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Quartz64 SBC starts at $60 and Pine64 unveils SOQuartz module with same RK3566

Jun 15, 2021 — by Eric Brown — 2207 views

Pine64 has launched a “Quartz64 model-A” SBC for $60 (4GB) or $80 (8GB). Upcoming projects include a “SOQuartz” module that runs Linux on the same Rockchip RK3566 and a PineDio LoRa gateway.

Pine64 unveiled its open-spec, Rockchip RK3566 powered Quartz64 model-A SBC in February and followed by announcing a smaller, Raspberry Pi sized Quartz64 model-B in April. The model-B is still under development, but the more developer focused model-A has begun selling to community members for $60 (4GB LPDDR4) or $80 (8GB).

Pine64 also announced preliminary specs for a compute module spin based on the quad-A72, NPU-equipped RK3566 called the SOQuartz that offers dual 100-pin connectors to mimic the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4. The June blog update also offers updates on an optional PinePhone keyboard and a PineDio LoRa gateway, which is based on the Pine A64-LTS SBC (see farther below).



Quartz64 Model A
(click images to enlarge)

Pine64 plans to use the Quartz64 model-A as a development platform for its next generation phones, tablets, and laptops. The software is still rough around the edges and it will be several months before the SBC is stable enough for industrial customers, says Pine64. By comparison, the Raspberry Pi-like model-B will be aimed at mainstream SBC consumers.

Like other Pine64 products, the Quartz64 boards ship with open specifications and schematics and are supported by a robust community. The SBCs are available with Rockchip’s Linux-4.19 build, as well as stock Android 11. You can also boot mainline Linux, although this is still a work in progress. The Mali-G52 2EE GPU on the Quartz64 boards supports the open source Panfrost driver.

There have been a few spec changes since February. Although the model-A still supports 2GB RAM, no such configuration is currently available. In addition to the eDP and MIPI-DSI interfaces, the shopping pages show a new 10-bit Digital Video port capable of 4Kp60. Also apparently new since February are the 3.5mm audio jack, 2-pin speaker header, and optional IR receiver.

We do not see these new features in the wiki, which still lists a Realtek RTL8211, the GbE PHY that Pine64 previously said was out of stock, causing a delay of the Quartz64 boards. In the PineDio LoRa update, Pine64 said it replaced the GbE controller on the gateway’s Pine A64-LTS SBC with the same unnamed controller now used on the Quartz64 model-A.

The shopping page and latest blog update mentions a PCIe x1 interface, but wiki lists PCIe x4 and the board was originally said to offer PCIe x2. The board ships with an optional Ampak AP6256 module with 802.11ac and Bluetooth BLE 5.0. A RISC-V based, 802.11n/BLE 5.0 Bouffalo 602 module is “currently undergoing open-sourcing” and will be available later this year. Finally, Pine64 notes that the model-A “has the benefit of running very cool, even without a heatsink and under a sustained load.”

The Quartz64 model-A appears to be only the second shipping, open-spec SBC based on the RK3566 after Firefly’s M.2/NVMe equipped ROC-RK3566-PC. Firefly’s entry is smaller, but with roughly the same feature set, and sells for $119 with 4GB.

Like Rockchip’s RK3568, the RK3566 is equipped with 4x Cortex-A55 cores, but they top out at 1.8GHz instead of 2.0GHz on the RK3568. They both provide a Mali-G52 EE GPU and a 0.8-TOPS NPU. I/O on the RK3566, however, is scaled back to dual independent displays, a single GbE port, and PCIe 2.1 instead of the RK3568’s triple displays, dual GbE, PCIe 3.0 x2, and PCIe 2.1.

Final specifications listed for the Quartz64 model-A include:

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  • Processor — Rockchip RK3566 (4x Cortex-A55 @ up to 1.8GHz); Mali-G52 2EE GPU with Panfrost driver support; 0.8-TOPS NPU
  • Memory/storage:
    • 2GB to 8GB LPDDR4
    • 128Mb SPI boot flash, expandable to 16MB
    • Optional 16GB to 128GB eMMC
    • MicroSD slot (bootable) up to 256GB
    • Native SATA III (multiplexed with USB 3.0)
  • Networking:
    • GbE port
    • Optional ($15) 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with Bluetooth 5.0 (Ampak AP6256) via SDIO 3.0
  • Media I/O:
    • eDP 1.3 (4-lane, 2.7Gbps) up to 2560 x 1600 @ 60Hz
    • MIPI-DSI (4-lane) up to 1440p
    • 10-bit Digital Video port with 4Kp60
    • SPI-based touch-panel port with optional 7-inch touchscreen
    • E-Ink interface with optional 10-inch E-Ink display
    • MIPI-CSI (4-lane) up to 8MP
    • 3.5mm audio jack
    • 2-pin speaker header
  • Other I/O:
    • USB 3.0 host port (multiplexed with SATA)
    • 3x USB 2.0 host ports
    • 20-pin (dual 10-pin) GPIO with UART, SPI, I2C, etc.
  • Expansion — PCIe x1 open-ended slot
  • Other features — RTC with battery connector; optional IR; enclosure 3D files
  • Power — 12V/3A DC input jack; Lithium battery connector with temp sensor
  • Dimensions — 133 x 80 x 19mm
  • Operating system — Android 11; Linux

 
SOQuartz

Pine64 revealed an upcoming SOQuartz compute module, extending the tradition of its earlier SoPine A64, but building on the RK3566 rather than the Allwinner H64. Whereas the SoPine A64 is a SODIMM-style module, the SOQuartz looks more like the Raspberry Pi CM4 and has the same “industry standard” dual 100-pin B2B connectors. This suggests the possibility it could plug into a CM4 carrier board, much like Antmicro’s upcoming, RISC-V based (StarFive 71×0) ARVSOM module.



SOQuartz, front and back (preliminary)
(click images to enlarge)

The SOQuartz will support the same software as the Quartz64 boards and will offer the same RAM and eMMC options. You can load standard Pine64 eMMC modules or you can optionally have the eMMC soldered on the back for greater durability. The SOQuartz will be equipped with an Azurewave AW-CM256SM 802.11ac/BT module with a U.FL antenna connector.

 
PinePhone keyboard and PineDio LoRa gateway

The June blog update from Pine64 also covered the progress of an upcoming keyboard attachment for its Linux-driven, open-spec PinePhone. There are also more details on a LoRa gateway that was mentioned in February.



PinePhone with keyboard prototype (left) and internal view of PineDio LoRa gateway in outdoor chassis prototype
(click images to enlarge)

The PineDio LoRa gateway runs Linux on Pine64’s Allwinner A64-based Pine A64-LTS SBC and has a RAK Wireless LoRa module. Pine64 posted a photo of an outdoor chassis for the gateway, which offers a battery holder for 3x 18650 batteries. The gateway has a PoE connection for powering it over Ethernet.

 
Further information

The Quartz64 model-A is on sale to community member for $60 (4GB RAM) or $80 (8GB). No pricing or specific availability information was provided for the SOQuartz, PinePhone keyboard, or PineDio LoRa gateway.

More information may be found in Pine64’s June blog update and Quartz64 model-A (4GB) and model-A (8GB) shopping pages. More information may also be found on the Quartz64 wiki and GitLab software page.

 

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