Qihua CQH6 SoM – A Better Alternative to Raspberry Pi Compute Model 3+?

Orange Pi Development Boards

The Raspberry Pi Foundation just launched the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+ for $25 and up with Broadcom BCM2837B0 processor offering better thermals than BCM2837 processor. As is often the case, this post generated some insightful comments from the smart readers of CNX Software, and they pointed out some of the shortcomings of the module such as the lack of Ethernet support that would be required for cluster use cases for example. You can also add a USB to Ethernet chip to the carrier board, but that’s not ideal, and instead someone linked to Qihua CQH6 system-on-module powered by Allwinner H6 processor and sold for 158 RMB ($23.5 USD) or 199 RMB ($29.65) for respectively 512MB RAM/4GB flash and 1GB RAM/8GB flash configurations.

Qihua CQH6 Allwinner H6 SoMQihua CQH6 module specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner H6 quad-core Cortex A53 processor @ 1.8 GHz with Arm Mali-T720MP GPU
  • System Memory – 512MB, 1GB or 2GB DDR3L RAM
  • Storage – 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB eMMC 5.1 flash
  • Edge Connector – 204-pin SO-DIMM3 connector with USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 2.0a with 4K HDR support, (flawed) PCIe interfaces
  • Power – AXP805 PMIC
  • Dimensions – 6.7 x 3.4 cm

The module is said to support Linux with Qt 5.0, Ubuntu 18.04 and Android 7.0. The 1GB/8GB board is actually about the same price as than RPi 3+/8GB compute module but offers much better features including Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, 4K video output, and PCIe interfaces.

Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3+ will have better documentation and software support, but it might be less important for such type of module, since it’s designed for companies making their own custom board, so they already have some know-how in house.  I struggled to find documentation for the SoM until I discovered a thread on Armbian that points to some resources on Baidu with password 7u3q. Sadly the link does not work for me, and I don’t know if that’s a temporary issue, or the link is wrong. I don’t see any mention of a development kit either, So it’s still a little early to find out if Qihua CQH6 module has a bright future, but at least it has potential. Alternatively, there’s always Pine64 SOPINE64 system-on-module.

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theyguyuk
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theyguyuk
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Based on what I could make out, it probably is.

Now to try to get ahold of one of them to see if the statement our erstwhile host made by a question is truth or not… X-D

dgp
Guest
dgp

>Now to try to get ahold of one of them to see if the statement our erstwhile
>host made by a question is truth or not… X-D

1: register with superbuy or other taobao agent
2:request agent to buy item for you using the taobao link
3:?????
4:profit

It’s even in English:

https://imgur.com/a/NhisHmK

dgp
Guest
dgp

Thanks to linux-sunxi getting a mainline u-boot/kernel running on almost anything allwinner is pretty simple really.
Build u-boot for something with the same SoC and it’ll most likely boot to a u-boot prompt without much of an issue. Grab one of the existing device trees, strip out the stuff you know you don’t have and you’re on your way.

There’s a ton of good stuff on TaoBao just waiting for go into your projects:

Solder down V3S board:
https://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a230r.1.14.52.1d1f7200UlB37o&id=567313314416&ns=1&abbucket=6#detail

Solder down H3 board:
https://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a230r.1.14.84.602869c10XjXoZ&id=569171979538&ns=1&abbucket=6#detail

Solder down H6 board:
https://item.taobao.com/item.htm?spm=a230r.1.14.124.602869c10XjXoZ&id=568572986262&ns=1&abbucket=6#detail

Even after SuperBuy’s fees and shipping from China a lot of this stuff is still cheaper than getting it from an Aliexpress seller or somewhere like banggood.

David
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David

Really? Every time I’ve had an encounter with a Allwinner chip it has been a bad experience. Granted it has been a couple of years due to my concerted effort to avoid the little buggers when ever possible.

This may be my personal bias showing but it seems to me that the documentation with Allwinners is either non-existent or is a terrible Google translate which winds up as more of a source of confusion than any help.

dgp
Guest
dgp

>This may be my personal bias showing but it seems to me that the
>documentation with Allwinners is either non-existent

The linux-sunxi wiki has a lots of documentation, leaked data sheets, SDKs etc.

Case in point it took me about an hour to get mainline u-boot and kernel booting on my own V3S and S3 SoMs.

Member

I highly recommend the V5 board from Lindenis over messing with V3S and S3 if you are making anything more than a minimalist camera. All of the V5 code is on github and it works.

