Raspberry Pi Alternative Radxa Rock 5A Features RK3588S, 8K60 Video

Radxa Rock 5A
(Image credit: Radxa)

There may not be a Raspberry Pi 5 in 2023, but Raspberry Pi alternative Radxa has announced the Rock 5A which bears a striking resemblance to the Raspberry Pi 4 but this particular board offers up to 8K video support and up to 16GB RAM.

Radxa's Rock 5 will be available from the end of Q1 2023. The board features an RK3588S SoC with an octo core CPU. Four of the cores, Arm Cortex A76, run between 2.2 and 2.4 GHz, much higher than the Raspberry Pi 4's 1.8 GHz A72 CPU. The smaller cores of the RK3588S are Arm Cortex A55 running at 1.8 GHz. The RK3588 has been gaining ground and features in a number of SBC, for example the Firefly RK3588S and Pine64's QuartzPro 64. Video decoding is supported at up to 8K 60, a very attractive feature for the $99 price point.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
SoCRockchip RK3588S SoC
Quad Cortex A76 @ 2.2~2.4GHz and a quad Cortex A55 @ 1.8GHz
Arm Mali G610MC4 GPU
OpenGL ES1.1, ES2.0, and ES3.2
OpenCL 1.1, 1.2 and 2.2
Vulkan 1.1 and 1.2
NPU supporting INT4/INT8/INT16/FP16/BF16 and TF32 acceleration and computing power is up to 6TOPs
Display2 x Micro HDMI (1 x 8Kp60, 1 x 4kp60)
MIPI DSI connector
Ports2 x USB 2
1 x USB 3
1 x Gigabit Ethernet (PoE support via HAT)
USB C (PD 2.0 and QC 2.0)
Storage1 x M.2 E Key with PCIe 2.1 one-lane, SATA, USB 2.0 support
1 x eMMC module connector for eMMC 5.1 support
1 x Micro SD card slot
5 x UART, 3 x SPI, 6 x I2C, 1 x PCM/I2S
7 x PWM, 1 x CAN, 1 x ADC, 27 x Digital Pins

So why is the Rock 5A an interesting alternative to the Raspberry Pi? Chiefly it comes down to price and performance. For around $99 we can per-order the 4GB model, which offers plenty of RAM for most SBC users. Retro game enthusiasts will most likely choose this model as it offers plenty of RAM to emulate classic games, including some from the PlayStation2 era. Yes, PS2 is now considered retro and we feel considerably older for it.

The camera connector looks to be compatible with cameras similar to the official Raspberry Pi cameras, but that can only be confirmed when we get one in our hands. As for the GPIO, don't expect it to be Raspberry Pi compatible.  While it could be electrically compatible with your favorite HATs and add-ons, software support may not be.  The onboard M.2 slot supports SATA and thankfully has a binding post inside the board's footprint. If we can boot from this drive then we have a compact and relatively fast SBC. If you prefer eMMC, then on the underside of the board we have an eMMC interface. Speeds will likely fall between micro SD and SATA. Also on the underside, just by the USB ports, is an RTC (Real Time Clock) battery connector, looking at the silkscreen we can see that this JST connector provides power to an onboard RTC.

We look forward to taking this board for a spin later this year.

Les Pounder

Les Pounder is an associate editor at Tom's Hardware. He is a creative technologist and for seven years has created projects to educate and inspire minds both young and old. He has worked with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to write and deliver their teacher training program "Picademy".

  • bit_user
    The elephant in the room is what state its drivers will be in. Particularly for the GPU.

    I'm very excited for the RK3588 boards coming to market, but early adopters could face some risks and issues.