I’ve spent a day or two wandering down lists of Single Board Computers, looking up companies, finding their addresses and for some where they send their “Fab” or have their semiconductors ‘fabricated’. All with the goal of identifying what makers are heavily involved with China and what makers are not.
Some History & Problem Admiration
Realize this list will NOT be comprehensive nor will it be completely reliable. There’s a few reasons for that. First off, a lot of the “Dirty Work” of making things like the PC Board itself has been ‘outsourced’ by most makers to some 3rd party company, often in China, and it is usually not possible to find out who or where. Similarly, manufacture of cheap commodity parts like capacitors and resistors tends to wander around to cheap labour pools with minimal environmental rules. When I first came to Silicon Valley in the ’70s, there were huge numbers of people employed to make components and installing them on computer boards. That included a large female workforce from places like the Philippines. (Women were especially good at fine detail work with small parts, so wiring chip headers or placing small parts on boards was common work). Over the decades, all that moved “overseas”. Even the chip “fab” moved.
Then a big wave of “Fabless” chip designers came along. Why build your own chip foundry just to make a new CPU or WiFi chipset if you could just rent some time at a low cost fabricator somewhere else? Let them decide where to put their factories and what labor pool to use. While at a semiconductor maker in the ’70s as a Production Planner, I assigned work to assembly plants in the Philippines, Malaysia, some in California (but shrinking) and more. Nobody but me knew for sure which batch of chips was assembled into those plastic packages and tin cans in just what country. That was with a company that had lots of its own “Fab”. With a Fabless chip maker, it will depend on just what contract they have with whom.
Now the good bit is that the biggest chip foundry in common use for this kind of stuff is TSMC. “https ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TSMC”
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Limited (TSMC;[…]) is a Taiwanese multinational semiconductor contract manufacturing and design company. It is one of Taiwan’s largest companies, the world’s most valuable semiconductor company, and the world’s largest dedicated independent (pure-play) semiconductor foundry, with its headquarters and main operations located in the Hsinchu Science Park in Hsinchu, Taiwan. TSMC has a global capacity of about 13 million 300mm equivalent wafers per year as of 2020, and makes chips for customers with process nodes from 2 micron to 5 nanometers. TSMC is the first foundry to provide 7 and 5 nanometer production capabilities with the latter being applied on the new Apple A14 and Apple M1 SoC, and the first to commercialize Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology in high volume.
Note that they are “multinational”. So your “made in Taiwan” chip might not be actually made in Taiwan. But it probably is. Note, too, the reference to the Apple chips being made by TSMC; yeah, your Apple is not made in America either. Just because a company HQ is in Silicon Valley doesn’t mean the products are made anywhere in particular.
This all makes it a bit hard to remove China entirely from your computers and the products you use. But you can removed the most At Risk parts. That is the goal of this posting.
Sidebar On Taiwan:
There is a high probability that at some point, and I’d speculate it will happen while China Joe, Beijing Biden, is on the throne, China will invade Taiwan. When (IMHO, not an ‘if’ but a ‘when’) that happens, then the “world’s most valuable semiconductor company’ that makes most of the “hot chips” used in all sorts of electronics (including a fair amount of gear used by our Military…) will fall into the hands of the CCP Chinese Communist Party (IF it isn’t bombed to bits in the process…). So I suggest you buy any product that depends on TSMC before that happens. What makers would get hurt, then? Again from the wiki;
Most of the leading fabless semiconductor companies such as Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Apple Inc., Broadcom Inc., Marvell, MediaTek, Nvidia, and Qualcomm are customers of TSMC, as well as emerging companies such as Allwinner Technology, HiSilicon, Spectra7, and Spreadtrum. Leading programmable logic device companies Xilinx and previously Altera also make or made use of TSMC’s foundry services. Some integrated device manufacturers that have their own fabrication facilities like Intel, NXP, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments outsource some of their production to TSMC. At least one semiconductor company, LSI, re-sells TSMC wafers through its ASIC design services and design IP-portfolio.
Look at that customer list and let is soak in just how exposed is the entire Tech World and all our gadgets to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Broadcom is not just a big WiFi router maker, it is the chipset in the Raspberry Pi. So it’s fine to say Broadcom is a Silicon Valley USA Company so the R. Pi is “safe”, except their chips are made in Taiwan and China is flying bombers past them…
We will see several of those “customer names” again as “Chinese Companies”, but one needs special emphasis.
