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Rock Pi: Secrets About the Raspberry Pi Challenger

ock Pi

Rock Pi

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Are you looking for a Single Board Computer (SBC) that could potentially replace the Raspberry Pi in your applications? If yes, then Rock Pi is what you need. Plus, Rock PI offers engineers, designers, and DIY enthusiasts a capable and reliable way to create and turn ideas into reality.

However, there’s a chance you’ve never heard about the Rock Pi and might not believe it could challenge the Raspberry Pi. But we’re here to tell you otherwise.

In this article, you’ll learn about a Rock Pi and how it compares to a Raspberry Pi for your circuits.

What is a Rock Pi?

Since the Raspberry Pi board began, there have been a lot of imitators that try to cash in on people’s desire for a powerful and cheap Single Board Computer (SBC). Hence, Rock Pi is one of the boards that can match the Raspberry Pi and even be better in some aspects.

SBCS 

SBCS 

Source: Max Pixel

Moreover, we can only call a circuit board a Single Board Computer if it has all the basic requirements for computing on the same panel, including the RAM, CPU, input/output devices, and program storage.

On this note, the Rocks Pi is a full-blown computer in its own right. It features multi-core CPUs with lots of RAM and can support most devices you’d typically use on a MAC or PC.

Also, the greater power of this board allows you to run a variety of the Linux operating system or an Android 10 OS. It also supports developing and creating applications that you can run on the board itself.

Linux Operating System

Linux Operating System

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Though the Rock Pi has better specs than the Raspberry Pi, only you can determine if that technical superiority is what you need for your application. Plus, your experience with using Linux and Single Board computers will decide if the Rock Pi is better for your applications.

Rock’s Pi vs Raspberry Pi 

Raspberry Pi board started as a means for education, but it quickly caught the interest of DIYers and hobbyists. Though we’ve seen several iterations and models of the board, the Raspberry Pi foundation released the most powerful version to date in 2019; the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B. Rock Pi competes strongly with Raspberry Pi, so a clash is natural.

On the other hand, the Rock’s Pi 4 is the first iteration to directly compete with the Raspberry Pi since it features a similar physical layout. The Rock Pi 4 has three models, including A, B, and C. 

We will compare the Rock Pi 4C and the Raspberry Pi 4B.

Specifications

First up, let’s see how the Rock Pi stands up to the Raspberry Pi’s specifications.

Rock Pi 4C Specs

Rock Pi

Rock Pi

Source: Pixabay

  • Processor: six-core 64-bit (1.8 GHz dual-core Cortex-A72 and 1.4 GHz quad-core Cortex-A53)
  • Memory: 4 GB LPDDR4 SDRAM (plus options for 1 GB and 2 GB)
  • Graphics: Mali T860MP4 GPU
  • Ethernet: Gigabit Ethernet, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth: BT 5.0
  • Input/Output: Micro HDMI, 3.5 mm audio jack with microphone,  2x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, mini DisplayPort, camera serial interface (CSI), display serial interface (DSI), 40-pin GPIO interface
  • Storage: Micro-SD card slot, M.2 SSD support, eMMC module support
  • Power Supply: USB type C port with support for USB power delivery and Qualcomm quick charge
  • Size: 85 mm x 54 mm
  • Operating System: Linux-based or Android 10

Raspberry Pi 4B Specs

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi

Source: Max Pixel

  • Processor: 1.5 GHz quad-core 64-bit Cortex-A72 (ARM v8)
  • Memory:  4 GB LPDDR4 SDRAM (plus options for 2 GB and 8 GB)
  • Graphics: Broadcom Video core-VI GPU
  • Ethernet: Gigabit Ethernet, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth: BT 5.0
  • Input/Output: 2 x micro HDMI, 3.5 mm audio-video jack, 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, camera serial interface (CSI), display serial interface (DSI), 40-pin GPIO interface
  • Power Supply: USB type C port – requires 5V at 3A
  • Size:  85 mm x 56 mm
  • Operating System: Linux-based

It looks like the Rock Pi 4C has technical superiority over the Raspberry Pi 4B. However, its better specs come at a higher price than its Raspberry counterpart.

