Meet the Cubietruck (aka Cubieboard3)

Last Tuesday a new board arrived: the Cubietruck, from the Dutch dealer embeddedcomputer.nl. Some specs:

  • AllWinner A20 ARM Cortex-A7 Dual-Core
  • 2GB DDR3 RAM
  • HDMI & VGA connector
  • 10M/100M/1G Ethernet
  • SATA 2.0 interface
  • Storage: NAND,MicroSD, TSD+ MicroSD or 2 x MicroSD
  • 2 x USB HOST
  • Power DC5V @ 2.5A
  • 54 I/O pins with I2C, SPI, CVBS, UART, PWM, IRDA and more

And this is what it looks like with an 60GB SDD on top:

Cubietruck with SSD on top

Although the ‘case‘ that was included (3 acryllic plates) won’t help much to protect the board from dust, it does look kinda cool 😉 The package also contains a SATA cable, DC jack, heat sink and some USB cables. All you need is a 5V power supply, screen, keyboard and off you go.

Cubietruck idle powerBTW, power usage with the SSD attached is about 2.3~2.4W; not bad! The Cubietruck comes with Android pre-installed, but that’s not what I bought this board for; Linux is much more suitable for what I’ll be using this board for, so I downloaded Lubuntu Server and PhoenixSuit. The latter one is a Windows tool to flash the Cubietruck. Flashing the Lubuntu image was a breeze and within half an hour or so I had Lubuntu running. It’s all relatively easy and there are tutorials in case you get stuck. Furthermore, the Youtube channel of ProgramOften contains some very good footage: high quality video and very informative; they helped me moving the operating system from NAND to SSD.

After installing ssh I could remove the keyboard and screen and continue my work with Putty. It seems that some (not all, cause mine doesn’t) Cubietrucks change MAC address after a reboot, which can result in a different IP address when the interface is set to DHCP – it’s better to configure a static IP address in that case.

The Lubuntu server OS comes with MySQL & Apache installed and those 2 services are automatically started at boot. I disabled the automatic part and went on installing the stuff I’ll need: primarily Node.JS and a whole bunch of modules for it, some tools (Monit), prepared backup to my NAS and started tinkering with it.

You can really notice the difference between a Raspberry Pi and the Cubietruck (duh) ; compiling Node from source, installing packages, it all runs much faster. For example, where it took the Raspberry Pi half an hour to fill a LevelDB database on the SSD with >1M entries, the Cubietruck only needed 8 minutes for that.

So, why this Cubietruck, aren’t Raspberry Pi’s good enough anymore? Yes they still are, but I think I’ll need a more capable machine to host my website, maybe weblog too, take care of the historical data and still get a speedy response. For that I wanted to have a board with SATA and the Cubietruck seemed like the right choice. Time will tell..

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be doing some tests to see if I made the right choice: I’ll have a look how LevelDB performs on the Cubietruck, I’ll build some webpages with Node & AngularJS, produce some charts on those webpages with Highcharts, things like that. Just to see where all this is going to; did I make all the right choices, any bumps down the road I didn’t foresee? Will I manage to get my system running this way, or even better than it runs now? On those ‘scary little boxes’ as my wife called them a few weeks ago? (she’s used to seeing big-tower sized servers…)

First item on the list: LevelDB. I’m going to perform some tests in which I’ll try to push it to the limit (within the boundaries set by what I’ll be using it for, of course). Exciting!

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14 Responses to Meet the Cubietruck (aka Cubieboard3)

  1. Bogdan ioan says:

    Yesterday mine arrived as well. now to start using it.
    Glad you liked this board. And good info on the power usage.

  2. Pingback: Historical data: LevelDB versus MySQL - Digits Domotica Blog

  3. arrhenius says:

    Nice post, nice blog. You have a new rss suscriber. 😀

  4. OWKOWK says:

    Did you already connect a back-up battery to power the CT if mains fails? If yes, what type of battery pack did you use?

  5. Pankaj Kumar says:

    Have you tested ArchLinuxARM on cubieboard3?

  6. dickwan says:

    Hey which power supply did you use to power your cubietruck and the SSD Hardrive? I’ve tried a 5V@2.5A and the board works only if I disconnect the SDD Harddrive (64GB)
    Any specification on your power supply would be great.

    My Guess is that I need at least 3A output.

    Thanks in advance

    • I use a 5V 2.5A adapter as advised; never had any problem (Kingston SSDNow 300V SSD).

      • dickwan says:

        Thanks for your reply Robert. For some reason it’s working now. I don’t know why. My current configuration is:

        Cubietruck
        2GB Micro-SD with Cubian
        64GB SSD
        5V@ 2.5A Power Supply

        All seems to be working fine. Next step is to have XBMC running on it and finding a way to use the IR receiver for remote controlling

  7. George says:

    Hi, a couple of questions:
    1. Have you had any problems with heat at all? is that plastic case allow enough airflow so that nothing melts or starts smoking without external fans?

    2. By 5v power supply, are you talking about a straight adapter that will supply 5v@2.5 amps and plug directly from the wall into some plug on the card?

    Thanks!

    • Hi George,

      1. No problems. Both cases are still OK, they haven’t melted or got deformed. But my Cubies have a small workload, I guess that helps.
      2. Yep; see the accessories for the Cubie on the Cubieboard website.

  8. Bart Houkes says:

    ons kassasysteem werkt uitstekend op dit systeem.
    Touchscreen (inputattach), RFID (pcscd), Mysql, USB-display, serieele printers via USB, SSD hard disk, USB-extender, dit is echt veel sneller dan een Raspberry 🙂

    Omschakelen van NAND naar een externe hard disk is niet moeilijk als je weet hoe het moet. Zo nog een aantal uitzoekdingen…

    nu wil ik nog SDL2, Wifi en makkelijk omschakelen tussen resoluties… dan is het perfect!

    Cubieez werkt goed, Linaro nog beter.

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