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Open-spec COM rocks with quad-core Rockchip

May 17, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 2226 views

Allwinner-obsessed Olimex is prepping its first product based on a Rockchip SoC with an open source, 1.6GHz “RK3188-SOM” module, offered with an eval board.

The recent trend toward open-spec computer-on-modules was given a jumpstart by Olimex earlier this month with its first three open source COMs. The Bulgarian firm, which is known for its community-backed, Allwinner-based oLinuXino branded single board computers, based two of the modules on the Allwinner A13 and A20 system-on-chips, respectively, and ventured out to the Texas Instruments Sitara AM3352 for its AM3352-SOM.

RK3188-SOM, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Now, Olimex is trying out yet another ARM platform with its first Rockchip-based product: the Android- and Linux-ready RK3188-SOM. Yesterday, the company announced that the module was successfully tested, and is heading for market in June. It’s priced at 40 euros ($55) or 45 euros ($62) for the 4GB flash version, both in quantities of 1,000 pieces.

In the blog announcement, Olimex showed that its loyalty to Allwinner was fleeting indeed: “This one is little beast comparing to A20,” stated the entry.

Rockchip’s RK3188, which is found on open-spec products like the Radxa Rock and various Ugoos mini-PCs, offers four Cortex-A9 cores clocked at 1.6GHz compared to dual Cortex-A7 cores for the Allwinner A20. According to Olimex the RK3188 provides 16000 DMIPS vs. 3800 for the A20 or 965 DMIPS for the Raspberry Pi’s ARM11 processor. Both the RK3188 and Allwinner A20 ship with an ARM Mali-400 GPU, known for being one of the most “open” of all embedded GPUs.

The Olimex RK3188-SOM ships with 1GB of RAM, an optional 4GB of flash, and a microSD card for booting Android or Debian Linux. Aside from the debug console, all interfaces are expressed via GPIO connectors. Eagle CAD files are said to be available to let users modify the module.

Preliminary specs for the RK3188-SOM include:

  • Processor:
    • Rockchip RK3188 (4x Cortex-A9 cores @ 1.6GHz)
    • Mali-400 GPU
    • Power management unit IC
  • Memory:
    • 1GB DDR3 RAM
    • 4GB NAND flash (only on RK3188-SOM-4GB)
    • MicroSD slot
  • I/O — Debug UART console; 5x GPIO (2×20 pins, 0.05″ step)
  • Other features — 2x buttons; 3x status LEDs
  • Operating system — Debian Linux, Android

(click image to enlarge)


Olimex will also provide an optional RK3188-SOM-EVB evaluation board, which includes the 4GB version of the module. The carrier board supplies five USB ports, a Fast Ethernet port, HDMI port, and an LCD interface. There are also a pair of UEXT connectors for expansion.

Preliminary specifications listed for the RK3188-SOM-EVB board include:

  • Processor/memory — RK3188-SOM-4GB module
  • Display — LCD connector compatible with Olimex A13-LCDxx, A10-LCDxx, and A20-LCDxx displays
  • Networking – 10/100Mbps Ethernet
  • Other I/O:
    • 4x USB host
    • USB OTG
    • HDMI out
    • 2x UEXT connectors
    • 2x 40-pin GPIO connectors
  • Other features — RTC with backup battery

Further information

The RK3188-SOM and RK3188-SOM-4GB modules will be available in June for 40 euros ($55) or 45 euros ($62), respectively, both in quantities of 1,000 pieces. The RK3188-SOM-EVB eval board will also go on sale in June. It sells for 85 euros ($116) in single units. More information may be found at the RK3188-SOM announcement page.

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5 responses to “Open-spec COM rocks with quad-core Rockchip”

  1. bork says:

    The folks at Olimex make excellent boards but as usual they forget completely to add mounting holes to the boards, so that fixing them into other projects boxes other than their own becomes problematic. What method would you use to fix this board say into a general purpose box without damaging it?

    • LinuxGizmos says:

      The module might have holes in each of two corners, although it’s hard to see from the photos. But if there aren’t any it would be a good idea for Olimex to add them to their COM designs. I’ve seen various workarounds in systems that use daughter modules, such as locking the modules in place with tie wraps (around the modules) that pass through holes on the baseboard — not pretty, but they tend to work. Including mounting holes on the COM is a much better solution.

    • LinuxGizmos says:

      fyi: I forwarded this issue to Olimex for them to consider in the next revisions of their COMs. –Rick

  2. Drew Fustini says:

    I’m a big fan of Open Source Hardware which has a clear definition:
    I’ve seen the term “open-spec” used in several articles on this site including this story. What is the accepted definition for “open-spec”?

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