Has anyone made a normal Linux for the V3 yet (with cedarx support) and ditched camdroid? I started to do that but gave up when I got my V5 board.

dgp
Guest
dgp

I’m not using the camera stuff. Almost everything else works in mainline. The only thing that was an issue was booting u-boot from SPI flash really.

admin
Guest
admin

You wont have “bad experiences” if you know what you are doing. Your post only highlight that you have no idea what you are doing;
NOT sunxi’s fault or AW’s fault. The H6 pci is is bit of screw up, but rest of the bits are perfectly good. Specially USB3.0
Then again, if you know what you are doing, these are very useful chips / kits

Member

If you understand chineese yes!

admin
Guest
admin

… more like you wanting to be spoon fed … Stop whinging and get on with what youve got.

Member

? I don’t get it.
I cannot undestand chineese and those websites are written in chineese only. The automatic translations are not perfect and most of the website don’t even load properly to me.

If thoose board would be available on Aliexpress/Alibaba would be a better advertisement for people interested on allwinner based products other than the already known sbcs. but are not! (Or at least I’ve never found any allwinner som on thoose two platform)

theyguyuk
Guest
theyguyuk

Try looking here, if of help, although basic.

http://m.myzr-tech.com/

And here

https://www.theobroma-systems.com/som-products

Philipp
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Philipp

I like the chinese way of thinking. Mass producing this stuff as dev. board and solder board. I really like that. Thanks for the links!

Frederic Renet
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Jerry
Guest
Jerry

How’s the real concrete SW support compared to venerable rpis? Community support is number 1 feature when choosing SBCs.

willy
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willy

reliability is #1, community is #2, that’s why you’ve remained stuck on the wrong side manipulated by those who love your money.

dgp
Guest
dgp

>How’s the real concrete SW support compared to venerable rpis?

linux-sunxi is probably the best supported of the Chinese/Taiwanese SoC trees.
If you want better you should be working with NXP or TI parts that have full documentation available.
The broadcom stuff isn’t really hobbyist friendly on any level.

>Community support is number 1 feature when choosing SBCs.

It isn’t for me. The raspberry pi community is 99.9% people that have no idea beside from writing an SD card from windows. If they had any idea they probably wouldn’t have bought a pi in the first place.
Other than that a lot of the “sbc community” seems to have the weird idea that people working in their free time should do stuff they want because they want it and the $10 they paid to some vendor in China justifies that somehow. I used to get at least an email a day bitching at me about the xradio driver. Stuff like “I’ve based a project on the pi zero. You must make this production ready for me now!”.

Anyhow if you have sensible questions and are prepared to help yourself the people in #linux-sunxi on freenode are pretty knowledgeable and helpful.

Member

I’m going to be honest with you. You’re full of yourself.

Both communities are quite adept at all sorts of things. This is from someone that actually does OE and embedded Linux for a living and was one of the people that STARTED that all.

It’s time to quit trash talking this stuff and just be honest with oneself and others- and you’re not. It’s why you’re sitting with two downvotes as of right now.

dgp
Guest
dgp

>I’m going to be honest with you. You’re full of yourself.
>This is from someone that actually does OE and embedded Linux
>for a living and was one of the people that STARTED that all.

mmm I think maybe this is a takes one to know one situation?
I can’t find anything in relation to you in openembedded, the LKML or anywhere.
Which is surprising for such a big player.

>Both communities are quite adept at all sorts of things.

What things are the pi community adapt at? The users are fairly clueless. Most Pis are probably used with off the shelf images.

>It’s time to quit trash talking this stuff and just be honest with oneself and others

You don’t happen to be one of those people that apparently work for are involved with the rpi foundation that go around shilling for them whenever a bad word is said about them?

>It’s why you’re sitting with two downvotes as of right now.

I think that’s more to do with the people that get a bee in their bonnet here and go around revenge downvoting more than anything.

Member

There’ll be those that claim that the support’s, “Better”- someone tell me how it’s “better” when I had to roll my own metadata layer on top of linux-sunxi’s meta-sunxi to sort out their screwed up Device Tree work that they upstreamed to the Linux kernel tree that was wrong for the NanoPI Neo2 and Neo-Plus2 so that all the device’s documented features could actually be used, including the WiFi and BT…?

And that was just one of several things I ended up doing.

dgp
Guest
dgp

>someone tell me how it’s “better”

The Allwinner hardware is better than the broadcom stuff from raw specifications (i.e. having the ethernet IP on the chip itself) and from the fact that most of the hardware (everything except crypto stuff and video hw accel) is sort of documented in sort of public datasheets. The IP blocks might not be as good as the stuff that’s in NXP/Freescale or TI chips and the documentation might not be as good either but you get what you pay for.

>when I had to roll my own metadata layer on top of linux-sunxi’s meta-sunxi to sort out their

I thought you’d been in this open source game since day 0. Fixing/adjusting stuff to make it work for your use case is to be expected.

