RockPro64 Review

Jarret B

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The RockPro64 is a Single Board Computer (SBC) made by the Pine64 organization found at www.Pine64.org.

The organization makes Linux phones, SBCs, Laptops, watch developer kits and other items.

PinePro64

The SBC has the following specifications:

  • Processor: Rockchip RK3399 SOC
    • Dual Cortex-A72 (1.8 GHz)
    • Quad Cortex-A53 (1.416 GHz)
  • Graphics: Mali T860 MP4 GPU
    • OpenGL ES1.1/2.0/3.0/3.1, OpenCL, DX11
  • RAM: LPDDR4 (up to 4GB)
  • Bluetooth – Optional
  • USB:
    • 2 – 2.0
    • 1 – 3.0
  • Network:
    • Optional 802.11 AC Wi-Fi
    • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Storage: Micro-SD slot
  • Video: 4K video HDMI port
  • Power: 5.5” Barrel Port for 5V and 3A/5A
  • Micro SD Slot
  • eMMC Module Slot
  • SPI Flash 128Mbit
  • PCIe 4x Open-Ended Slot
  • 40 GPIO Pins
  • Expansion Bus
  • PI-2 Bus
  • Touch Panel Port (TP)
  • Display Serial Interface (DSI) Port
  • eDP Port
  • Stereo MiPi-SCI Port for 12MPx cameras
  • IR R/X Port
  • Real Time Clock Port (RTC)
  • Lithium Battery Port
  • CMOS Sensor Interface Port
  • Headphone Jack with Mic Input
  • Size: 133mm x 80mm (5.2” x 3.1”)
The RockPro64 is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 01.jpg

FIGURE 1

Like other SBCs you can install Linux and even Android on this board. Unlike other boards the way you can install the Operating System is different. Pine64 has made a very nice program similar to Etcher. The program can be found at https://github.com/pine64dev/PINE64-Installer. Currently the installer is version 2.0.0-beta 3. For a 64-bit Linux version you need the ZIP file. Extract the contents and you can execute the file. You may need to answer a question when you start it. After it starts you should see a screen similar to Figure 2.

Figure 02.jpg

FIGURE 2

To start you need to select the button labeled ‘Choose an OS’. Another window will appear as shown in Figure 3.


Figure 03.jpg

FIGURE 3

You will need to select the board you have from the drop-down list which includes:

  • RockPro64
  • PineBook
  • 1080P Pinebook
  • Rock64-v3 / v2
  • Rock64-v2 / Popcorn Hour Transformer
  • Pine H64 (Model B)
  • Pine A64-LTS / Sopine
  • Pine A64+ (1GB/2GB)
  • Pine A64+ (1GB/2GB) For LCD Panel
  • Pine A64 (512MB)
Once you make a selection from this list, in my case the RockPro64, you will then get a list of all Operating Systems as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 04.jpg

FIGURE 4

There were 31 entries at the time of this being written. The choices are:

  1. Debian Stretch Minimal 64bit
  2. Ubuntu 18.04 LXDE Desktop
  3. Ubuntu 18.04 MATE Desktop
  4. Ubuntu 18.04 Minimal 64bit
  5. Ubuntu 18.04 Minimal 32bit
  6. Ubuntu 18.04 Containers
  7. Stretch OpenMedia Vault 32bit
  8. Stretch OpenMedia Vault 64bit
  9. Armbian Debian Buster Minimal
  10. Armbian Buster Desktop
  11. Armbian Debian Stretch Minimal
  12. Armbian Debian Stretch Desktop
  13. Armbian Ubuntu 18.04 Minimal
  14. Armbian Ubuntu 18.04 Desktop
  15. Debian by mrfixit2001
  16. Dietpi Community Build
  17. Slackware Aarch64 Miniroot Community Build
  18. Slackware Aarch64 XFCE Community Build
  19. Batocera Linux Community Build
  20. Recalbox Community Build
  21. CentOS-7 Community Build
  22. NEMS Linux
  23. NextCloudPi Community Build
  24. Manjaro KDE ARM Community Build (preview)
  25. Manjaro KDE ARM Community Build
  26. Manjaro LXQT ARM Community Build
  27. Manjaro Minimal ARM Community Build
  28. Chromium OS Community Build
  29. Stock Android 8.1
  30. Stock Android 7.1.2 (eMMC)
  31. Stock Android 7.1.2 (microSD)
Select the OS you want to download then click OK.

The next option is to choose the drive (SD card) to which you want to ‘burn’ the image. Make sure the SD card has the specified space on it. Remember that the SD card will be erased.

Next, select the ‘Flash’ button to ‘burn’ the image you chose to the SD card you selected.

Once the SD card is ready you will be able to remove the SD card and place it into the RockPro64. Power on the board after you have hooked it up to a screen with a keyboard and mouse.

The login information is the Username should be ‘rock64’ and the password is also ‘rock64’.

Rockchip RK3399

The single ARM chip called the Rockchip RK3399 contains two physical processors but six cores.

Overall, the chip supports multiple video decoders including H.264/H.265/VP9 at 4K or 2K handling 60fps. The processor can support H.264/H.265 decoders with 10bits coding and supports 1080 at 30fps for H.264/MVC/VP8 encoders. Also on-board is a high-quality JPEG encoder/decoder.

You should be able to tell that the board operates very well (you can immediately SSH into it if you want to leave it headless).

Benchmarks

To test the board I will run benchmarks. For the tests I used HardInfo 0.6-Alpha. I used the Ubuntu 18.04 LXDE Desktop image. Seven tests were run and are defined as follows:

  1. CPU Blowfish – tests file encryption speeds
  2. CPU Cryptohash – produces a checksum
  3. CPU Fibonacci – produces a Fibonacci number
  4. CPU N-Queens – algorithm to test the CPU in which a specific number of Queens are placed on a chess board and not two are in the same row, column or diagonal with each other
  5. CPU Zlib – used to test compression speeds of a CPU
  6. FPU FFT – an algorithm used to analyze waves such as in audio files
  7. FPU Raytracing – tracing light as it interacts with objects
Now that you have a basic understanding of what the tests perform you can see where some tests may have higher values than others. All of the tests show better performance if the numbers are lower. The exception is the Cryptohash test which should be a larger number.

The results for the RockPro64 are as follows:
  • CPU Blowfish – 5.7
  • CPU Cryptohash – 223.20
  • CPU Fibonacci – 2.05
  • CPU N-Queens – 13.40
  • CPI Zlib – .32
  • FPU FFT – 5.51
  • FPU Raytracing – 5.76
If I were to take the average of the tests (minus the Cryptohash test) then the results would be:
  • 5.43 seconds
NOTE: The Cryptohash test was not used for averages since all others are based on lower numbers rather than higher numbers.

Conclusion

Since there are so many options available for Operating System images the RockPro64 is a great board. The benchmarks show it has quite the processor to run applications without breaking the bank. It currently sells for around $60 depending on the options. For gamers this is a nice board if you use Recalbox.

If you like SBCs then you will definitely want to give this one a look.
 


dos2unix

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Good article. I have been considering getting one of the Pine64 Linux based cell phones.
I know it won't replace a GalaxyS10 or an iPhone 11, but the price is much cheaper, and I can control what "junk" is loaded on the phone. Last time I checked they weren't available for sale yet.
 

Jarret B

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They should be soon from what I read.
 


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