Note that Allwinner is a maker from China with a LARGE presence in the SBC Single Board Computer market. Just that product I’m most interested in using and where this article is looking at ways to avoid China. So is Allwinner “OK” because it is actually run to Fab in Taiwan (maybe) or is it not OK since it is a Chinese Mainland company and you don’t really know where the Fab was located? That’s the kind of issue you run into.
My rule will generally be that any SOC System On Chip (CPU and more, the brains of the board, that One Big Chip) or SBC (the board itself with parts on it) with headquarters in Mainland China or Hong Kong (now…) is highly suspect. The CCP requires that any and all Chinese Companies work for and with their military and spying agencies.
IMHO it isn’t enough to say “Well, TSMC did the actual fab so they would catch any buggery”. They won’t. They will put the masks on the machine, fab some parts, send them to the contracting company for acceptance and when approved, crank out thousands. They don’t have the time, money or interest to reverse engineer what the customer wants made and then assure it isn’t subtly a security risk.
In 2011, it was reported that TSMC had begun trial production of the A5 SoC and A6 SoCs for Apple’s iPad and iPhone devices. According to reports, as of May 2014, Apple is sourcing its new A8 and A8X SoCs from TSMC and later sourced the A9 SoC with both TSMC and Samsung (to increase volume for iPhone 6s launch) with the A9X being exclusively made by TSMC, thus resolving the issue of sourcing a chip in two different microarchitecture sizes. Apple has become TSMC’s most important customer.
In July 2020, TSMC confirmed it would halt the shipment of silicon wafers to Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer Huawei and its subsidiary HiSilicon by the 14th of September
Here we see more of the dynamic. Apple has the iPhone assembled by Foxconn, a Chinese company, using as their major chip maker a Taiwanese company that China wants to capture. Think Apple Upper Management wants to upset China in any way? They go out of business overnight if China gets upset with them.
Note that HiSilicon is a wholly owned subsidiary of Huawei, so IMHO one of the most likely sources of buggery in chip sets. Watch for that name and, IMHO, avoid it. Also note that China is not fond of the rejection of Huawei and capturing TSMC would “fix that”…
With that, lets move on to the chip sets. Note that I’m NOT addressing things like memory chips or UARTS or any of the disk drivers and Ethernet chips. Each of those has the potential to be a place where some kind of exposure is built into a product. Why am I not looking at them? First off, there’s just way too many to track. Secondly, it is my opinion that if a maker is having their SOC fabricated outside China, and their HQ is not in China, the will most likely be using parts that are known clean and likely from other non-China sources. This is a crap shoot, but one in your favour.
THE most likely to be buggered is the CPU / SOC as it has the most ability and the easiest ways to insert malware. That is followed by USB devices and then the uSD cards (as all of them have some compute ability and software inside of them). Hardest to do is a simple part that does one tiny task that isn’t very smart. The limit case there is passive parts like resistors, capacitors, inductors.
Yet China DID insert a buggery part onto a large computer board (Intel architecture based) used in a bunch of companies / server farms. It was a part that was NOT supposed to be on the board, made to look like another part that was supposed to be there. It was caught, but not before a lot of folks were embarrassed. I also was at a Major Entertainment Company when a batch of “marketing USB Drives” arrived from China. Our security group tested these and found that about 10% came from the factory with a pre-installed virus. Had we handed them out to customers, 10% of them would have compromised their computers.
The point is: We KNOW absolutely that China (and thus the CCP) have an ACTIVE program to insert malware and spying capabilities into the equipment they make and ship to the world in general and the USA in particular. It IS HAPPENING and is not a hypothetical.
It is for that reason that I will buy NO hardware “made in China” unless I’m doing it specifically to examine it or potentially if there simply is no other choice. For example, I bought 2 Orange Pi One boards at about $12 to $15 each. These are “Made in China”. Why did I buy them?
First off, their operating system is under my control, so any buggery would need to be outside of that space. Second, I do not use them for anything important. On initial bring up, I watched for any “odd behaviour”. Then there’s the simple fact of their target market: Folks designing equipment who are likely to do things like run network sniffers and such. High risk of getting caught. Finally, SO FAR the focus of China’s espionage efforts has been on the PC and bigger class of equipment, almost entirely using AMD64 / x86 / Intel architecture. It just has not been their target.
