ASUS Tinker Board
2 2

3 posts in this topic

Recommended Posts

Possibly late, but I would like to put everything we know in one place for anyone who might think of buying this board.

 

DSC_0640-1038x576.jpg

 

Overview:

 

   This is a form factor and (mostly) I/O clone of the Raspberry Pi 3 with a much more powerful quad-core Cortex-A17 Rockchip rk3288.  It supports HDMI 2.0, has 2 GB RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, Wifi and BT on board, etc:  https://www.asus.com/us/Single-Board-Computer/Tinker-Board/

 

   As numerous other sites have covered all the typical performance metrics and extolled the power and so forth of this board, I'm going to go ahead and give you the less exciting information and the tradeoffs/problems.

 

Mainline:

 

Getting the mainline kernel to boot on this machine was pretty straightforward, mainline support for the hardware, including WiFi, makes for less patching and allows a lot of functionality from the mainline kernel without excessive patching.  That said, so far Bluetooth and squashing a reboot bug have not been successful (I'm under the impression the rk3288 was never truly intended to boot solely from external sdmmc devices)

 

Important Hardware Considerations:

 

          Power Solution:  This board is equipped with a micro-USB connector as it's power input.  Micro-USB is only rated for 1.8 Amps, no matter how big the numbers on your power supply are.  It is entirely possible, even likely, that you will hang this board by plugging in peripherals to the USB 2 slots.  Micro-USB is a terrible method of providing power to a single board computer, and is the most serious problem with this device.  This device should be powered via the GPIO header using a filtered supply if you wish to have any semblance of stability.

 

          Heat:  The rk3288 is not a low-power chip, and the heat sink supplied (pictured above), is not adequate for any CPU-intensive activity, quickly throttling performance when it gets too hot. 

 

          USB throughput:  I have not empirically tested this, mostly because it is unnecessary.  For some reason the 4 USB 2.0 ports on the board are all routed through a single USB Hub as on the Raspberry Pi.  Not incredibly useful, other than not having to buy an external hub to make the one exposed USB port into 4.  (unless of course those devices use power, then you need a powered hub anyway)  In case you are wondering, there are 2 USB2 ports available on the SoC, however the dev team for this board decided to dedicate one to an "HD Audio codec" instead of using the dedicated I2S/PCM output to do that job.

 

          Undocumented pins:  The 4 pin header  next to the micro-USB power serve no documented purpose.  One pair is definitely the power button as references in the device tree for the board,  I've determined (and have seen others likewise verify) that the pins closest to the edge are the power button input. The other is not documented at all, and I've not wanted to tempt fate by shorting it out.

 

Software/Support Considerations:

 

          The Documentation for this board is terrible.  Incomplete, non-existent, etc.  The Official ASUS image is a series of workarounds and, until release 1.6, was not properly available to the community.  Even then, development does not appear to be occurring publicly (if it is that means development has stopped).  Rockchip representatives (seemingly not the ones working on the Tinker Board) have at least come forward to provide some helpful hints concerning issues, but ASUS has been entirely silent. 

 

My opinion after use/development:

 

          This is a very powerful board.  Unfortunately I had to build an adapter to power it over GPIO so it would run properly with any moderately demanding USB peripherals, I added a larger heat sink to stabilize the thermal situation, and am currently trying to find a way to get the board to reset properly without using what the Tinker Board source code itself labels a "HACK".  I can not recommend this board to a new buyer.  It's a shame, really, this board had every opportunity to be a really good solution. 

 

  • If the prospective buyer wants nothing more than a 4K media player, there are other options that will serve that niche better, including a small mountain of inexpensive TV boxes. 
  • This board is not ideal for a NAS due to the USB Hub (unless you want to test the limits of the SD card interface). 
  • CPU intensive operations will throttle the device to under 1 GHz with the factory cooler, so without modification you are limited there.
  • Powering peripherals through the board is simply not possible out of the box due to the Micro-USB power solution.  Powering through GPIO is the only sane option.
  • Raspberry Pi compatibility is not absolute.  The GPIO libraries (WiringPi, etc) are not exact, some of the pins serve multiple purposes on the header, etc.
  • This board may be adequate as a small kiosk linux desktop, it is fast enough to provide a snappy interface, and will fit in many of the available cases for the RPi.  I would still recommend GPIO power and probably improved cooling in case a lot of video/etc are needed.

 

lafalken, chwe and tkaiser like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/30/2017 at 0:10 AM, TonyMac32 said:

This device should be powered via the GPIO header using a filtered supply if you wish to have any semblance of stability.

Thanks for the summary:

 

Ok, so is there any over-the-counter GPIO Power Supplies that one can purchase ?, -instead of me trying to make my own plug-n-pray one.

By "filtered" power supply does that mean a switching power supply.?

 Not to mention the plethora of other glaring issues with this ASUS Tinker Board, <- can u believe it "Asus" -you'd think they knew how to make boards by now eh. 

 

Or, (being a new user to SBC), should I wait for the Tinker 2 Board, when hopefully everything should be fixed?.

 

Thanks for any advice folks.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been toying with the idea of designing a simple board and publishing the artwork/BOM for it, but if you look around, one for the raspberry pi should be available, look for DIN rail pi accessories, some of them have regulator hats.

 

As far as filtered (I forgot to hit that point), I am referring to a capacitor/zener diode combo to protect against switching noise and over voltage. 

lafalken likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

2 2

  • Support the project

    We need your help to stay focused on the project.

    Choose the amount and currency you would like to donate in below.