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Posts Tagged ‘sata’

Maiwo K104c is a $9 2.5″ SATA Drive Enclosure with a USB Type C Cable

September 21st, 2017 5 comments

USB type C receptacles are found in more and more devices, but if you have older accessories or peripherals they likely use micro USB, and USB type A cables or plugs. One way to work around this problem is to get adapter, for example, I purchased a micro USB to USB Type C adapter last year, but this morning I’ve come across a USB type C hard drive enclosure, something I had not seen before, probably because I did not look for it.

Maiwo K104c enclosure specifications:

  • Designed for 2.5″ SATA drives (HDD/SSD) up to 9.5mm thick
  • USB type C to SATA 3.0 interface using JMS567 chipset
  • UASP protocol support (aka USB attached SCSI)
  • OS agnostic so it should work with any operating systems
  • Dimensions – 21.50 x 2.70 x 1.20 cm
  • Weight – 130 x 79 x 17mm

JMicron JMS567 chipset is the same as used in NanoPi NEO NAS Kit v1.2.  Several sites claims it’s a USB 3.1 enclosure, but it’s not since JMS567 is a USB 3.0 to SATA 3 enclosure, which should limit to the speed to 5 Gbps, instead of 10 Gbps for USB 3.1 Gen2), but considering SATA 3.0 is limited to 6Gbps, it should not make that much of a difference, if any. UAS support should help with performance too, and the company claims having achieved around 400MB/s read and write sequential performance with the enclosure.

I first found Maiwo K104C enclosure on GearBest where it is sold for about $9 shipped, but details are incomplete and sometimes incorrect, so I ended using most info from Banggood instead as they also include more photos, price is higher at $11.99. You’ll find many more USB type C HDD enclosure on Aliexpress too.

Categories: Hardware Tags: sata, usb

Hardkernel ODROID-HC1 Home Cloud One Stackable NAS is now available for $49

August 21st, 2017 14 comments

Hardkernel has just launched their ODROID-HC1 stackable NAS system based on a cost-down version of ODROID-XU4 board powered by Samsung Exynos 5422 octa-core Cortex-A15/A7 processor, which as previously expect, you can purchase for $49 on Hardkernel website, or distributors like Ameridroid.

We now have the complete specifications for ODROID-HC1 (Home Cloud One) platform:

  • SoC – Samsung Exynos 5422 octa-core processor with 4x ARM Cortex-A15 @ 2.0 GHz, 4x ARM Cortex-A7 @ 1.4GHz, and Mali-T628 MP6 GPU supporting OpenGL ES 3.0 / 2.0 / 1.1 and OpenCL 1.1 Full profile
  • System Memory – 2GB LPDDR3 RAM PoP @ 750 MHz
  • Storage
    • UHS-1 micro SD slot up to 128GB
    • SATA interface via JMicron JMS578 USB 3.0 to SATA bridge chipset capable of achieving ~300 MB/s transfer rates
    • The case supports 2.5″ drives between 7mm and 15mm thick
  • Network Connectivity – 10/100/1000Mbps Ethernet (via USB 3.0)
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port
  • Debugging – Serial console header
  • Misc – Power, status, and SATA LEDs;
  • Power Supply
    • 5V via 5.5/2.1mm power barrel (5V/4A power supply recommended)
    • 12V unpopulated header  (currently unused)
    • Backup header for RTC battery
  • Dimensions – 147 x85 x 29 mm (Aluminum case also serving as heatsink)
  • weight – 229 grams

The company provides Ubuntu 16.04.2 with Linux 4.9, and OpenCL support for the board, the same image as ODROID-XU4, but there are also community supported Linux distributions including Debian, DietPi, Arch Liux ARM, OMV, Armbian, and others, which can all be found in the Wiki.

SAMBA File Copy To/From HC1 – Click to Enlarge

Based on Hardkernel’s own tests, you should be able to max out the Gigabit Ethernet bandwidth while transferring a files over SAMBA in either directions. tkaiser, an active member of Armbian, also got a sample, and reported that heat dissipation worked well, and that overall Hardkernel had a done a very good job.

