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Rockchip’s roadmap reveals 8nm, octa-core RK3588

Apr 30, 2019 — by Eric Brown — 4555 views

Rockchip has released more details on its dual-core -A35 “RK1808” neural processor SoC. It also teased future SoC’s including an 8nm, octa-core -A76 and -A55 Rockchip RK3588 with NPU and 8K video.

Most system-on-chip vendors targeting the mobile and embedded space have introduced or announced SoCs equipped with either neural processor units (NPUs) or GPUs, DSPs, and ISPs that can accelerate AI or machine learning (ML) algorithms. This year, Rockchip will be particularly aggressive in pushing NPU-enabled solutions beyond its existing RK3399Pro.

The Chinese chipmaker has posted specs and schematics for a recently revealed, NPU-enabled RK1808 SoC with dual Cortex-A35 cores. The release follows a Rockchip event last week in which the chipmaker revealed an NPU-studded roadmap for the next year including an octa-core Cortex-A76 and -A55 based RK3358 built with an 8nm process (see farther below).

 
RK1808

We recently heard about the RK1808 in Linaro’s announcement of its TB-96AIoT module. The RK1808-based TB-96AIoT is one of the first two products to comply with Linaro’s new open source 96Boards Compute SOM spec along with the RK3399Pro based TB-96AI, which is similarly developed with the help of Beiquicloud. Now, as reported by CNXSoft, Rockchip has fully documented the RK1808. The wiki includes a datasheet, manual, schematics, and a downloadable Linux SDK.



Rockchip RK1808 block diagram (left) and Linaro’s RK1808-based TB-96AIoT module
(click images to enlarge)

Unlike the RK3399Pro, in which the NPU shares top billing with the hexa-core (2x -A72, 4x -A53) Arm cores, the RK1808’s NPU is the main attraction. What appears to be the same 3.0-TOPS enabled NPU found on the RK3399Pro is matched with two relatively modest, although similarly 64-bit, Cortex-A35 cores. No clock rate was listed, but on NXP’s dual- or quad-core -A35 i.MX8X, the clock rate is typically 1.2GHz.

We saw no power consumption statistics for the RK1808, but the Cortex-A35 design draws about 33 percent less power per core and occupies 25 percent less silicon area than Cortex-A53. The 22nm fabricated RK1808 lacks 3D graphics, but there’s a 2D engine, as well as an ISP and support for HD encode and decode with H.264.

The RK1808 offers a watchdog, PMU, and security features. Peripheral support includes GbE, MIPI-DSI and -CSI, I2S audio, PCIe 2.1, USB 3.0, and more.

 
RK3358 and RK3530

The Rockchip RK3358, Rockchip RK3530, and other upcoming processors were revealed by Rockchip last week in a “Developer Spring” event reported by this Chinese weixin.qq blog, and picked up by CNXSoft. The original report refers to the company not as Rockchip but by the name of parent company Ruixin Micro or Ruixinwei, based in Fuzhou.



Rockchip roadmap screen
Source: Rockchip via weixin.qq
(click image to enlarge)

The Rockchip RK3358 will be the new flagship, high-end SoC of the product line when it ships in volume in Q1 2020. Thanks to its 8nm fabrication process, Rockchip claims that the SoC improves performance over the previous generation — presumably the RK3399 — by 20-30 percent while reducing power consumption by 40 percent.

The RK3358 has 4x Cortex-A76 and 4x -A55 cores configured using Arm’s DynamIQ. This matches the specs of Qualcomm’s 7nm fabricated Snapdragon 855. Rockchip does not list the GPU, raising the possibility that it is experimenting with something other than Arm Mali graphics. Rockchip does say, however, that the SoC will support 4K UI resolution and offer an 8K video decoder. The SoC uses a second-gen NPU 2.0.



Rockchip roadmap screens for RK3358 and RK3530
Source: Rockchip via weixin.qq
(click images to enlarge)

The quad- A55 Rockchip RK3530 will ship in the third quarter of this year. This more mainstream SoC aimed at the STB market has a Mali-G52 GPU and support for 4K HDR video, but no NPU.

Rockchip will follow the RK3530 with an RV1109 “vision chip” due to begin sampling in the fourth quarter. The 14nm SoC will offer an ISP and 4K-ready VPU, as well as the NPU 2.0. Although there’s no mention of it on Rockchip’s roadmap screen, the RV1109 will likely include at least one Linux-driven Cortex-A7 core, as does the RV1108.

The chipmaker is also getting into the MCU business with an RK2108 voice chip that combines a Cortex-M4F with a DSP and an RK2206 processor that combine a Cortex-M4F with a WiFi chip. Both should start sampling in the third quarter of 2019.

 
Further information

More information on the Rockchip RK1808 may be found on this Rockchip Linux SDK wiki. More on the RK3358, RK3530, and other upcoming processors should eventually appear on Rockport’s website (translated).
 

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