The ODROID-U2 is the world's smallest quad-core ARM board, but its heatsink gives it a surprisingly cubic design.
Korean compact computing specialist Hardkernel has formally announced its next-generation ARM products: the ultra-compact ODROID-U2 and the extremely expandable ODROID-X2.
Designed for the same market as the popular Raspberry Pi, both ODROID products have one thing in common: performance. Rather than the outdated and slow ARMv6 processors found in most low-cost development boards, Hardkernel has opted to use Samsung's Exynos 4412 quad-core chip as found in the Galaxy S3 smartphone and the Exynos 4412 Prime variant. The result is pair of boards boasting a Cortex-A9-class processor with four cores running at 1.7GHz, 2GB of memory and a svelte design that makes the Raspberry Pi look positively porky.
The ODROID-U2 is designed to appeal to those with a need for compact computing: the board measures just 48mm x 52mm, or around half that of the already-small Raspberry Pi. Despite this, is manages to include the full-fat quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a 10/100 Ethernet connector and a pair of USB ports, along with a micro-HDMI connector and a micro-SD card slot.
For those who need more connectivity, the larger - 90mm x 94mm - ODROID-X2 uses the same processor and memory as its smaller equivalent, but includes six full-speed USB 2.0 ports and a full-size SD card slot.Both models include holes for mounting screws - something the Raspberry Pi only received in a recent board revision.
There are, of course, sacrifices: both the ODROID-U2 and the ODROID-X2 require a large heatsink which, while passive, increases the height of the system beyond that of any other development board on the market today. It's also impossible to power either through the micro-USB port, with both needing a separate 5V power adapter capable of providing a full 2A of current - suggesting a peak power draw of 10W.
For those who find footprint, rather than volume, important, the ODROID-U2 could prove a popular alternative to the Raspberry Pi - and its more powerful processor, based on the ARMv7 instruction set, provides out-of-the-box compatibility with Android and most Linux distributions. That power does come at a price, however: while the Raspberry Pi's official retail price is set at $35 - around £30 including VAT from most UK retailers - the ODROID-U2 costs $69 while the larger ODROID-X2 costs $135 (around £43 and £84 each, excluding taxes.)
The ODROID-U2 launches on the 21st of December, with the ODROID-X2 launching on the 10th of December. More details are available on the Hardkernel website