I still do not trust those boards, but as a lab experiment decided it was OK to play with it.
The other batch of China Stuff is 3 boards from the Pine64 company. They had HQ in Silicon Valley and equipment assembled in China. Then not that long ago moved their HQ to China. I bought mine as “low cost and interesting” despite having Allwinner & Rockchip chips in them based on the HQ being in Silicon Valley and their reputation as quality engineering folks with an emphasis on open source projects and things with a privacy interest (like switches to turn off microphones and cameras at the hardware level). I was willing to trust the Silicon Valley guys to keep the Chinese fab honest. Now that HQ is in China, under CCP laws, that’s out the window. I’m willing to run the boards I already have, using NON-China operating system software, but I’ll not be buying any new products from them. Their reputation is still good, but a Chinese Military Boot legally on their throat is bigger.
The Chip Sets
Again, not exhaustive. I’m mostly not going to look at things with one small 400 MHz processor and 256 MB of ram, or things in the micro-controller range. Those DO matter (and why I want no IoT I-diot Of Things devices in my home. It is just too attractive a target to hack. reportedly in the last election one of the Dominion Vote Diddle Boxes was talking to China via a “Smart Thermometer” on the wall. Piggybacking the traffic on the WiFi and internet connection of that device (essentially using it as a WiFi Access Point). I’m not interested in having Chinese run WiFi APs scattered around my house…
But for this posting, I’m ONLY going to look at bigger chips with enough capacity to run a modest desktop and built into SBCs like the Raspberry Pi, Banana Pi, Odroid C2, etc. I’m also specifically NOT going to be looking at x86 / AMD64 “Intel” style boards. Why? First off, they cost a lot more. Second, I “don’t DO Windows” so don’t need them. Third, they are the main target architecture for CCP Viruses and buggery (though that is changing over time…). Then, finally, it is my opinion that the ME Management Engine is a HUGE privacy and security hole, and most likely a “Back Door” appliance inserted for the USA TLAs pleasure. China is not the only country doing jiggery buggery on hardware and software… So yes, “someday” I might get an x86 based SBC to play with, but I’ll treat it rather like my Pine64 boards. Suspect.
These are listed in no particular order of importance. I just ran down a couple of lists of SBCs and pulled names out, looked into them, tossed some as too small or too uninteresting and kept the ones with the biggest presence. I WILL give “honourable mention” to a MIPS chip set. MIPS at one time (’80s?) was a hot ISA (Instruction Set Architecture – so ARM and Intel and such) well MIPS and PowerPC and others were important for a time too. You can still get some MIPS based SBCs. Software will be limited and the primary use is also limited, but it’s an interesting ISA. I may get one someday just to play with it, but mostly this is all about ARM chips. Any other ISA mentioned is just my curiosity getting loose.
I’ll be putting the word CHINA next to those that I’d not buy.
Chip Maker Country Major Brands Using It Actions CHINA Banana Pi SC4 Allwinner CHINA All sorts of Orange Pi, Banana Pi and more. AMLogic USA - Fab TSMC Odroids, Libre Computers but they are Chinese Broadcom USA Raspberry Pi Freescale/NXP Dutch / USA Hummingboard FriendlyARM CHINA "Nano" brand boards HiSilicon CHINA Subsidiary of Huawei Media Tek Taiwan Linario 96 boards RealTek Taiwan Banana Pi W2 RDA Micro CHINA RockChip CHINA Pine64, "White Box" tablets, Marvell USA (Bermuda) Globalscale, Dragonfly Samsung South Korea Odroid, Gumstix Texas Inst. USA Panda Boards
Allwinner and Rockchip tend to dominate all the Pi Clone low cost tier. That’s the thing to use as your first sort / rejection. Also “FriendlyARM” and the whole “Nano” line get the boot.
AMLogic, Broadcom, Samsung, Marvell and Media Tek sort things IN. I’m unfamilar with Freescale/NXP (A Dutch USA merger) but that makes the Hummingboard line interesting.
I’m also vaguely interested in the Gumstix and Dragonfly products, but don’t know much about them.
Do note that this says nothing about relative performance. Some makers, like Texas Instruments, largely made “controllers” and other lower cost lower performance parts. Yet they have made a nice board and CPU chipset. BUT, it is just crazy over priced.
The PandaBoard was a low-power single-board computer development platform based on the Texas Instruments OMAP4430 system on a chip (SoC). The board has been available to the public at the subsidized price of US$174 since 27 October 2010. It is a community supported development platform.
