The Odroid-N2, which promises to be one of the fastest sub-$100 single-board computers yet, is now available to buy.

Revealed earlier this year, the $63 board is marked out by its high-end CPU, capable GPU, and fast DDR4 memory.

Expected to start shipping on April 3rd, the N2 packs four 1.8GHz Arm Cortex A73-based processors and two 1.9GHz Arm Cortex A53-based processors, with the system-on-a-chip (SoC) able to switch tasks between processors to save energy. Thanks to being manufactured using a 12nm process technology, the processors should be able to run at their top speed for longer before being throttled to reduce temperature.

In tests, the board’s makers Hardkernel show the CPU running about 7x faster than that on the Raspberry Pi 3 across several benchmarks, although they don’t specify whether it’s a Model B or the slightly faster Model B+. It should also outperform recently announced boards based on the Rockchip RK3399 chipset, such as the Rock Pi 4.

SEE: More Raspberry Pi coverage (TechRepublic Flipboard magazine)

That said, it’s worth waiting for third-parties to verify the results reported by the board’s makers, and benchmarks are starting to crop up purporting to be of early versions of the Odroid-N2, including one that hit a rather impressive score of 1119 in the 3D graphics benchmark glmark2-es2-wayland.

The board, the replacement to last year’s cancelled Odroid-N1, is built around the Amlogic S922X, a SoC designed for high-end Android TV appliances.

Similar to most single-board computers, the Odroid-N2 is aimed at developers working on software and hardware projects, but its specs mean it’s suited to a wide range of potential uses, including as a media center, file server or even as an everyday computer.

Aside from having a faster and more modern CPU, the Odroid-N2 trumps the specs of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ in various regards, using faster DDR4 memory, enabling 4K video playback of H.265-encoded footage, four USB 3.0 ports, the ability to add up to 128GB eMMC Flash storage, and true Gigabit Ethernet.

The downside is the Odroid-N2 lacks the wireless connectivity, both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, found on the Raspberry Pi 3 B+. The other obvious negative is that the Odroid-N2 is around double the price of the Pi 3 B+.

The N2 also offers a 40-pin header for hooking it up to other electronic hardware, with various improvements over earlier Odroid boards, including a faster SPI bus interface with a maximum frequency of more than 150MHz.

In terms of operating system support, the Odroid-N2 runs the Ubuntu 18.04 LTS operating system, which will be officially supported until January 2023, and Android 9 Pie.

Unlike many single-board computer makers, Hardkernel has a good reputation for providing stable operating system images for its boards and recently released a work in progress userland Mali-G52 Wayland driver for Linux-based operating systems.

As usual, however, the Raspberry Pi remains the easiest board for novice users to get started with, due to the strength of its community, the wealth of user guides and tutorials, and broad suite of supported operating systems and software.

Recent months have seen a swathe of new single-board computers announced and released, many of which are based around newer SoCs boasting faster CPUs, GPUs, more memory and even PC-like features – such as support for fast SSD storage.

The $63 Odroid N2 ships with 2GB RAM and the board is also available with 4GB RAM for $79.

Odroid-N2 Specs

Form Factor Dimensions: 90mm x 90mm x 17mm
Heatsink Dimensions: 100mm x 91mm x 24mm
Weight: 190g including heatsink
Processor CPU: Amlogic S922X Processor (12nm) Quad-core Cortex-A73(1.8Ghz) and Dual-core Cortex-A53(1.9Ghz). ARMv8-A architecture with Neon and Crypto extensions
GPU: Mali-G52 GPU with 6 x Execution Engines (846Mhz)
Memory 2GB or 4GB DDR4 with 32-bit bus width
Data rate: 2640 MT/s (PC4-21333 grade) 1.2Volt low power design
Storage 1 x eMMC connector (8G, 16G, 32G, 64G and 128G are available)
1 x microSD slot (DS/HS modes up to UHS-I SDR104)
Networking 1 x GbE LAN ports (RJ45, supports 10/100/1000 Mbps) – Realtek RTL8211F (Ethernet transceiver) – LED indicators (Green: 100mbps, Amber: 1000mbps connection)
Optional WiFi USB adapters
Video 1 x HDMI 2.1 (up to 4K@60Hz with HDR, CEC, EDID)
1 x Composite video (3.5mm jack)
Audio 1 x Stereo Audio line-out (3.5mm jack)
1 x HDMI digital output
1 x Optional SPDIF optical output
External I/O 4 x USB 3.0 Host ports (shares one single root hub)
1 x USB 2.0 OTG port for Host or Device mode. (No power input)
1 x Debug serial console (UART)
1 x Peripheral Expansion Header (40-pin, 2.54mm pitch) –
2 x DC 5V, 2 x DC 3.3V, 1 x DC 1.8V, 8 x GND – 1 x SPI – 1 x UART – 2 x I2C – 25 x GPIO (Max) – 2 x ADC input (10bit, 1.8V Max) – All 3.3V I/O signal level except for ADC input at max 1.8Volt.
Other features On board RTC(Real Time Clock), IC to keep date and time
8MiB SPI Flash for future BIOS implementation
IR receiver for remote controller
Built with a large passive heatsink System
LEDS Indicators: – Red (PWR) – Solid light when DC power is connected – Blue (ALIVE) – Flashing like heartbeat while Kernel is running.
Active Cooling Fan Connector (5V 2-pin) – Optional 60x60mm Active Cooling Fan – Connector (2-pin, 1.25mm pitch)
Power 1 x DC jack : outer (negative) diameter 5.5mm, inner(positive) diameter 2.1mm
DC 7.5V ~ 20V (up to 25W) – DC 12V/2A power adaptor is recommended
Power consumption: – IDLE : ≃ 1.9W (Performance governor) – CPU Stress : ≃ 5.5W – Power-off : ≃ 0.2W

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