Tiny NanoPi NEO3 SBC Targets Networked Storage with GbE and USB 3.0

Once upon a time, FriendlyELEC launched a Raspberry Pi Zero competitor for headless applications with Allwinner H3 powered NanoPi NEO, which was then followed with NanoPi NEO2 equipped with a more powerful Allwinner H5 processor and Gigabit Ethernet, and less than two years ago, NanoPi NEO4 was launched with Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core processor, 1GB RAM, and HDMI output.

“Wait! What happened to NanoPi NEO3?!” you may ask. It probably got lost in the woods, but FriendlyELEC found it under a rock, and are about to launch NanoPi NEO3 SBC based on Rockchip RK3328 and offering a USB 3.0 port and Gigabit Ethernet network connectivity. NanoPi NEO3 specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK3328 quad-core Arm Cortex A53 processor with Mali-450MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB or 2GB DDR4
  • Storage – MicroSD Slot for system boot and storage
  • Video Output – N/A
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet with unique MAC via RTL8211E PHY
  • USB – 1x USB3.0 Type-A port, 2x USB2.0 on 2.54mm 8-pin header
  • Expansion – 26-pin header with I2C, UART, SPI, I2S, GPIO
  • Debugging – 3-pin header for serial console
  • Misc – Power & System LEDs, user key, 2-pin header for 5V Fan
  • Power Supply – 5V/1A via USB Type-C port or GPIO pin
  • PCB Dimensions – 48 x 48mm
  • Weight – 22 grams
  • Temperature Range – -20°C to 70°C

The new FriendlyELEC SBC is a close cousin to NanoPi R2S, except the latter is geared toward router use with dual Gigabit Ethernet, a USB 2.0 port, and a smaller 10-pin GPIO header. NanoPi NEO3 should make a good board for network storage, and few such tiny headless boards come with 2GB RAM.

I found all information above in the Wiki that is still work in progress as NanoPi NEO3 has not been launched just yet. There’s no information about software, but I’d expect the board to support the same operating systems as NanoPi R2S namely FriendlyWrt (OpenWrt), FriendlyCore (Ubuntu 18.04 Core), as well as Armbian-built Ubuntu 20.04 Focal and Debian 10 Buster with Linux 5.4.xx.

Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

We can speculate about NanoPi NEO3 price based on the $22 asked for NanoPi R2S. The 1GB RAM version should be fairly cheaper since we remove the USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet controller, so something around $18-$19 might be feasible, and the 2GB version might go for $22$-23.

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