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Rockchip Sapphire is a $75 Rockchip RK3399 Development Board

While there are several Rockchip RK3399 boards on the market, I’d still recommend to use Firefly-RK3399 development board for Android and Linux based projects since they have decent documentation, and the board has been around for several months now. Price is a little high however, as it starts at $159 on Amazon US. There’s been other boards like 9Tripod RK3399 that’s a little cheaper, but mostly targeting the Chinese market, and Shenzhen Xunlong is working on their own RK3399 board and module, but it’s not available yet.  Nightseas user bought another board called Rockchip Sapphire on Taobao for just 500 RMB (~$75 US), and reported his findings on Armbian forums.

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Rockchip SAPPHIRE board specifications:

  • SoC – Rockhip RK3399 hexa-core big.LITTLE processor with two ARM Cortex A72 cores, four Cortex A53 cores, and an ARM Mali-T860 MP4 GPU
  • System Memory – 4 GB LPDDR3, dual channel
  • Storage – 8 GB eMMC flash, micro SD card
  • Video Output / Display Interfaces – 1x HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60 Hz; MIPI DSI, eDP, LVDS via MXM connector
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port, 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 3.0 type C port with DisplayPort over Type C support
  • Camera I/F – MIPI CSI signals
  • Expansion
    • 40-pin GPIO Raspberry Pi compatible header
    • 314-pim MXM connector with PCIe 2.0 x4 and other signals..
  • Misc – Power and reset keys
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A DC via power barrel; RK808-D PMIC
  • Dimensions & Weight – TBD

That board is allegedly the official Rockchip EVB, and hardware design files (OrCAD schematic, Allegro PCB layout, gerber), and some limited documentation is available in Rockchip Open Source website. Nightseas explains he was able to build Linux 4.4 and Debian 9 with build scripts from Rockchip, and it appears that OpenGLES and OpenCL support is, although the VPU code, for hardware video decoding, still has some problem.

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The MXM connector allows developers to connect Sapphire board into Excavator carrier board bringing out even more ports with the following specifications (as per the EVB):

  • Display & Video Interfaces
    • MIPI Tx, MIPI Rx, MIPI Tx/Rx
    • HDMI output
    • HDMI input
    • eDP output connector
    • CVBS output (RCA)
  • Audio I/O
    • 3.5mm audio jack
    • Built-in microphone
    • Microphone array header
    • S/PDIF output
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB type C port
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet port, 2×2 WiFi & Bluetooth 4.1 module
  • Debug connector
  • Sensors – Light Sensor,Gyroscope,G-sensor, Compass, Hall IC
  • Expansion
    • PCIe interface
    • GPIO header
  • Misc – Power/Volume/Menu/Esc keys
  • Power Supply – 12V DC power jack, power switch, charge IC

The specifications above are for version 1.0 of the board, as version 1.2 above (Black version) looks slightly different, so some of the specifications may be different.

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The RK3399 EVB user guide allows show an optional eDP screen with 2048 x 1536 resolution for the kit. I could not find Excavator board for sale, and Shappire board is not available anymore, as Google translation put it in no-uncertain terms: “Sorry, the baby has been off the shelf, you can stroll around the other baby” 🙂

Rockchip is not in the business of selling development boards, and if they did, they’d compete with their own customers. So I’m not so confident they’ll sell it again, but at least the Gerber files are available, so in theory, it would be possible for somebody to manufacture and support those boards themselves. I could not find any license for the hardware files, so it might be better to ask Rockchip first.

Thanks to Nick for the tip.

  1. theguyuk
    August 5th, 2017 at 22:47 | #1

    That is a lot cheaper than the IBOX3399 and X3399 core board on aliexpress.com

  2. Alejandro M
    August 6th, 2017 at 01:22 | #2

    I suppose it was bought from RK for designing a product and then someone decided to make some extra cash selling the “spares” when done

  3. Fossxplorer
    August 6th, 2017 at 03:41 | #3

    I got the samme message on taobao: is sorry that the baby is temporarily off the shelves, you can stroll around the other baby

  4. cortex-a72
    August 6th, 2017 at 03:45 | #4

    ^ lmao. that quote. they know how to sale babies.

  5. theguyuk
  6. August 6th, 2017 at 10:23 | #6

    @Alejandro M
    I did not think about that. Taobao is like eBay then, anybody can list their item(s).
    I can see the Sapphire board is back in stock this morning though.

  7. Nightseas
    August 6th, 2017 at 16:32 | #7

    That’s really an odd online shop. I bought one board from that shop and it turned to sold-out.
    Looks like the owner just set in-stock quantity to 1.

    And BTW: 500RMB includes a 12V 2A ACDC adaptor and free shipping with SFExpress in China.

  8. Theguyuk
    August 6th, 2017 at 18:30 | #8

    Force translated view with Chrome browser on Android, says there are 97 pieces

  9. zunway
    August 6th, 2017 at 23:21 | #9

    @Theguyuk
    You are right. There are 96 pieces in-stocks right now.

  10. bob
    August 7th, 2017 at 13:30 | #10

    nice board nice price but will be a nightmare to get vulkan driver for the mali T860 in mainline linux?
    LVDS output, Nice! => Documentation?
    Without a better opensource driver from ARM mali, now i prefer buy a real x86 / x64 computer N3050 (87$) like this :
    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Eglobal-Intel-Core-i3-5005U-and-Celeron-N3050-N3150-in-Mini-PC-Windows10-Desktop-Computer-2GHz/32787701078.html
    or keep a well know H2/H3 board for headless system.
    I really hope Intel next generation device will f**k ARM (closed source mali driver) in low power device target…

  11. willy
    August 7th, 2017 at 15:45 | #11

    @zunway
    For me it’s again written out of stock :-/

  12. nobe
    August 7th, 2017 at 16:42 | #12

    @willy
    i wouldn’t be surprised if someone decided to buy all the stock.

  13. nobe
    August 31st, 2017 at 19:15 | #13

    the board is back in stock, but i guess not for long…

  14. November 20th, 2017 at 14:55 | #14

    @nobe

    Vamrs now sell the Sapphire and Excavator Board. Black Friday Special offer, still 75usd, limited number.

    https://store.vamrs.com/products/rockchip-rk3399-sapphire-board

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