RK3188 USD 12 Quad Core Cortex-A9 running at 1.8Ghz


RK3188 is Quad Core Cortex-A9 processor running at up to 1.8 GHz produced on 28 nm process, with Quad core Mali 400 @ 533 Mhz.

This SoC  was released just few months ago but took the tablet and Android devices market by storm like this was done one year ago by A10 from Allwinner.

The competition between these two companies Rockchip and Allwinner is with long traditions. The result is incredible productivity combined with rock bottom low prices as the stake is million devices Android market.

RK3188 is build on 28 nm process which allow it to work reliable up to 1.6-1.8Ghz although overclocing up to 1.92Ghz with proper cooling is reported here: http://liliputing.com/2013/06/rockchip-rk3188-chip-overclocked-to-run-at-1-92-ghz.html

If you look at ebay now there are lot of RK3188 devices at very competitive prices.

With so many RK3188 devices it’s just matter of time Linux community around Rockchip to be formed same as the Linux-Sunxi community around Allwinner chips.

There are already several blog posts for Ubuntu running on RK3188 http://liliputing.com/2013/06/ubuntu-up-and-running-on-android-min-pcs-with-rk3188-chips.html

and Linux sources http://liliputing.com/2013/06/linux-source-code-for-rockchip-rk3188-devices-now-available.html some very basic functionality also hit mainline.

More links: http://www.omegamoon.com/blog/ and https://github.com/aloksinha2001

IRC channel at freenode #linux-rockchip is set where RK3188 Linux developers chat.

Unfortunately there is almost no info for RK3188 on internet.

The only RK3188 brief is available which I put on Github https://github.com/OLIMEX/OLINUXINO/tree/master/HARDWARE/RK3188-PDFs .

Rockchip seems much more closed than Allwinner. While Allwinner already learned that Open Source community just help them to sell more Chips by providing Linux support for free, Rockchip is still one year behind and do not see any benefits from Linux and Open Source.

If you look at their web site there are no e-mails (actually there is one e-mail which they do not answer at all) and just few phones for distributors in different Chinese sites.

As the chip is new, it still have not hit the stocking distributors in Shenzhen too.  So how you buy chips?

Not easy! I asked Chinese friend to call these phones and ask for sales person – he did but from Rockchip ask him for the Chinese name of the sales person he want to contact to connect him?!? hmmmmm, typical Chicken-Egg problem – to buy chips you have to contact sales person, but you cant contact him if you do not know him 🙂

Tom Cubie (aka hipboi) who made Cubieboard wrote on irc channel that  visited Rockchip and learned that Rockchip targets to sell 50 millions RK3188 chips this year, no wonder they are not interested in selling chips to some smallish Western customers who will just bother them with GPL sources and endless technical support questions.

Also interesting info which Tom shared is that the volume price of RK3188 is USD $12.00 ( or $3 per 1.8GHz Cortex-A9 core !) now this is the reason for the so low cost of RK3188 devices. Sure this price will be not for mortal non-Chinese who buy less 100 Kpcs, but whatever margin above it have in the sales chain it will be still much more below th $40 price for the 1Ghz 4 core iMX6 for instance.

SO RK3188 is really interesting Chip and if we can obtain more info we would be definitely interested to release OLinuXino with it.

After some days bothering Rockchip on the phone and presening Olimex we seems to break the ice.

The key was to show them the A10, A10S, A13, A20 boards we did already for Allwinner.

Rockchip sent us NDA to complete and now we are waiting their HQ to approve us and eventually to give us access to more info so we can complete board with RK3188.

Crossing fingers this to happen soon 😉

Allwinner A31 Quad Core Cortex-A7 processors now are in production


A31 is the first Allwinner’s 4 core processor.

Compared to A20 is should have double the productivity as have 64 bit RAM data bus and 4 cores vs 2 cores in A20.

How this compare to A10/A10S/A13 we still don’t know, but recent tests show that A20 perform 3 times faster than A10 although on paper it should be only 1.9 times faster.

A31 have PowerVR GPU with 8 cores, which will make it powerful for games and extensive graphics. One potential problem for using it with Linux is that Open Source community Lima project (http://limadriver.org) is mostly focused on reverse engineering MALI and they actually released open source drivers which performs faster and better than ARM own drivers which according to Luc Verhaegen’s blog (http://libv.livejournal.com) makes ARM managers quite unhappy as they have to sell something closed sourced which performs worse than the open source alternative 🙂

With the success on MALI/LIMADRIVER we are confident that Open Source community will have soon or later reverse engineering driver for PowerVR too, A31 is just too powerful and low cost to ignore!

A31 can address up to 2GB or DDR3 memory, Video output support up to 4096 x 4096 pixels, the camera video inputs are 4 and support 1Gbps stream i.e. 12Mpixel cameras can stream with up to 60fps.

A31 brief features are:

  • Cortex-A7 4 core processor
  • PowerVR GPU with 8 cores
  • up to 2GB DDR3 RAM support
  • two Audio DACs with 100dBA SNR and 192kHz sampling
  • 8/16bit NAND databus
  • GPADC with 12bit resolution 1MSPS
  • 4 independant SD/MMC controllers with up to 100Mhz clock, up to 128GB cards
  • USB-OTG 2.0
  • LRADC 6-bit for buttons interface
  • two I2S/PCM 192kHz sampling and MCLK for external CODECs
  • 4 PWMs with prescallers
  • SPI/SSI interface with up to 150Mbps clock
  • Gigabit Ethernet GMII/MII interface
  • CIR – IR controller
  • 6 UARTs
  • 4 SPIs
  • 5 I2C
  • P2WI push-pull I2C

few days ago Allwinner sent us 1 tray of 84 pcs A31 + 84 pcs AXP221:


… so after we complete A20-SOM we may decide to continue with A31-SOM unless something more interesting pop up.

A31 is real monster with 609 balls on 0.65mm step it may be not possible to route it on 4 layers.

Specially for A31 Allwinner designed AXP221 power managment device. AXP221 is also monster chip with 5 programmable DCDC convertors with 20mV step and 14 programmable LDOs with 100mV step, integrated MOSFET switches and LiPo Flash charging. We have never seen equivalent of this chip at other vendors.

What we will probably go for is A31-SOM with 2GB RAM and power managment on board + A31-EVB evaluation board which utilize A31-SOM.

The price of A31 is double than A20 and with the double amount of RAM we guess A31-SOM will cost about double what A20-SOM will cost.

As A31 uses 64 bit DDR memory bus it may be possible to design module which accept normal computer DIMM RAM modules, this is option which we will investigate further.

The A31 datasheet and some reference PDF schematics received from Allwinner are put on GitHub.