While power consumption of the system is usually 5 to 10 Watts, it may jump to 20 Watts under heavy load with USB devices attached, so a 5V/4A power supply is recommended with the SATA drive only, and 5V/6A if you are also going to connect power hungry devices to the USB 2.0 port. The company plans to manufacture ODROID-HC1 for at least three years (until mid 2020), but expects to continue production long after, as long as parts are available.

Intel Gemini Lake Block Diagram and Yet More Info

August 14th, 2017 6 comments

So yesterday, I wrote about some of the new features of Intel Gemini Lake processors like native HDMI 2.0, 4-wide pipeline, 10-bit VP9, and possible built-in 802.11ac wireless controller. I went to bed, and somehow this morning I woke up with something that looks like Gemini Lake (GLK) block diagram, and a few more details.

So we indeed have HDMI 2.0 output, as well as DP 1.2a and eDP 1.4, and an embedded wireless controller via the CNVi (Connectivity Integration Architecture) block for WiFi’s MAC and Bluetooth’s MAC + Baseband modem. We’ll have plenty of USB 3.0 host interfaces, and the usual PCIe and SATA 3 interfaces. Still no UFS support, but eMMC 5.1 is supported, as well as x128 DDR4, LPDDR3 and LPDDR4 memory up to 2400 MHz (No ECC support). Cache size is confirmed to be 4MB for up to four GoldMont Plus (GLM+) cores, which combined with the wider pipeline (4 vs 3) will contribute to 10% to 15% better CPU performance compared to Apollo Lake. The Gen9LP GPU in GLK processors will come with up to 18 execution unit.

Another difference will be the update of GMM speech acceleration engine to the GNA version of the SIP with support for DNN (Dynamic Neural Networks) algorithms that could be used for applications such as Microsoft Cortana.

Unistorm AK1 Intel Celeron J3455 mini PC Sells for $158

August 3rd, 2017 5 comments

Last month, I wrote about MeLE PCG35 Apo mini PC based on Intel Celeron J3455 “Apollo Lake” processor. It has started to sell for $179 this week, but there’s now a cheaper option with similar specifications thanks to Unistorm AK1 mini PC going for $158.30 instead.

Unistorm AK1 mini PC specifications with highlights in bold or stricken-through showing differences with PCG35 Apo:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron J3455 quad core “Apollo Lake” processor @ 1.50 / 2.30 GHz with a 12 EU Intel HD Graphics 500 @ 250/750 MHz (10W TDP)
  • System Memory – 4GB LPDDR3
  • Storage – 32GB eMMC flash, 1x 2.5″ SATA HDD slot, 1x M.2 SSD slot, 1x micro SD slot
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K @ 30 Hz, and VGA
  • Audio – Via HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11b/g/n/ac WiFi & Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports, 2x USB 2.0 port, 1x USB Type-C port
  • Misc – Power button, Kensington Lock, VESA mount support
  • Power Supply  – 12V / 2A
  • Dimensions – 128 x 128 x 37 mm (vs 198 x 125 x 39.50 mm)
  • Weight – 230 grams (vs ~1 kg)

The main differences in terms of ports are that HDMI is limited to 4K @ 30 Hz (no HDMI 2.0), the VGA port is gone, and instead of three USB 3.0 ports, and one USB 2.0 port, AK1 comes with a pair of both. The mini PC does not appear to ship with a VESA mount.

MeLE PCG35 Apo case is also made of metal, while Unistorm AK1 uses a plastic enclosure, so it’s much lighter, but it may not cool as well. Speaking about cooling, it’s clear whether the device includes a fan, or is passively cooled like the MeLE mini PC, but at least the company designed the case with plenty of ventilation around the top edges. The picture also shows colored LEDs inside AK1, sometimes blue, sometimes orange, and there not indicated whether this can be disabled. Maybe in the BIOS? The mini PC is said to be pre-loaded with an activated version of Windows 10.

