ARMBRIX Zero Cortex A15 Development Board Unboxing Pictures

I’ve just received an early sample of ARMBRIX Zero (aka ARMBRIX-5250-A), a development board based on Samsung Exynos 5250 dual cortex A15 processor with 2GB RAM, a microSD slot, 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 Host, 1x USB Device, 10/100 Ethernet, HDMI output, SATA 3.0, some Audio I/O ports, and 3 expansions headers. This is basically a low cost version of the Arndale board, with things such as eMMC 4.5 (Sorry I’ve missed the eMMC socket at the back of the board) sensors missing.

Today, I won’t turn the board on (I’ll explain why at the end of the post), but instead show some pictures of the development and debug boards.

ARMBRIX Zero Development Board
ARMBRIX Zero Development Board (Click to Enlarge)

If you had previously seen the board picture before, you’ll noticed it has a grown a heatsink. The heatsink is probably here to stay, but may be slightly different (e.g. lower) when you receive your board. The bottom acrylic plate won’t be part of the board you’ll receive in case you wonder. The board came with a microSD card loaded with Android Jelly Bean (4.1).

Top View of ARMBRIX Zero Development Board (Click to Enlarge)
Top View of ARMBRIX Zero Development Board (Click to Enlarge)

The board has three expansion headers, but only CON16 (MIPI Master/Slave, 1x I2C, GPIO) and CON19 (3x serial interfaces, 2x I2C, 2x ADC, JTAG, USB, MMC, and reset) are soldered. CON20 provides access to I2S, Interrupt and GPIO pins, and the System bus (EBI). Pin descriptions for all 3 headers are available in this PDF. (This is an early version, and there may be changes before final release, but this should give you an idea). this PDF

Left to Right: microSD slot, Line OUT, Line IN, and SPDIF (Click to Enlarge)
Left to Right: microSD slot, Line OUT, Line IN, and SPDIF (Click to Enlarge)
Left to Right: miniUSB device, HDMI, USB 3.0 Host, RJ45 + 2 USB 2.0 Host, and Power (Click to Enlarge)
Left to Right: miniUSB device, HDMI, USB 3.0 Host, RJ45 + 2 USB 2.0 Host, and Power (Click to Enlarge)

The package included a debug board with 2 DB9 connectors that gives access to UART2 (CON2) for serial console, UART3 (CON3), and a JTAG connector. Currently, ARMBRIX does not plan to sell this board, but if there is enough demand, they may change their mind. You just need to connect it to CON16 on the development board, and connect CON2 to your computer serial port via a null modem cable to access the serial console.

ARMBRIX Zero Debug Board

But since I don’t have a null modem cable at home, and my PC does not come with a serial port. I’ll just use the TTL to USB debug board I’m using with other boards and devices.

Standard USB  TTL Debug Board Connected to ARMBRIX Zero.
Standard USB TTL Debug Board Connected to ARMBRIX Zero.

You just need to connect 3 pins from CON19 to your debug board. Pin 13 to GND, Pin 14 (Rx) to Tx, and Pin 16 (Tx) to Rx. That means ARMBRIX debug board may not be needed for most people.

I would have liked to show the board boot, run some benchmark, and talk about its performance, but it won’t boot because I only have a 5V/2A power supply, and as mentioned in the board description, a 5V/3A power supply is recommend. If you plan to connect a SATA hard drive, and/or an external LCD you’d probably need even more power. ARMBRIX told me they use a 5V/5A for testing.

The next step is to go shopping, and hopefully I’ll be able to show you much more.

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The Cageybee
The Cageybee
7 years ago

Looks like a damn nice board. If only they could get linux with accelerated X and hardware video decoders running, connect up a hard drive and it could be a replacement for everyday PC use with uber small power usage.
But there in lies the rub 🙁

MFserver
MFserver
7 years ago

This would be so nice if it had gigabit ethernet! I am currently waiting for a board with gigabit ethernet, eSATA or USB3, and a CPU capable of decrypting AES with 100 MB/s, so I can encrypt my NAS server. Currently I am using the CuBox, which does not have the power to host an encrypted drive at the speeds i require, so it is unencrypted. Using a low-power x86 CPU is still not comparable to an ARM board, so I am following the development with great interest.

silopolis
7 years ago

Seconding MFserver comment, I’d love to see a similar board with GbEth port(s) and some kind of expansion slot to add more SATA/SAS ports… nevertheless this one is really cute.

haze
haze
7 years ago

possible to can a schematic diagrams?

