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Hacker board boots Android and Ubuntu on hexa-core RK3399

Dec 6, 2016 — by Eric Brown 11,191 views

T-Firefly’s “Firefly-RK3399” is the first hacker SBC built around Rockchip’s hexa-core RK3399 SoC. It features up to 4GB DDR3 RAM, M.2, and USB 3.0 Type-C.

T-Firefly, which offers Linux- and Android-ready open source single board computers like the Firefly-RK3288 and sandwich-style Firefly-RK3288 Reload, both of which are based on the quad-core, Cortex-A17 Rockchip RK3288, has advanced to a more powerful Rockchip SoC for its new Firefly-RK3399 in its latest Kickstarter campaign. The hexa-core 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. This appears to be the first RK3399 SBC and the first SBC to include Cortex-A72 cores.

Firefly-RK3399 from two angles
(click images to enlarge)

The $138 early bird Kickstarter deals are gone, but you can get a standard Firefly-RK3399 kit with 2GB RAM and 16GB eMMC for $159. There’s also a Plus version for $199 with 4GB RAM and 32GB eMMC.

Each kit includes the 124 x 93mm SBC plus a 2A/12V power adapter, USB cable and Type C adapter, USB-to-UART serial board, and a cooling fan. The campaign is less than a third of the way to its $50K goal, but we’re betting on a win here. Both kits are available through Jan. 9, with shipments due in March.


Rockchip RK3399

The Rockchip RK3399, which showed up recently in Theobroma’s RK3399-Q7 Qseven module, delivers up to 50 percent more performance as a Cortex-A57, while reducing power by more than 15 percent, says T-Firefly.

The Rockchip RK3399 features a high-end, quad-core Mali-T864 GPU with OpenGL ES1.1/2.0/3.0/3.1 and OpenCL support. T-Firefly says the Mali-T864 delivers up to 45 percent more performance than the Mali-T628 with greater efficiency. Other features include H.264 and H.265 video encoding at up to 2160p60, and dual ISPs at up to 800MPix/s. (See our RK3399-Q7 coverage for more on the RK3399.)

In addition to the onboard flash, the Firefly-RK3399 ships with a microSD slot and an M.2 slot that can be used for a solid state drive (SSD) as well as other I/O expansion. There’s also a mini-PCIe slot designed for an optional LTE module, as well as a Broadcom AP6354 wireless module with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.1 BLE. A GbE port and SIM card slot are onboard as well.

Firefly-RK3399, front and back, showing display interfaces
(click image to enlarge)

The Firefly-RK3399 furnishes HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 ports with audio, dual display, and 4K support, plus MIPI-DSI and eDP 1.3. The SBC offers dual MIPI-CSI and a single DVP for simultaneous dual camera hook-ups. There are also a variety of audio interfaces including a 3.5mm jack.

The SBC features two USB 3.0 ports, including a Type-C port, plus four USB 2.0 ports, two of which appear to be on the coastline. A 42-pin expansion interface is available, along with IR, RTC, serial debug, and more.

Another view of the Firefly-RK3399
(click image to enlarge)

The Firefly-RK3399 dual boots the thoroughly modern Android 6.0.1 and Ubuntu 14.04 distributions. Mainline Linux 4.4 kernels will be available, and full hardware schematics appear to be on the way.

Specifications listed for the Firefly-RK3399 include:

  • Processor — Rockchip RK3399 (2x Cortex-A72 cores @ up to 2.0GHz, 4x Cortex-A53 cores at up to 1.42GHz); 28nm fab; Mali-T860 GPU
  • Memory:
    • 2GB or 4GB (Plus kit) DDR3 RAM
    • 16GB or 32GB (Plus kit) eMMC flash
    • MicroSD slot
    • M.2 B-key slot (PCIe 2.1-based) with SSD and I/O (2x PCIe, SATA, USB 2.0 and 3.0, HSIC, SSIC, audio, UIM, I2C)
  • Display:
    • HDMI 2.0 port with audio for up to 4K@60Hz
    • DisplayPort 1.2 with audio for up to 4K@60Hz
    • MIPI-DSI at up to 2560×1600@60fps
    • eDP 1.3 (4-lane)
  • Camera
    • 2x MIPI-CSI (up to 13MP)
    • DVP (up to 5MP)
  • Audio:
    • 3.5mm analog audio I/O jack
    • SPDIF output
    • Mic input
    • Speaker with 1.5W per channel
    • I2S audio I/O
    • HDMI and DP (see Display above)
  • Wireless:
    • 802.11b/g/n/ac 2.4GHz/5GHz dual-band 2×2 MIMO (Broadcom AP6354)
    • Bluetooth 4.1 with BLE (Broadcom AP6354)
    • SIM card slot
    • IR receiver module with self-defined IR remote
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port (Realtek RTL8211E)
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.0 host ports (1x Type-C, 1x standard)
    • 4x USB 2.0 host (2x ports, 2x interfaces)
    • Serial console debug
    • 42-pin expansion header (SPI/UART, 2x ADC, 2x I2C, I2S, 2x GPIO, line-out, speaker)
  • Expansion — Mini-PCIe slot for optional LTE module
  • Other features — Power, reset, recover buttons; RTC with battery support; LEDs
  • Power — 12V, 2A (via DC jack)
  • Weight — 89 g (with fan: 120g)
  • Dimensions — 124 x 93mm
  • Operating system – Dual-boot Android 6.0.1 and Ubuntu 14.04 with U-boot

Further information

The Firefly-RK3399 is available on Kickstarter with 2GB RAM and 16GB eMMC for $159, or in a Plus kit with 4GB RAM and 32GB eMMC for $199. The campaign lasts through Jan. 7, and products ship in March. Discount bundles are also available. More information may be found on the Firefly-RK3399 Kickstarter page and T-Firefly’s Firefly-RK3399 product page.

(advertise here)

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One response to “Hacker board boots Android and Ubuntu on hexa-core RK3399”

  1. jim st says:

    There seems to be no public Ubuntu image or Dual Boot image of any sort to be found right now. Have hardware, have no Ubuntu.

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