[Update: This mini PC looks very similar to ACEPC AK1, and based in the description on Amazon US, the mini PC is designed with a fan.
Unboxing video shows more details about the modular 2.5″ SATA bay, and that model does include a VESA mount:

]

Via AndroidPC.es

Beelink S1 Mini PC Comes with Up to 8GB RAM, Supports M.2 SSD & SATA Storage, and Cortana via a Built-in Microphone

July 26th, 2017 9 comments

While many Apollo Lake mini PCs are sold by Chinese manufacturers, few of come with up to 8GB RAM, and include an internal 2.5″ SATA bay. But Beelink S1 mini PC does, and it also include an M.2 SSD slot, so you can have fast storage for the operating system using an SSD, and cheap and larger storage for your data with the SATA bay. If you are a fan of voice commands, a built-in microphone working with Cortana is also included.

Beelink S1 mini PC specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Celeron N3450 quad core Apollo Lake processor @ 1.10 GHz / 2.20 GHz (Burst frequency) with 12 EU Intel HD graphics 500 @ 200/700 MHz  (6W TDP)
  • System Memory – 4 or 8 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 64 GB eMMC flash, internal SATA bay, M.2 SSD slot up to 512 GB, micro SD card slot up to 128GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K @ 30 Hz, VGA port
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5mm headphone jack, digital microphone
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0 (Intel 3165 WiFI chip)
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 host ports, 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB type C port (not indication of what it is capable of yet again…)
  • Misc – Power button, reset pinhole, Kensington lock
  • Power Supply – 12V/1.5A
  • Dimensions –  16 x 13.45 x 3.20 cm
  • Weight – 407 grams

The specifications are quite close to the ones of Beelink AP34 Ultimate, except for 2.5″ SATA drive support, the microphone, and it includes both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, as well as a USB type C port. As usual, the company did not use logo, nor did it find it necessary to explain the capability of the USB type C port. So it’s probably safe to assume video output is not supported for example.

The mini PC ships with a 12V/1.5A power supply, an 80 cm HDMI cable, a 20cm HDMI cable, a wall mount kit (VESA?), a user’s guide, and a Mini PC system activation instructions. The 4GB RAM version sells for $219, and the 8GB version for $299 on GearBest [Update: GBS14 / GBS18 coupons should lower the price by $20]. Both models do not complies with Microsoft’s hardware requirements for a discounted Windows 10 license, so I’m a bit surprised by the $80 price gap just for the extra memory, unless Microsoft recently changed the terms to allow for 64GB storage and 4GB RAM. I could not find the computer on other e-retailers yet.

Via AndroidPC.es

Xnano X5 4K TV Box with Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI Input, USB 3.0, and SATA Goes for $68 and Up

July 12th, 2017 11 comments

Realtek RTD1295 processor allows for 4K TV boxes with DVR and PiP function through HDMI input, and USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0 storage interfaces. I previously reviewed Zidoo X9S and EWEAT R9 Plus based on the solution, and I especially liked support with NAS function through OpenWrt running side-by-side with Android 6.0. Those are high-end devices that cost well over $100, but we’ve recently seen cheaper models, likely with less refined firmware, no metal case, and possibly lacking OpenWrt that go as low as $78 shipped with LAKE I Home Cloud TV box. We can now get an even cheaper model, albeit with just 1GB RAM and 8GB flash, thanks to Xano X5 sold for $68.32 including shipping on Aliexpress. There’s also a 2GB/16GB version on the same page going for $82.76.

Xnano X5 Smart Box specifications:

  • SoC – Realtek RTD1295 quad core Cortex A53 processor with ARM Mali-T820 MP3 GPU
  • System Memory – 1 or 2GB DDR4
  • Storage – 8 or 16GB eMMC flash, SATA 3.0 connector for external drives, micro SD card slot up to 64GB
  • Video I/O – HDMI 2.0a output with HDR support, AV output (composite), and HDMI input
  • Audio I/O – HDMI in and out, AV out (stereo audio), 1x S/PDIF output
  • Video Playback – 10-bit HEVC/H.265 up to 4K @ 60fps, H.264 up to 4K @ 24 fps, VP9 up to 4K @ 30 fps
  • Audio Features – 7.1 channel audio pass-through
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0 with one 5dB external antenna
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 2.0 port
  • Misc – IR receiver, front panel display, RTC with battery
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A
  • Dimensions – 132 x 85 x 19 mm

Based on the documentation on the Aliexpress page, the box appears to run both Android 6.0 and OpenWrt, and ships with a HDMI cable, an IR remote control, a user’s manual, a high gain WiFi antenna, and a power adapter. HDMI input support DVR, Broadcasting over UDP, and PiP functions.