m][sko
7 years ago

@MFserver

it is funny as most of ARM processor have some build in encryption/decryption hw.
Yes I understand it depend on drivers, but it is same problem as we have with GPU and VPU(video processor unit)

herpderp
herpderp
7 years ago

This board looks really promising.
I wish they’d left the eMMC on board tho…microSD cards are just not there in terms of read/write speed…If only it could take advantage of the new UHS-I speed class it would be perfect as a replacemente for light computing activities

mac me
mac me
7 years ago

5V3A .. thats a lot of power gushing around …

SATA3/USB3 .. nice

A15dual should be faster than the quads in real world applcations ?

theres no nand on this right ? so youre a bit stuck with booting from microSD? or USB3 ? … love the ODROID’s emmc – much faster than microsd

still a bit pricey for me but nice attempt … come on Hard Kernel finish testing your dual A15 and join the fight 🙂

linuxium
linuxium
7 years ago

If you’re going down the shops then get one of these http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=XC4834 or eqiv. I find it interesting that the board is now called iAMBRIX as I would’ve thought it cheaper to fight the ARM lawyers than taken on the whole of Apple! I also bought a board similar to this/Arndale board which also came with a heatsink – they called it a Samsung Chromebook Series 3. Seriously, the Arndale development board nearly introduces a great concept. If someone could just market a base development board, with all the basic connectors (power, HDMI, serial, ethernet, USB, SATA, eMMC, Micro SD,… Read more »

kcg
kcg
7 years ago


Could you be so kind and also use good old nbench2? Thanks!

onebir
onebir
7 years ago


I think the Rhombus Tech people are working toward (some of) those goals 🙂

Pudding
Pudding
7 years ago

Please try to measure actual power consumption under full load / idle conditions if you can!
Also it would be interesting to know how hot that hughe massive (for a mobile SoC) heatsink gets…
Thanks!

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[…] I was in urgent need for a 5V/3A power adapter, I decided to go shopping locally (in Chiang Mai, Thailand) at some computer shopping malls, where […]

Pudding
Pudding
7 years ago

For such low power stuff a Multimeter is way better – cut the +5V cable or use a power measurement adapter for such cables.
This avoids measuring the power supply inefficiency / losses (and measuring at high voltages).

sky770
sky770
7 years ago

cnxsoft :
..and you’d boot from the microSD. I don’t know yet if you can boot from USB or SATA.

Mess around with a bootloader on mSD and try booting from SATA? 😀

abufrejoval
abufrejoval
7 years ago

@MFserver
You have USB 3, which you can hook to a switch and expand to whatever.
For that matter Gig-Ethernet on USB 2 works, but at USB 2 speeds.
Still missing drivers for the USB 3 Gigabit Ethernet, there is an ASIX based device out there.
The SATA port does support port multipliers, I’ve tried a SiS known for suboptimal performance on Arndale and it works. Might try JMB next.

abufrejoval
abufrejoval
7 years ago

@herpderp There is supposed to be an eMMC socket on the reverse side, which isn’t populated (yet?). Don’t know whether it’s such a cool snap-in solution as on the Odroid (love the ability to get variable sized eMMC with an USB adapter for filling). But you don’t need to stay with the SD: I use a SATA based SSD on Arndale and switch to that after the kernel has booted. Nothing used on SD (or eMMC in the case of Arndale) after that. I’m trying to make that work with Ubuntu and there is basically no reason why it shouldn’t.

abufrejoval
abufrejoval
7 years ago

@mac me I only have the Arndale so far, but OpenBrix seems to be Arndale minus a few parts + a lot more cute. Done Android and Ubuntu fully on 16GB Class 10 SD, because 4GB soldered and fixed eMMC is “Class 20” but tiny, then wanted SATA and USB 3 for speed and capacity. It’s fairly easy because in each phase of the boot process it’s a new game. The primary bootloader must come off eMMC or SD: That’s a design limitation of Exynos, I’d presume. Once u-boot is there, it’s whatever u-boot supports (even PXE if you can… Read more »

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[…] Cortex A15 SoCs, power consumption can always be an issue (e.g. Openbrix Zero board won’t boot if you just supply 10W), but Nvidia claims to have improved power consumption, and showed a slide comparing power […]

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[…] ARMBRIX Zero (renamed to OPENBRIX Zero), the cheapest ARM Cortex A15 board that was supposed to hit the market next month, won’t be produced anymore. Howchip has published a laconic notice to explain the cancellation: […]

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