The PandaBoard ES is a newer version based on the OMAP4460 SoC, with the CPU and GPU running at higher clock rates. Like its predecessor, it is a community supported development platform.
The OMAP4430 SoC on the PandaBoard features a dual-core 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore CPU, a 304 MHz PowerVR SGX540 GPU, IVA3 multimedia hardware accelerator with a programmable DSP, and 1 GiB of DDR2 SDRAM. The PandaBoard ES uses a newer SoC, with a dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU and 384 MHz GPU.
Dual Core A-9 at 1.2 GHz? That ought to be selling for about $15 to $25, not $175. Somebody is smoking something… Just because it’s made in the USA doesn’t mean that I’m going to buy one if the price is crazy or the performance is in the gutter.
Some useful links for SBCs and listings of what chip set is in which products:
Yes, a Russian link. Oddly, I find the Russians have had their head on straight the last few decades while China has risen to be the Global Bad Guy and the USA has gone a bit nuts. (UK and EU largely navel gazing… and playing games with each other…)
Oddly, the prior Wiki page looks to be gone, but still around under a particular user:
So you can look down those lists and pick out just which SBC makers are most full of which Chinese Chips and know what to avoid. I’ve done a little of that in my lists, but there’s a lot more detail to work through.
There are a few trends. Some makers tend toward “All China all the time”. Others have “Mixed bag of whatever”. And a very few have “No China” as their major mode. I’m going to list that last set here:
Linario – From Cambridge in the UK, uses Qualcom and Media Tek chips sets
Raspberry Pi – USA Broadcom chipset
Odroid – South Korea Uses Samsung or AMLogic chips
Nvidia – They make their own ARM cores and then add a CUDA core parallel processor GPU.
Inforce – uses Qualcomm chips
Yes, it is a pretty short list for widely available and not too expensive Non-China SBCs. There are many others, but they tend to be very low power, not commonly available (embedded industrial market), or rather pricey. I’ve likely missed some gem somewhere, but that will take a longer time combing the lists, and looking up names I don’t know, to find them.
Why no BeagleBoards? Just too low power to interest me. Fine for you folks playing with robot controllers and small stuff.
Note that Marvell supplies the chips for the Chromecast products from Google and Azure for Microsoft. It has legal HQ in Bermuda for “tax purposes”…:
On November 12, 2019, Marvell announced that their ThunderX2 SoCs have been deployed on Microsoft Azure.
Google’s Chromecast products are powered by Marvell SoCs. Namely the Marvell ARMADA 1500 Mini SoC (88DE3005) for the Chromecast 1st gen and Marvell ARMADA 1500 Mini Plus SoC (88DE3006) for the Chromecast 2nd gen & Chromecast audio. Synaptics acquired Marvell Multimedia Solutions on 2017-06-12  ARMADA 1500 SoC’s are now produced under different names
Tends to use China Chips or is made in China, so on my personal Avoid list:
Cubieboards - CHINA lots of Allwinner chips Banana Pi - CHINA and uses lots of Allwinner chips Orange Pi - CHINA and uses lots of Allwinner chips C.H.I.P. - not sure where made, but Allwinner chips. FireFly - also not sure where made but uses RockChips. Hackberry 10 - Allwinner HiKey - uses HiSilicon chips MarsBoard - Allwinner chips OLinuXino - Allwinner chips pcDuino - Allwinner chips Pine - LOTS of Allwinner and Rockchip Radxa - Rockchip Tronsmart - Allwinner A80
Again: I’ve not listed ALL the boards using China chips, especially lower power ones. Nor have I listed ALL the boards using non-China chips. Many are just names I don’t know or who have one or two products I’ve never seen for sale. They may be GREAT! but I don’t have time to look into all of the “also ran” makers. Hit the list yourself and see if you find some interesting small gem of high performance with low price not from China.
Sidebar On Mips
As a minor side note, the MIPS RISC processor has a niche in a lot of small appliance boxes. It was a “hot chip” ISA at one time, but mostly displaced by ARM in the commodity box business. Still, it has a following. The Cavium processor is a MIPS CPU. Also a company named “Onion” has a fun little cheap bit of tech for making Access Points and similar. (No, no HDMI output and not suited for a desktop, but if you want an ‘instant AP cheap’…)
There are a few MIPS chips / SBCs on those lists.
