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Open source, Rockchip-based RPi clone offers up to 4GB DDR4

Dec 6, 2017 — by Eric Brown — 3,896 views
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Libre Computer’s open source, $35-and-up “Renegade” SBC is a Raspberry Pi clone that runs Linux or Android 7.1 on a Rockchip RK3328 with up to 4GB DDR4.

Earlier this year, Libre Computer went to Kickstarter to fund its quad -A53 Amlogic S905X based Le Potato SBC, and it’s a third of the way toward its $100K KS goal for its Allwinner-based Tritium board with 37 days left. Now the Shenzhen-based company has shifted over to Indiegogo to launch the Renegade, the company’s first Rockchip-based SBC, and the first Raspberry Pi clone we’ve seen that ships with up to 4GB of speedy DDR4 RAM.



Renegade from two angles

The Kickstarter campaign is offering packages with 1GB ($35), 2GB ($45), and 4GB ($70) of DDR4 RAM. These configurations are also available in kit packages for $50, $70, and $100, respectively. The kits add a push-pin heatsink, active cooling case, 5V, 2.5A micro-USB power supply, and an 8GB microSD card (32GB on the $100 4GB kit). There’s a flexible funding goal, so even if the $10,000 goal is not met, the boards will ship in early January except for the 4GB packages, which ship in March.

Some other ARM SBCs offer up to 4GB RAM, but we have yet to see one with that much DDR4. The Renegade’s closest competitor — Pine64’s $25 to $45 Rock64 — similarly taps the quad-core, Cortex-A53 Rockchip RK3328, and offers up to 4GB RAM, but it’s LPDDR3-1600.

Like the Tritium, Le Potato, and Rock64, the Renegade is an open source hardware board with a Raspberry Pi like footprint, layout, and feature set, as well as the familiar 40-pin expansion interface. The main difference from the Raspberry Pi 3 is the lack of WiFi, Bluetooth, and MIPI-CSI and -DSI interfaces, and the presence of three USB host ports instead of four. Like the Rock64, however that third port is USB 3.0 instead of 2.0.

Also like the Rock64, you get a GbE port instead of 10/100 Ethernet, and HDMI 2.0 with 4K support instead of an HD-only HDMI 1.4. There’s also an IR receiver. Meanwhile, the 1.5GHz RK3328 is faster than the RPi 3’s 1.2GHz Broadcom BCM2837.



Renegade side view (left) and top view

On the Indiegogo page, Libre describes itself as a project brand, rather than a manufacturer. Accordingly, the project works with multiple manufacturers, depending on the board, and ensures that “the platform as a whole will meet our requirements for open-source support and maintenance,” says the project. “We shy away from proprietary interfaces, vendor lock-in, and ‘secret saucy’ magic.”

The Renegade ships with Android 7.1 and Ubuntu 16.04, with the latter offering a choice of Rockchip’s Linux 4.4 Kernel and Mainline Linux 4.14 LTS. Libre notes that “Rockchip has done an amazing job upstreaming support for their chips in mainline Linux.”

The project has also teamed up with the Firefly team, which makes Rockchip-based Firefly boards, as well as Linux software development firm BayLibre “to bridge the gap with additional software support.” Libre goes on to say: “We will be bringing software support for Media Center, Retro Gaming, Desktop Computing, and many other use cases.”

Specifications listed for the Renegade include:

  • Processor — Rockchip RK3328 (4x Cortex-A53 cores @ up to 1.5GHz); Mali-450 MP2 GPU
  • RAM — 1GB, 2GB or 4GB DDR4 RAM
  • Storage:
    • MicroSD slot
    • eMMC 5.x interface
  • Multimedia:
    • HDMI 2.0 port
    • 3.5mm TRRS AV jack
  • Networking — 10/100/1000 Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • USB 3.0 host port
    • Micro-USB port with power support
    • IR Receiver
    • UART header
    • ADC headers
  • Expansion — 40-pin RPi 3 Model B style header (PWM, I2C, SPI, GPIO)
  • Power — 5V 2.5A DC via Micro-USB
  • Other features — U-Boot button
  • Operating system – Ubuntu 16.04 with Rockchip’s Linux 4.4 Kernel and Mainline Linux 4.14 LTS Kernel; Android 7.1 Nougat

 
Further information

The Renegade is available now on Indiegogo starting at $35, with shipments due in January or March. More information may be found on Libre Computer’s Renegade Indiegogo page and Renegade product page.
 

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