Odroid project have announced an open-hardware single board computer based on Samsung’s quad-core 1.7GHz Exynos 4412 Prime SoC.

The Odroid-U3 is claimed to be “100 percent software compatible” with the Odroid-U2 that began shipping in Dec. 2012 and is now being discontinued. As with other Odroid SBCs, the U3 runs a variety of Linux OSes including Android, and is supported with discussion forums, schematics, source code, and documentation available at the Odroid open hardware community website.

Odroid-U3 with/without its heatsink
(click images to enlarge)


In comparison to the older Odroid-U2, the Odroid-U3 SBC offers three, rather than two, USB Host ports. It also adds a small 8-pin I/O header with UART, IRQ, I2C, and GPIO signals, plus DC power. The new I/O header lets the Odroid-U3 stack with like-sized I/O expansion boards, such as the Odroid-U3 I/O Shield shown below.


Odroid U3 I/O Shield shown mounted on the Odroid-U3 SBC
(click image to enlarge)


Other ways the Odroid-U3 differs from the older Odroid-U2 include the addition of a battery-backed real-time clock function, improved power-related circuitry for protection from damage due to reverse- and over/under-voltage (up to +/- 28V DC) or ESD, and prevention against damage to USB devices from power-down leakage currents.

Odroid-U3 edge views
(click images to enlarge)


The new board also adds an on-board power button, and costs nearly a third less than its predecessor. Plus, it occupies about half the volume of the -U2, thanks to a slightly larger footprint combined with a substantially lower profile.

The Odroid-U3’s front and back details and block diagram are shown below.

Odroid-U3 board details and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)


Summary of specs

Hardkernel lists these specifications for the Odroid-U3:

  • Processor — Samsung Exynos 4412 Prime SoC:
    • CPU — Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9, clocked at 1.7GHz
    • GPU — 3D accelerator Mali-400 Quad Core 440MHz
  • Storage:
    • MicroSD card socket
    • eMMC module socket
  • HDMI video interface:
    • Supports 1080p (H.264+AAC based MP4 container format)
    • micro HDMI connector
  • Audio — 3.5mm headphone jack
  • LAN — 10/100Mb Ethernet (RJ-45 Jack)
  • USB:
    • 3x USB2.0 Host ports (standard A type connectors)
    • 1x USB2.0 OTG Device port (Micro USB)
  • 8-pin I/O expansion header — UART, IRQ, I2C, GPIO, power
  • Power — 5VDC @ 2A
  • Operating system — Xubuntu 13.10; U-Boot 2010.12; Linux kernel 3.0.x; Android 4.x
  • Dimensions — 83 x 48 x 22mm (with heatsink)
  • Weight — 48g (with heatsink)

Incidentally, Hardkernel says it benchmarked the $59 Odroid-U3 against the $25 Raspberry Pi, and came up with the CPU performance comparison data shown below.

Odroid-U3 vs. Raspberry benchmark comparison
(source: Hardkernel; click image to enlarge)


Further information

The Odroid-U3 is available for pre-order now for $59 at Hardkernel’s website, and is expected to begin shipping in mid-January. The board’s “normal” price is listed as $65, but registered members of the Odroid Forum are eligible for the $6 discount, according to the company’s website. Further details about the Odroid-U3 and other Odroid community boards may be found here.

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2 responses to “$59 open SBC runs Linux on quad-core Exynos”

  1. Wcdr says:

    Is hardware acceleration supported (xbmc, VLC) under linux ?

  2. Shane says:

    Does this machine actually work? I have read several horror stories about the Odroid, mice not working, system crashing with some devices.


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