New Libre-Focused ARM Board Aims To Compete With Raspberry Pi 3, Offers 4K

Written by Michael Larabel in Arm on 29 June 2017 at 05:52 AM EDT. 53 Comments
There's another ARM SBC (single board computer) trying to get crowdfunded that could compete with the Raspberry Pi 3 while being a quad-core 64-bit ARM board with 4K UHD display support, up to 2GB RAM, and should be working soon on the mainline Linux kernel.

The "Libre Computer Board" by the Libre Computer Project is this new Kickstarter initiative, in turn is the work of Shenzhen Libre Technology Co. Through Kickstarter the project is hoping to raise $50k USD. The board is codenamed "Le Potato."

Le Potato is powered by a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU while its graphics are backed by ARM Mali-450. Connectivity on the board includes HDMI 2.0, 4 x USB 2.0, 100Mb, eMMC, and microSD. Sadly, no Gigabit Ethernet or USB 3.0. Unlike the Raspberry Pi 3, it also goes without onboard WiFi/Bluetooth.

Over the Raspberry Pi 3, Le Potato aims to offer 50% CPU and GPU performance, up to double the RAM, better hardware accelerated video support, 4K UHD video output, IR receiver, and other features.

Le Potato is aiming to have upstream support in the Linux 4.13 kernel. Though the elephant in the room for the Libre Computer Board comes down to its ARM Mali 450 and it's unclear if/how they plan to allow this libre computer to have open-source graphics driver support given that the Lima project is no longer active nor any other open-source Mali effort.

In response to asking about the display/graphics situation, they said, "Upstream support for the display engine components for media acceleration under V4L2 will cost around $250K USD. We will use a portion of the proceeds from the Kickstarter and sale of the board towards this. This will not happen on release. For the Mali-450 GPU, we will release distros with the binary firmware linked to a patched kernel. Full Mali-450 open source support requires a larger budget and currently unavailable resources. We will constantly assess the situation and determine the best way to achieve it."

Le Potato has started manufacturing and they plan to begin deliveries in August. More details via Kickstarter.
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