Kobol's Helios64 Delayed by SARS-CoV-2, Gets Downgraded to the 1.8GHz RK3399K

Precautions put in place to slow the virus' spread have delayed manufacturing, while price rises are blamed for a CPU downgrade.

Kobol's Helios64 is delayed, and has received a CPU downgrade. (📷: Kobol)

Kobol's Helios64 project, which aims to deliver a long-term-supported five-bay NAS powered by a six-core Rockchip SoC, has been delayed by production slowdowns caused by precautions against the SARS-CoV-2 virus — and has received a specification drop from a 2GHz part to 1.8GHz.

Revealed earlier this year as the follow-up to its Helios4 network attached storage kit, the open-specification Helios64 offers a 64-bit six-core Arm processor, 4GB of RAM, five SATA 3.0 ports, and 2.4-gig Ethernet — along with an optional internal uninterruptible power supply. While pre-order shipments were due to begin landing in April, however, production issues caused by precautions against the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus — formerly known as 2019 novel coronavirus — have caused a delay.

"Now that all the factories and vendors we are working with have resumed work for a couple of weeks already, we have finally enough visibility to be able to provide a new shipping date," Kobol explains in its latest blog update. "The original schedule before Covid-19 was to ship early April, the new revised shipping date is End of June 2020."

As compensation for the delay, pre-order customers will receive a USB Type-C to HDMI and a USB Type-C to USB 3.0 A cable — the former to allow the device to be connected to an external monitor for use as a home theatre system, the latter for use in Direct Attached Storage (DAS) mode as an external drive housing. A change to the design has also brought out a USB 2.0 interface to the M.2 slot, allowing for the use of USB-based M.2 accelerator coprocessor cards, and enhancements to the power circuitry and UPS option.

Not all changes are for the better, however. "While originally we were planning to use the Rockchip SoC RK3399 'K' variant, we unfortunately didn’t manage to secure the RK3399K part at the price that was agreed with vendor end last year," Kobol explains. "Again because of Covid-19 some parts price have increased a lot because inventories are getting low. So we will use the RK3399 version."

That switch means a drop in clock speed from 2GHz to 1.8GHz, though the company has indicated it will offer a way to overclock the part back to 2GHz again "since our large heatsink allows it safely."

Full details are available on the Kobol blog, and pre-orders are still open with a $10 discount until March 15th; after that, the price rises to the $295 retail price.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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