Product Hopes for new Rockchip series
#1
Since the quartz64 was announced, I am writing a list of wishes that may or may not be ignored. But they are things I find useful when I am setting things up and I think others do as well. And I hope they are taken in to consideration since I love a lot of what Pine has done, and these are some features as a general user I feel would be beneficial.

1. Power should be via usb-c
This one does not require too much explanation in my opinion but it is because I and likely many others find it very convenient to power a board off of tiny usb-c power supply than a hefty psu for a 5v or 12v one that takes up a lot of room on a power strip. Plus I can power the board off of the wall socket in my house directly. 

2. The board should have two ends of i/o one for swapping external drives and peripherals, and a back one for eth, video, power, and keyboard/mouse. 
This is a minor nitpick but it is something I find myself wishing for when I am plugging things in on my desk and have wires tangled everywhere because one wire is crossing over another. Maybe I should clean up a little more I really should actually but it is something that I think makes the board more streamlined. Similar to atrion's cases for the Raspberry Pi, that move the ports to the back for streamlined placement on a desk.

3. Expandable ram and sata+pci-e slots on pro models of sbcs and laptops
This is something that I think is in the works, but it would make purchasing one of these over other things a major difference to me. ARM is already transitioning in to Desktop PC territory, why not give us some of the benefits? Especially in the laptop where it would make a huge difference in the lifespan of the machine.
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#2
(03-07-2021, 03:56 AM)TailorHouse Wrote: 3. Expandable ram and sata+pci-e slots on pro models of sbcs and laptops
This is something that I think is in the works, but it would make purchasing one of these over other things a major difference to me. ARM is already transitioning in to Desktop PC territory, why not give us some of the benefits? Especially in the laptop where it would make a huge difference in the lifespan of the machine.

I would like to have expandable RAM, PCIe, and SATA slots/connectors too. Though at least in case of RK3399-based devices there was be no point in expandable RAM since the SoC is simply unable to work with more than 4GiB RAM anyway. That said, for an RK3588-based device expandable RAM slots are a must, unless they are shipped with the maxed out 32GiB out of the box.
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#3
The RK3566 is a low end CPU (Cortex A55) compared to say a Raspberry Pi 4 (Cortex A-72).
Putting 8GB memory on this SOC would be like putting lipstick on a pig -Sad.
Even the cache is smaller 512KB vs 1MB on Raspberry Pi 4/RK3399.
It is certainly a step up from the ancient 40nm Allwinner A64.
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#4
(03-07-2021, 03:56 AM)TailorHouse Wrote: 1. Power should be via usb-c
This one does not require too much explanation in my opinion but it is because I and likely many others find it very convenient to power a board off of tiny usb-c power supply than a hefty psu for a 5v or 12v one that takes up a lot of room on a power strip. Plus I can power the board off of the wall socket in my house directly. 

Quite frankly, I'd support the USB Type-C port as power input only as long as the barrel connector remains on the board as another power input.  Having the USB Type-C port as only power input is very, very bad when it comes to building clusters of SBCs.  In that case, you cannot simply get the required voltage and current to each of the boards; instead, you have to use something that talks the USB PD protocol to each of the boards, which is pretty much a red flag.  With the barrel plug in place, all that's needed is simply getting the required voltage and current to each SBC.

(03-07-2021, 03:56 AM)TailorHouse Wrote: 3. Expandable ram and sata+pci-e slots on pro models of sbcs and laptops
This is something that I think is in the works, but it would make purchasing one of these over other things a major difference to me. ARM is already transitioning in to Desktop PC territory, why not give us some of the benefits? Especially in the laptop where it would make a huge difference in the lifespan of the machine.

I'm not sure how doable would it be to have DIMM-like expandable memory, but it would be rather cool.  Please, keep in mind that there are actually no industry-wide standards for the types and speed of RAM used with ARM SoCs, but Pine64 could surely make some custom RAM modules, similarly to the already available eMMC modules.  That approach would also reduce the number of SKUs, which might results in a bit lower price of the SBC.
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#5
I would hope that a hobbyist product such as these would always have a non-USB power option. Whilst USB does a good job of supplying power as a secondary function, it is overcomplicated and uses less rugged connectors, for simply supplying power.
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#6
I've seen a suggestion somewhere that the Rock64 gains a rather interesting feature in one of its next revisions...  Using mounting holes as the way to distribute power.  Thus, if you use standard brass standoffs to stack the boards in a cluster, two of those standoff "stacks" can also serve as the bars for power distribution.

