Radxa has just unveiled the ROCK 5A single board computer (SBC) following Raspberry Pi 4 form factor and powered by a Rockchip RK3588S octa-core Cortex-A76/A55 processor coupled with up to 16GB of RAM as a way to celebrate Chinese New Year 2023.
The Radxa ROCK 5A (aka ROCK5 Model A) closely follows the Raspberry Pi 4 layout, including two micro HDMI ports, a 3.5mm AV port, a microSD card, a 40-pin GPIO header, four USB ports, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. The MIPI DSI connector is there too, and so is the MIPI CSI camera connector, but in a different location. Radxa also added some features such as an M.2 socket for a wireless module (since there’s none on board) and eMMC flash module connectors, among other smaller changes (e.g. Power button!).
ROCK 5A specifications:
- SoC – Rockchip RK3588S
- CPU – Octa-core processor with 4x Cortex-A76 cores @ up to 2.2-2.4 GHz, 4x Cortex-A55 cores @ up to 1.8 GHz
- GPU – Arm Mali-G610 GPU with OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 2.2, and Vulkan 1.2 support
- VPU – 8Kp60 video decoder for H.265/AVS2/VP9/H.264/AV1 codecs, 8Kp30 H.265/H.264 video encoder
- AI accelerator – 6 TOPS NPU
- System Memory – 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB LPDDR4x
- Storage – eMMC 5.1 flash module connector, MicroSD card socket
- Video Output
- 2x micro HDMI 2.1 ports, one up to 8Kp60, the other up to 4Kp60
- 4-lane MIPI DSI connector
- 3x independent displays supported
- Camera I/F – MIPI CSI connector (4-lane or 2x 2-lane)
- Audio – 3.5mm earphone jack
- Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 with optional PoE support
- Optional wireless module via M.2 E Key socket
- USB – 2x US 3.0 Type-A ports (1x host, 1x OTG), 2x USB 2.0 Type-A ports
- 40-pin Raspberry Pi compatible GPIO header with up to 27x GPIO, 6x I2C, 3x SPI, 5x UART, 7x PWM, 1x CAN bus, 2x S/PDIF, 1x PCM/I2S, 1x ADC, 5V, 3.3V, and GND power signals
- M.2 E Key socket with PCIe 2.1, SATA, and USB 2.0
- Power button
- Power LED, user LED
- RTC battery connector
- PWM fan connector
- Recovery pin, Maskrom pin
- Power Supply – USB Type-C port with support for USB PD 2.0 and QC 2.0
- Dimensions – 85 x 56mm (Raspberry Pi 4 form factor)
The ROCK 5A offers a direct alternative to the Cool Pi 4 Model B, itself a Rockchip RK3588S SBC with Raspberry Pi 4 form factor. Both boards are pretty similar, but the Cool Pi 4 comes with one HDMI port and one mini DisplayPort video output, as well as an onboard WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 module instead of the M.2 socket.
As previously noted, the Rockchip RK3588S SBCs will run circles around the Raspberry Pi 4 board with a much more powerful SoC delivering the CPU performance of around 3 to 4 Raspberry Pi boards, even a greater jump in terms of GPU performance. The RK3588S also added the ability to play 8K videos and output 8Kp60 through HDMI 2.1, as well as a powerful 6 TOPS NPU for artificial intelligence and machine learning applications.
We tested the larger ROCK 5B SBC based on Rockchip RK3588 processor (basically the same as RK3588S but with more I/Os) with Debian 11, so we have a good idea of the performance against Raspberry Pi 4 and other Arm-based single board computers.
The ROCK 5A is only expected to ship by Q2 2023 and will be quite cheaper than the higher-end ROCK 5B going for $129.00 (4GB RAM) to $189 (16GB RAM). You can purchase a $5 redemption code to get a $30 discount on the board when it becomes available at the following prices:
- Rock5 Model A 4GB RAM $69 US after discount ($99 retail)
- Rock5 Model A 8GB RAM $89 US after discount ($119 retail)
- Rock5 Model A 16GB RAM $129 US after discount ($159 retail)
Thanks to Upgrade pi-top  for the tip.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.