Developers at Pine64 today unveiled a list of upcoming hardware planned for a 2020 release, one of which is a new single-board computer (SBC) called the HardRock64. With its small form factor, GPIO pins, wireless support and four USB ports, it's hard not to compare it to the Raspberry Pi.
Below we compare the HardRock64 to the most recent Pi, the Raspberry Pi 4.
HardRock64 vs. Raspberry Pi 4 Specs
|Spec||HardROCK64||Raspberry Pi 4 B|
|CPU||2x Arm Cortex A-72 cores + 4x Cortex-A53 cores (Rockchip RK3399)||4x Arm Cortex A-72 cores (Broadcom BCM2711B0) @ 1.5 GHz|
|GPU||Arm Mali-T860 MP4||VideoCore VI @ 500 MHz|
|USB Ports||2x USB 3.0; 2x USB 2.0||2x USB 3.0; 2x USB 2.0|
|Connectivity||WiFi 802.11ac; Bluetooth 5.0||1x Ethernet; WiFi 802.11ac; Bluetooth 5.0|
|Storage||MicroSD card slot||MicroSD card slot|
|RAM||1 - 4GB LPDDR4||1 - 4GB LPDDR4|
|Power Supply||DC 5V||DC 5V /3A|
This board is a successor to the previously released RockPro64 SBC. It's very similar in design, with the biggest difference being a lack of PCIe and USB-C support.
"The board will run all RockPro64 OS images with little or no tweaks (we checked) and probably most Pinebook Pro OS with a ‘simple’ device tree tweak. In other words, if you don’t need all of the ROCKPro64’s functionality – e.g. PCIe or USB-C – then this may just be the board for you," the announcement said.
Pine64 noted that the board is known for running hot, and you will definitely need a heatsink, so add that to the price of the board. The HardRock64 board will be available with the options of 1GB ($35), 2GB ($45) or 4GB ($55) of RAM, just like the Pi 4.
This new SBC has a tentative release date of April 2020. It doesn't seem to have any immediately obvious advantages over the Pi 4, but if you're in the market for a new SBC or just want to try something different from the usual Pi, you may want to check it out.
The two best things about the RK3399 are its PCIe lanes and its GPU. With the HardRock64 dumping the PCIe, I'm not really sure about the value proposition vs. the Pi v4, especially considering the loss of 2x A72 cores.
Sorry, couldn't resist.
I agree about the PCIe being kind of a big deal to drop. I also think the N2 looks like a nice board, those 4 A73 cores are nice, and over 1/3 faster per unit of clock speed.
If the HardRock64 keeps its other specs the same, though, that would make its A72 cores 1/3 faster than Rpi4's (2ghz to 1.5ghz), and the A53 cores run at the same speed as the Rpi4's A72s. the A53 has a lower DMIPS/MHz speed, but not less than half, meaning that the 4 cores actually are more powerful than the 2 extra A72 cores on the Rpi4. (specs on this at Comparison of ARM v8-A cores). Taking that data and extrapolating it, The HardRock, like the Rock64Pro, will do about 34700 Dhrystone MIPS vs the Rpi4's 28320, about 22.5% faster. It's also likely to use a bit less power when not working hard (I'm having trouble finding exact specs but the A53 cores are rather power efficients).
If that rendering is correct, it looks like the HardRock64 will also have EMMC on-board, which is nice to have.
As far as I know, there is no 8GB Pine64 project on the horizon just yet, so Pi gets a big edge on that. Most people will probably be good with 4, but having that extra opens up some nice functional and performance possibilities.