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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ROCK 5 ITX RK3588 mini-ITX motherboard

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

  1. According to Radxa’s wiki RAM options will be 2GB, 4GB and 8GB only as another differentiation to 5B which obviously will help cut costs.

    Also I wonder how did you come up with these prices? That’s the 5B list prices that don’t apply here minus ‘early buyer discount’?

    1. The specs are from the announcement. It’s the first link in the article “a way to celebrate Chinese New Year 2023”. Maybe the product page has not been updated

      The prices are on Allnetchina on the page where they sell the $5 coupon.

      1. Ok, now I see it.

        So 5A is 30 bucks cheaper than 5B at same amount of RAM (and the higher RAM options are overpriced as usual). Wiki page is 12 days old so we now need to see which part of Radxa’s ‘communication strategy/channels’ sucks this time…

    2. Strange because when you put in the $5 preorder for the $30 discount price, you’re able to choose a 16Gb option?

      1. A Radxa employee created a wiki page 12 days ago that reads: ‘ROCK5 comes in two models, Model A and Model B. Model A has 2GB, 4GB and 8GB ram options and Model B has 4GB, 8GB and 16GB options.’

        So we need to choose which ‘source’ we trust. The company’s wiki or shop.allnetchina.cn? Probably the latter since discount codes for a 16GB variant can be already ordered.

          1. And that’s just 8GB. With 16GB it gets even funnier: https://geizhals.de/3819516884

            While on okdo.com the 8GB/16GB SKUs are listed for £165/£200 (two 16GB boards in stock!) but they refuse shipping to EU countries above €150/€178.50 (both limits listed on the same page).

            Looks like the distribution side of things is even more pathetic than ‘software support’.

          2. Indeed! As business you can get a few OKDO branded Radxa items from them. Thanks, didn’t know that!

            But what if I need an eMMC module for my board? Alright, waste another work hour to order it from the other end of the world, deal with customs and my accounts department making trouble wrt documents and so on. It remains simply a mess…

          3. OKdo have eMMC modules, theyre part of RS so I assume that you can get them from there too. The emmc are less than the 150 euros limit though so you could get those from OKdo

        1. Same and it looks like it was a miscommunication by the person editing the wiki because it looks like it’s been more recently updated to reflect the forum announcement

  2. Hopefully the Rock 5C will follow the RPi3B+ form factor with full size HDMI and corresponding Ethernet/USB port layout

      1. As far as I understand the general complaint against μHDMI connectors, it’s that they tend to break easier than the full size ones.

        As for my specific complaint against them, it’s more to do with backwards compatibility in the pi-top [3] laptop – providing an upgrade path with minimal end user intervention required and ideally no chassis modding to prevent these neat devices from becoming e-waste

  3. Amazing how minor companies like Radxa can ship hardware while RPi foundation can’t. RPi probably shouldn’t have hitched their wagon to Broadcom. Will they learn?

      1. Radxa’s chip from how it sunds, is a standard mobile phone chip that is likely in 10x as many phones as RPi has ever made computer boards. That’s why there asn’t a shortage affecting Radxa. They went with a commodity part instead of a special snowflake part.

        1. > Radxa’s chip … is a standard mobile phone chip

          I don’t think the RK35xx family being an ‘application processor’ is going to be found in mobile devices that much. The RK3588S here will be in TV boxes like H96 Max V58 (called RK3588 without the S there since it sounds better), RK3588 in ‘smart’ NAS boxes (and surveillance equipment needing a NPU and good I/O in general) and ‘smart’ cars and such stuff.

    1. But how many boards are Radxa shipping? RPi Foundation makes, IIRC, 400k Pis every month.

      I seriously question if Radxa and others companies are making 400k of their SBC every month

      1. I don’t think they are shipping 400k per month, the fallout where RS used to manufacture under licence is sour and even though Raspberry maintain its covid they made a big mistake with a heavy weight in the component supply chain.
        You search for raspberry pi on RS Online and you get https://uk.rs-online.com/web/content/m/okdo-rock and you can buy a box of 500 but not sure how many they sell

        1. I noticed this too…. although RS have been showing the Pi as out of stock for ages, and they have thousands of the ROCK in stock. RS back OKdo so i’m sure they get a lot of their stock from their. Thats why Allied in the US can get stock so freely too.

          I’ve got the 4SE which i’m told are better than expected but I haven’t done anything with it yet!

