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Sandwich-style board-set runs Android or Linux on hexa-core Rockchip

Mar 5, 2018 — by Eric Brown 2,353 views

OpenEmbed’s affordable, RK3399-based “em3399” module ships with up to 4GB DDR3L and 128GB eMMC 5.1. There’s also a compact evaluation board with GbE, wireless, HDMI 2.0, and USB 3.0 and Type-C ports.

OpenEmbed has launched a computer-on-module variously referred to as the System-on-Module em3399, the em3399, and the SOM3399, that taps one of the hotter ARM SoCs around these days: the Rockchip RK3399. There’s no indication this is an open source board, but the boards are priced for smaller scale buyers: The module starts at $99, and you pay only $50 for the optional “emPAC-RK3399-EVB” evaluation board. OpenEmbed tells us that Android and Linux images are available now, and Ubuntu Core is under development.

em3399, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

So far, the RK3399 has appeared more in SBCs than in COMs — mostly in open source hacker boards such as Hardkernel’s Odroid-N1. Other RK3399 based modules include Firefly’s RK3399 Coreboard and Theobroma’s RK3399-Q7 Qseven module.

The em3399 is larger than OpenEmbed’s i.MX6 UL-based, 55 x 42mm SOM6210 module. Its 84 x 55mm footprint matches the COM Express Type 10 Mini format, and is only slightly smaller than the Raspberry Pi.

emPAC-RK3399-EVB with em3399 and heatsink (left) and em3399 block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

The emPAC-RK3399-EVB eval board appears to have the same footprint. It stacks on top of the module and mates with the em3399 via dual 120-pin connectors. We often use the term “sandwich-style SBCs” to indicate any COM and carrier bundled together as an SBC. In this case, however, it’s a true sandwich, with the SOM3399 layered between the carrier board on top and a heatsink on the bottom.


The RK3399 SoC features two Cortex-A72 and four Cortex-A53 cores. No clock rates are listed, but the core banks are often listed as having up to 2.0GHz and 1.5GHz rates, respectively. There’s also a high-end ARM Mali-T864 GPU.

The em3399 supports 2GB to 4GB DDR3L RAM and 16GB to 128GB eMMC 5.1 flash. A GbE controller and PMIC are onboard along with a host of I/O including three [email protected] interfaces: HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 (both with audio), and eDP 1.3.

You also get dual-channel MIPI-DSI for 2560 x 1600 @ 60fps displays, as well as 2x MIPI-CSI for dual 8-megapixel or single 13MP cameras. Audio support includes SPDIF and 8-channel I2S.

The em3399 is further equipped with 2x USB 3.0 (or Type-C), 2x USB 2.0, 5x SPI, and 8x I2C. The module also provides a PCIe x4 interface and 100 pins of GPIO, among other I/O (see block diagram above).

emPAC-RK3399-EVB (left) and detail view
(click images to enlarge)

The emPAC-RK3399-EVB development board extends the em3399 with single Gigabit Ethernet port, USB 3.0, and USB Type-C ports, as well as dual USB 2.0 ports. Media interfaces include an HDMI 2.0 port, an audio jack, and MIPI-CSI and eDP connectors.

A WiFi/Bluetooth module is available along with a bank of 20 GPIO/debug pins. (Pinout charts are available for these and other connectors.) There’s also an audio jack, an RTC with battery, a 12V DC jack, a 5V power header, and reset, recovery, and power buttons.

Further information

The em3399 module is available for $99, or $149 with the $50 emPAC-RK3399-EVB baseboard. The price appears to apply to single unit pricing and would appear to include the heatsink, which is not listed as a separate accessory. No information was provided about shipping or volume discounts. More information may be found at OpenEmbed’s em3399 product page.


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