Cost-Optimized Rock960 Model C Board Sells for $69 and Up

96Boards compliant Rock960 board launched last year for $99 with Rockchip RK3399 processor, 2 to 4GB RAM, 16 to 32GB eMMC flash for $99 and up. However, now you can buy a Rockchip RK3399 SBC for as low as $45 plus shipping thanks to FriendlyElec NanoPi NEO4 board that comes with 1GB RAM and no built-in storage, relying instead on a micro SD card slot or eMMC socket.

So VAMRS decided to design a cheaper version of their board with Rock960 model C that still benefits from being part of the 96boards ecosystem, is equipped with 1, 2 or 4GB LPDDR4 RAM, and the OS can boot from a micro SD card or an optional eMMC flash module. The 1GB version of the board is now sold for $69 on Seeed Studio with shipping scheduled for the 1st of February 2019.

Rock960 Model C

Rock960 model C preliminary specifications:

  • SoC – Rochchip RK3399 hexa-core big.LITTLE processor with 2x Cortex A72 cores up to 1.8/2.0 GHz, 4x Cortex A53 cores @ 1.4 GHz, and an Arm Mali-T860 MP4 GPU with OpenGL ES 1.1 to 3.2, OpenVG1.1, OpenCL 1.2 and DX 11 support
  • System Memory – 1, 2 or 4GB LPDDR4
  • Storage – reserved eMMC flash socket + micro SD card
  • Video Output – 1x HDMI 2.0 up to [email protected] Hz with CEC and HDCP
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO up to 867 Mbps up to 200 Mbps, and Bluetooth 4.2 LE with two onboard antennas, two u.FL antenna connectors
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 type-C port (host only), 2x USB 3.0 ports (one OTG, one host only), 1x USB 3.0 type C port with DP 1.2 support
  • Expansion
    • 1x 40-pin low-speed expansion connector – UART, SPI, I2C, GPIO, I2S
    • 1x 60-pin high-speed expansion connector – MIPI DSI, USB, MIPI CSI, HSIC, SDIO
    • 1x M.2 key M PCIe connector with support for up to 4-lane PCIe 2.1 (max bandwidth: 2.0 GB)
  • Misc – Power & u-boot buttons. 6 LEDS (4x user, 1x Wifi, 1x Bluetooth)
  • Power Supply – 8 to 18V DC input (12V typical) as per 96Boards CE specs; Battery header
  • Dimensions – 85 x 54 mm (96Boards CE form factor)
  • Weight – 120 grams

Besides the changes related to memory and storage, VAMRS also downgraded the wireless module to support 802.11ac up to 200 Mbps (no more 2×2 MIMO), and re-organized the USB ports with the USB type-C port now limited to USB 2.0, and without support for DP alternate mode, and the old USB 2.0 type-A port upgraded to a USB 3.0 port as summarized in the table below.

ROCK960 Model A Model B Model-C Comparison TableWhile Seeed Studio only sells Model C with 1GB RAM at the time of writing, all three versions can be found on VAMRS store for respectively $69, $79 and $99.The $69 price tag is actually better than it looks at first glance since the board is supposed to ship with a 12V/2A power adapter, an acrylic case, a heatsink with glue, and screws. For reference, NanoPi NEO4 board with a heatsink and a 5V/4A power supply, but no case sells for $59.98.

ROCK960 Model C Assembled
ROCK960 Model C with Heatsink and Acrylic Case – Click to Enlarge

The cooling solution for NanoPi NEO4 – a heatsink that covers the whole bottom of the board – appears to be better though. Just like its siblings, the new board can run AOSP, Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, LibreELEC, Lakka or FlintOS, and all documentation for Rock960 model C can be found on 96boards website, where they also refer to the board as Rock960c.

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