    1. The board will be a bit more expensive on Ameridroid than on Allnetchina.
      I think they have some custom duties to pay when importing the board, and they may also have to offer a longer warranty, although I don’t know what the US law says in that regard.
      It’s also possible they are not offering rock-bottom prices and have some extra margins to stay profitable.

      1. I’ll have to keep that in mind for future purchase considerations.
        I’m going to presume that original (no longer available) $50 discount was also offered by Allnetchina?
        While shipping is $14 at ANC, it is $7 at AD, but they also HIGHLY suggest adding $5 shipping insurance at AD.
        I wish I knew this back then.
        I’m also going to assume that the discount is NOT transferable. Both sites appear to use the same style of checkout pages.

        1. Yes, the pre-order coupons are available on both Ameridroid and Allnetchina. They are probably not transferrable in the sense you can’t purchase a coupon on AD, and purchase the board on ANC.

          If you live in the US, Ameridroid is probably the best option, and likely cheaper too. The board is already there, so you don’t have to worry about customs duties, you’ll get your board faster, and if you ever need to use the warranty for the board, it will be easier to handle.

          1. Sorry for the confusion. I should have written “were” instead of “are” above. We talked about the earlier Radxa 5B sold with a discount coupon on Ameridroid and Allnetchina. But Ameridroid was not mentioned in the announcement about Radxa 5A.

    2. Ive been told today that Allied will be selling the 5A for;

      4GB – $74
      8GB – $94
      16GB – $110

      I imagine thats promotional pricing though at it lines up with the discount voucher prices, just discounting by $25 rather than making you pay $5 for a $30 voucher – im wondering if they will limit the qty you can order though?

    1. Guaranteed: There will be no Raspberry Pi 5 in 2023. Find the Eben Upton interview.
      Not Guaranteed: Raspberry Pi 5 will actually compete with RK3588 in CPU/GPU performance and features.

      1. Let’s hope so. Maybe an A78 or an X1 ? That would be awesome. But by the time they release something, RK3588 will have flooded the market. And there might still be disappointment if they continue to remove crypto extensions.

          1. I thought they always proceeded like this. But I’m not following broadcom’s product portfolio and who knows if they’re not going to release something a bit more modern in a year or two. After all A78 was released in 2020; emitting an SoC with it in 2023/2024 is not particularly early. nVidia even already has the Orin chip with A78AE so why not. Anyway the biggest problem with broadcom in RPi remains the memory bandwidth that isn’t sufficient to feed all cores at full frequency. That’s one point where there’s room for improvement as well.

          2. > nVidia even already has the Orin chip with A78AE 

            And Qualcomm has A510/r0p3, A710/r2p0 and X2/r2p0 actually shipping (Snapdragon 8+ Gen1). Being early adopter makes sense for them while I highly doubt this for BroadCom’s VideoCore unit.

            We will see. If BroadCom cancels VideoCore I’m sure Mr. Upton will tell ‘Now RISC-V is ready for us‘…

          3. > If BroadCom cancels VideoCore I’m sure Mr. Upton will tell ‘Now RISC-V is ready for us

            Ah certainly, yes 🙂 It was even made for them, and most of their customers will instantly witness how much better it is, obviously!

        1. Previously, I expected 4x A75 on 28nm. But Upton seems to hint at a node shrink in one of the interviews, maybe the Explaining Computers one.

          RPi has resisted big.LITTLE. Something like 4x Cortex-X1 might be a good fit for Pi5. But all bets are off and I hardly care anymore.

          1. > RPi has resisted big.LITTLE

            Shouldn’t this read: ‘BroadCom so far hasn’t offered a SoC that attached two different types of ARM guest processors to the main VideoCore IP block’?

            RPi isn’t tied to ARM cores for backwards compatibility but to VideoCore, isn’t it?

          2. Its video core and Broadcom they are tied to and Broadcom was a big backer of the Nvidia takeover that never happened and GPU wise they are in a no-mans land.
            Anyone seen a new Broadcom application soc that is Pi style that is more advanced than the Pi4 base?

  4. Hi,
    almost impressed by the potential of this beast.. but each time I have the same question coming back again and again…. What about software? Which Operating System do they propose (I mean Linux of course) ? If it’s Linux which kernel version? One of the last one or an old build. And in term of software compatibility.. are the Raspbian program are compatible with it or do I have to re-compile everything??
    So, maybe a Raspi killer or… just one more player on the market.

