Raspberry Pi rival: Linux PinePhone maker reveals its new board

New single-board computer goes head to head with the Raspberry Pi 4 Model on pricing and specs.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Pine64's new $150 Linux-powered smartphone, the PinePhone, attracted a lot of attention among ZDNet's readers when it was launched last month. The company has now announced a new single-board computer (SBC) that's closer to its roots in making challengers to the more famous Raspberry Pi

At the FOSDEM open-source conferences in Brussels last weekend, Pine64 unveiled the HardRock64 SBC, which uses the same Rockchip RK3399 system on chip (SoC) it employed in last year's $200 PineBook Pro laptop.   

Pine64 has followed the Raspberry Pi Foundation's move with the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B by offering three SKUs and matching the Raspberry Pi on price, too. 

SEE: Six in-demand programming languages: Getting started (free PDF)

It's offering the HardRock64 in three LPDDR4 RAM configurations, including a 1GB RAM model for $35, a 2GB RAM model for $45, and one with 4GB of RAM for $55. Prices are "tentative", it warns, and so is the scheduled release date of April 2020. 

The company is billing the HardRock64 as "a small form-factor SBC with a lot of umph" thanks to the Arm-based RK3399, which packs a dual-core Cortex-A72 and quad-core Cortex-A53 with a Mali T860 MP4 GPU.  

For comparison, the new Raspberry Pi 4 Model B runs on a Broadcom BCM2711 with a 1.5GHz quad-core Arm Cortex-A72 processor. 

The HardRock64 features two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, and supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0. There's also Gigabit Ethernet, 40-pin GPIO, an eMMC socket, mSD card slot, a fan and real-time clock headers, a heatsink mount, and more. Pine64 notes that a heatsink is "pretty much mandatory" because the computer "does run hot". 

Pine64 has confirmed it will run on ROCKPro64 operating system images with little or no modifications and probably most Pinebook Pro operating system images with a "simple" device tree tweak. 

"In other words, if you don't need all of the ROCKPro64's functionality – eg, PCIe or USB-C – then this may just be the board for you," the developers explained. 

SEE: Top Raspberry Pi alternatives for 2020

Pine64 is also releasing a $30 artificial intelligence (AI) module that can be connected via USB to a PC or a single-board computer, similar to Google's Coral USB Accelerators

The module, called the SOEdge, runs on a Rockchip RK1808 dual-core Cortex-A35 processor with a 3.0 TOPS Neural Processing Unit, 2GB of DDR4 PC-2133 RAM, and 16GB eMMC flash. It should be available in April or May. 

And the company has restarted work on the CUBE IP camera. However, it has not yet revealed pricing or a release date. 


The company is billing the HardRock64 as "a small form-factor SBC with a lot of umph"  

Image: Pine64

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