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Rockchip SoC rocks the Cortex-A17

Feb 27, 2014 — by Eric Brown 8,016 views

Rockchip announced the RK3288 SoC, which combines four ARM Cortex-A17 cores with a 4- or 16-core Mali-T7xx GPU, a 4Kx2K video decoder, and HDCP2.x security.

Rockchip is the second chipmaker to jump on ARM’s recently announced Cortex-A17 processor design, after MediaTek’s octa-core MT6595 system-on-chip. This heir to the quad-core, Cortex-A9 RK3188, which fuels Android stick computers like the Rikomagic MK802IV and Ugoos UM2, was tipped at CES as being a Cortex-A12 processor. However, Rockchip instead converted the SoC to the similarly 32-bit Cortex-A17.

Rockchip RK3288 block diagram
(click image to enlarge)

The Cortex-A17 was announced earlier this month as a faster, smaller, and more power efficient heir to the Cortex-A9. The Cortex-A17 is also a big brother to the Cortex-A12 design announced last June, and due to ship in SoCs later this year. The Cortex-A12 was also billed as the successor to the Cortex-A9, with claims of 40 percent faster performance in the same power envelope. Like all these processors, Linux and Android are supported, along with other OSes.

Rockchip is aiming the RK3288 at high-end tablets, notebooks, all-in-one devices, smart monitors, and “TV-Boxes.” With the help of the SoC’s high-end video decoder, it’s especially suited for 4Kx2K TVs and set-tops.



Rockchip did not list the clock rate of the RK3288, but the Cortex-A17 is intended for 2GHz and above clock rates, according to ARM. MediaTek clocks its MT6595 to 2.5GHz.

Each of the four Cortex-A17 cores have separate NEON and FPU coprocessors and 32KB/32KB cache allotments. The SoC also features a shared 1MB L2 Cache. The SoC offers virtualization extensions, as well as LPAE for up to 8GB address space, says Rockchip

The RK3288 is equipped with ARM’s new Mali-T7 series GPUs. It appears to support ARM’s recommended pairing of the new quad-core Mali-T720, as well as its much more powerful sibling, the Mali-T760 GPU. (MediaTek instead opted for a PowerVR Series6 GPU.)

Mali-T760 architecture
(click image to enlarge)

The Mali-T760 offers 16 shader cores instead of four for the Mali-T720, and adds an advanced tiling unit. It’s said to offer four times the power efficiency of the earlier Mali-T604. On the RK3288, the GPU supports up to 3840 x 2160 display resolution and supports OpenVG1.1, OpenGL ES1.1/2.0/3.0, OpenCL1.1, RenderScript, and DirectX11.

The RK3288 also supplies a hardware video decoder, which supports 4Kx2K multi-format decoding. Video interfaces include HDMI 2.0, dual-channel LVDS and MIPI-DSI, and optional eDP1.1. Dual-channel MIPI-CSI2 camera support is available, along with support for up to 13- and 5-megapixel rear and front cameras, respectively.

The SoC provides extensive memory interfaces, including dual-channel, 64-bit DDR RAM, NAND flash, and eMMC. I/O is a standard mix of gigabit Ethernet, USB, and various serial interfaces. You also get GPS and Smart Card support.

The RK3288 is claimed to be the first SoC to provide for HDCP2.x secure boot, which supports Miracast and various DRM solutions. A cryptographic engine supports most standard protocols.

Specifications listed for the RK3288 include:

  • CPU:
    • 4x Cortex-A17 cores
    • 4x Neon and FPU
    • 4x 32KB/32KB L1 I-Cache/D-Cache
    • 1MB L2 Cache
    • LPAE (Large Physical Address Extensions) for up to 8GB
    • Virtualization Extensions support
    • DVFS support
  • 3D GPU:
    • Mali-T720 (4x cores) or Mali-T760 (16x cores)
    • OpenGL ES1.1/2.0/3.0, OpenVG1.1, OpenCL1.1, Renderscript, Directx11 support
    • DVFS support
  • 2D GPU
    • Multicore GPU with up to 8Kx8K input and 4Kx4K output
    • Up/down dither
    • Image rotation with 90/180/270 degree or x/y-mirror BitBLT
    • Alpha blending, raster operation
  • Video decoder/encoder:
    • MPEG-2, MPEG-4, AVS, VC-1, VP8, MVC decoding at up to 1080p@60fps
    • H.265 support
    • Multi-format video decoder with up to 4Kx2K
    • High-quality de-interleave
    • Multi-format encoder at up to 1080p@30fps
  • Video Input:
    • Dual-channel input for front and rear camera
    • Dual-channel MIPI-CSI2 interface with 4-lane per channel
    • 8/10/12 bits standard DVP interface
    • Max. 5MP for front, 13MP for rear camera, with high-performance ISP
  • Video display:
    • Dual-panel display with 2x separately interfaced
    • 4Kx2K max. resolution
    • CABC support to decrease interface power
    • Dual-channel 8/10-bit LVDS
    • Dual-channel MIPI-DSI
    • HDMI 2.0 support up to 4Kx2K display
    • Optional eDP1.1
  • Memory:
    • Dual-channel 64-bit RAM
    • DDR3/DDR3L/LPDDR2/LPDDR3 support
    • Dual-channel, 8-bit per channel flash
    • SLC/MLC/TLC and NAND/DDR NAND compatibility
    • Embedded 60-bit hardware ECC
    • 8x chip selects to support more flash devices
    • eMMC4.5 standard 8-bit width compatibility
    • DDR-50, SDR-100 eMMC support
    • 3x SD/MMC/SDIO I/O, compatible with SD 3.0, SDIO3.0, and MMC4.5
  • Other I/O:
    • Gigabit Ethernet
    • 2x USB 2.0 host
    • USB 2.0 OTG
    • 8-channel I2S/PCM
    • 8-channel SPDIF
    • Dual-channel TS stream interface with descramble and demux
    • Smart Card
    • GPS
    • PS/2
    • 5x UART
    • 3x SPI (master or slave)
    • 6x I2C (up to 4Mbps)
    • 5x PWM
  • Security:
    • Standalone crypto and decrypto
    • AES 128-bit/DES/3DES/SHA-1/SHA-256/MD5/160-bit PRNG support
    • Supports HDCP2.x secure boot, secure debug, DRM
  • Other features — supports 4G LTE; temperature sensor

Further information

No pricing or availability information was supplied by Rockchip for the RK3288. More information may be found at this RK3288 product page.

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