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Raspberry Pi imitator has GbE, 2GB RAM, and 4K video

Jan 20, 2017 — by Eric Brown — 9,618 views
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[Updated: Mar. 3] — Asus has launched a RPi-like “Tinker Board” that runs Debian and Kodi on a quad-core 1.8GHz -A17 RK3288, and offers 2GB RAM, GbE, 4K video, and 40-pin GPIO.

The rumored Asus Tinker Board is finally for sale at Farnell in the UK, with a footprint, layout, and features that are very close to that of the Raspberry Pi, including the much copied 40-pin expansion connector and a Debian Linux image. The quad-core SoC and onboard wireless further reminds one of the Raspberry Pi 3.

There are some key differences, however. While most Raspberry Pi pseudo clones — pseudo because no one else but RPi Trading can get their hands on a Broadcom BCM283x SoC — tend to be cheaper than or priced about like the $35 RPi3, the Tinker Board costs 45.83 Pounds ($57) or 55 Pounds ($68) including VAT. In addition, while the Rockchip RK3288 is claimed to be almost twice as fast as the RPi 3’s Broadcom SoC, with a more powerful Mali T760 GPU, it’s 32-bit, as opposed to 64-bit, which will matter more in the coming years as more 64-bit applications come online.



Asus Tinker Board
(click images to enlarge)

This is the closest a major PC manufacturer has come to launching a maker-style SBC, and it’s drawing considerable attention on that score. Asus’s Aaeon Europe subsidiary has its own community-backed, x86 based UP board, although the hardware design is not fully open.

The Asus Tinker Board has three key advantages over the RPi 3. First, there’s 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM rather than 1GB of LPDDR2. Second, the board enables 4K/30fps video playback, up-scaled from 1080P. Finally, there’s a dedicated Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000Mbps) port rather than the RPi 3’s 10/100Mbps port, which shares bandwidth with the four USB 2.0 host ports.

All those advantages should add up to an impressive multimedia device for streaming video over the web using the supported Kodi media platform. Indeed, like other Rockchip SoCs, the Rockchip RK3288 is frequently used for media players.



Additional views of the Tinker Board
(click images to enlarge)

Other SBCs that have tapped the quad-core, 1.8GHz Cortex-A17 SoC include the Firefly-RK3288 and Firefly-RK3288 Reload. These higher-end, media-oriented boards start at $129 and $159, respectively, but offer features not found on the Tinker Board such as SATA and onboard flash.

Asus’s Tinker Board FAQ includes a claim that the board is “almost twice faster” than the Raspberry Pi 3, and features a RealTek HD audio codec that supports an up to 192K/24-bit sampling rate. The FAQ also says the board has a maximum consumption of 5W, as compared to about 3.7W on the RPi 3. The board’s 85.6 x 56mm footprint closely matches that of the RPi boards, making it compatible with “most” Raspberry Pi cases, says the FAQ.



Tinker Board detail
(click image to enlarge)

As of this post’s Mar. 3 update, Asus’s Tinker Board product page includes the board detail drawings that are shown above and below. RPi-like I/O signals on the board’s 40-pin connector in addition to GPIO include 2x SPI, 2x I2C, 4x UART, 2x PWM, 4x power, 8x ground, and PCM/I2S. There are no claims for RPi expansion board compatibility, however, either on the slides or the Farnell page.


Tinker Board GPIO pin assignments
(click image to enlarge)

Specifications listed by Asus for the Tinker Board include:

  • Processor — Rockchip RK3288 (4x Cortex-A17 @ 1.8GHz); Mali T760 GPU
  • Memory — 2GB dual-channel LPDDR3 RAM; microSD slot with UHS-I support
  • Media I/O:
    • HDMI port with 4K support
    • MIPI-DSI with HD support
    • MIPI-CSI camera port
    • Audio — 3.5mm jack; RTL ALC4040 audio CODEC
  • Wireless — 802.11b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.0 + EDR
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port via PCI
  • Other I/O:
    • 4x USB 2.0 ports
    • Micro-USB port for power
    • 40-pin expansion header with up to 28x GPIO plus 2x SPI, 2x I2C, 4x UART, 2x PWM, and 1x PCM/I2S, plus power (5V and 3.3V) and ground pins
    • Contact points for PWM and S/PDIF
  • Dimensions — 85.6 x 56 x 21mm
  • Power — 5V/2A power via micro-USB (power supply not included)
  • Operating systems — “TinkerOS” (based on Debian); Kodi

Numerous additional fine points are covered in the board’s detailed FAQ.

