Pine64 Unveils RK3399-Based HardRock64 SBC, Offers an Update on SOEdge AI Accelerator Launch Plans

RK3399-based SBC borrows heavily from the Raspberry Pi school of board design, and will be joined by an SODIMM-based accelerator.

The HardRock64 offers a more compact alternative to the RockPro64. (πŸ“·: Pine64)

Pine64 has confirmed the upcoming launch of a new Rockchip RK3399-equipped single-board computer based on the Raspberry Pi form factor, dubbed the HardRock64 β€” a more compact successor to the earlier RockPro64.

First unveiled two years ago, the RockPro64 offers the same Rockchip RK3399 six-core system-on-chip β€”split into two high-performance Arm Cortex-A72 cores and four low-power Cortex-A53 cores β€” on a surprisingly sizeable board brimming with connectivity including, in an unusual move for an Arm-based SBC, a full-size four-lane PCI Express connector for high-speed connectivity to external hardware.

While based on the same underlying SoC, the freshly-announced HardRock64 β€” first spotted by Tom's Hardware β€” is a considerably more compact design, borrowing heavily from the rival Raspberry Pi family though resisting the temptation to follow it in ditching the single full-size HDMI output for two micro-HDMI ports. As with the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B, there are two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, gigabit Ethernet, on-board 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless, and a choice of 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB of LPDDR4 memory plus a microSD slot and unpopulated eMMC socket for storage.

The shift to a smaller form factor comes with costs, however: Compared to the RockPro64, the HardRock64 is considerably more constrained in its connectivity options, losing the USB Type-C connectivity and that unusual full-size PCI Express connector of its larger predecessor. At the same time the board is close enough to its forebear that Pine64 claims it will be fully compatible with all existing RockPro64 operating system images.

According to the company's announcement, the boards will be priced at $35, $45, and $55 for 1GB, 2GB, or 4GB respectively; a heatsink will, though, be "pretty much mandatory" for full-speed operation, and not included in the base price. A fan header is available for active cooling as well, the company has confirmed.

The Pine64 also offered an update on a PCI Express and USB 3.0-compatible edge AI accelerator, the SOEdge, which it had originally planned to release last year but delayed: The module, which uses a SODIMM form factor with adapter boards for PCI Express and USB 3.0 use or which can be placed directly in the company's SOPine base board, uses a Rockchip RK1808 dual-core Arm Cortex-A35 SoC with a 3 TOPS neural processing unit (NPU) coprocessor and 2GB of DDR4 memory plus 16GB of on-board eMMC storage for low-power edge processing at a competitive $30 price point.

Both the HardRock64 and the SOEdge are scheduled for launch in April or May 2020.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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