The company also published a picture of the board, and for people who want to develop U-boot or Linux on the board (mainline for RTD1295 is in progress), the 4-pin header on the right between the USB 3.0 port and micro SD slot could the UART header to access the serial console. We’ve previously seen USB 3.0, SATA, and Gigabit Ethernet performance is excellent on such box, so it could also make an interesting Linux device/board if more people work on it.

Other Aliexpress sellers offer the box for a few dollars higher, GearBest is not quite as competitive here, as it sells the device for $78 including worldwide shipping [Update: GBCNA coupon brings that down to $67.19].  If you do a group buy of at least five, DHGate sells it for  $62.29 per unit including DHL shipping.

Thanks to Danman for the tip.

Vorke Z3 Rockchip RK3399 TV Box Review – Part 2: Android 6.0 Firmware

July 6th, 2017 11 comments

Vorke Z3 is another mini PC / TV box powered by Rockchip RK3399 hexa core processor with two Cortex A72 cores, and two Cortex A53 cores making it theoretically one of the fastest TV boxes on the market, excluding NVIDIA Shield Android TV which is well ahead of the competition, albeit with poor worldwide availability. I’ve have already shown Vorke Z3 hardware inside out, so in the second part of the review, I’ll focus on testing the firmware including video playback, and the system performance, and see how it compares to the similar Yundoo Y8, which I reviewed last month.

First Boot, Setup, and First Impressions

One the selling point of Vorke Z3 is its SATA connector, so I connected a 1TB 3.5″ SATA drive first, as well as Seagate USB 3.0 drive (1TB) to the USB 3.0 port, I also added a USB hub to connect a USB keyboard, as well as two USB RF dongles for Tronsmart Mars G01 gamepad. and MINIX NEO A2 Lite air mouse. I did not use the USC type C port at that point, but we’ll see later that it can be used for firmware update, remote storage access, and video output.  I completed the hardware setup by plugging in Ethernet, HDMI, and power cables.

Click to Enlarge

Press the mechanical power switch on the rear panel in order to start the box, with a typical boot taking around 30 seconds. That’s acceptable, but I was expecting a faster boot with the high end eMMC flash used together with the powerful processor. The first time, you may be asked to choose between Launcher3 (Stock Android Home screen similar to what you get on your phone) better if you are close to the screen using the box as a mini PC,

or the familiar MediaBox Launcher better suited to TV use, if you are seated a few meters from the screen.

Click for Original Size

Below are the pre-installed app (minus RKMC which I installed manually) in the stock firmware.

YouTube, Hulu Plus, and Netflix are installed, but you’ll notice Kodi is missing, and there’s a good reason for this as we’ll find out below…

Click to Enlarge

The Settings are pretty much standard, but when you go to Display Output, you’ll see HDMI and HDMI1 output, because the mini PC can handle two display if you connect a compatible USB type C to HDMI dock to the device, and you can either mirror the displays, or extend the desktop. I don’t have such dock, and GeekBuying did not seem interested in sending me one, so I did not test that part, but it’s something to keep in mind. [Update: I’ve tested it with Dodocool DC30S USB Type C work, and it works, except for “display different content for double screen”, it will just mirror the screen]

I could still go to the HDMI section, and configure video output up to 4096×2160 @ 60 Hz. What I found out is that the system will not keep the setting, and it will just jump aroud 4K @ 30 Hz, 1080p60 or 720p60 between reboots. The Sound & Notification section does not include “Sound Devices Manager”, so you can’t enable audio pass-through, so if you want to do that you’d have to use the blue “Settings” app instead. The settings do not have any options for CEC or HDR, with the latter not supported by the hardware.

