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Compact, $529 desktop runs Linux on octa-core Arm SoC

Nov 23, 2021 — by Eric Brown 1,773 views

DragonBox has launched a $529 “Phytium D2000 ARMv8 Mini PC” that runs Linux on an octa-core Phytium D2000 and offers a Radeon RX550 GPU, 16GB DDR4, a 512GB NVMe SSD, 6x USB, and HDMI 2.0b and GbE ports.

Germany based DragonBox, which last December launched an open-spec DragonBox Pyra portable game console that runs Linux on a TI OMAP3530, has returned with a compact desktop system with a more powerful and exotic Arm processor. The Phytium D2000 ARMv8 Mini PC runs Linux on an octa-core Phytium D2000, a Linux-driven, desktop-oriented SoC based on 64-bit ARMv8.

Aimed at light desktop and gaming duties, with a focus on Box64 x86 emulation, the 225 x 187 x 47mm system is on pre-order at 470.59 Euros ($529). The price includes a Radeon RX550 graphics card, 16GB DDR4, and an M.2 2280 slot preloaded with a 512GB NVMe SSD. Shipments are expected by the end of the year.



Phytium D2000 ARMv8 Mini PC, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Although the Phytium D2000 ARMv8 Mini PC does not appear to be an open hardware product like the Pyra, the system is supported by the Pyra/Pandora community. As noted by the Liliputing post that alerted us to the system, DragonBox is led by developer Michael Mrozek (EvilDragon), who designed the Pyra and also worked on the OpenPandora project behind the hackable, open-spec Pandora gaming handheld, which was announced back in 2008.


DragonBox Pyra (left) and Phytium D2000

The octa-core, 2.0GHz to 2.6GHz Phytium D2000 SoC from Chinese chip designer Tianjin Phytium Technology, is designed for desktop terminals, portable terminals, lightweight servers and embedded low-power products. The 14nm fabricated SoC is equipped with 8x ARMv8-compatible FTC663 cores and incorporates an out-of-order, four-transmission superscalar pipeline. Other features include 8MP L2 cache, 4MB L3, a cipher acceleration engine, a system-level security mechanism, and support for DDR4-3200 RAM and 34 PCIe 3.0 lanes.

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The Phytium D2000 SoC is headless (no graphics) and is designed to work with discrete graphics cards such as the Radeon RX550 supplied by DragonBox. The D2000 SoC follows an earlier, quad-core Armv8 Phytium FT-2000/4, which appeared in 2019 on an FT-2000/4 micro-ATX development board.



Phytium D2000 ARMv8 Mini PC (left) and interior view
(click images to enlarge)

The Phytium D2000 ARMv8 Mini PC is designed to run Ubuntu Kylin, “but OpenSUSE or Debian can also be installed without problems,” says DragonBox. ptitSeb has tested its open source Box64 x86 emulator on the system for running x86_64 Linux programs, including games. Two percent of the sale of the mini-PC will go to the Box86/Box64 project.

The system is equipped with GbE and HDMI 2.0b ports for up to 4K/60Hz video. The specs also list USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, and the images indicate there are actually 5x USB 2.0 ports.

The Qualcomm AR8035 GbE controller may not be compatible with some Linux distros so DragonBox bundles a USB Ethernet adapter. The MXM 3.0 form factor AMD RX550 card, which comes with its own 2GB VRAM, is preloaded onto the system’s sole mini-PCIe slot. The fan-cooled desktop ships with a 60W external power supply.

 
Further information

The Phytium D2000 ARMv8 Mini PC is on pre-order for 470.59 Euros ($529) plus tax and 14.60 Euros ($16.40) shipping. If there are not enough pre-orders by Dec. 10, DragonBox will send refunds to contributors. Otherwise, it will start shipping Dec. 17, with most orders likely to arrive by the end of the year.

More information may be found on the DragonBox Shop page and an October pre-announcement on the Pyra forums.
 

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