 
Further information

The Asus Tinker Board is available in the UK for 45.83 Pounds ($57) or 55 Pounds ($68) including VAT at Farnell. Shipping is free in the UK, while others are asked to contact an export coordinator for a shipping quote. Additional details and documentation, including specs, schematic, FAQ, and Linux OS image, are available at Asus’s ASUS Tinker Board product page.
 

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PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

11 responses to “Raspberry Pi imitator has GbE, 2GB RAM, and 4K video”

  1. Mace Moneta says:

    “In addition, while the Rockchip RK3288 is claimed to be almost twice as fast as the RPi 3’s Broadcom SoC, with a more powerful Mali T760 GPU, it’s 32-bit, as opposed to 64-bit, which will matter more in the coming years as more 64-bit applications come online.”

    There are two reasons to use a 64-bit CPU: performance and direct addressing of more than 4GB RAM. In terms of longevity, the question is whether the board is supported by the mainline kernel.

    This board is faster than the 64-bit RPi, and RAM does not exceed 4GB. The only question is whether the specifications meet the requirements of the project.

  2. mexchip says:

    I’d like an ARM SBC that offer video hw acceleration usable from applicatoins such as mplayer. For now my options are only x86 boards.

    • Max Siegieda (@CampGareth) says:

      Got that on my Allwinner H3 based board, admittedly exclusively with mplayer which isn’t my player of choice. I was playing back a 1080p h.265 file the other day with CPU usage below 10%.

  3. Vaidas says:

    Interesting thing, as GPU has almost x4 times(81.6 GFLOPS) computational power over RPI3 and supports OpenGL3.0, but wondering if it will be such a possibillity to use all the power … Another worry is how to use all four CPU cores in application, because usually APPS are running in single thread… Would like to try my apps on this thing, which were running on RPI3. And the last thing – if I would like to use RK3288 in my own design if it would be possibility to buy it separatelly, not in a quantity of 10k?

    • Martin says:

      Multithreading support comes down to each application, applications that are built with multithreading in mind will support all cores, applications that are not will only use a single core. Not all applications are suited to multithreading, so not every app is built to take advantage of multiple cores. This does not mean 4 cores don’t provide a performance advantage, they certainly do as the OS will run threads in different cores to spread the load out.

  4. NotMe says:

    No USB 3? Usb 3 or sata is required for an external disk with reasonable performance.

  5. Peter Bauer says:

    Here you can find some more infos about the Asus Tinkerboard and a video running Debian 8 with Kodi on RK3288 (e.g. MiQi or Tinkerboard)
    http://www.bitkistl.com/search?q=rk3288
    https://youtu.be/DnHJckoxGJU
    http://www.bitkistl.com/2016/09/the-rockchip-toolbox.html

  6. Jayro Jones says:

    All that power, and STILL no USB 3… WTF gives? Why does the Raspberry Pi team hate USB 3? And why no SATA or mSATA?

  7. Skullywag says:

    If usb3 is ‘required’ for you, maybe pi or pseudopi are not for you? Take your usb3 external disk and plug it into your main computer instead, now share its contents over nfs, and use the gigabit ethernet on this pseudopi to stream the content. Problem solved.

    • Admin says:

      @Skullywag
      Um I think you are missing the point completely, It’s not that we hate this board because we need ultra powerful sbc that is packed with features.
      We are just disappointed that asus is releasing a board on 3 y.o. soc that isn’t all that powerful (comparing it to Rpi3 is missing the point why people buy Rpi3 at all).
      For me this board is pointless, and doesn’t warrant more than double the price of Rpi3. Whilst being far behind from the beefiest sbc.

  8. Linuxist says:

    Odroid-C2 seems to be much more affordable.
    2GB RAM, 4K H.265, HDMI 2.0 and Gbit Ethernet at $40.

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