ecoPI STARTER is a Cute Mini PC Kit Based on Rock Pi 4 SBC with Optional M.2 NVMe SSD

Orange Pi Development Boards

Rock Pi 4 is an affordable single board computer inspired by Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, but equipped with a more powerful Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor, and selling for around $80 with 4GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, and 802.11ac + Bluetotoh 5.0 wireless module.

I’ve just come across ecoPI STARTER mini PC kit for the board with an aluminum case that can also fit an M.2 extension board to add an M.2 NVMe SSD card.

ecoPI STARTER mini PC M.2 NVMe SSD

The kit comes with an aluminum housing, an acrylic cover, some screws, bolts and silicon feet, and short ribbon cables for M.2 card. The acrylic cover is designed to let the WiFi & Bluetooth signal go through, but I’m not so confident the case won’t cause issue with WiFi.

It’s currently sold for $16.50 on Aliexpress. You’ll also need to get Rock Pi 4A or 4B for $40 and up, M.2 Extension board ($8.39), heatsink ($8.39), and your own SSD and power supply.

The video below shows how to assemble the complete ecoPI STARTER kit with an M.2 NVMe SSD. Note that contrary to the photo above, the acrylic case has some ventilation holes.

 

If you’d also like to add a PoE HAT to your configuration, there’s another similar case with extra height and integrated heatsink called ecoPI Pro HP sold for $35.90 on the same Aliexpress store.

Support CNX Software - Donate via PayPal or become a Patron on Patreon

10
Leave a Reply

avatar
3 Comment threads
7 Thread replies
1 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
7 Comment authors
Igor PecovniktkaiserjosephAntonymTom Cubie Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Gaetano
Guest
Gaetano

I think it’s really difficult to fight versus Raspberry PI4, now. In the past, when Raspberry didn’t have H265, without out-of-order cpu, only USB2, only 1GB RAM, fastethernet or limited gigabit NIC … for some use cases was better to search an alternative, even with a lightly higher cost; but now, with PI4 with 4GB at a 59euro pricepoint … I think that now some raspberry alternatives has no more much sense. I really appreciate eMMC or NVME, A73 instead of raspberry’s A72 … but I think they didn’t really worth the bigger expenses, or the lack of the really big raspberry community and benefits of the Raspberry foundation.

domih
Guest
domih

With the Rock Pi 4 you can move the root file system from the eMMC to the NVMe and then run the OS from it. I have not checked if they updated the software to allow booting directly from the NVMe – but the short boot phase from the eMMC is basically nothing and then you run your disk IO at NVMe speed. You can’t do that with a Raspberry Pi 4.

With the Rock Pi 4 you can decide to forget about an NVMe SSD and instead use an NVMe to PCI 2 x4 open ended adapter and then use a PCIe card to for instance getting 4 SATA ports with out killing your USB 3 bus. You can’t do that with a Raspberry Pi 4.

64-bits?

Saying the Raspberry Pi 4 4GB costs $55 is factual however sometimes there is a difference between factual and reality.

If you run heavy computation loads the Pi 4 will quickly reach 80C and start to throttle which makes it quite less competitive with other SBC models. The unavoidable conclusion is that you need a cooler. Heat sink alone does not do the job correctly, so here you are: it’s gonna be heat sink + fan. The Ice Tower does a wonderful job dropping the CPU by 30C at load and idle. How do I know? Because that’s what I’m running and I tested it. Other coolers do not do as good as the Ice Tower. That’s $20 additional.

You may say you don’t need so such a cooler. Mmm… you could be fine in Finland, but in California you do want to cool your computers, especially during heat waves when the home AC itself struggles to keep the surrounding temperature under 80F.

To hell with micro-HDMI. So fragile one wonders if it is programmed obsolescence in the works. That’s let’s be charitable $5 more for a regular HDMI adapter.

To me, a Raspberry Pi 4 4GB was a $80 expense, not $55.

