RoadTest: LattePanda 3 Delta
Evaluation Type: Development Boards & Tools
Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True
What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: Seeed Odyssey, UDOO Bolt
What were the biggest problems encountered?: Connecting the Wifi antennas
The first question that raised in my mind when I went through LattePanda 3 Delta specs was: what is this for? I mean: after all, a Raspberry Pi 4 provides enough computer power to meet basically all the needs a maker may have. Plus, a Raspberry Pi is a fanless, low-power, low-cost device. What else can you ask more from an SBC?
Well, after some time spent tweaking on this board, I can say that it worth the money!
What is LattePanda
LattePanda 3 Delta could be considered an alternative to Raspberry Pi SBC. The main difference is that this board features an Intel CPU at its core. The LattePanda 3 Delta is a rather large and powerful SBC, powered by an 11th Gen Intel Jasper Lake CPU. Because it is Intel based, we have an incredibly large choice of potential operating systems. As a matter of fact, LattePanda provides both Windows 10 and 11, but if you prefer Linux, you can install any distribution out there and it will run smooth and clean
The LattePanda Delta 3 comes in a sleek black box, which includes
Wifi antennas have to be connected to the wifi module, which was one the scariest experiences in my life... Here how you should plug the incredibly small connectors
The reality is that your hands tremble in fear...
Let's start from the specs
The Intel Celeron N5105 Jasper Lake CPU uses 10nm lithography and is designed with low power devices in mind. The days of Celeron branded chips being a letdown are gone. This CPU gives an incredible performance at lower power specs. The TDP may only be 10W, but this CPU requires active cooling to prevent thermal throttling. Luckily the included fan is incredibly quiet and you are not distracted by the fan even when running at full speed. This makes this SBC a suitable solution for media center applications. The 8 GB RAM is plenty, though it is a single channel which may be an issue for some applications. It also has a Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) built-in, so upgrading to Windows 11 won't be an issue.
The LattePanda 3 Delta has an a sci-fi look and feel. The large heatsink and fan cover with the LattePanda logo, resemble a starship from the Star Trek series
The board is obviously larger than a Raspberry Pi 4 and, unlike the Raspberry Pi, it is focused on connectivity rather than size. The main ports are at either end of the board, and there is plenty of space between the ports.
The top layer of the PCB is dominated by the heatsink and fan, with GPIO headers around it
On the first short edge we have, from left to right, the USB/C connector, the Gigabit Ethernet port and the HDMI port. The USB/C connector also provides power supply, thus allowing to make a desktop configuration with a single USB/C cable if the monitor provides a USB-C port
On the long edge we have a strip headers with signals for power management (these are outputs that provide a feedback about the current power mode of the board - for example idle, sleep or hibernated), the audio signals, the I2C bus signals, the RS232 TTL signals and the USB signals.
It's weird that there are USB data pins on these strip headers. I can't think of a scenario where you may need to use USB data pins when you have plenty of USB connectors
On the other short edge we have the USB ports. All the power support the USB 3.2 standard, but the leftmost is a Gen 2 port (and supports datarates up to 10 Gbps), whereas the other two are Gen 1 port (and support datarates up to 5 Gbps)
On the other long edge we have other pin headers with the signals from the Arduino Leonardo microcontroller. Also note the RTC battery included in the box.
Another thing that left me puzzled is the Arduino connector. It does not comply with the standard Arduino shield format. I can imagine the single-strip solution is a trade-off of PCB routing in terms of board size and number of layers, but, from my point of view, I would have preferred a larger SBC but with the possibility to plug a standard Arduino shield
UPDATE: after some time spent developing a project on this board, I have to report a minor issue related to the placement of the power switch. The power switch faces to the side of the board, this makes very easy to unintentionally press is and switch on or off the board when you grab the board, for example, to connect or disconnect a USB peripheral. A top-facing switch (like, for example, the Arduino reset switch) would prevent such incoveniences
On the back side of the PCB we have some interesting features. We spot an NVMe M.2 slot that supports PCIe 3.0 and it is compatible with 2280 format drives.
Another M.2 slot B provides expansion via SATA SSD (2242, 2260 and 2280), or with 4/5G modules.
The board also has a combined micro SD and SIM card slot, necessary should you wish to use 4/5G modules.
