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First Renesas based Raspberry Pi clone runs Linux

Nov 24, 2017 — by Eric Brown 5,014 views

iWave’s “iW-RainboW-G23S” SBC runs Linux on a Renesas RZ/G1C, and offers -20 to 85°C support and expansion headers including a RPi-compatible 40-pin link.

iWave’s iW-RainboW-G23S is the first board we’ve seen to tap the Renesas RZ/G1C SoC, which debuted earlier this year. It’s also the first Renesas based SBC we’ve seen that features the increasingly ubiquitous Raspberry Pi 85 x 56mm footprint, layout, and RPi-compatible 40-pin expansion connector. The board is also notable for providing -20 to 85°C temperature support.

(click image to enlarge)

The SBC runs Linux on the single- or dual-core RZ/G1C, which runs at 1GHz. The power-efficient SoC integrates the relatively low-end, but still 3D capable, PowerVR SGX531 GPU.

The RZ/G1C SoC joins other similarly Yocto Project supported Renesas RZ/G SoCs such as the dual-core RZ/G1E and RZ/G1M with 1GHz Cortex-A7 and 1.5GHz Cortex-A15 cores, respectively. There’s also an RZ/G1N, which is almost identical to the RZ/G1M, and an octa-core RZ/G1H with 4x Cortex-A15 and 4x -A7 cores.


iWave has previously adopted the Renesas RZ/G1H and RZ-G1E with the Qseven 2.0 form-factor iW-RainboW-G21M-Q7 and SMARC compatible RZ/G1E SMARC computer-on-modules, respectively. Both are available with carrier boards. The RZ-G1E also forms the basis of its SODIMM-style iW-RainboW-G22M-SM COM, which is sold as an SBC when paired with a Pico-ITX form factor carrier board. However, the new iW-RainboW-G23S is the first monolithic iWave SBC to use a Renesas processor.

iW-RainboW-G23S block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The iW-RainboW-G23S supports up to 2GB DDR3 and 8GB or more of eMMC, plus a microSD slot and SPI flash. The SBC is not a true RPi clone, as it only has 2x USB 2.0 host ports instead of four, and the Ethernet port is Gigabit instead of 10/100Mbps. A micro-USB port and HDMI port are also supplied, along with a CVBS input jack and optional CVBS output.

Almost all other interfaces travel through one of three expansion headers. In addition to the Raspberry Pi compatible header, there’s a second 40-pin header that includes higher speed I/Os like LVDS, Parallel camera, and CAN. A third 20-pin connector includes serial debug and other interfaces.

Specifications listed for the iW-RainboW-G23S include:

  • Processor — Renesas RZ/G1C (1x or 2x Cortex-A7 cores @ 1GHz); PowerVR SGX531 GPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 512MB to 2GB DDR3 RAM
    • 8GB (expandable) eMMC
    • 2MB (expandable) SPI flash
    • MicroSD slot
  • Networking — Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Display and media I/O:
    • HDMI port
    • CVBS video input jack
    • Optional CVBS output jack or header
  • Other I/O:
    • 2x USB 2.0 host ports
    • Micro-USB OTG port
    • JTAG, SPI
  • Expansion:
    • Raspberry Pi compatible 40-pin interface (UART, SPI, 2x I2C, 17x GPIO)
    • 2nd 40-pin (non-RPi) connector — 3x UART (2x with CTS & RTS) CAN, I2C, PWM, LVDS, Parallel camera, 2x I2S audio
    • 20-pin interface — Debug UART, UART/I2C, PWM
  • Other features — RTC with optional coin-cell battery; reset switch
  • Power — 5V, 2A input with optional lockable input header
  • Operating temperature — -20 to 85°C
  • Dimensions — 85 x 56mm
  • Operating system — Linux 3.10.31

Further information

The iW-RainboW-G23S appears to be available now at an undisclosed price. More information may be found at iWave’s iW-RainboW-G23S product page.

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