Gaetano
Guest
Gaetano

Even with Raspberry PI currently you can move the root partition on an external drive; an SSD using USB3 connection, just to say; doing so you can collect the advantage of having a short boot phase on microSD, and after having loaded the kernel from microSD, Linux will mount the root partition on the external drive. In the near future (with a newer firmware) the Raspberry PI4 can also directly boot from USB (currently only PI3 can). I agree with you that this is an USB3 connection and not an NVME connection, but I think that also an USB3 connection is a really big improvement, and it can guarantee a so high bandwidth that an ARM-based SBC cannot take profit – so an NVME connection is really too much for it, I think we cannot collect real benefits comparing to an USB3 connection.

I live in Italy and also me find that the free-cooling era for SBC was terminated with/by PI4. Anyway not everyone needs an Ice Tower to avoid throttling; even a $3 2.5mm fan (also without heatsink, also powered on 3.3V instead of 5V) is enough to avoid to go over 50-55 celsius degree under stress.

I agree with you that having a PCIe connection is really interesting. I really like to have the chance to connect a disk controller, or a NIC, or a GPU to an SBC; I think this can give us an opportunity to use our SBCs in many other use cases. Killing the USB3 on PI4 only gives a mere PCIe x1 connection (when this was well made, and it works …).
For the future, I strongly hope in USB4: it also encapsulates thunderbolt3 (that encapsulates displayport and PCIe) so I think this will be a nice chance for our SBCs.

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

> a so high bandwidth that an ARM-based SBC cannot take profit

That’s wrong in two regards:

1) of course ARM-based SBC can benefit from appropriate protocols (NVMe) compared to horrible stacks of inappropriate protocol layers like ‘USB3 attached storage’. Especially on low-end devices you want ‘native’ access to flash storage instead of every bit having to jump through various hoops. USB3 storage is inefficient and wastes CPU cycles for nothing.

2) Why the heck is everybody focused on ‘bandwidth’ when it’s about SSDs, especially when it’s about putting the rootfs on the thing? You look for low latency and high IOPS and not high bandwidth which is just another benefit of flash storage but not important at all with this use case (rootfs on flash).

Since you’re focussed on bandwidth only: RK3399 with a PCIe x4 Gen2 attached SSD is able to achieve 1700 MB/s via NVMe and I believe NVMe is a requirement here since with other ‘legacy’ protocol stacks protocol overhead might become an issue (might be even true for ‘native’ SATA).

joseph
Guest
joseph

You are being delusional, please show us some proof about those hypothetical higher speeds using NVMe. As far as I know, No current ARM SBC can achieve reading speeds over 500MB/s, not even with NVMe. Please, prove me wrong if you can. 1700MB/s?, In your dreams. Come on bro, who you are trying to fool here! Nothing personal but you sounded like a fanboy.

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser
Igor Pecovnik
Guest

My SSD/RK3399 combo from mid 2018 went even higher, up to 1.3GB/s https://forum.armbian.com/topic/7498-nanopc-t4/?do=findComment&comment=59807 … and btw. 10GB networking goes up to 6.6 Gbit/s https://twitter.com/armbian/status/1161515847124488198

Tom Cubie
Guest

ROCK Pi 4 all models, V1.4 or later, there is a SPI flash on board, you can put the bootloader in SPI flash and the kernel/rootfs on NVMe. We ported the NVMe driver in u-boot. With GPT partition table, it’s no difference to boot from uSD card, eMMC or NVMe, one image, dd to uSD/eMMC/NVMe and boot. All other distributions are supported, Armbian/Manjaro etc.

Antonym
Guest
Antonym

Anybody has data on thermal throttling by the Pi4 CPUs inside that box? Also can one burn oneself on the exterior?

tkaiser
Guest
tkaiser

If you watch the short assembly video you’ll see that the board is using the regular RockPi 4 heatsink so there’s nothing the ‘enclosure’ contributes here. Since the heatsink is on the bottom there is minor risk for burning unless you rotate the whole thing by 180° for some few degrees less.

Huge heatsinks with relatively small fins but high thermal mass are rather inefficient for constant high loads. Applies to RockPi 4, NanoPi M4 and NEO4.