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Radxa CM3 carriers include mini-router board with 2.5GbE

Nov 11, 2021 — by Eric Brown 2,165 views

Radxa’s “CM3 IO Board” and mini-router “E23” carriers extend its RPi CM4-like, RK3566-equipped Radxa CM3 module. The E23 is a carrier variant of an upcoming upgrade of the Rock Pi E SBC that adds 2.5GbE.

When reporting earlier this week on two new pseudo-clones of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 — Radxa’s upcoming Radxa CM3 and Pine64’s similar, $35-and-up SOQuartz — we ran out of time and space to cover the carrier boards Radxa is prepping for its module. Here we cover a compact Radxa E23 mini-router carrier with 2.5GbE and GbE ports and a full-featured Radxa CM3 IO Board. The Radxa E23 turns out to be a carrier board version of an upcoming E23 SBC, which updates the Rock Pi E.

Rock3 Compute Module (Radxa CM3), front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The Radxa CM3 and SOQuartz modules run Linux on a quad -A55 Rockchip RK3566 and offer dual 100-pin connectors that support Raspberry Pi CM4 carrier boards. Both modules mimic the CM4’s 55 x 40 x 4.7mm footprint and 4x M2.5 mounting holes. In addition to the CM4-like high- and low-speed 100-pin connectors, the Radxa CM3 adds a third 100-pin GPIO connector.

Like the SOQuartz, Radxa’s module offers SATA support, multiplexed with the same PCIe Gen2 x1 interface provided by the CM4. Radxa also adds USB 3.0, which enables support for 2x multiplexed SATA.


Radxa E23 carrier

The Radxa E23 mini-router carrier appears to be a modified version of Radxa’s Rock Pi E SBC. Although the Radxa CM3 wiki shows images of the carrier version, a separate Radxa E23 product page instead shows a detail diagram of the original Rock Pi E, which has a different layout.

Radxa E23 carrier, front and back with Radxa CM3 module
(click image to enlarge)

Looking into the forums, we see a Sep. 9 entry from Radxa saying that an update of the Rock Pi E due later this year called the Radxa E23 will offer GbE and 2.5GbE ports instead of 10/100 and GbE ports. Also due this year is a Radxa E25 SBC with dual 2.5GbE ports. The note added that “10G/25G/40G comes next year.”

The Radxa E23 for the Radxa CM3 therefore appears to be a carrier board version of the upcoming, GbE/2.5GbE Radxa E23 SBC. Presumably, the SBC, which may end up being called the Rock Pi E23, will switch from the quad -A53 RK3328 to the RK3566.

The only specs listed on the Radxa E23 carrier page are GbE and 2.5GbE ports with optional PoE (via a HAT) plus a USB 3.0 port and wireless connectivity. The 65 x 56mm board is almost identically sized as DFRobot’s dual-GbE Compute Module 4 IoT Router Carrier Board Mini for the CM4, which we covered back in March.

The Radxa E23 photo above shows an AV output in the same position as it is on the Rock Pi E. However, the 40-pin GPIO has switched sides, and the microSD slot has moved from back to front to make room for the Radxa CM3 module. A vertical port near the LAN ports is probably the USB Type-C port, which is located on the opposite side on the Rock Pi E.

Radxa CM3 IO Board

The Radxa CM3 IO Board is referred to as a half Mini-ITX design that is compatible with standard ATX cases. It is listed as 170 x 85mm and 160 x 90mm in conflicting citations. Radxa notes that the board offers only limited feature support if you plug in a Raspberry Pi CM4, which is probably true of the Radxa E23, as well.

Radxa CM3 IO Board
(click image to enlarge)

The CM3 IO Board is equipped with a microSD slot, which adds to the storage possible with Radxa CM3 module’s optional 8GB to 128GB eMMC. There is a PCIe Gen2 x1 slot at 5Gbps, as well as dual SATA connectors, one of which is shared with PCIe and the other with USB 3.0.

The board has a GbE port with PoE support plus a USB 3.0 port, 3x USB 2.0 ports, and 2x USB 2.0 headers. There is also a micro-USB OTG port.

The CM3 IO Board offers HDMI 2.0 and eDP ports up to 4Kx2K@60HZ plus dual 4-lane MIPI-DSI with HD and dual display support and 2x MIPI-CSI camera connectors. Other features include a 3.5mm audio I/O jack and a 40-pin GPIO connector.

The carrier board is powered via a 12VDC jack or “4P ATX PSU with floppy power connector.” The board is further equipped with connectors for a fan, Li-Ion battery, and RTC battery. The CM3 IO Board will be supported through 2029.

Seeed’s Dual
GbE Carrier

Radxa says it has tested the Radxa CM3 module with several third-party carriers. These include Seeed’s Dual Gigabit Ethernet Carrier Board and Mcuzone’s Raspberry Pi CM4-4G IO, which we covered together back in March. Radxa links to an MCUZone CM4-4G IO AliExpress page that sells the same dual-GbE CM4-4G IO. However, Radxa instead posts images of single-GbE variants called the Mcuzone CM4 Mini and MCUZone CM4 Tiny. Also on the carrier support page is Waveshare’s Raspberry Pi like CM4-IO-BASE-B.

Further information

It appears that the Radxa E23 and Radxa CM3 IO Board carriers will ship by the end of the year along with the Radxa CM3 module and the Radxa E23 and Radxa E25 SBCs. No pricing was available. More information may be found on the preliminary Radxa E23 carrier and Radxa CM3 IO Board wiki pages.

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