Essentially the LattePanda 3 Delta is an Intel x86 Jasper Lake based PC in a SBC form factor. If we look at the hardware specifications, the LattePanda 3 Delta could be considered equivalent to an entry level desktop PC. This also means that we are free to use any desktop-based OS and software. It worth note that LattePanda provides a complete guide to install a variety operating systems and also provides links to download a custom version of Windows 10/11. The customization includes a pre-installed version of the Arduino IDE to program the on-board ATMEGA32U4 processor (aka the processor of the Arduino Leonardo board)
My board was shipped with Windows 10 preinstalled, but it does not include the activation key (you need to buy the $339 version to get the activation key - which means an extra $60 compared to the "bare" version)
To install Windows 10/11, LattePanda also provides an automated procedure that will burn the OS to internal eMMC or to M2/SATA SSD. The image is stored on an USB stick and then you have just to boot the Delta 3 board and wait. The whole procedure is available here
The pre-installed Windows 10 runs incredibly smooth. It was not my intention to run speed test in this configuration, but according to what I experienced during the limited time I spent running Windows on this platform I can say that you will be able to perform most admin tasks, some light video editing and photo work. However, it's better to think of the LattePanda 3 Delta as a powerful platform for robotics and machine learning, not as a desktop replacement. Projects that traditionally require more processing power to perform a task (like video recognition, neural network algorithms) can run on the LattePanda 3 Delta. Plus, the Arduino element is there to control the motors, sensors and other components that requires GPIO or other low-level interfaces or some sort of strict real-time control.
My experience with Windows was very limited in time because, for the project I had in mind, I decided to install Ubuntu 22.04. I downloaded the official ISO from Ubuntu website, burnt the ISO on a USB stick and powered-up the board. By default, the BIOS does not check for bootable USB sticks, so I had to enter the BIOS setup and change the boot order. By the way, the BIOS is an unlocked American Megatrends BIOS, which affords a great deal of configuration. You can tweak with CPU and GPU, and even disable internal eMMC in case you connect an M2 NVMe or an external SATA disk and you want to avoid all the complicacies of a dual-boot configuration
Much like other x86 BIOSes, there are options for enabling and disabling fast start up, power watchdog with auto reboot, and USB power "always on" options too.
As I said, the GPIO of the LattePanda 3 Delta is two-fold. We have breakouts for USB, RS232 (serial), I2C and Audio. Via these breakouts we can directly access hardware at the OS level. The other GPIO is for the onboard Arduino Leonardo.
Unfortunately, it does not share the typical Arduino Uno form factor. Instead it has a double row of headers with the pinout printed to the side of the header. The headers layout requires some soldering and wiring to connect an Arduino standard shield. Considering the number of available ports and the the number of components on the board, this is probably the best trade-off the PCB designer could get. Nonetheless, this GPIO layout is the best compromise. LattePanda 3 Delta retains compatibility with Arduino code and components, and also provides all the GPIOs access that we take for granted when we work with an Arduino board. Sure we can’t directly connect an Arduino shield, but we can use a few wires to bridge the gap.
If you are not keen of the Arduino, you can use Python to control the GPIO. You will need to briefly use the Arduino IDE to flash Firmata, a firmware that we can use with Python. Installing the PyFirmata library via Python 3’s package manager we then created a short script to flash the onboard LED and then an external LED connected via jumper wires. The Python approach worked well, albeit much slower than the Arduino workflow. It took our Python code a few seconds before it was executed. This is the result of PyFirmata interpreting our Python code into something the ATMEGA32U4 can understand.
On Ubuntu, I installed Phoronix Test Suite to evaluate board performances. In particular, I run tests to measure the performances of the following subsystems
I was not able to run a complete benchmark on eMMC. However the chip is made by Sandisk, whose product are widely recognized as one of the best on the market
Performances are in the low part of performances, as you may expect from an SBC which is designed more to reduce power consumption than to provide computing power to crunch numbers
Regarding power consumption, note that even under the heavy load generated by the benchmarks, CPU temperature never exceeded 60 °C, which is quite good considering that the "dangerous zone" is at 105 °C. The 10W TDP design really helps in this case. The fan was spinning at full speed but it made absolutely no noise
The LattePanda 3 Delta is not going to outperform similar-priced laptops or second-hand tech with similar core specs, but that argument doesn't really make sense to me. Tio be honest, I used the LattePanda 3 Delta as a desktop replacement and the experience was absolutely fluid with both Windows and Linux. But, even if this solution is perfect for kiosks or other desktop-replacement applications, this multi-purpose SBC has the clear objective to bridge the gap between desktop computing and robotics.
Other pros are
In the next post, I am going to write about the project I built to test the effectiveness of computing power plus real-time control capabilities the LattePanda 3 Delta provides.
I fell in love with the LattePanda3. Davinci resolve recommended 16Gb ram , the LP3D did admirably with 8Gb. The LP3D is a nice pkg to use with ham radio, for a go kit or even with the home station. The raspberry pi 4 struggled with some of the ham radio apps. I'm glad to read similar conclusions while trekking different paths.
It is nice to have desktop horsepower and low level hardware interfaces in one module. Glad to see they did their homework on thermal management.