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NanoPi NEO3 Offers Network Storage in a Tiny Package

Side view of the NanoPi NEO3
(Image credit: http://wiki.friendlyarm.com/)

Raspberry Pi alternative FriendlyELEC have a history of producing ever more powerful single board computers (SBC) for a variety of applications. Their latest board the NanoPi NEO3, discovered by CNX Software seems to be a small device with which to build network storage applications.

NanoPi NEO3 Specifications
SoC:RockChip RK3328, Quad-core 64-bit high-performance Cortex A53
RAM:1GB/2GB DDR4
LAN:10/100/1000M Ethernet with unique MAC
USB Host:1x USB3.0 Type A and 2x USB2.0 on 2.54mm pin header
MicroSD:MicroSD x 1 for system boot and storage
Fan:2Pin JST ZH 1.5mm Connector for 5V Fan
GPIO:2.54mm pitch 26 pin-header, include I2C, UART, SPI, I2S, GPIO
Power:5V/1A, via Type-C or GPIO
PCB Dimensions:48 x 48mm (1.89 inch x 1.89 inch)
Working Temperature:-20℃ to 70℃
Weight:22g
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Top view of NanoPi NEO3

(Image credit: http://wiki.friendlyarm.com/)
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Side view of the NanoPi NEO3

(Image credit: http://wiki.friendlyarm.com/)
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Bottom view of the NanoPi NEO3

(Image credit: http://wiki.friendlyarm.com/)

The RockChip RK3328 System on Chip (SoC)  is quite an old SoC, released in 2016, but it is still a powerful chip for such a small board. Providing a quad core Arm Cortex A53 and MAli-450MP4 GPU, add in 1GB or 2GB of DDR4, USB 3 and USB C power and we have an interesting board, as long as it is cost effective. Network connectivity is limited to a single Gigabit Ethernet port (RTL8211E). There is no HDMI or other video outputs on the board, which means all control is via a remote terminal.

NanoPi NEO3 Layout

(Image credit: http://wiki.friendlyarm.com/)

Storage is available via a microSD card slot, sadly there is no space for any SATA or NVME storage options. GPIO access is provided via a 26 pin interface, which features I2C, UART, SPI and I2S. Operating system support is currently an unknown quantity, but it is a good bet that operating systems for other RockChip boards will be compatible.

Based on the size of the board, slightly larger than a Raspberry Pi Zero W, and the power being roughly equal to a Raspberry Pi 3B, we would hope to see this board come in at around $20, with the 2GB model for a few dollars more.

  • Rdslw
    microsd is topping around 100MB's so unless usb3.0 also can take a speedy pendrive, it does not make a lot of sense with that gigabit ethernet.
    hmmm true tiny network storage.
    Reply
  • Findecanor
    Only MicroSD storage ...

    Clickbait headline. Thanks for nothing.
    Reply
  • ftw2
    Findecanor said:
    Only MicroSD storage ...

    Clickbait headline. Thanks for nothing.

    I know right... I was expecting nvme, sata, or 2.5g ethernet. Any of which may have been an interesting product.
    Reply
  • Giroro
    Rdslw said:
    microsd is topping around 100MB's so unless usb3.0 also can take a speedy pendrive, it does not make a lot of sense with that gigabit ethernet.
    hmmm true tiny network storage.

    Theres only 125 MegaBytes in a Gigabit (1,000 / 8). The real-world speed of gigabit Ethernet is about 118 MB/S.
    Reply
  • misanthropic-gamer
    In spite of the haters (yes, reference to the Haters Annual Ball), I think this is a step in the right direction. I would like to see all of the standard interfaces smacked-down the micro.
    Reply
  • deesider
    ftw2 said:
    I know right... I was expecting nvme, sata, or 2.5g ethernet. Any of which may have been an interesting product.
    I don't think it is total clickbait - it depends on context. As a network storage device it could be better, but this device is a major step up from the OrangePi Zero for example - which is small, headless and very cheap, but only has USB2 and 100M ethernet.

    Plug in a USB HDD and you have a cheap, very configurable NAS.
    Reply
  • OldSurferDude
    I find this device interesting. I'm using a headless RPi to coordinated a number of Arduino Nanos all with nRF24 radios. The RPI though, connects to the network with WiFi, so that estimated $20 is bumped up by the cost of a micro-router.

    Since this devices is designed to be headless, the OS has to come preconfigured for remote access. That could be tricky, particularly for a GUI. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't remote access programs like VNC use the video chip? So no GUI at all?
    Reply
  • deesider
    OldSurferDude said:
    Since this devices is designed to be headless, the OS has to come preconfigured for remote access. That could be tricky, particularly for a GUI. Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't remote access programs like VNC use the video chip? So no GUI at all?
    It doesn't have a built in video output, but the SoC includes a GPU, so VNC should still run fine. Apparently it is also possible to fake a GPU on a linux system if required to run VNC.
    Reply