    1. RK3588, like all Rockchip SoCs, is plagued with a totally bogus BSP which is a fork of a 2.6.32 kernel on top of which they tried (and obviously failed) to apply the tens of thousands of patches that were produced later. All those which were failed are untrackable and will never be recoverable since the version and history makes one believe they were merged, but that’s without taking into account the merge conflict resolution. When you diff their kernel with an official one, some locks and NULL checks are missing at plenty of places, so this thing shouldn’t be touched at all for anything serious (i.e. that’s great for a dev board but that’s all, and I wouldn’t put my data on it, instead I bought an x86 board).

      However, the nice thing with rockchip is that there are enough vendors using their products so that some companies are paid to perform the mandatory merging work that rockchip doesn’t do, and ultimately their chips eventually work in mainline. For example, as of 6.1, RK3568 now works quite fine. It will certainly take some time for RK3588 to reach this level of support, but we could hope that future LTS distros in 2024 will be usable on it by only adjusting boot loader stuff to load the proper DTB. Let’s keep fingers crossed.

      1. So anyone preordering is hedging their bet that mainline support will come as for the RK3568… Should hope it’s quite likely given the capabilities of the RK3588. Fingers crossed indeed!

        1. Hi,
          thank you for your comments @willy and @Upgrade pi-top
          that s what I thought about this new card or mini computer.
          so the question is, why did they launch this king of product if they don t have a real “up to date” Linux distribution to offer ? Who will buy this new ” Raspberry like” without an Operating System ?
          and in term of compatibility, do you know if the binaries for a Raspberry, let s say Pi4, are directly compatible ? or not, that means re-compile everything ?
          Thanks in advance for your help

          1. The SBC will have a few working operating systems, but not with the latest kernel and bootloader. That can still be a problem with critical data since some known security flaws are not addressed, and you will not be able to use the most recent kernel features. Many phones also ship like that.

            With regards to package support, they will usually rely on the main OS Aarch64 (64-bit Arm) repository for most packages. If by binary, you mean the main image, then no “Raspberry Pi OS” for Pi boards will not run on other Arm SBCs, as the low-level software is different.

          2. On RK Linux, RK3588 deliver better desktop support than RPI4 has as today on mainline. Vpu works everything and the hacky mesa also delivers very defebt opengl desktop usability.

            It’s great? No. I would prefer mainline.. but not arm sbc support its hw properly on mainline, not even RPI.

            At current prices, x86_64 is the way to efficient linux desktop computing.. if that what you want.

            I dont do server stuff neither maker stuff.

    2. Mainline will hopefully land with 6.3 kernel, which is probably 3 months away. 3588 patches including device tree for 5A has landed in linux-next branch, although only Ethernet, eMMC, SD card and serial support is present at the time. PCIe was in the tree but was backed out for some reason.

    3. I have a friend who claims to have some inside info (so lets not take this as exact science) but he tells me that it will run Linux 5.10. He mentioned support for Debian, openFyde OS, Ubuntu, Armbian, reborn OS, Android 12……. Ive not used most of those, im just passing on the message i got

      1. 5.10 is where their current BSP is. There’s even a race to the highest sub-version number between various vendors, but due to the totally damaged code base, many regular patches do not apply and have to be “adapted” by the vendors themselves, hoping to do the correct modification (which often is not the case since the reason for a patch not applying is that the existing code is already bad and misses previous important fixes). I really wish one day we witness a massive, widespread abuse of some bogus vendor kernels’ vulnerabilities that makes it to mass-media so that this horrible practice ends. Calling your kernel “5.10.333” makes users think they benefit from all known fixes for bugs affecting earlier kernels but that’s not the case at all. Hundreds or maybe even thousands of these bugs are either not fixed or not correctly. This kernel should rather be called “” since it’s really what it is… a braindead 2.6.32 with tons of random stuff merged on top of it.

  5. I will never ever buy any radxa product again. Mahw mistake twice with the 4A and with the 5, the software support is hurrendous and the official radxa folks on discord are extremely rude when we just ask a simple question or ask when our preorders will be shipped. I get that they are doing their best and they have pressure but they also should get that people won’t spend money on broken products with a non-existent or super rude support. Never even again radxa, the shiny spec sheets won’t make me order anything again.

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Khadas VIM4 SBC
Khadas VIM4 SBC