Radxa ROCK 5A SBC – A Raspberry Pi 4 lookalike with up to 16GB RAM, Rockchip RK3588S SoC

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
  • Networking
    • 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
  • Expansion
    • 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
  • Misc
    • 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)

Raspberry Pi 4 Clone with eMMC flash module

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.

SBC Bench Khadas Edge2 Raspberry Pi 4 Rock 5B
SBC Bench – Khadas Edge2 vs Raspberry Pi 4 vs Rock 5B vs ODROID-N2+ vs Khadas VIM4

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 [3] for the tip.

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