mini PCIe module features Rockchip RK1808K SoC with 3.0 TOPS NPU

Rockchip RK1808 SoC with a built-in 3.0 TOPS AI accelerator has been around since 2019, and we’ve seen it in USB compute sticks, SBCs, and even in Pine64 SoEdge-RK1808 SO-DIMM module, but somehow never in the more widely used M.2 or mPCIe form factors.

Toybrick TB-RK1808M0 changes that and offers Rockchip RK1808K SoC coupled with 1GB RAM and an 8GB eMMC flash in a mini PCIe module that exposes USB 3.0, USB 2.0, UART, and GPIO signals.

Toybrick RK1808 mPCIe AI accelerator card

Toybrick TB-RK1808M0 specifications:

  • SoC – Rockchip RK1808K
    • CPU – Dual-core Cortex-A35 processor @ up to 1.4 GHz
    • AI Accelerator – 3.0 TOPS NPU for INT8 inference (300 GOPS for INT16, 100 GFLOPS for FP16)
    • VPU – 1080p60 H.264 decode, 1080p30 H.264  encode
  • System Memory – 1GB DDR
  • Storage – 8GB eMMC flash
  • Host interface – Mini PCIe edge connector with USB 3.0, USB 2.0, UART, and GPIO
  • Misc – Heatsink for cooling
  • Supply Voltage – 3.3V @ 1A
  • Dimensions – 51 x 30 mm (Mini PCIe card with 8-layer PCB)
  • Temperature Range – -20°C to 85°C

RK1808K mPCIe AI accelerator USB 3.0

I had never heard about RK1808K, but based on a Rockchip roadmap, it’s just the wider temperature range model (-20 to 85°C) of the RK1808 that’s only qualified to operate in the 0 to 80°C temperature range. The TB-RK1808M0 does not seem to follow a standard pinout, so I don’t think it will be usable in a mini PCIe socket from any board, and instead, carrier boards with USB or PCIe x1 are offered.

RK1808K USB PCIe daughter boards

Contrary to other AI accelerator modules based on Google Coral or Intel Movidius X, the Rockchip RK1808 is a complete SoC with Debian 10 running on the Cortex-A35 cores and the NPU supporting TensorFlow, Caffe, ONNX, and Darknet models. Seen that way, TB-RK1808M0 is more like a system-on-module with an AI accelerator, that an AI accelerator module. You’ll find some hardware documentation and the Linux image on YouYeeToo website.

I first found the solition on an Aliexpres shop for about $93, but it does not look like the small carrier boards are included. So it might be better to check another store that offers bundles with either the mini PCIe to USB 3.0 or mini PCIe to PCIe carrier board for about $128 including shipping. It does not seem particularly competitive against other boards such as Google Coral Dev Board mini ($100) with a MediaTek MT8167S quad-core Arm Cortex-A35 processor, 2GB RAM, and a 4 TOPS Google Edge TPU, but this may be another case where supply shortage has struck since the Google board appears to be in short supply, and out of stock from all suppliers.

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