NanoPi NEO3 Offers Network Storage in a Tiny Package

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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.