The screenshot above was taken at the end of the review, and I still had plenty of space out of the 26.74GB partition. USB3_NTFS is the NTFS partition of my four partitions USB drive, meaning exFAT, EXT-4 and BTRFS file systems are not supported. “USB Drive” is actually the SATA drive, and is a misnomer as the hardware implementation relies on a PCIe to SATA bridge. In case you planed to use the device as a mini PC connected to your printer, you may want to know Printing settings are missing.

The About section shows the device name is indeed VORKE Z3, and it runs Android 6.0.1 on top of Linux 4.4.166 with the Android security patch dated August 2016. The build machine’s hostname is sunchip-CS24-TY, so it’s quite possible Sunchip is being the software and hardware design. Two versions of the firmware are available with either root or no root, so you could install the one you prefer using AndroidTool (Windows) or upgrade_tool (Linux).

The IR remote control is pretty basic, and I assume most people will used the own input device be it a an air mouse or the smartphone app. It did the job but only up to 4 meters, farther than this, and some key presses will be missed. I had no troubles installing apps via Google Play and Amazon Underground stores.

It’s not possible to cleanly power off the device with the remote control, only the mechanical switch on the back can do this, so instead you can only go in or out of standby.  I measured the power consumption with or without SATA and/or USB hard drive(s) attached in power off, standby, and idle modes:

  • Power off – 0.0 Watt
  • Standby – 5.1 Watts
  • Idle – 5.1 Watts
  • Power off + USB HDD – 0.0 Watt
  • Standby + USB HDD – 8.1 Watts
  • Idle + USB HDD – 9.1 Watts
  • Power off + USB HDD – 0.0 Watt
  • Standby + USB HDD – 10.3 Watts
  • Idle + USB HDD – 11.2 Watts

After playing a 2-hour H.264 video in Kodi, I measured maximum temperatures of 37 and 40°C on the top and bottom of the case with an IR thermometer, but the temperature felt a little higher than that when touching the surface with my hand, maybe it’s made of a material that interferes with measurements. After playing Riptide GP2 for around 15 minutes, the temperatures went up a little to 39 and 42°C, and gameplay was OK overtime, but only similar to what I experience on Yundoo Y8 or Amlogic S912 TV Boxes, and not as smooth as on Xiaomi Mi Box 3 Enhanced. CPU-Z always reports 26 °C, so it’s not usable as an alternative temperature measure. I also noticed the box got quite hot (44 °C with IR thermometer) when I turned off the display, and let the UI in the launcher doing nothing. I did not notice any sharp drop in performance during use, but thermal throttling is happening as we’ll see in the Benchmark section.

I like the SATA port and USB type C port supporting data and video in Vorke Z3, and I found the firmware to be rather stable and very responsive. However, there are many small issues like no clean power off, HDMI setting is not remembered properly, so settings like Printing, CEC, Audio device, and automatic frame rate switching are missing from the main Setting app. The IR remote control does not feel very good either, and range was rather short.

Kodi & RKMC Video Playback, DRM Info, and YouTube

Kodi is not installed so I went to the Google Play store to install Kodi 17.3, and naively expected most videos to play fine. Those are my results for 4K video samples:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK, but not perfectly smooth
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – Stays in UI
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  OK
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – OK
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – Stays in UI
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC, 24 fps) – OK
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – ~5 fps (software decode)
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – Stays in UI
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Slideshow + audio delay  (4K H.264 @ 60 fps is not supported by the VPU in Rockchip RK3399 SoC)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – OK
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) – Stays in UI
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) – Stays in UI
  • 暗流涌动-4K.mp4 (10-bit H.264; 120 Mbps) – First try: Kodi hangs; Second try: ~2fps + artifacts (software decode)
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – HDD: OK
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – ~5 fps, massive artifacts (software decode)
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – ~5 fps, massive artifacts (software decode)

Wow… I don’t think I can remember any platform that failed that badly. But I usually use the pre-installed Kodi app, which in this case was missing, so maybe that’s why. I’ll give up on Kodi 17.3 for now, but I remember somebody mentioned RKMC 16.1 would work better on Rockchip device. I did some research, and installed RKMC in the box. I made some mistake doing so, reinstalled the firmware and lost all my screenshots in the process. So maybe sure you backup any files before messing with the system partition or config files.