Through the 1990s, the MIPS architecture was widely adopted by the embedded market, including for use in computer networking, telecommunications, video arcade games, video game consoles, computer printers, digital set-top boxes, digital televisions, DSL and cable modems, and personal digital assistants.
The low power-consumption and heat characteristics of embedded MIPS implementations, the wide availability of embedded development tools, and knowledge about the architecture means use of MIPS microprocessors in embedded roles is likely to remain common.
Synthesizeable cores for embedded markets
In recent years most of the technology used in the various MIPS generations has been offered as semiconductor intellectual property cores (IP cores), as building blocks for embedded processor designs. Both 32-bit and 64-bit basic cores are offered, known as the 4K and 5K. These cores can be mixed with add-in units such as floating-point units (FPU), single instruction, multiple data (SIMD) systems, various input/output (I/O) devices, etc.
MIPS cores have been commercially successful, now having many consumer and industrial uses. MIPS cores can be found in newer Cisco, Linksys and Mikrotik’s routerboard routers, cable modems and asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) modems, smartcards, laser printer engines, set-top boxes, robots, and hand-held computers. In cellphones and PDAs, MIPS has been largely unable to displace the incumbent, competing ARM architecture.
MIPS architecture processors include: IDT RC32438; ATI/AMD Xilleon; Alchemy Au1000, 1100, 1200; Broadcom Sentry5; RMI XLR7xx, Cavium Octeon CN30xx, CN31xx, CN36xx, CN38xx and CN5xxx; Infineon Technologies EasyPort, Amazon, Danube, ADM5120, WildPass, INCA-IP, INCA-IP2; Microchip Technology PIC32; NEC EMMA and EMMA2, NEC VR4181A, VR4121, VR4122, VR4181A, VR4300, VR5432, VR5500; Oak Technologies Generation; PMC-Sierra RM11200; QuickLogic QuickMIPS ESP; Toshiba Donau, Toshiba TMPR492x, TX4925, TX9956, TX7901; KOMDIV-32, KOMDIV-64, ELVEES Multicore from Russia.
So there’s a lot of them out there, but more in industrial products than in home SBC toys. Still, I found this product interesting. A Very Dinky SBC designed for the IoT market, it could be a fun way to make a very miniaturized Conservative Box like Access Point
All inclusive IoT Compute Platform
Onion Corporation builds computing and connectivity devices for the Internet of Things. Onion products are drop-in solutions that help customers build their connected products and reduce their development time.
IF your interest is going to the way-small and way-cheap toys, it might be useful:
Currently selling at $10-$14 more or less for the bare chip. On a board with needed bits to actually use it, about $50.
Low-cost, production-ready Linux modules for connected devices and sensors
The Onion Omega2 Linux Compute Modules are designed for applications that require drop-in connectivity and computing. The 42.9×26.4×9.9 mm package features a CPU, memory, flash storage, and a WiFi radio. It runs a Linux Operating System and is FCC certified, making it a small but powerful solution for IoT devices.
Wi-Fi enabled Linux-based module for IoT applications
Dual mode 2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi – simultaneously host a WiFi access point and connect to existing WiFi networks
On-board WiFi antenna & U.FL connector for optional external antenna
CPU, memory, and flash storage are built-in
Runs OpenWRT Linux operating system out of the box
FCC and CE certified
Features USB, ethernet, MicroSD, 2x UARTs, I2C, SPI, GPIOs interfaces
The Omega2 Pro IoT computer is the next generation of Onion’s Linux-based, WiFi development board and the most powerful IoT computer we’ve made yet. It is a standalone device – the processor, memory, gigabytes of storage, and Wi-Fi are all built-in, and it’s smaller than a breadboard, making it easier than ever to build connected hardware applications.
Features & Specifications
Processor: 580 MHz MIPS CPU
Memory: 128 MB RAM and 384 MB flash swap file
Storage: 8 GB
Connectivity: 2.4 GHz b/g/n Wi-Fi
Operating System: OpenWRT 18.06 Linux
Battery Support: LiPo battery management & JST-PH battery connector
Antenna: 2 dBi directional chip antenna & U.FL connector for external antenna
Dimensions: 73 mm x 44 mm
A common theme we heard from our users of previous Omega iterations was that they felt constrained by storage space. The gigabytes of storage on the Omega2 Pro will allow you to build rich, modern applications, with plenty of space to hold libraries, assets, media, and more.