IMHO, that would be a very, very neat feature.  Though, I'd make it configurable on the board, to prevent all kinds of issues, by having jumpers that select the role of two mounting holes: either the ground (default) or the power distribution.  It could also be an option to leave the four standard mounting holes that provide ground, and to add two additional holes for two additional standoffs that would serve as the power distribution bars.
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#7
That's surely what I would do. Four for ground and two in the middle somewhere for positive.
It's a simple solution to a messy problem.
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#8
(03-11-2021, 08:28 AM)dsimic Wrote:
(03-07-2021, 03:56 AM)TailorHouse Wrote: 1. Power should be via usb-c
This one does not require too much explanation in my opinion but it is because I and likely many others find it very convenient to power a board off of tiny usb-c power supply than a hefty psu for a 5v or 12v one that takes up a lot of room on a power strip. Plus I can power the board off of the wall socket in my house directly. 

Quite frankly, I'd support the USB Type-C port as power input only as long as the barrel connector remains on the board as another power input.  Having the USB Type-C port as only power input is very, very bad when it comes to building clusters of SBCs.  In that case, you cannot simply get the required voltage and current to each of the boards; instead, you have to use something that talks the USB PD protocol to each of the boards, which is pretty much a red flag.  With the barrel plug in place, all that's needed is simply getting the required voltage and current to each SBC.

(03-07-2021, 03:56 AM)TailorHouse Wrote: 3. Expandable ram and sata+pci-e slots on pro models of sbcs and laptops
This is something that I think is in the works, but it would make purchasing one of these over other things a major difference to me. ARM is already transitioning in to Desktop PC territory, why not give us some of the benefits? Especially in the laptop where it would make a huge difference in the lifespan of the machine.

I'm not sure how doable would it be to have DIMM-like expandable memory, but it would be rather cool.  Please, keep in mind that there are actually no industry-wide standards for the types and speed of RAM used with ARM SoCs, but Pine64 could surely make some custom RAM modules, similarly to the already available eMMC modules.  That approach would also reduce the number of SKUs, which might results in a bit lower price of the SBC.

I agree about needing the barrel plug in addition to USB-C, too. In addition to the 4-pin header that has a straight connection to the barrel jack, for applications I am doing, it makes housing several boards within the same enclosure easy. Whether feeding some buck converters to power a bunch of HDDs, interfacing with other circuits to support an automation suite, or just for the convenience that modular designs allow, I don't have to splice and reconfigure the output on a power supply every time I decide to try something new with the RockPro64. On top of that USB-C can be fickle, adding a layer of complexity for a hacker that the barrel jack keeps simple.
Linux is a hobby. I can quit anytime for good just like last time, I swear!
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#9
I wouldn't expect too much performance from RK3588 if Rockchip goes the way they usually do with caches on the SOC.

Let's compare:

RK3399 - 1MB L2 cache for Big cluster / 512KB L2 cache for Little cluster.
RK3566 - 512KB L2 cache.
Apple M1 - 12MB L2 cache Big / 4MB L2 cache Little.

Whopping cache is one of the main reasons why M1 is so fast.
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#10
(03-12-2021, 02:12 AM)as400 Wrote: RK3399 - 1MB L2 cache for Big cluster / 512KB L2 cache for Little cluster.
RK3566 - 512KB L2 cache.
Apple M1 - 12MB L2 cache Big / 4MB L2 cache Little.

Whopping cache is one of the main reasons why M1 is so fast.

Large caches are great, there's no doubt about that, but...

Small caches are almost certainly one of the reasons why RockChip is able to make and sell relativey inexpensive SoCs.  Large caches (i.e. large amounts of SRAM) require a lot of transistors and, in general, reduce the yield, which translates into much more expensive chips.
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