Differences Between Rock Pi 4C and Raspberry Pi 4B

Hardware

The specifications of both boards show that there is a lot in common. Plus, these two boards also have similar physical layouts, so there’s no clear advantage for either in this regard.

A closer look at the hardware shows that both boards support DSI connections for LCD panels and even dual displays. Both boards also feature a CSI camera port. Interestingly, the two delegations also have parallel input/output ports, with both featuring matching USB 3.0 ports and a 40-pin GPIO port. In the case of networking, both boards have equivalent WIFI, Bluetooth, and Ethernet provisions.

Processing Power

In truth, looking at the processing power packed into the Rock Pi 4C, you’d see that it’s far superior. However, its extraordinary computing power is merely theory. It depends more on the load you want to run on the board for more practical purposes.

Additionally, it would be best to install heatsinks for the CPUs if you’re after processing power to avoid slow operations caused by overheating.

Storage Capacity

Indeed, storage is where things start to contrast. Although both boards feature USB-connected storage, the Rock Pi 4C has the upper hand. Why? In addition to USB storage, it also accepts  M.2 SSD and eMMC connections. Plus, these extra storage options exceed the performance of the microSD card you can find on both boards. Hence, if you’re after storage flexibility and speed, then the Rock Pi 4C would be more helpful.

Software

All Raspberry Pi models use only one official operating system: the Raspberry Pi OS or Raspbian. You can also choose to install New Out Of The Box Software (NOOBS) to gain access to other alternatives like video consoles, custom application options, or media players. You can also get third-party options like Android. 

Android OS

Android OS

Source: Wikimedia Commons 

On the other hand, Rock Pi has three official operating systems, including Debian 9 desktop (dual display), Android 10 (tablet version), and Ubuntu server 20.04. You can also get community-built images and third-party options on Rock Pi.

Thus, if you want to run only official software, you’ll run only Linux on Raspberry. In contrast,  you can run both Linux and Android on Rock Pi. Additionally, once you have your OS installed for both boards, you can run any software compatible with the OS. However, your hardware must be capable of running such software. Luckily, there is a wide variety of applications for both Android and Linux.

Rock Pi X vs Raspberry Pi 4

Rock Pi X is another notable model that we consider more powerful than the Rock Pi 4. Also, the Rock Pi X features a powerful intel Atom x5-Z8300 cherry tail x86 processor. Interestingly, there aren’t a lot of SBC with Intel processors. You can effortlessly run 32-bit programs and even expect light gaming if you couple this processor with Intel’s 8th Gen graphics.

Additionally, with the Rock Pi X’s onboard eMMC storage, you can get a maximum of 128GB in-built storage. However, if that’s not enough for you, the Rock Pi X supports up to 128GB microSD cards. Hence, you can get a total of 256GB for all your applications.

MicroSD Card

MicroSD Card

Here’s the best part. Rock’s Pi X allows you to run the Windows operating system. Because of its x86 processor, it can also install different distributions of Linux OS.

That’s not all. The Rock’s Pi X supports audio features absent on Raspberry Pi 4B andRock’s Pi 4C. Plus, it features a 3.5mm headphone jack and microphone capabilities. Contrarily, if you want audio features on your Raspberry Pi, you’d have to add an external sound card. Thus, you can easily connect your Rock’s Pi to a sound system for various sound applications.

Microphone and Audio Jack

Microphone and Audio Jack

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Furthermore, the Rock’s Pi X is smaller (85 x 54mm) and can generate serious output while installing and running applications. Plus, this doesn’t affect or reduce the SBC’s performance.

The Bottom Line

Picking the best SBC balls down to what you want to do. Both the Rock’s Pi and the Raspberry Pi offer considerable computing power, and you can’t go wrong with either of them.

However, if you’re new to the idea of SBCs and Linux operating systems, you might want to stick to Raspberry Pi. But, if you think you can handle some rough edges, then the Rock’s Pi has a lot to offer.

So, do you have any questions? You can always contact us, and we’ll be sure to help provide answers.

Hommer Zhao
Hi, I am Hommer, the founder of WellPCB. So far, we have more than 4,000 customers worldwide. If you have any questions, you can feel free to contact me. I really appreciate any help you can provide.

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