For those times when the Raspberry Pi 4 (opens in new tab) just isn’t powerful enough, Cool Pi has a new board that can offer a little more in the way of processing ability. The Cool Pi 4 B is the same size and shape as the Raspberry Pi board (opens in new tab), but features an eight-core CPU and an NPU, plus 8K video too. It’s also more expensive, but there seem to be plenty in stock.
The board certainly looks very familiar, but look closer and you can pick out the differences between the Cool Pi and the Raspberry Pi. Possibly the most obvious is the bright yellow 3.5mm composite jack, though of course the Raspberry Pi 4 has one of those too, just in black. The Cool Pi features two video outputs, but while one is a Micro HDMI, the other is a Micro DisplayPort. The HDMI hits the 2.1 standard, allowing 8K/60 output if you’ve got the screen to display it, while the DisplayPort is stuck in the Stone Age with 4K/60.
It’s that eight-core CPU that really sets it apart. It’s the RK3588S - an optimized version of the popular RK3588 chipset (as seen in the Rock 5 (opens in new tab)) that loses the PCIe bus and has a smaller number of interfaces generally, but which keeps the four Arm Cortex-A76 cores running at 2.4 GHz (we suspect cooling may be necessary) plus four more Cortex-A55 cores for low-powered operation. It’s an Arm DynamiQ design, which puts the big.LITTLE configuration into a single integrated cluster instead of putting them on two dies.
Behind all these cores sit up to 16GB of LPDDR4 RAM (with 4GB and 8GB versions available), an Arm Mali G610 GPU, and an NPU capable of 6 TOPS. Then, around the edge of the board, you get four USB ports (two USB 2, two USB 3) a gigabit Ethernet with PoE support, a USB-C port for power, a microSD, MIPI CSI and DSI connections for screens and cameras. There are also versions with onboard eMMC, from 32 to 128GB. The 40-pin GPIO array looks to be Raspberry Pi compliant, but that remains to be seen. Wireless connectivity comes in the form of Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.
Operating system choice leans towards Debian and Ubuntu (opens in new tab), downloadable from the Cool Pi forum (opens in new tab), where you’ll also find hardware design documents and some source code. The board itself is available from AliExpress (opens in new tab) for $142 for the 4GB version, with free shipping and delivery at the end of the year.