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Open-spec, RPi-style SBC features new Rockchip RK3328

Jul 5, 2017 — by Eric Brown — 4,193 views
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Pine64’s Raspberry Pi-style “Rock64” SBC offers a quad -A53 RK3328 SoC with GbE and USB 3.0 ports for $25, $35, or $45 with 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of RAM.

Yet another community-backed SBC with the same size, layout, expansion connector, and basic specs of a Raspberry Pi has reached market. While most of the pseudo Pi clones are based on Allwinner SoCs — and Pine64 previously tapped an Allwinner A64 for its Pine A64 SBC and SoPine A64 COM — the new Rock64 instead runs on Rockchip’s brand new quad-core, Cortex-A53 RK3328.



Two views of the Rock64
(click images to enlarge)

The Rock64 is now open for pre-sales at $24.95 (1GB DDR3L), $34.95 (2GB), and $44.95 (4GB), with shipments starting on July 31. Like the Pine A64, this is an open-spec project with full schematics and community support. Images are available for an up to date Android 7.1 plus Debian and Yocto Linux, with more to come.


Rockchip RK3328

The new Rockchip RK3328 SoC falls in between the 32-bit quad Cortex-A17, up to 1.8GHz RK3288, which is found on the Firefly-RK3288 Reload and Asus Tinker Board, and the hexa-core, and similarly 64-bit RK3399 with dual Cortex-A72 and four Cortex-A53 cores, which appears on the Firefly-RK3399. Designed primarily for Android media player devices, the new RK3328 can be clocked to 1.5GHz, and includes a Mali-450 MP2 GPU and support for 4K @ 60fps video decode via VP9 or 10-bit H265/H264.

The RK3328 is faster than the Broadcom BCM2837 found on the Raspberry Pi 3, which dominated our recent reader survey of hacker boards, and the Rock64 board offers twice the RAM in the similar $35 configuration. The Rock64 lacks the RPi 3’s onboard wireless, except for an optional USB dongle, and you won’t find the RPi 3’s DSI and CSI interfaces. In addition, it only has 3x USB ports instead of four. However, one of those three is a faster USB 3.0 model, and another is an OTG port.



Rock64 detail view
(click image to enlarge)

The Rock64 also adds an empty, bootable eMMC socket, in addition to a bootable microSD slot. It also boosts the Ethernet to Gigabit speeds, and advances the HDMI port to HDMI 2.0. The wireless and eMMC options are not listed on the Rock64 product page, but Pine64’s online store includes WiFi dongles for $7, WiFi/BT for $10, and eMMC selling for $14 (16GB), $19 (32GB) or $31 (64GB), among other options.


Pinouts for Pi 2 (left) and Pi P5+ expansion interfaces
(click images to enlarge)

The 85 x 56mm Rock64 has about the same size as an RPi 3, and offers a similar layout, with the same 3.5mm audio with Composite video jack next to the HDMI port. Instead of a micro-USB port for power, there’s a dedicated input. Like the Pine A64, there’s an RPi-like 40-pin expansion connector. Instead of adding a Euler connector and console header, however, there are dual 11-pin “Pi P5+” GPIO headers that include pins for I2S, S/PDIF, and a 10/100 Ethernet port.

Specifications listed for the Rock64 include:

  • Processor — Rockchip RK3328 (4x Cortex-A53 cores @ up to 1.5GHz); Mali-450 MP2 GPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB LPDDR3-1600 RAM
    • MicroSD slot (bootable)
    • eMMC socket (bootable) with jumper
    • 128Mb SPI flash
  • Networking — GbE port (optional Fast Ethernet via GPIO)
  • Other I/O:
    • HDMI 2.0 port for up to 4K @ 60fps HDR output
    • 3.5mm composite video and audio output jack
    • USB 3.0 host port
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports (1x OTG)
    • IR receiver
    • 2x 20-pin “Pi2″ GPIO header
    • 2x 11-pin “Pi P5+” GPIO header
  • Other features — Optional USB WiFi and WiFi/BT modules
  • Power — 5VDC @ 2.5A with 3.5mm barrel jack; power, reset, and recovery buttons
  • Operating systems — Android 7.1, Debian, and Yocto images

 
Further information

The Rock64 is now open for pre-sales at $24.95 (1GB DDR3L), $34.95 (2GB), and $44.95 (4GB), with shipments starting on July 31. More information may be found on Pine64’s Rock64 product page and wiki, as well as the Rock64 shopping page.
 

Thanks to LinuxGizmos reader Peter F. for this tip!
 

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11 responses to “Open-spec, RPi-style SBC features new Rockchip RK3328”

  1. mario says:

    First low cost 1GbE and USB 3 or something else ?

  2. Wilfried says:

    How about Upstream Support?

    • Goblin says:

      Probably better than Allwinner boards. However Mali graphics means that no graphics is available on Linux. Raspberry Pi is better if you need graphics as you usually do.

      • Charlie Whitman says:

        Yes, graphics are the Achilles heel of most of these inexpensive ARM based boards when it comes to running Linux on them.

        Besides the Pi series, I’ve had the most success with boards with Vivante GC graphics. However, I’ve heard that Qualcomm Adreno graphics are also better supported than other options.

        It seems like so far for decent Linux support on ARM you need either Broadcom Videocore, Vivante GC, or Qualcomm Adreno graphics, though there are reverse engineering efforts for other GPU series as well; they just haven’t worked out as well so far. As far as I know, only Broadcom has really committed to supporting open source drivers (which seems ironic to me considering their track record with wireless chipsets). Of course this is because of the success of the Raspberry Pi series, which now makes up the majority of their SoC sales.

      • rahlquist (@rahlquist) says:

        In addition the Pine64 had Abysmal HDMI support. It still sucks imho (early investor). Out of 5 HDMI TV’s and monitors in my house that I tested on, only one worked with Pine64. All 5 work with any Pi I have tried. Since this is the same family of GPU….

  3. Peter says:

    The GPIO Ethernet is only 10/100 not GbE speed. See pin out image.

    • Peter F says:

      And? That is correct, the GPIO ethernet is 10/100 (aka Fast Ethernet) as per the article and GPIO pinout. And the onboard ethernet connection is GbE. Or was there a typo in the article?

  4. Martin Bogomolni says:

    I =never= got my Pine64 to work properly, and because it has an allwinner chip, there was no modern or proper Linux kernel support.

    I am very, very skeptical of the Rock64

    • Peter F says:

      Did you try any of the more recent kernels? Like the Armbian images with experimental mainline kernels? Yes, AllWinner has provided a ancient kernel in 3.x, which has been upgraded to 3.10.105 by the community, which is a pretty stable kernel, especially when you consider the number of android devices that are currently and will continue to use it. And the sunxi-linux guys and gals have been busy adding all the necessary support to the mainline kernel to support the pine64 out of the box. Actually just the other day someone got a Fedora image and was able to just boot right off that… wasn’t even pine64 specific AFAIK! So yes, it has been painfully slow, but no, it’s not a rightoff, and decent mainline support is nearly here.

  5. TLS says:

    Seems like RockChip is doing half decent support for the SoC by themselves already http://opensource.rock-chips.com/wiki_Main_Page

    • Peter F says:

      Yeah, unlike another chip manufacturer we won’t mention, Rockchip actually know about github ;) And seem to be pretty responsive and are working to add all the necessary driver support, and willing to work with other community developers to get things moving. Things are looking quite promising in the rockchip world! And it doesn’t hurt that there is a 4.4.x linux kernel right from the word go…

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