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Sandwich-style RK3399 SBC has optional NVMe and 4G

Sep 18, 2019 — by Eric Brown 1,645 views

Boardcon’s “Idea3399” SBC integrates a CM3399 module with 4GB LPDDR4 that runs Android 7.1.2 on a Rockchip RK3399. The SBC offers optional M.2-based NVMe and mini-PCIe-based 4G. Boardcon also recently unveiled a MediaTek-based CM-MT6737 module.

Boardcon announced a compute module and an SBC based on it equipped with a hexa-core Rockchip RK3399 SoC. As noted by the CNXSoft story that picked up the announcement from Embedded Computing Design, the Idea3399 is the company’s second sandwich-style implementation of the RK3399, following its EM3399 from 2017.

Idea3399 (left) and front and back views of the CM3399 module
(click images to enlarge)

Major differences with the EM3399 — not to be confused with OpenEmbed’s RK3399-based em3399 compute module — include a switch from the SODIMM-style PICO3399 module to the square, castellated CM3399 module. In addition, the Idea3399 adds an M.2 slot for an NVMe SSD and a mini-PCIe slot for an optional Quectel EC20 4G LTE modem card with a GPS chip among other changes.

The Idea3399 and EM3399 boards follow Boardcon’s earlier, Rockchip RK3288 powered EM3288 SBC, which is built around a MINI3288 module. All these products, including a recent MediaTek MT6737-driven CM-MT6737 module covered farther below, run Android, in this case Android 7.1.2 based on Linux kernel 4.4.126.


The Idea3399 was actually announced on the Boardcon site back in March, and according to CNXSoft has been shipping at an undisclosed price since July. There’s extensive documentation, but unlike the 11 hacker boards built around the RK3399 found in our June roundup of 125 community-backed Linux/Android SBCs, this does not appear to be an open-spec offering.

The 55 x 50mm CM3399 module backs up its RK3399 SoC (2x Cortex-A72, 2x -A53) with a generous 4GB LPDDR4 RAM. The 5V module is further equipped with 8GB eMMC, a PMIC, and a GbE controller. I/O is expressed via 202 castellated edge pins.

The 135 x 90mm Idea3399 board adds a GbE port with PoE support and a wireless module with 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.1. The mini-PCIe slot that supports the optional 4G modem is accompanied by a SIM card slot. In addition to the M.2 slot with optional NVMe SSD, there’s a microSD slot.

Idea3399 block diagram and detail view
(click images to enlarge)

Media features include 4K-ready HDMI 2.0 and mini-DP ports, as well as a MIPI-DSI interface. (Gone is the HDMI input found on the earlier EM3399 board.) You also get 2x MIPI-CSI headers for a pair of optional 13-megapixel cameras plus a 3.5mm audio jack and a mic array header.

The Idea3399 is further equipped with USB 2.0 host and 2x USB 3.0 Type-C ports. Other features include an SPI interface, 3x UARTs, an IR receiver, and an RTC with 3V battery. The board can be powered by a 5V/3A DC input jack, a Li-Ion battery, or PoE.

Specifications listed for the Idea3399 SBC include:

  • Processor (via CM3399) — Rockchip RK3399 (2x Cortex-A72 cores @ up to 1.8GHz, 4x Cortex-A53 cores at up to 1.4GHz); 28nm fab; Mali-T860 GPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 4GB LPDDR4 RAM (via CM3399)
    • 8GB eMMC (via CM3399)
    • MicroSD slot
    • Optional NVMe SSD via M.2 slot
  • Networking:
    • Gigabit Ethernet port (Realtek RTL8211E) with PoE support
    • 802.11b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz) with Bluetooth 4.1
    • Optional Quectel EC20 4G LTE modem via mini-PCIe with GPS/GLONASS
  • Media:
    • HDMI 2.0 port for up to 4K
    • Mini-DisplayPort 1.2 for up to 4K
    • MIPI-DSI
    • 2x MIPI-CSI (up to 13MP) with optional cameras (OV13850)
    • 3.5mm analog audio I/O jack (Realtek ALC5651)
    • 14-pin microphone array header
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 3.0 Type-C ports
    • USB 2.0 host port
    • 3x UARTs (including 1x debug)
    • SPI, fan connector
  • Expansion:
    • M.2 slot for optional NVMe
    • Mini-PCIe slot for optional LTE module
    • SIM card slot
  • Other features — Power, reset, recover buttons; RTC with battery; IR receiver
  • Power — 5V/3A DC jack; 3.6-12.8V Li Ion battery; PoE
  • Dimensions — 135 x 90mm
  • Operating system — Android 7.1.2 with Linux kernel 4.4.126 preloaded


In late July, Boardcon announced a CM-MT6737 compute module that runs Android 7.0 on the wireless-savvy MediaTek MT6737. The 1.3GHz quad-core -A53 SoC, which is accompanied by Arm’s Mali-T720MP GPU, has previously appeared on the Orange Pi 4G-IOT SBC.

(click image to enlarge)

The 60 x 38mm module is designed for automotive, smart speaker, smart wear, and security monitoring applications. It’s equipped with 1GB LPDDR3, 4GB eMMC, and a wireless module with 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth. There’s no Ethernet, but you get a GPS chip and built-in support for 2G, 3G, or 4G.

I/O expressed via 150 castellated edge pins includes USB 2.0, SD, UART, SPI, I2C, I2S, GPIO, MIPI-DSI, MIPI-CSI, uSIM card, and audio. Boardcon mentions an EM6737 development board, but we saw no further details.

Further information

The Idea3399 SBC and its CM3399 module appear to be available now with undisclosed pricing. More information may be found on Boardcon’s Idea3399 and CM3399 product pages.

No pricing or availability information was provided for the CM-MT6737 module. More information may be found in Boardcon’s CM-MT6737 announcement and product page.

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