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Open SBC runs Android and Linux on quad-core Rockchip

Sep 11, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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Radxa is accepting preorders for a compact, open, Android- and Linux-ready single board computer based on a 1.6GHz quad-core Rockchip RK3188 SoC. The $89 and $69 Radxa Rock and Rock Lite SBCs offer up to 2GB RAM and 8GB flash, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet connectivity, real-world ports for HDMI, Ethernet, USB, and S/PDIF, and numerous other interfaces on a pair of expansion headers.

Shenzhen China startup Radxa is another open SBC project from CubieBoard founder Tom Cubie. Whereas the latest CubieBoard2 is based on the dual-core, Cortex-A7 Allwinner A20 system-on-chip, the Radxa Rock moves up to Rockchip’s quad-core SoC clocked at 1.6GHz, according its schematic and specs. The two board versions differ only in their respective memories: 2GB or 1GB of DDR3 RAM, and 8GB or 4GB of NAND flash.



Radxa Rock SBC front and back
(click images to enlarge)

 

The Radxa boards’ HDMI port can output 1080p video at 60Hz, according to Radxa. An AV output and optical S/PDIF audio port are also available, and there’s an input for an IR receiver. The boards are limited to 10/100 Ethernet, but offer 802.11b/g/n (150Mbps) WiFi and the increasingly common Bluetooth 4.0, along with an antenna. USB 2.0 host and OTG ports are provided, and both models ship with a microSD slot that can hold up to 128GB. A pair of 40-pin expansion connectors carry a wide variety of additional I/O interface signals (listed in the specs farther below).



Radxa Rock SBC’s I/O connectors
(click images to enlarge)

 

Power consumption figures are not included in the board’s specs at the moment, but it ships with a 5V, 2-Amp DC power supply. Physical dimensions also are unmentioned; however, using the board’s 40-pin expansion headers as a gauge, we reckon its size to be roughly 100 x 80mm (3.9 x 3.1 inches). (Update: Tom Cubie informs us that our estimate is exactly correct.)



Block diagrams: Radxa Rock SBC; Rockchip RK3188 SoC
(click images to enlarge)

 

Cubie told us in an email that the SBCs run both Android and the Ubuntu-based PicUntu OS. According to a CNX-Software blog post, the RK3188′s PicUntu Linux build currently lacks video hardware acceleration (VPU) support, although a workaround is expected.
 

Growing trend of open boards backed by Chinese SoC vendors

As a July CNX-Software report detailed, Tom Cubie is part of a fast-growing movement of hackers who have been increasingly successful in getting Chinese SoC vendors to open up their platforms to open source hackers. The most prominent group is the Allwinner-focused Linux-sunxi group, which has helped Cubieboard.org, as well as Allwinner-based board projects like the Olimex-backed OLinuxino and the pcDuino.

Linux-sunxi is now joined by a Linux-Rockchip site that is establishing itself as a wiki resource for Rockchip hackers. Other Rockchip RK3188 devices include Android- and Linux-ready HDMI stick computers like the Rikomagic MK802IV, which also runs PicUntu in addition to Android, as well as the Ugoos UM2 and Tronsmart T428.

The Radxa Rock site so far lacks the community components provided at Cubieboard.org, but it does post the SBC’s schematics. Since Cubieboard.org’s online store is now called the rOckstore, some future sharing of resources may be in the works.
 

Radxa Rock SBC specs

Specifications listed for the Radxa Rock and Radxa Rock Lite include:

  • Processor — Rockchip RK3188 (4x Cortex-A9 cores @ 1.6GHz) with 533MHz Mali 400 MP4 GPU
  • RAM — 2GB (Rock) or 1GB (Rock Lite) DDR3 RAM @ 800MHz
  • Flash — 8GB (Rock) or 4GB (Rock Lite) NAND flash; microSD SDXC slot for up to 128GB
  • Wireless — 802.11b/g/n (150Mbps) with antenna; Bluetooth 4.0
  • Networking — 10/100 Ethernet
  • I/O connectors:
    • USB 2.0 host
    • Micro-USB 2.0 OTG
    • HDMI 1.4
    • AV out
    • Serial console for debug
    • IR receiver
    • S/PDIF optical audio
  • I/O expansion via two 40-pin headers — LCD I/F, SPI, USB 2.0, line-in, UART, GPIO, I2C, PWM, ADC, GPS, etc.
  • Other features — power, recovery, and reset keys; 3x programmable LEDs, RTC
  • Dimensions — 100 x 80 x 12mm (3.9 x 3.1 x 0.5 inches)
  • Power — 5V/2A DC jack
  • Operating temperature — 0 to 80℃
  • Operating system — Android; PicUntu Linux

Pre-orders are available for the $89 Radxa Rock and $69 Radxa Rock Lite at the Radxa site. No ship date was listed, but Tom Cubie informed us that “engineering samples” will be shipped to early developers next week. The board’s schematic diagram is available for download here (PDF file) and additional photos may be found at Cubie’s Radxa Rock Google+ page.
 

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PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

16 Responses to “Open SBC runs Android and Linux on quad-core Rockchip”

  1. Maxim says:

    Have just ordered it! Really cool stuff

  2. dcsdcsd says:

    why onboard microphone? sorry, but with all the NSA shit going worldwide on I’d prefer boards that to not appear do become easy listening devices. thank you.

  3. jj83 says:

    @dcsdcsd where does it say that there is an onboard microphone? I didn’t notice it, and I can’t find any mention of it.

  4. dcsdcsd says:

    @jj83

    The pictures showing a onboard mic? The Diagrams showing attached mic symbol? The Specs missing “Mic-in”?

    srsly, how can you miss this?

  5. LinuxGizmos says:

    Well, the schematic does show a mic, “MIC1 MIC4020″, connected to the base of Q13, a 2N3904 transistor. Also, there does appear to be a mic visible on the board frontside photo — see it in the lower right-hand corner, the round small black disc labeled “MIC”?

  6. jezra says:

    If you are concerned with the NSA spying on you, I would suggest not using a device that requires proprietary binary blobs because you can never be sure the NSA hasn’t put something into the code.

  7. jj83 says:

    @dcsdcsd
    @LinuxGizmos

    Wow! Good catch! That was very sneaky of them.

    @jezra

    All the best stuff does. Graphics cards, scanners, and wifi chips. Did you know that Broadcom demand a non-disclosure agreement from developers before they reveal _anything_ about their chips.

  8. Raymond Day says:

    They should put 2 SATA ports on it or have 2 or 4 USB 3.0 ports. That would make it super good.

    The good is 2GB RAM and 4 core 1.6 CPU.

  9. jezra says:

    @jj83 “best” is subjective. “Popular” would be a better word. To me, one of the biggest downsides of ARM devices is the requirement of a proprietary binary for Video Graphics.

  10. beefsack says:

    The Radxa Rock is now officially selling from Miniand: https://www.miniand.com/products/Radxa%20Rock%20Dev%20Board

  11. Duncan Young says:

    Miniand seems to be down,I can never connect to website,any help would be great.

  12. Duncan Young says:

    Thanks,ile have a try,can’t wait to get my hands on a couple,they look nice too, :-)

  13. Duncan Young says:

    Where is the best place to get the firmware and flash tools etc,it would be a great idea for someone to put together a package,ROMs flash tools and PDF for noobs like me,just an idea folks,just to get us started, ive not realy a clue,ime just learning myself,happy hacking guys.

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