The Khadas Edge Board, Another Attempt at System-on-Module for Makers?

At one point I thought that the arrival of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module might be the start of a new type of ecosystem in the maker…

Alasdair Allan
4 years agoInternet of Things

At one point I thought that the arrival of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module might be the start of a new type of ecosystem in the maker single-board computing market. The adoption of the ubiquitous SODIMM connector, which was readily and cheaply available from multiple vendors, meant that the Compute Module could provide the compute for a custom built PCB, and then be swapped out for a faster—or just different—module when needed.

The new ‘standard’ mapping between the SODIMM connector and the compute was the important thing that the Compute Module brought along with it. A new, and cheap, de facto standard for system-on-module.

However, the arrival of the Raspberry Pi Zero pretty much killed off the Compute Module in the maker market—price brings its own quality—and we didn’t see any real adoption of the Compute Module. Perhaps, as a community, we’re far too wedded to our breadboard-compatible headers.

With the BBC Micro:bit withstanding, we haven’t really see many boards with edge connectors in the maker world. So when a board with an edge connector does come along, like the new Khadas Edge, it stands out.

Based around the Rockchip RK3399, the Khadas Edge is a bit of a corner case even when it comes to boards with edge connectors. Because on the opposite side to the 314-pin MXM3 edge connector, come some standard ports. This allows the board to be used either in conjunction with the Khadas Captain carrier board, or as a standalone SBC.

The board will come in three versions — Basic, Pro, and Max — with onboard memory ranging from 2GB RAM and 16GM eMMC through to 4GB and 64GB, respectively. Both Wi-Fi and BLE are supported, with two Wi-Fi antennas included, and with a Gigabit Ethernet controller available, but not exposed except via the MXM3 connector.

The board measures 82×57.5×5.7 mm, and weighs 25g, with an HDMI 2.0 port providing up to 4K @ 60 Hz, with HDCP 2.2 and HDMI CEC. Alongside this is DisplayPort 1.2 support, available via one of the two USB Type-C available connectors. Both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 host ports are also present.

On release, the board will support Android Oreo, Ubuntu 18.04, Debian 9.0, with mainline Linux and U-Boot; and there will be machine learning with both TensorFlow and Android NN supported.

There is no price information for the Edge as yet, and there are no details of the carrier board available at all as far as I can make out. However the Khadas Edge board, and associated Captain carrier board, should be arriving on Kickstarter sometime next month. So we should know more soon.

It’s unlikely to kick off a new ecosystem, in the same way the SODIMM connector and the Raspberry Pi Compute Module might have done, but perhaps one to watch out for when it arrives?

[h/t: CNX Soft]

Alasdair Allan
Scientist, author, hacker, maker, and journalist. Building, breaking, and writing. For hire. You can reach me at 📫
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