ODROID-XU4 Review: Better Performance Than the Raspberry Pi, Plus USB3 and Gigabit Ethernet For USD$60

Hardkernel recently sent over the ODROID-XU4 for benchmarking. This ARM SBC that measures in at about 82 x 58 x 22 mm (3.23” x 2.24” x 0.87”) offers much better performance than many sub-$100 ARM SBCs, while featuring dual USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, eMMC storage, and compatibility with older XU3 ARM SBCs. Here's a look at the performance of the ODROID-XU4 compared to a variety of other single board computers.

Figure 1 - The ODROID-XU4 single board computer

The ODROID-XU4 is built around a Samsung Exynos5422 SoC that features four Cortex-A15 cores at 2.0GHz and four Cortex-A7 cores at 1.3GHz, while the graphics are provided by a Mali-T628. Going in hand with this Exynos 5 SoC is 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM, HDMI 1.4 supporting 1080p output, one USB 2.0 port, two USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, and a 30-pin GPIO header, all contained on a PCB just 83 x 58 mm (3.23” x 2.24”).

Figure 2 - The XU4 control board measures in at 83 x 58mm

(Figure 2 - The XU4 control board measures in at 83 x 58mm)

For cooling, the Exynos 5 SoC, an active heat sink, ships with this ARM SBC. There are thermal results later in this article, but the fan is certainly needed in the case of this SoC/board.

Figure 3 - The XU4 comes with a Exynos 5 SoC for cooling

The ODROID-XU4 officially supports Ubuntu 18.04 with the Linux 4.9 and 4.14 ARM kernels. There are Android images available as well as different third-party images. The ODROID Wiki continues to be quite useful for those looking for technical details and other information on Hardkernel SBCs.

My testing done was using the Ubuntu 18.04 image with the Linux 4.14.37 kernel. It uses the GCC 7.3 compiler by default. To get an idea of the performance capabilities of this ARM SBC I benchmarked it against the ASUS Tinker Board, Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+, Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+, Jetson TX1, Jetson TX2, ODROID-C1+, ALL-H3-CC H5 2GB, and AML-S905X-CC 2GB. All of these ARM Linux benchmarks were carried out using the Phoronix Test Suite.

The XU4 memory performance came out ahead of the other low-cost ARM SBCs, but behind the NVIDIA Jetson Tegra boards that feature LPDDR4 memory. With the multi-threaded TTSIOD 3D Renderer, the ODROID-XU4 was surprisingly capable of coming out just ahead of the Jetson TX2. Just a reminder that the TX2 is a dual NVIDIA Denver core plus four ARM Cortex-A57 cores.

With the OpenMP-threaded GraphicsMagick program, the Tegra SoCs came out ahead, but the XU4 still beat out all of the other sub-$100 ARM SBCs. The ODROID-XU4 performed very well in the 7-Zip compression test and almost matched the Jetson TX1 CPU performance.

Compile times for PHP came in between the TX1 and TX2 boards. C-Ray ray-tracing also led to the XU4 performing between the TX1 and TX2 ARM development boards.

Not being too familiar with the XU4 until receiving it, the performance potential of this ARM SBC was quite surprising. In the Redis benchmarks, the ASUS Tinker Board showed a slight advantage. For the Python benchmarking, the ODROID-XU4 came out ahead of the NVIDIA Tegra SoCs. The ODROID-XU4 also worked out well for its PHP performance compared to the other ARM hardware benchmarks.

Next up, we look at the performance-per-dollar based on the current pricing in the US for these different boards. Keep in mind that though the Jetson boards are much more expensive, they’re particularly useful for GPU computing not focused on in these tests, due to predominantly testing low-end ARM SBCs in this article.

The ODROID-XU4 at $62 offered great value and generally delivered the leading performance-per-dollar, except in some cases where the $25 Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ came out ahead. However, there you also have much less RAM, no USB 3.0, and no Gigabit Ethernet. So ~$60 is quite competitive pricing for this single board computer from Hardkernel.

As a word of caution, even with the active cooling on the ODROID-XU4, under load it can get quite hot. Here's a look at the SoC temperature with stock cooling outside of any enclosure, and then when run within the included XU4 chassis.

The average SoC temperature under load was 70C (158F) or 75C (167F) when run within the XU4 enclosure, peaking at up to 84~90C (182-194F). Between the bare setup and the enclosure, I didn't notice the enclosure causing any thermal throttling as the performance benchmark results came out identical. Warm SoCs aren't anything new but the data certainly shows active cooling is necessary with this Exynos 5 chip. If you plan on constantly running the ODROID-XU4 under load it may be worthwhile switching to a larger heatsink/fan.

Overall, this is quite a nice ARM SBC coming in at the $60 price point with very competitive performance. If you wish to see how your own Linux system compares to the ARM SBCs tested for this article, simply install the Phoronix Test Suite and run phoronix-test-suite benchmark 1812082-SK-ODROIDXU403. Thanks to Hardkernel for sending over this ODROID-XU4 for testing.

For comments, questions, and suggestions, please visit the original article at https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=ODROID-xu4-arm&num=6.

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