Innovation

Raspberry Pi cranked up to 11? New Odroid-N1 has Android 7.1, six-core chip, 4GB memory, 4K support

The Odroid-N1 packs similar specs to the $449 Samsung Chromebook Plus into what is promised to be a $110 board.

If you want a board close to the size of the Raspberry Pi but with a bit more oomph under the hood, you're spoiled for choice.

The latest souped-up, single-board computer to be announced is the Odroid-N1, which packs similar specs to the $449 Samsung Chromebook Plus into what is promised to be a $110 board.

The board runs on a hexacore processor backed up by 4GB of memory, two USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, runs Android 7.1 and Ubuntu 18.04 and can be hooked to 4K displays via HDMI 2.0.

The specs of the Odroid-N1 obviously far outstrip those of the $35 Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, apart from lacking the Wi-Fi support offered by the Pi 3, but the Odroid is also considerably more expensive. The Odroid-N1 promises to be a versatile machine, with the specs to support an everyday Linux-based PC, media center or board for developing hardware and software.

You can expect at least smooth 1080p video playback, courtesy of GPU hardware acceleration on YouTube in the Chromium browser and in the VLC media player. The Odroid's RK3399 system-on-a-chip even proves capable of mostly smooth 4k video playback in the Samsung Chromebook Plus, so may be a possibility on the Odroid-N1.

CPU and GPU benchmarks on Ubuntu 18.04, by Odroid makers Hardkernel, show the Odroid-N1 significantly outperforming the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, with the graph below showing a series of multi-core CPU benchmarks.

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Image: Hardkernel

Other single-core benchmarks show the Odroid-N1's Arm-based Cortex A72-based CPU core to be about about 20-30% faster than the Arm-based Cortex A15 CPU core in its predecessor, the Odroid-XU4.

Another advantage over the Pi 3 is the inclusion of a two SATA3 ports to support high-speed storage, with the Odroid-N1 able to achieve a read/write speed of about 380MB/sec on an attached SSD in Hardkernel tests.

For those who want to develop their own hardware, the Odroid-N1 includes 40 general purpose input-output pins for hooking it up to homemade electronics.

One caveat is that the forthcoming RockPro64 board has very similar specs to the Odroid-N1, minus the SATA ports, and is due out in March for the lower price of $79. However, Odroid boards generally review well, with praise for their good software support and helpful community, a real plus when it comes to setting up and running boards. So far, Hardkernel have got version 4.4LTS of the Linux kernel working on the Odroid-N1.

In contrast, reviews of a 2016 board from the makers of the RockPro64 criticized the "sparse" software and documentation.

Software support and community is one area where the Pi is perhaps the strongest single-board computer available, which is one of the reasons it's so easy to get up and running with the Pi compared to its competitors.

Hardkernel says it hopes to begin mass production of the Odroid-N1 in May or June this year, but warns there might be delays if spikes in the cost of DRAM makes the board "unaffordable". If there is sufficient demand it says it will consider releasing a $75 Odroid-N1-Lite model, with the same specs apart from having 2GB RAM and no SATA ports.

Specs

  • OS: Ubuntu 18.04 or Debian Stretch with Kernel 4.4 LTS, Android 7.1
  • System-on-a-chip: Rockchip AArch64 RK3399 with hexa-core processor
  • CPU: Dual-core ARM Cortex-A72 2Ghz processor and Quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 1.5Ghz processor, big-LITTLE architecture
  • GPU: Mali-T860MP4 GPU, supports OpenGL ES1.1/2.0/3.0, OpenCL 1.2
  • Memory: 4GB DDR3-1866 RAM, Dual channel interface for 64bit data bus width
  • SATA: 2 x SATA3 port, native SATA implementation via PCIe-gen2 to SATA3 interface
  • eMMC 5.0 (HS400) Flash storage and a UHS capable micro-SD slot.
  • USB: 2 x USB 3.0 host, 2 x USB 2.0 host.
  • Connectivity: Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Display: HDMI 2.0 for 4K output
  • Expansion: 40-Pin GPIO port
  • Size: 90 x 90 x 20 mm approx (excluding cooler)
  • Power: 12V/2A input (Attaching two 3.5inch HDD requires a 12V/4A PSU)
  • Price: US$110 (may change based on DRAM prices)
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Image: Hardkernel

Read more about single-board computers

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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