Last updated on April 9th, 2017 at 05:21 pm
The FireFly RK3399 single board computer (SBC) is the world’s first PC-class open-source hardware platform based on 64-bit ARMv8 Cortex-A72/Cortex-A53 core designs. Based on the latest Rockchip Hexacore (6 cores) RK3399 Processor, designed and developed by T-Chip Technology Co. Ltd.
It features up to 4GB DDR3 RAM, M.2, and USB 3.0 Type-C interface. Offers very advanced features and processing power compared to the previous RK3288 SoC. Processor features two server-class Cortex-A72 cores clocked to up to 1.9 GHz, as well as four Cortex-A53 at up to 1.51 GHz with bunch of developer-friendly interfaces (external interfaces).
It has on board eMMC with up to 128GB storage, On board Gigabit Ethernet, Dual Band 802.11AC WiFi, Micro-SD card slot, M.2 slot for additional storage via SATA Expansion card, HDMI 2.0, Display Port 1.2, 3.5 mm audio, S/PDIF port, a Headphone jack, 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, Dual MIPI-CIS interface, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 Type-C port.
The performance of this single board computer is top of the line. Powered by the ARM Mali T-864 MP4 GPU that can play 4K Ultra-HD streams including games trough USB Type C Display Port 1.2. Its equipped with a special dual signal image processor capable of operating two cameras simultaneously. It is engineered for Virtual Reality applications, 4K and Panoramic Photo and Video Capture, Computer Vision, 3D Rendering, Gaming, Low Power Server, and many more cutting-edge applications, functions targeting Developers/hackers, DIY hobbyists. For further information including prices you are welcome to visit company official Website and store posted below:
Firefly RK3399 Plus Review – TOC
- Product Introduction
- Firefly RK3399 Plus Overview (Video)
- A Closer Look at the Firefly RK3399 Plus
- Performance & Benchmarks
- Special Functions
- Operating Systems, Software Support
- Basic Operation: Burning Images
- Power Consumption
- Final Words
- Pros / Cons
- Firefly RK3399: 2GB DDR3, 16GB eMMC
- Firefly RK3399 Plus: 4GB DDR3, 32GB eMMC
- Firefly RK3399 Max: 4GB DDR3, 128GB eMMC
- SoC Rockchip RK3399 hexa-core dual core Cortex A72 + quad core Cortex A53
- GPU Mali-T860MP4 with OpenGL 1.1 to 3.0 support, OpenVG 1.1, OpenCL and DX 11.
- System Memory – 2GB/4GB Dual Channel DDR3 (SAMSUNG)
- Storage – 16 to 128 GB eMMC flash + Micro SD card
- Audio – HDMI, 3.5 mm headphone jack, optical S/PDIF, built-in microphone
- USB – 2x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB 3.0 port, 1x USB 3.0 type C port
- Misc – RTC battery header; power, reset and recovery buttons; IR receiver
- Dual MIPI CSI interfaces, eDP 1.2 interface, YUV interface, 1x MIPI DSI interface
- Video Output & Display Interfaces – HDMI 2.0 up to 4K @ 60 Hz
- Video Decode – 4K VP9 and 10-bit H.265 video codec support up to 60 fps
- 1x Debugging – 3-pin serial header Expansion
- 1x 42 Pin GPIO female header
- Dimensions: 124 mm x 93 mm
- Power Supply – 12V DC / 2A
- Weight: 89g (with cooling fan: 120g)
- OS: Android 6.0.1 , Ubuntu 16.04 , u-boot
Network & Connectivity
- 1x Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45) port
- 1 x SIM Card Slot , for the Mini PCIe expansion LTE module
- 1 x Integrated WiFi Combo Module ( AP6356S )
- 2.4GHz/5GHz Dual-Band WiFi,Support 802.11a/b/g/n/ac,2×2 MIMO standard
Bluetooth 4.1(Support BLE)
Firefly RK3399 Plus Overview
The RK3399 Plus Board Package (Kit) came well packed with all necessary most have items, such as two WiFi Antennas, Antenna cables, Power Adapter, Well designed Heatsink, USB to UART Module (CP2104) board, and a USB Cable with USB Type-C adapter for updating the device firmware via PC.
Firefly RK3399 with Accessories
Firefly RK3399 Unboxing
Firefly RK3399 Package Accessories
A Closer Look at the Firefly RK3399 Plus
|Table of Content|
|1||1||12V DC Input Port|
|3||1||Optical ( SPDIF )|
|4||Optional Module||LTE module Slot/Socket|
|5||2||MIPI DSI Interface|
|6||1||USB Type C Display Port 1.2|
|9||2||Antenna Ipex Socket (BT & WiFi)|
|10||1||42 Pin GPIO|
|16||1||SIM Card Slot|
|17||1||TF Card Slot|
|18||4||USB 2.0 Hosts|
|22||Debug Serial interface|
|23||1||12V 2A Input|
|25||1||RK3399 (CPU & GPU)|
|26||2||Bluetooth & WiFi Module|
|28||2||Dual CSI Interface|
|29||4||1GB RAM (4GB in-total)|
|31||1||RTC Bat Interface|
Firefly RK3399 Plus Board
Performance & Benchmarks
The FireFly board RK3399 SoC is equipped with a total of 6 cores (Hexa). This Hardware platform integrates a Dual-core ARM Cortex-A72 MPCore processor operating in max clock frequency up to 1.9 GHz and a Quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 MPCore processor running at max frequency up to 1.5 GHz. In minimal workload (idle) mode, each of the processor cores operating at frequencies of 480MHz and dynamically change frequency according to system resources.
