Apple and Qualcomm are certainly not the only adopters of the Arm architecture that develop system-on-chips for PCs. Rockchip, a major fabless chip developer from China, is working on its high-end RK3588 SoC that promises to bring together performance and low power consumption.
Rockchip expects its RK3588 to address various kinds of performance-hungry applications, including high-end tablets, laptops, AR/VR, televisions, and even NVR (network video recorder) surveillance systems, according to a report from CNX Software that cites information revealed at the Rockchip Developer Conference (RKDC).
Modern high-end SoCs for flagship smartphones and tablets already offer compute performance comparable or exceeding that of processors that were used for mainstream PCs several years ago. In fact, Rockchip's RK3588 packs quite a punch with eight general-purpose cores (four high-performance Cortex-A76 and four energy-efficient Cortex-A55 in DynamIQ configuration), a quad-cluster Arm Mali 'Odin' GPU, a 6 TOPS NPU accelerator, and an advanced multimedia engine supporting 8Kp30 video encoding as well as 8Kp60 video decoding. As for memory, the RK3588 has a 64-bit (4×16-bit) LPDDR4X/LPDDR5 controller that supports up to 32GB of DRAM.
But performance alone is not enough to address a broad range of PC-based and emerging applications. To power a competitive computer, an SoC needs to support traditional PC interfaces, but for emerging applications like AR/VR gear, it also has to support mobile I/O. This is exactly what the Rockchip RK3588 does. The SoC supports dual GbE, SATA, PCIe 2.0, PCIe 3.0 x4, DisplayPort 1.4, eDP, HDMI 2.1, MIPI DSI, eMMC 5.1, SDIO, and USB 2.0/3.1 interfaces. The chip does not seem to have SPI and UFS interfaces, which might be a cost-cutting measure.
Staying true to its mobile roots and in a bid to enable devices like AR/VR geat as well as tablets, the Rockchip also features 48MP (2x 24MP) ISP with HDR and 3D NR support.
Rockchip plans to use Samsung Foundry's 8LPP (8 nm) manufacturing technology to produce the SoC. This fabrication process does not use extreme ultraviolet (ULV) lithography and was primarily designed for relatively cost-effective applications. Meanwhile, it is hard to estimate the pricing of the RK3588.
As for operating systems support, Rockchip officially claims that the RK3588 SoC will work with Google's Android, Linux, and China's 'domestic' OS. For some reason, Rockchip did not reference Microsoft's Windows on Arm, but perhaps the company did not want to mention a proprietary operating system designed by a U.S.-based company at its RKDC 2020 event held in China.
Rockchip originally planned to launch its RK3588 SoC sometime in the second half of 2020, but for some reason, the chip was delayed to Q2/Q3 2021.