But what about the results with RKMC and my 4K videos samples?:

  • HD.Club-4K-Chimei-inn-60mbps.mp4 – OK, but not perfectly smooth
  • sintel-2010-4k.mkv – OK, but not perfectly smooth
  • Beauty_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) –  Crash
  • Bosphorus_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_MP4.mp4 (H.265) – Crash
  • Jockey_3840x2160_120fps_420_8bit_HEVC_TS.ts (H.265) – Stays in UI + hang
  • MHD_2013_2160p_ShowReel_R_9000f_24fps_RMN_QP23_10b.mkv (10-bit HEVC, 24 fps) – Crash
  • phfx_4KHD_VP9TestFootage.webm (VP9) – ~5 fps (software decode)
  • BT.2020.20140602.ts (Rec.2020 compliant video) – Stays in UI + hang
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_30fps.mp4 – OK
  • big_buck_bunny_4k_H264_60fps.mp4 – Almost smooth + audio delay  (4K H.264 @ 60 fps is not supported by the VPU in Rockchip RK3399 SoC)
  • Fifa_WorldCup2014_Uruguay-Colombia_4K-x265.mp4 (4K, H.265, 60 fps) – Crash
  • Samsung_UHD_Dubai_10-bit_HEVC_51.4Mbps.ts (10-bit HEVC / MPEG-4 AAC) – Stays in UI + audio
  • Astra-11479_V_22000-Canal+ UHD Demo 42.6 Mbps bitrate.ts (10-bit H.265 from DVB-S2 stream) – Stays in UI + audio
  • 暗流涌动-4K.mp4 (10-bit H.264; 120 Mbps) – OK (hardware decode)
  • Ducks Take Off [2160p a 243 Mbps].mkv (4K H.264 @ 29.97 fps; 243 Mbps; no audio) – HDD: OK
  • tara-no9-vp9.webm (4K VP9 YouTube video @ 60 fps, Vorbis audio) – ~5 fps, massive artifacts (software decode)
  • The.Curvature.of.Earth.4K.60FPS-YT-UceRgEyfSsc.VP9.3840×2160.OPUS.160K.webm (4K VP9 @ 60 fps + opus audio) – ~5 fps, massive artifacts (software decode)

So H.265 video won’t play, VP9 will, but are unwatchable with software decode, and only H.264 videos are playing relatively well.

I got more insights in my RKMC post with Superceleron commenting:

Well don’t expect miracles, besides that is a old kodi fork dont have python 2.7 and it have subtitles security flaw.
On my tests, on A7 version of rk sdk use kodi 18 nightly it will play ok almost all codecs. (i just made a custom rom for A95X-R2 so i know it plays it ok)
On A6 forget it, i had to make some mix custom roms to make it work with FTMC.. it now plays almost all codecs (it crashes with RKCodec on H264 10bits, but mediacodec play ok but max 720p)
Rockchip never learns….

and

Yes need to wait for it, or simple try one of my roms for 3399 like for the Yundoo Y8 or H96 Max.
It will work lot better than stock, i fixed the play of VP9 in Hw in FTMC but still crash in H264 10bits, and cant play Youtube 4k due to codec issue!

So at this stage, I’d recommend not to buy any Rockchip RK3399 TV box if you want to play videos in Kodi, and wait for Android 7.1 firmware which is expected sometimes in the next few weeks or months. If you already have one, and/or are ready to waste some time, you could try TVMC that works somewhat in Yundoo Y8, or use one of the aforementioned ROMs on Freaktab.

I’ll skip video testing in this review, and if time permits perform tests again once Android 7.1 firmware and Kodi 18.0 are released.

Click to Enlarge

I still checked DRM info, and there’s no DRM support at all, except for something called CENC ClearKey.

YouTube worked well for me up to 1080p. Video is rendered to the framebuffer (I can take screenshot of it), which should explain the resolution limitation, and mean that it’s likely using software decode.

