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Rackmount cluster board and Pi-like SBC added to carrier line-up for Pine64 SOQuartz

Nov 15, 2021 — by Eric Brown 2,152 views

Pine64 unveiled a cluster-oriented “SOQuartz Blade” 1U rackmount carrier for its RPi CM4-like, RK3566-based SoQuartz module. Also in the works is a full-featured SOQuartz Model-A Baseboard and a Raspberry Pi-sized carrier.

When Pine64 launched its SOQuartz module last week in a developer-focused release, it offered an image and some basic details on an upcoming SOQuartz Model-A Baseboard for the Rockchip RK3566-based module. The SOQuartz can plug into Raspberry Pi CM4 carriers via dual 100-pin connectors. Now, Pine64 has announced a SOQuartz Blade hostboard for the SOQuartz in a 1U rackmount form factor aimed at clustering applications.

Prototype PCB with dual SOQuartz Blade boards (GbE unpopulated in image)
(click image to enlarge)

The SOQuartz Blade is designed to be housed in a standard 1U server rack. Like Pine64’s earlier SoPine/SoEdge Clusterboard, it is designed for cluster applications. In this case, each board appears to support a single SoQuartz, as opposed to up to 7x of the Allwinner A64 based SoPine A64 or Rockchip RK1808 pwered SOEdge modules on the Mini-ITX form-factor SoPine/SoEdge Clusterboard. Yet, you can cluster up to 12x SoQuartz Blade boards on a single server rack.

The SOQuartz Blade is equipped with a microSD slot, GbE port, digital video output, and 40-pin GPIO. Other features include USB 2.0 and UART headers, an M.2 slot for storage, and a power jack. All the I/O is “located at the short leading edges of the blade, allowing for tight stacking inside the rack,” says Pine64.

RPi-like mall form factor baseboard (left) and SOQuartz Model-A Baseboard
(click images to enlarge)

In its latest announcement, Pine64 mentioned an unnamed Raspberry Pi-sized carrier for the SOQuartz that it had previously teased at the end of October. The “small form-factor hostboard” will be equipped with HDMI, GbE, and 2x USB 2.0 ports and will support dual cameras. There also appears to be a 40-pin GPIO and possibly a DSI connector.



The larger SOQuartz Model-A Baseboard has a microSD slot, GbE port, 2x USB 2.0 ports, and 2- and 4-lane MIPI-DSI and -CSI. Other listed specs include a 40-pin GPIO header and a PCIe x1 open-ended slot.

Pine64 says it plans to introduce at least one more SOQuartz carrier as part of a major SOQuartz promotion in 2022 aimed at both its industrial partners and its open hardware hacker community. In other news, the company says it plans to release the PinePhone Keyboard next month, priced at $49.95.

The SOQuartz is going head-to-head with Radxa’s recently announced and similarly open-spec Radxa CM3. Like the SOQuartz, the Radxa CM3 adds a Linux-driven RK3566 to a Raspberry Pi CM4 form factor with compatible dual 100-pin connectors.

Radxa E23

In case you missed it, here is a follow-up story that details Radxa’s full-featured CM3 IO Board for the Radxa CM3, as well as a Radxa E23 mini-router carrier with GbE and 2.5GbE ports. (The image at right does not show the Radxa CM3 module, which is mounted on the back.) Radxa also plans to use the E23 feature set in two RK3566 powered updates to its Rock Pi E SBC: one with GbE and 2.5GbE and an E25 model with dual 2.5GbE ports.

The SOQuartz and Radxa CM3 modules have the advantage over the CM4 of offering native SATA support, multiplexed with the same PCIe Gen2 x1 interface provided by the CM4. Unlike either module, the Radxa CM3 also supports USB 3.0, which enables support for 2x SATA, with the second SATA interface multiplexed with USB 3.0.

Further information

No pricing or availability information was provided for the SOQuartz Blade or the other two SOQuartz carriers. More information may be found in Pine64’s November update announcement.

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