NanoPC-T4 – A High-Performance Low Cost Single Board Computer Powered By RK3399

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FriendlyElec recently released a pretty exciting hacker board which is super cheap, considering the features of the board and the price it is being sold for. The Single Board Computer (SBC) is based on Rockchip RK3399; a low power, high-performance processor. The board which is called Nano PC – T4 can be regarded as the smallest rock chip based board as it measures 100mm by 64m as compared to other RK3399 SBCs. It is different from other Nano Pi, and Nano PC SBCs produced by FriendlyElec because previous boards run on Samsung of Allwinner System on Chips (SOCs).

NanoPC-T4

The board comes with a default 4GB RAM and a whopping 16G eMMC (embedded Multi Media Card). It also works with Android 7.1 which can be exchanged for the full fledged Lubuntu Desktop version of Ubuntu. Nano PC – T4 uses the same system-on-a-chip (SoC) as Samsung’s Chromebook Plus but at a lesser price. Other features are 16 GB storage onboard bundled with a heatsink, radio antennas, a power adapter, and an acrylic case. The RK3399 SoC supplies two Cortex-A72 cores that are clocked at up to 2.0GHz, and an additional four Cortex-A53 cores clocked to 1.5GHz. There’s also a high-end ARM Mali-T864 Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) included into the device.

The board comes with an M.2 2280 connector, which allows high-speed PCIe SSDs to be used, the M.2 connector supports PCI Express 2.1, that has been wired for x4, making it possible to get I/O speeds at a very fast speed. On the other end, we have the Firefly-RK3399, which is being sold for $149 with a 2GB RAM or $209 with a 4GB RAM. Another board is the Orange Pi which goes for $109 and has a 2GB RAM. Unlike the expensive Orange Pi RK3399, the NanoPC-T4 gives a wider 0 to 80℃ temperature range, ADC interfaces, DDR4 instead of DDR3 RAM, and twice the amount of RAM for the oversight configuration.

Below are some of the device’s specifications:

  • Processor — Rockchip RK3399 (2x Cortex-A72 at up to 2.0GHz, 4x Cortex-A53 @ up to 1.5GHz); Mali-T864 GPU
  • Memory:
    • 4GB LPDDR3 RAM (dual-channel)
    • 16GB eMMC 5.1 flash
    • MicroSD slot
    • Optional NVME SSD via M.2 M-Key (see expansion section below)
  • Media:
    • HDMI 2.0a port (with audio and HDCP 1.4/2.2) for up to 4K at 60Hz
    • DisplayPort 1.2 (via USB Type-C)
    • MIPI-DSI (4-lane)
    • eDP 1.3
    • 2x, 4-lane MIPI-CSI (up to 13MP) with dual ISP support
    • 3.5mm analog audio I/O jack
  • Wireless:
    • 802.11b/g/n/ac 2.4GHz/5GHz dual-band
    • Bluetooth 4.1 dual mode
    • Dual antennas
    • IR receiver
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 3.0 host port
    • USB 3.0 Type-C port (can be used for DP)
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Serial debug UART
    • 3x ADC (1.8V)
    • 12V cooling fan interface with PWM
  • Expansion:
    • 40-pin RPi compatible expansion header
    • M.2 M-Key slot with PCIe 2.1, dual operation mode, and M3 PCB nut for mounting M.2 2280
  • Other features — RTC; power, reset, recovery, boot buttons; LEDs; heatsink; acrylic case
  • Power — 12V/2A DC input jack and adapter; PMIC
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 80℃
  • Weight — 63 gm
  • Dimensions — 100 x 64mm; 10-layer PCB
  • Operating system — Android 7.1.2; Lubuntu Desktop 16.04

One major taking point for the NanoPC-T4 is the availability of two MIPI-CSI x2 making it a dual camera interface platform. This simultaneous dual camera data support is going to make the device ideal for VR and AR applications. The NanoPC-T4 has four high-performance display interfaces (DP 1.2 @60fps, HDMI 2.0,  MIPI-DSI @60fps, and eDP 1.3) on a small board and supports dual display output.

Despite the fact that the board does not have an HDMI input port or even built-in sensors, the Nano PC – T4 has a wide range of applications, some of them are advertisement machines, game machines, video conferencing, clusters, surveillance and many more. It also supports certain advanced features such as native GbE and a dual purpose USB Type C port serves as the display port.

The NanoPC-T4 is available for purchase online at a discounted price of $129 and can be bought on the product page here. The board purchase comes in a complete package. Below are some of the items present in the item package:

  • NanoPC-T4
  • Customized Heat Sink (With Screws)
  • 2x Dual-Band antenna
  • 12V 2A Universal Power Adapter
  • Acrylic case For NanoPC-T3 Plus/T4 (with Screws)

About Ayo Ayibiowu

Ayo is a software and hardware guy, a writer, and a prospective farmer. Ayo is passionate about STEM Education and Technology and has worked with over three EdTech startups in the last 5 years. Ayo currently talks and writes about technology especially in the areas of Internet of Things, Open Hardware, Startups, Precision Agriculture, Artificial Intelligence and Smart Cities. Ayo loves to cook and think about abstract ideas, and in his free time enjoys biking, hiking, traveling and playing video games. Reach me - charlesayibiowu@hotmail.com

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