Network Performance (Wi-Fi and Ethernet)

As I connected to my 802.11ac router, I noticed the Link Speed was 526 Mbps when I checked, so better than the usual 433 Mbps you get on most other devices.

I first tested WiFi 802.11ac throughput by transferring a 278MB file beetween SAMBA and the internal flash and vice versa using ES File Explorer. There’s again a serious problem with SAMBA implementation, as download speed was fairly good @ 3.00 MB/s, but upload speed drop to 1.06 MB/s only, leading to a well below average average speed.

Throughput in MB/s

But iperf tests below show 802.11ac performance is actually quite good in both directions, so the real problem is with SAMBA implementation/configuration in the firmware.

WiFi 802.11ac upload:

WiFi 802.11ac download:

I repeated the SAMBA test with a larger 885 MB file over Gigabit Ethernet, and I confirmed the same issue as it took 49 seconds to upload the file from the server, and 1 minute and 52 seconds to upload the file.

I also run iperf again for Gigabit Ethernet using full duplex option:

I was expecting higher numbers, but those values will be good enough for most people.

Storage Performance

I used A1SD Bench to evaluate sequential performance of internal storage, USB 3.0 and SATA interfaces.

Click to Enlarge

In theory, the Samsung eMMC flash used is very good, and results from the benchmark confirm this with 157.63 MB/s read speed, and 124.80 MB/s write speed. That’s the best performance I’ve ever gotten from an Android device.

Read & Write Speeds in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

Sure enough, I never had troubles with “app is not responding” or app beings slow to load.

USB 3.0 and SATA performance is also pretty solid, especially sequential read speed. Write speed was actually 100 MB/s the first time I tried with SATA, but after I had to reinstall the firmware, I never managed to get back to that result with the speed limited to around 72 MB/s.

Read & Write Speeds in MB/s – Click to Enlarge

Nevertheless, results are fairly good, and SATA should provide a little more performance than USB 3.0.

Vorke Z3 Benchmark & System Info

CPU-Z reports a dual cluster “RK3066” processor with two Cortex A72 cores @ 1.99 GHz, and four Cortex A53 cores @ 1.51 GHz, and an ARM Mali-T860 GPU.

Click to Enlarge

VORKE Z3 (rk3399_box) uses a 1920×1080 framebuffer resolution, comes with 3878MB total RAM (the rest being used by hardware buffers), and 26.74 GB interface storage.

Antutu 6.x score varies a lot between 69k and 78k due to thermal throttling. But if I run the benchmark right after boot, I get the result below, roughly the same as Yundoo Y8 one (76,819 points).

Vellamo 2.x results would also varies due to thermal throttling, but also because for some reasons SunSpider test would fail to run from time to time, as shown by the yellow mark on the first Chrome Browser test.
For some reasons, Chrome Browser result is much lower (4,512) compared to the 5,275 points I got with Yundoo Y8, but Multicore (2,587 vs 2,492) and Metal (2,311 vs 2,332) results are roughly the same.

3DMark’s Ice Storm Extreme results was also slightly lower with 9,726 points compared to 9,906 points for Yundoo Y8.

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At one point I only got 6,7xx points, but it was not because of overheating, and was instead due to the system randomly changing resolution and refresh rate, with the video output set to 3840×2160 @ 30 Hz at the time, limiting the framerate to 30 fps max.

Conclusion

I did not have the best experience with Vorke Z3 due to my struggle with Kodi and RKMC, and various smaller issues like HDMI output resolution & framerate randomly changing between reboots, lack of proper power off mode, some overheating, etc… But there are also some positives like excellent internal storage performance, good USB 3.0 and SATA performance, a USB type C port supporting data, and video output, and very good WiFi performance, so I’m hoping the upcoming Android 7.1 Nougat firmware will greatly improve the device usefulness.

