I recently received from Hardkernel an ODROID-N2, a new board replacing the cancelled ODROID-N1. Inside this package, I found the ODROID-N2 board, power supply, the clear case, WiFi USB adapter, and a 32GB eMMC card. The eMMC is way faster than SD cards.
The nice thing about the ODROID-N2 is that is uses a different SOC, an Amlogic S922X, giving a new perspective compared to most RK3399 top-end boards we see these days.
Some board specs: Hexa-core Amlogic S922X CPU with quad ARM Cortex-A73 and dual Cortex-A53 cores 4GB DDR4 RAM 1Gbps Ethernet 4 USB 3.0 ports, USB 3.0 hub behind a single USB 3.0 port from the SOC
More details can be found at https://www.hardkernel.com/shop/odroid-n2-with-4gbyte-ram/. My tests are always focused on server and console workloads. There are lots of benchmarks on Youtube and other blogs running games on Android or Linux desktop.
With the latest features from Docker, where you can build ARM images as easy as for x86, there are almost no drawbacks to use an ARM SBC for your server needs. I hope Hardkernel and Amlogic upstreams the patches to support this board. Now you need to use Hardkernel’s own Kernel tree (https://github.com/hardkernel/linux) or more details on their wiki (https://wiki.odroid.com/odroid-n2/odroid-n2).
First, I installed DietPi, a lightweight Linux distribution based on Debian. They already have an image for the ODROID-N2. I just downloaded and unpacked the file and flashed it to the eMMC memory using Balena Etcher. Remember to purchase the eMMC-USB reader to make your life easy. The eMMC-USB reader is available at: https://www.hardkernel.com/shop/emmc-module-reader-board-for-os-upgrade/
Here I compare synthetic benchmarks (DietPi benchmark and 7zip). These tests give a brief overview of the performance for the boards.
On average, the ODROID-N2 is 30–35% faster than Firefly RK3399, which is my default board. Also, it has way better memory throughput, up to 40% faster. I also benchmarked other RK3399 boards in the past and they all score similar numbers.
Here I ran some Java benchmarks aligned with my previous post comparing results on SPECjvm2008. On those tests, I ran in the Firefly RK3399 as well so the results will be aligned with the other benchmarks that have already done here. The benchmarks were run in a Docker container with the parameters:
$ docker run -it —rm -v $(pwd):/test openjdk:8u181-jdk-stretch bash $ java -jar SPECjvm2008.jar -wt 30s -it 1m -bt 6 -i 3 -ikv -ict [benchmark]
As can be seen, the performance increase of around 30% persisted compared to RK3399.
Here I test the network using iperf3. I test both TX and RX using the 1Gbps Ethernet connected to the same switch as the other computer. For the test server, I used my Macbook Pro connected with a 1Gbps Ethernet adapter. Here you can see the results from the ODROID-N2:
Reverse traffic mode gets lower numbers but, I saw similar numbers while testing the RK3399 board.
I tried disabling network checksum offload, a known issue on Rockchip SOCs, but the performance numbers didn’t change.
The ODROID-N2 board has a huge potential and is the most powerful ARM SBC I’ve seen. It’s use cases are infinite ranging from a home/mini server to a full-featured media center or desktop running almost any workload either installed or on containers. Also, it’s fantastically suited for a Kubernetes cluster with multiple nodes.
Its power consumption is amazing and can be always on with only 2.8W while idle and 6.5W while benchmarking with all 6 cores at 100%. Furthermore, it’s easy to flash new images, using eMMC, and the connectivity is plenty for most uses. I would love to see a PCI-E slot or an M.2. connector for NVMe drives. I found a document that states that the S922X SOC contains 1 PCI-E lane that in ODROID-N2 case was used for the USB 3.0 port. Other companies could provide this PCI-E lane as a M.2 connector or PCI-E slot.
All in all, I highly recommend the board and place it on top of my list with its features and within a reasonable price point for its performance and features. I think I might transform it soon into an ARM64 desktop with a full-featured Linux distribution like Ubuntu or if I can port Fedora.
This article was written by Carlos Eduardo and published on his medium page, which is available at https://medium.com/@carlosedp/hardkernel-odroid-n2-review-and-benchmarks-b6996b002582.