ROCK 3 Model A: tiny and low-cost SBC based on the Cortex-A55 by Radxa

Radxa ROCK 3 Model A

Radxa and the Rockchip Toybrick team have released their latest Single Board Computer (SBC), the ROCK 3 Model A. Developing the ROCK 3 Model A including hardware definition by Radxa and technical support from the Toybrick team. Both Radxa and Toybrick believe that the SBC is an important part of the AIoT infrastructure, and the increased demand for Radxa SBC in recent months is surprising given the global chip shortage.

Sharing the same Raspberry Pi dimensions, layout and the 40-pin GPIO, Radxa describes ROCK 3A as a “little brother of ROCK Pi 4”. Stating to be largely compatible with the 40-pin GPIO are the Rock Pi 4 add-ons. Radxa’s ROCK 3 Model A comes with the dimensions of 85×54 mm. Hence, ROCK 3A is the first tiny, low-cost SBC based on the RK3568. It features a quad-core processor and is based on the Cortex-A55.

Let’s understand the peripherals of Radxa’s ROCK 3 Model A

The addition of an M.2 E-key slot with PCIe 2.0 x1/SDIO/UART and the support of Wi-Fi 6 cards is another upgrade over the speedier Rock Pi 4. The Rock 3A contains an M.2 M-key slot with PCIe 3.0 x2 for NVMe storage, just like the Rock Pi 4.

The 3200MT/s throughput of the 2GB to 8GB LPDDR4 is specified, with a controller frequency of up to 1560MHz. The eMMC and microSD slots on the Rock 3 Model A will be empty when it ships. A GbE port with PoE functionality, as well as MIPI-DSI and -CSI connectors, are included on the SBC.

ROCK 3 Model A

Overall, there are four USB ports, the USB 3.0 OTG and host ports, as well as two USB 2.0 host ports. The board powers at 5V via a USB Type-C connection. With a SATA breakout connection, both ports can be configured in SATA mode.

Radxa mentions that QC/PD power support is available with a “new generation QC/PD protocol IC”. There appears to be an HDMI 2.0 port (the RK3568 supports up to 4Kp60), 1x MIPI DSI connector. It also includes an audio jack and an RTC with battery connector.

Pricing for the ROCK 3 Model A board will be similar to the Raspberry Pi 4. With the 2GB RAM model costing $35, the 4GB model costing $55, and the 8GB model costing $75. The single board computer is currently unavailable, with only a few early copies available to developers. However, a larger batch of SBCs should be available to developers by the end of the year. For more information, check out Radxa’s Community Page.

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