Pi-sized dev board packs high performance punch, and a high price tag
Last week, Asus officially released its home-cooked project board challenge to the immensely popular Raspberry Pi in the shape of the Tinker Board. Now another big player has joined the fray, but a high price tag will likely keep Huawei's HiKey 960 way beyond the reach of many makers, hobbyists and amateur enthusiasts. It does impress in the specs department though.
The HiKey 960 board is aimed at Android developers, rather than DIY makers, and is priced accordingly at US$240. For that money, the single board computer is treated to a Huawei Kirin 960 octa-core ARM processor with four high performance Cortex-A73 cores (2.4 GHz) and four low power Cortex-A53 cores (1.8 GHz) – as found in Huawei's Mate 9 smartphone. By comparison, the Pi 3 Model B rocks a 1.2 GHz quad core A53 processor, while the Tinker Board has a 1.8 GHz RK3288 quad core SoC at its heart.
The Kirin 960 chip features a 900 MHz Mali-G71 MP8 GPU that was developed for smooth premium gaming and mobile VR applications, as well as H.264/H.265 UHD content (though the included HDMI 1.2a port is only capable of supporting output at up to 1080p). The 85 x 55 mm board comes with 32 GB of UFS 2.1 flash storage, microSD media expansion, and 3 GB of LPDDR4 RAM. Connectivity shapes up as one USB 2.0 Type C OTG port and two USB 3.0 Type A host ports, Bluetooth 4.1 and dual-band 802.11b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi.
The HiKey includes two expansion interfaces – a 40-pin low speed connector and a 60-pin high speed connector – for hooking up to sensors, switches, motors and LEDs, display screens and cameras. And unlike the Asus and Pi boards, the HiKey 960 isn't powered via USB but by a 12 V/2 A supply plugged into a DC jack. The board supports Android and Linux operating platforms.
The impressive-looking, though rather pricey, HiKey 960 development board is available now through LeMaker for US$239.99, and is expected to be locally distributed in the US, EU and Japan early next month.