In video and graphics this board has a very speedy Mali-T860MP4 capable of decoding videos and rendering graphics very fast. That said, AnTutu score ranked 76458 which is considered to be top score for any development board. This basically means that hardware is strong enough to be used as a Mini PC or workstation running Android 6.0.1 / Ubuntu OS. In comparison to Unuiga T96 PRO (3GB / 32GB) Android Set-top Box hardware which is based on Amlogic S912 SoC and equipped with a Mali 820MP3 the firefly hardware preformed ~56% better. The additional GPU Core along with 1GB of RAM really made a big impact on system performance, especially when running “heavy” graphics and games on this top notch hardware.
– AnTuTu Benchmark –
Firefly RK3399 Plus Vs Unuiga T96 PRO
Firefly rk3399 benchmark Results vs. Redmi Note 3 Phone
Another big advantage for KODI fans, is the excellent combination of the powerful Mali-T860MP4 (4 Cores) GPU with HDMI Ver 2.0 interface. According to Wikipedia the new RK3399 SoC support video hardware acceleration.
From my personal impression the GPU preformed extremely well in decoding video files under Android 6.0 64 Bit OS. In most cases, the average home user will not probably such high resolution and frame rate, but it’s important to mention that after installing and testing with the latest Kodi v17 (Krypton) 64-Bit APK package, I was also able to play video files sampled at [email protected] and they played very smoothly, without any noticeable video lags.
Operating Systems, Software Support
T-Chip Company provides two types of Images based on 64-bit ARM Architecture. Android 6.0 and Ubuntu 16.04 running under Xfce desktop environment that are dual boot supported. What lets you switch between OS in a matter of few seconds. That said, If you want to experience with more OS then as a user you are pretty limited. More OS images could have nicer to have, for example: LibreELEC , Debian Linux, Armbian, Phoenix OS, Remix OS and so forth.
T-Chip provides good documentations and support in their website support section. They also include Android 6.0.1 SDK Source for software developers interested in coding under Rockchip RK3399 hardware platform.
Android 6.0.1 | Screenshots
Ubuntu 6.0.1 | Screenshots
Dual Mode Display
Focusing on few main highlights this board has to offer. The Board integrates about four types of external video interfaces. Among of them is a USB 3.0 Type C interface that functions as an OTG type interface that also support DP 1.2 standard, and can be used to output a video signal in 2Kx4K Quality. Both HDMI and USB 3.0 Type C and the HDMI 2.0 interface are capable of working simultaneously under Android 6.0 OS in this Dual Display Mode. What you need to make it work is to buy an USB 3.0 Type C HDMI adapter or cable and just connected it to another monitor.
Dual Display function in Android 6.0.1 Settings
Optional Accessories (Not included in Kit)
4G LTE module board | Buy Link: Click Here
Another very practical feature is the option to add a 4G LTE module board that cost $75 which connects to the board PCIe interface and then you can use a SIM Card to connect to the internet via a local cellular service provider. With this module, you can use the Firefly board as router to share connection across other WiFi devices, making it a fully independent portable device with 3G/4G connectivity.
- x1 4G LTE Module
- x1 5db Antenna
- x1 Antenna Cable
- x4 M2 Screw
- x2 Nut stud
SATA3.0 Interface | Buy Link: Click Here
To connect with an external hard-drive you will need to buy the PCIe M.2 to SATA3.0 Adapter Board / module that is pretty cheap and cost about $9.0. The module provides two SATA 3.0 Ports with two 5V power connectors that should be enough to connect and powering two SSD drives.
- 1x PCIe M.2 (B-KEY) to SATA 3.0 Adapter Board
- 1x Screw Stud
- 2x M2 Screw
IR Remote | Buy Link: Click Here
For users that want to use the Firefly as Mini PC and want to turn it remotely, without pressing the on-board power button all the time to turn the unit on and off, you can purchase a simple IR remote for a price of $5.
The Firefly RK3399 board consumption was low, and not extraordinary considering this board is a high level performance SoC with 6 Processor Cores. Using a power meter device connected to a power socket consumption measured between 9.0 – 13 W when playing 4K videos with KODI Media Player 17.1 Krypton. In Idle mode, “lite” usage with some browsing power consumption was between 6.0-7.1 W.
Keep in mind that These results are not absolute. Meaning, they change dynamically according to the type of usage and consumed system resources. If all cores of the processor cores are active and additional external devices are also hooked up to the board results will change accordingly. In this specific test I connected Wireless Keyboard, Wirelesses Mouse and external USB Hard drive where the video samples were stored.
Firefly RK3399 Power Consumption 4.3 W | idle Mode
The Firefly RK339 kit comes with semi open case, build from a base and upper plastic plate opened from all sides so excessive heat gets out very quickly. With Firefly excellent Heatsink the processor core temperature measured between 25-26C in a non heavy workload / usage. If I would use a closed case, results were probably much higher.
All items included in a package where top quality. This Board is defiantly considered a top level hardware with superb performance capable of running app and games including KODI very well. With all the advanced on board interfaces, software developers have plenty of features to play and experiment with. The Firefly-RK3399 Plus Kit I reviewed cost $219. For people that feel this price is too expensive, There is also a low cost basic version with 2B RAM / 16GB EMMC on sale for $ 179.
Pros / Cons
- 4GB RAM
- Excellence Quality
- Excellent performance
- Lots of on board interfaces
- Dual Display support
- Dual CSI Interface
- Support only two types of OS (Android & Ubuntu).