A Mini-ITX motherboard has been revealed by Firefly featuring the powerful eight-core Rockchip RK3588 SoC, and enough ports to make a proper PC out of the Arm-based powerhouse. But the goal of this board is to be the brains in your AI projects.
🤩ITX-3588J is unveiled!🤩Learn more>>https://t.co/U8ccNfBCgh#ITX3588J #Firefly #motherboard #mainboard pic.twitter.com/epdVHxvDozMarch 4, 2022
As we saw from the recent Banana Pi board announcement, the RK3588 is an extremely capable chip. Four of its cores use Arm's Cortex A76 architecture, as seen in the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 SoC used in smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Black Shark 2 gaming phone. The other four cores are Cortex A55-based, which are 15 percent more efficient than the A53 cores they replace. The GPU is a quad-core Mali-G610, and there's an NPU offering 6 Tops of neural computing power for applications such as TensorFlow and MXnet. It's a solid offering in a small package, especially considering you can spec as much as 32GB of RAM.
|CPU||8-core 64-bit (4×Cortex-A76+4×Cortex-A55) , 8nm lithography process, frequency up to 2.4GHz|
|RAM||4GB/8GB/16GB/32GB 64bit LPDDR4/LPDDR4x/LPDDR5|
|GPU||ARM Mali-G610 MP4 quad-core GPU|
|NPU||NPU computing power is up to 6 TOPS, Supports INT4/INT8/INT16 mixed operation, Supports framework switching of TensorFlow / MXNet / PyTorch / Caffe / etc.|
|Row 6 - Cell 0||8K@60fps H.265/VP9/AVS2|
|Row 7 - Cell 0||8K@30fps H.264 AVC/MVC|
|Row 8 - Cell 0||4K@60fps AV1|
|Row 9 - Cell 0||1080P@60fps MPEG-2/-1/VC-1/VP8|
|Row 10 - Cell 0||Video Encoding|
|Row 11 - Cell 0||8K@30fps encoding, Supports H.265 / H.264|
|Row 13 - Cell 0||1 × M.2 SATA3.0, can expand with 2242 SATA3.0 SSD,|
|Row 14 - Cell 0||4 × SATA3.0, can expand with 4 pcs of SATA3.0 SSD/HDD|
|Connectivity||2.4GHz/5GHz dual-band WiFi6, Bluetooth 5.0, supports 5G/4G LTE expansion|
|Row 16 - Cell 0||2 × GbE (RJ45) , one supports POE power supply, max output 60w|
|Row 17 - Cell 0||1 × PCIe3.0 (4Lane)|
|Row 18 - Cell 0||4 x USB 3.0|
|Row 19 - Cell 0||1 x USB-C (USB3.0 / DP1.4)|
|Row 20 - Cell 0||4 × USB2.0|
|Row 22 - Cell 0||1 × HDMI2.1 (8K@60fps or 4K@120fps)|
|Row 23 - Cell 0||1 × HDMI2.0 (4K@60fps)|
|Row 24 - Cell 0||2 × MIPI-DSI (4K@60fps)|
|Row 25 - Cell 0||1 × DP1.4 (8K@30fps, multiplexed with USB3.0)|
|Row 26 - Cell 0||1 × VGA display output|
|Row 27 - Cell 0||Video Input|
|Row 28 - Cell 0||1 × HDMI-IN (4K@60fps) , Supports HDCP 2.3|
|Row 29 - Cell 0||2 × 2 lane MIPI-CSI input or 1 × 4 lane MIPI-CSI input|
|Dimensions||17 × 17cm (Mini-ITX)|
This ITX-3588J is Mini-ITX in size and sports a backplate full of ports that would make many PCs blush. There are three HDMIs (one an 8K 60fps-capable 2.1 port), VGA, and a USB Type-C capable of video output at 8K 30fps. In addition, you get four USB 3 Type-A sockets, a pair of gigabit Ethernet connections (one with POE up to 60W), audio outputs, a micro-SD card slot, and a DC power input that can take up to 24V.
Elsewhere, there's a 12V eight-pin ATX power input on the board itself, a single PCIe 3.0 4x slot, four SATA 3 ports and a SATA M.2 slot, one USB 2.0 socket and three headers, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5, plus a possible 5G/LTE expansion. There's more: you get eight GPIO pins, two UARTs, RS485 and RS232 headers, and connections for a 12V fan and even a 12V heater.
The board can run Android or a variety of Linux flavors with UEFI boot, including Ubuntu Desktop and Debian 11, and it draws a maximum of 20W of power. Firefly makes much of its 8K encoding and decoding capabilities, positioning it as a video-playing monster with eight-channel 1080p decoding at 30fps and the ability to encode and decode simultaneously. In that case, perhaps it will be adept at handling feeds from multiple camera inputs and outputting them to multiple screens or saving them to hard drives connected to all those SATA ports.
Sadly, the board isn't available for sale at the time of writing, and its price remains unknown.
Well if it looks like vapourware, walks like vapourware and quacks like vapourware....
So much of this around in the rPi-lookalike world, and I don't think it's all done to the chip crunch.
Thing is, it sounds like it could take at least a year for general Linux support to be generally available, maybe more.
For those of us in the x86 world who are used to "plug and play" Linux support, the Arm work looks dramatically different, with lots of caveats and pitfalls.