>screwed up Device Tree work that they upstreamed to the Linux kernel tree that was wrong

Many of the mainlined device trees are missing stuff because of the significant amount of bikeshedding that goes on getting them mainlined in the first place.

>for the NanoPI Neo2 and Neo-Plus2 so that all the device’s documented features could
>actually be used, including the WiFi and BT…?

See above. It might be many months before a complete device tree is in the mainline kernel because it’ll never get in in a single patch. Unless you want to mess around and waste time with overlays you’ll want your own device tree either way. The hardest thing about adding wifi is usually finding the right firmware and secret sauce files to make it work.

admin
Guest
admin

I dont know where you get your device tree from.
Besides whats the big deal when you have the accurate schematics to roll your own dts ?

stop moaning.

admin
Guest
admin

RPi ? venerable ? someone is speaking from uranus ..

Community support only matter for the monkeys who needs to be spoon fed; and should not be in a responsible design management position in the first place.

Member

If you are someone who only wants to play with code get a RaspPi. For sure the RaspPi software is in better shape.

But there is a huge problem with RaspPi if you are a maker/manufacturer — you can’t buy the CPU chips so you can’t make your own hardware. That restriction simply eliminates the Broadcom chips from use in thousands of products. Sure Broadcom will sell you chips after you need 1M/month, but you have to ramp up to 1M/month somehow and Broadcom is not going to help you.

Broadcom’s attitude towards chip sales has created a huge opportunity that Allwinner has moved into. The other chip in this space is the iMX6/7 but it is significantly more expensive. This effect has split the community into two pieces A) software only people who use RaspPi B) Hardware people on Allwinner or iMX6/7. There is even a third group which focuses exclusively on cell phones.

Member

How do this relate to SOMs? A common use of SOM is to make a limited production run of something when you don’t want to spend the bucks on a custom solution yet. So I might make 200 of a device using a SOM knowing that I can’t make a good profit on it due to the cost of the SOM. But I am doing this to debug other aspects of the hardware, and I want to focus on those other things and not mess with a CPU initially. In this case the cost of the SOM does not bother me.

But after experimenting with those first 200 we want to make a production batch of 10,000 at the lowest cost possible. So we design a custom PCB. This is the stage when the RaspPi model falls apart. There is no way to get into production with a custom PCB since we can’t buy the CPU chips.

Another use of SOMs is in low volume production. These are usually pieces of industrial equipment. Industrial equipment needs wide temperature range and long life availability for repairs. RaspPi is not well suited for this market because it is missing some common industrial peripherals like Ethernet and CAN.

dgp
Guest
dgp

>But there is a huge problem with RaspPi if you are a maker/manufacturer
>you can’t buy the CPU chips so you can’t make your own hardware.

Worse than that is that there are no pubic schematics.

admin
Guest
admin

You are very right Jon Smirl,
I worked for a large payment systems company, whos devices were based ob Broadcom. Even though the volumes were in 2-3/M / year the support from Broadcom was zero or negative. There was an instance where Broadcom lied about their hibernation power, which after the said company spend thousands of r&d hours to achieve the published low power state, finally gave up and added a STM32 supervisor.
Avoid Broadcom whenever possible, useless bunch of t**ts.
Same goes for the foundation , the factory outlet for Broadcom.

Xtract
Guest
Xtract

What about industrial grade SOM? Has anyone find a good and reliable vendor?

dgp
Guest
dgp

There are many vendors that’ll sell you industrial rated SoMs with N years supply etc. Phytec, toradex etc. They are expensive in small quantities though. There are some Chinese suppliers like MYIR that have industrial temp rated parts based on the imx6 but I wouldn’t count on them being available forever.

Diego
Guest
Diego

Olimex has also some industrial offerings

Marco
Guest
Marco

Biggest question for this type of device is support and how long you can expect it to be available. No company would base anything on a product that will disappear in 6-12 months.

dgp
Guest
dgp

>No company would base anything on a product that will disappear in 6-12 months.

I think that depends:

If you’re doing runs of 10s of thousands of units you wouldn’t use a SoM because it’s not really cost effective as you pay for a useless connector and maybe some hardware on the SoM you don’t use for each and every unit you produce. You’d pay someone to take the reference design for whatever SoC you want and turn it into a board.

If you’re doing runs of 10s or 100s you’d probably always buy in excess of your immediate requirements within what your budgets can tolerate so you are never left in a situation where you have orders for your product but can’t actually produce it.

Supply issues are a hard issue whatever vendor you pick. It’s not uncommon for some stupid part like a DC-DC converter from a big name to go totally out of stock everywhere for months.

Philipp
Guest
Philipp

I hope somebody creates a board for it, so you can put them into a standard 2U/4U chassis. 🙂