Rockchip RK3399 powered by ODROID-N1 board was unveiled earlier this year with two SATA interfaces, up to 4GB RAM, HDMI 2.0 4K UHD output, Gigabit Ethernet, and more.
The plan was to launch the board in May or June for around $100. Sadly, the board has been canceled for reasons we’ll explain below, but the silver lining is that a more powerful ODROID-N2 should become available by the end of the year.
The reason for the cancellation is all explained in a forum post in ODROID forums:
After announcing the N1 board in February, we started to prepare all the components for the mass production. But Samsung and Hynix suddenly informed us 1GB DDR3 chip was End-of-Life phase and we couldn’t place any order. It meant we could not make 4GB model since there must be four DRAM chips mounted on the board.
We could make a 2GB model only with four 512MB DDR3 chips. But it couldn’t make any big difference against the currently popular XU4 board.
So we must redesign the PCB with LPDDR4 chips and it might take a couple of months. Unfortunately, LPDDR4 lead time was also a few months due to the DRAM market shortage issue.
OK, so in theory we could all wait for a few months to get a redesigned ODROID-N1 board with 4GB LPDDR4, but this won’t happen because a new faster processor is coming around that timeframe as further explained:
At that time, we heard a news about newer SoC will be available in September with faster CPU/GPU cores and native DDR4 support from other SoC vendor. Some early engineering samples will be ready in July and we can start our internal evaluation and development from the middle of July. Normal DDR4 lead time is much better than LPDDR4 certainly. We already started a new PCB design for the new SoC.
It was the main reason why we had to suspend the N1 project and considered the N2 project. Our average board life cycle must be 4 years at least. So 5~6 months of delay shouldn’t be a big problem hopefully.
At this moment, we can NOT disclose the information about the newer SoC due to the NDA with the chip manufacturer. I think we can unveil the N2 specification and test results by end of August and start the mass production in September.
So we won’t know the full details until August. But let’s speculate a bit 🙂 Based on the wording of the announcement, it won’t be a Rockchip processor. Hardkernel has so far made boards based on Samsung Exynos and Amlogic processors. It’s always possible they went with a new silicon vendor, but often you’d prefer staying with the same manufacturer if they offer the right part, since you’d be already familiar with the company and their development environment. Samsung processors are quite expensive, and probably hard to get, so I strongly suspect ODROID-N2 will may be the first Amlogic S922 development board. We do not need the memory interface, but the processor will come with eight next gen Arm core (likely Cortex A75/A55), dual 4K UHD encode/decode, PCIe and USB type C interfaces, and MIPI DSI / CSI camera and display interfaces, so it looks like a good candidate to be found in ODROID-N1 replacement.
As a side note, while we have lost an interesting RK3399 board this week, I’ve also learned about two new ones in the work: Raspberry Pi shaped NanoPi-M4 from FriendlyELEC, and Libre Computer Regenade Elite (ROC-RK3399-PC) scheduled to launch in July on Indiegogo. I’ll write more about those once they become available.
Thanks to Ian Beckett for the tip.