The Omega2 Pro is compatible with the entire ecosystem of Omega2 Expansions!
OpenWRT is a router focused Linux port that runs in very little hardware. As this is a MIPS device, it could be fun to play with. OTOH, at $50 for one core at 580 MHz of RISC, it’s an expensive toy for the compute power. Still, you could build a hidden WiFi AP into a cigarette box or big keychain fob. Has USB 2.0 on it, so a USB thumb drive and you can have a file swapping area pretty quick and easy.
I doubt that I’m going to “go there”, but it does look like it would be a fun minimal sized package for a Conservative Box Stealth Mode…
No, I didn’t do the whole job for you. Hopefully I did the “heavy lifting” and pointed you at the low hanging fruit choices and what is most likely to be avoided. Plus links to details.
I’m happy with Odroid / Raspberry Pi as my two main families of devices for most of what I do. I’m interested in the NVIDIA board as a parallel CUDA Core learning platform / compute engine.
I’ve also got a minimalist urge to play with one of the Postage Stamp sized objects to make a miniature / clandestine AP and file sharing device, but so far not enough of an urge to actually buy anything. Hopefully it stays that way. ;-)
Then every so often I think of getting one of the x86 SOC based boards, just so I’m not dealing with ARM Chips for some odd alien OS I’d like to try. But over time the ARM world is slowly dominating so I figure eventually the OS Guys will catch on that it isn’t all “embedded”. Especially now with Macs joining Chromebooks in the ARM based game.
But for now, for me, this is more a day-dream exercise than an actual need. Prep for a future need to “buy in a hurry”. Today I’ve got about 1/2 my inventory of SBCs actively being used at any one time. That means I have more than enough “extras and spares”. Most of them were bought for evaluation or testing / education anyway, so purpose already served.
Like the Orange Pi at nearly nothing which confirmed to me it was not adequate as a cheap compute node due to no heat management meaning it heat limits fast and 512 MB of memory being way too little for a quad core machine. Only 128 MB / core. It helped set my rule of thumb of 250 MB / core of 32 bit and 1/2 GB to 1 GB per core of 64 bit cores. That’s worth $12 to know.
Were I buying something today, it would likely be the NVIDIA NANO at $100. Why? Because programming CUDA cores is a hot topic in everything from AI to self driving cars and computer vision and would likely really help climate models as high end parallel processing.
Yeah, the ARM chip on it isn’t as fast as the Odroid, but it’s plenty fast enough.
IF I didn’t want to play with CUDA cores? I’d buy more Odroid. Especially the N2. I did a comparison of speed of my existing boards based on Dhrystones / Mhz (from the Wiki listings). The Odroid N2 is about 2 times faster than anything else I’ve got, but doesn’t cost 2 x as much. Plus it has worked flawlessly ever since I bought it. What, about a year ago?
It is just a nice, fast, comfortable desktop experience. (Even if I am running Armbian with SystemD in it. The Armbian folks fix /hide a lot of the SystemD buggery…)
Right behind it would be the Odroid XU4 that I’ve run as my desktop for a couple of years and find it quite nice too.
IFF the Raspberry Pi had any decent heat management (instead of needing high end aftermarket heat extractors of exotic type…) and had a regular HDMI connector ( I have no mini-HDMI and don’t want to buy more cables) AND had proper power in (using USB_C doesn’t cut it for CPUs of that size and boards of that power – it is pushing the spec) AND had better on board I/O: Then I’d consider it. But instead they took a design that was marginal but OK at 1 GHz and have tried to keep key aspects of it as they moved up to hotter A72 cores that suck more power (4 of them, when the RockPro64 runs hot even with a heat sink with just 2 of them… the A73 cores runs a lot cooler and is even faster). They just over ran the other abilities of the board and didn’t “fix it”. So no R.Pi M4 for me.
I’m curious about the Linario and Inforce boards, but don’t know enough about them to evaluate them from paper. Then, I don’t know prices or anything else, really. I also can’t justify buying a few more boards just to evaluate them when I’m not using all the computes / boards I have now. So others will need to pitch in on those boards, and are they a good Bang/$ ratio.
Hopefully this long wander through the underbelly of Semiconductor Fab and computer boards is helpful to folks. It was enlightening to me to find out just how much tech world hinges on Taiwan…