In a nutshell: Radxa has introduced a new single board computer that could be a viable alternative for those struggling to get their hands on a Raspberry Pi. The credit card-sized Rock 5A is based on the Rockchip RK3588S, an octa-core SoC comprised of four Cortex-A76 cores clocked between 2.2GHz and 2.4GHz alongside four Cortex-A55 cores running at 1.8GHz.
You also get a Mali G610MC4 GPU and support for up to 16GB of RAM.
Other noteworthy hardware features include a microSD card slot, two micro HDMI ports (one supporting up to 8Kp60 and one supporting up to 4Kp60), a Gigabit Ethernet port, an M.2 PCIe 2.1 (one lane) SATA connector, a camera port, a display port, a USB Type-C port for power and a 40-pin header supporting multiple interface options. Full hardware specifications can be found on the Radxa forums.
Raspberry Pi boss Ebon Upton warned in December that consumers should not expect a next-gen board from the company in 2023. Instead, Raspberry Pi will spend this year recovering from the global chip shortage that rocked the supply chain during the pandemic.
It would be a mistake, Upton said, to try and put out a Pi 5 this year if production could not scale properly to meet demand. What's more, launching a new version too soon could impact the sales of existing models that are still in high demand.
CNX Software put the Rock 5B (based on the similar RK3588) to the test last year and found it was able to run circles around the Raspberry Pi 4 and other SBCs, especially when it came to memory bandwidth. If you need a SBC with some punch, this could very well be it.
Radxa's Rock 5A is expected to ship early in the second quarter of this year. Interested parties can put down a $5 deposit towards a 4GB, 8GB or 16GB model that will end up costing $69, $89 or $129, respectively, after early bird discounts have been applied.