PROS

  • Good overall performance and stable firmware
  • Fastest internal storage I’ve seen in any TV box
  • Fast USB 3.0 and SATA interfaces for external storage
  • Very good 802.11ac WiFi performance
  • USB type C port with support for data and video output (via an external dock).
  • OTA firmware update appears to be supported

CONS

  • The device is unusable with Kodi 17.3, or RKMC with most videos failing to play properly
  • Overheating leading to CPU / GPU throttling (The performance degradation is noticeable in benchmarks, but I have not really experienced it during normal use after playing a 2-hour video, or playing games for 15 minutes)
  • HDMI video output setting is not properly remembered, and it may be 720p, 4K30, 1080p60 at next boot.
  • No clean power off mode (mechanical switch only)
  • Only NTFS and FAT32 files systems are supported, no EXT-4, no exFAT
  • Lack of DRM support
  • Poor upload speed to SAMBA server

GeekBuying sent the device for review, and in case you are interested you could buy Vorke Z3 for $149.99 shipped with VORKEZ3F coupon on their website. You’ll also find the device from various sellers on Aliexpress.

$45 Hisilicon Hi3535 Based Network Video Recorder Board Comes with HDMI, VGA, Dual SATA, GbE, and USB 3.0 Ports

July 5th, 2017 35 comments

Network Video Recorder (NVR) boards allow you to record videos from IP cameras to a SATA drive, and display them in a mosaic for monitoring & security. One of such boards is XiongMai NBD7024T-P powered by a Hisilicon Hi3535 dual core Cortex A9 processor, and featuring Gigabit Ethernet, SATA, and USB 3.0 interfaces, on top of HDMI and VGA video output and stereo audio output. With such features, this type of board could likely be re-purposed for other applications, such as a NAS setup too,and they are fairly inexpensive going for $45 including shipping on Aliexpress.

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NBD7024T-P NVR board specifications:

  • SoC –  Hisilicon Hi3535 dual core Cortex A9 processor @ 1.0 GHz
  • System Memory – 4Gbit (512MB) RAM
  • Storage – 2x SATA ports up to 8TB each, maybe some SPI flash for firmware
  • Video Output – 1x HDMI, 1x VGA
  • Audio Output – 2x RCA jacks for stereo audio
  • Video Input (IP) – 8x @ 5M, 16x @ 4M, 32x (24fps), 16x, 8x @ 1080p, 32x @ 960p, 16x @ 720p up to 192 Mbps bandwidth
  • Video & Audio Compression – H.264, G.711A
  • Display & Playback “Quality” – 1280×1080 max display resolution, playback: 5M/4M 1080p/960p/720p
  • Video Preview – 1/4/8/16/24/32
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet port + 4ch WiFi ???
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 port, 1x USB 3.0 port
  • Misc – RTC battery, some expansion headers
  • Power supply – 12V/4A
  • Power Consumption – <10W (without HDD)
  • Dimensions – 164mm x 80mm
  • Weight – ~130g
  • Temperature Range – 0°C-+55°C
  • Humidity – 10%-90% RH

You can use the built-in interface shown above, a Windows based CMS app, XMeye mobile app to manage the video streams, or any ONVIF compliant apps. The board is said to run some kind of embedded Linux distributions. The seller of the board on Taobao, also “sells” the SDK for various Hisilicon processors for 5 RMB. But since the name of the SDK is shown a search for Hi3535_V100R001C01SPC020 led me to that direct link on baidu where it looks like you can download it for free, until you find out the archive is password protected… The SDK is said to be based on Linux 3.14, and you’d have to use this, since I could not see any activity about Hi3535 in LKML.

HiSilicon Hi3535 Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The manufacturer of the board is Hangzhou XiongMai Technology, and you can find a product brief here. If you find $45 is too high for your use case, some cheaper 4-channel NVR boards based on HiSilicon Hi3520D ARM Cortex A9 processor @ 660 MHz can be found for about $17 shipped with Fast Ethernet, one SATA 2.0 interface, and HDMI & VGA output.

HiSilicon Hi3535 processor sells for about $8 in quantities, so in case software support is acceptable, and HiSilicon helps with the release of the SDK, it might be possible to make low cost boards for headless applications. It still remains to be seen how SATA, Ethernet, and USB 3.0 interfaces perform on the processor.

Thanks to Jon for the tip.