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New SBC day, which is good since Im in lockdown due to the Corona Virus and was getting a bit stir crazy.

Ordered the Rock64 2GB board from Pine, with a nice black aluminum case for passive cooling last month, it finally arrived but I am not upset at the time, given the world situation its not something to lose sleep over. Anything from China is going to take longer for a while.
Love the case, but if you need access to the GPIO pins....sorry.. Big Grin

What a nice little board and case combo. Another Rockchip board but this is Rockchip RK3328 Quad-Core SOC with Mali 450MP2. up to 1500Ghz A much lower  end Rockchip compared to the ones on Tinkerboard and RockPro64 etc. So CPU wise with 2GB of LPDDR3 RAM it should match or slightly outperform a Raspberry 3,

In use its as easy to set up as any other Pine board, the very cool Pine installer app lets you select a few different os's to burn to the SD and off you go though it does not give any indication of the feature sets of each OS, but various Ubuntu, Armbian and a Debian flavours are on hand do a bit of reading 1st to select the OS that has your needs.

One thing I didn't know which the installer showed up, was there is a V2 and V3 version of the board...hmm mine is V2 despite the V3 being out for a while, and mine being a recent order..Not too sure what the difference is. Not something I'll worry too much about given my try it and store it appriach to boards.

I started with a version of Ubuntu 18.04 LXDE which installed and booted no problem but in a low resolution..uh oh, but not to worry I found the display settings and set it to full size no problem 
After a quick update and upgrade cycle, I installed GLMark2-es2 and ran it, on screen, right away my heart sank, it was really low, the 1st couple of tests usually give a good indication of speed and 31 and 39 were not inspiring.. So I stopped and ran it off screen, expecting to see the same numbers indicating emulation but no it started throwing out some great 300+ numbers.. So there are drivers but the EGL/X11 pipeline isn't ideal.

Sadly though it crashed out with errors on the last few tests and recorded an average score of 200 off screen. I ran again on screen and it gave a pitiful 34.... oh well
Since its only a Mali 450Mp2  I guess thats ok, its on a level with a Pi3 maybe a 3B+ off screen at least.
I wasn't too impressed with that so decided to try a "feature complete" Debian build 

Debian by MrFixit sadly refused to boot, going into an on off cycle, I was using a V2/V3 version so decided to try a V2 only version and then discovered it was the same version, but I flashed it again...still refused to boot.
I tried a 64bit minimal Debian version, it was a bit flaky, and no desktop but after a couple of crashes and restarts it seemed to stabalise and I did an update/upgrade and installed mesa libs and build glmark2 to see what I'd get... That took a while, maybe the case isn't cooling as well as I'd like and its throttling? (later tests with a desktop CPU temp display showed it running comfortably around 50deg, so the case works)

But nah nothing doing there, I was kinda wondering if I could open a window and run opengl even in a text system...oh well
Armbian does have a GPU addon for this board...but I'd lost interest by then.

In the end I went back to the desktop Ubuntu version with its dodgy x11 updates, and ran my usual maze game built just fine...but mysteriously refused to run...need to investigate that, cos that seldom happens. It seems to regard the executable as an ,so file??? It did run if I tabbed to the dir and manually entered ./runnabledemo but it was very slow, maybe due to the full res, I wasn't able to do much debugging to improve things.

Overall the board itself on paper, is nice, well featured, but not especially fast, I didn't see it hit 1500ghz even when runing 6 threads to compile.  2 USB2's (one with OTG) and a usb3 are fine, an IR port , reset and power switches are nice to see. It needs a thin 3A5v power jack socket rather than micro USB.  I love the $13 case that keeps it all nice and tidy and cool (though the plastic LED lens refused to fit). The software clearly is a bit hit and miss at the moment, so it goes back into the draw while we wait for updates.

Value for money wise though the Pi4 offers much more speed and graphic power and is a lot easier to get hold of and it runs out the box. Not sure this really offers anything useful to me as a graphic coder, but perhaps for a builder who needs an IR and a standard power system it might be nice.

I would have expected better though, the RockPro64 is an absolute beast with nice GPU drivers in place, and even the Pine64 is now a nice stable system. If this is what Pine are hoping will target the Raspberry market it might be a misfire.
Brian Beuken
Lecturer in Game Programming at Breda University of Applied Sciences.
Author of The Fundamentals of C/C++ Game Programming: Using Target-based Development on SBC's 


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