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A single board computer with a Ryzen Embedded starts shipping this week


  • A single board computer with a Ryzen Embedded starts shipping this week

    Single board computers come in all shapes and sizes, from the Raspberry pi, to the odroid h2.  While there are several differences between all of them, they usually have all of the nessacary components, or at least the essential components to operate all in a single PCB, thus the term "single board computer".


    A new addition to the rather large (and loosely defined) family is the UDOO BOLT, which is a single board computer that will have an embedded Ryzen CPU.



    AMD’s Ryzen Embedded line of processors are based on the same architecture as the Ryzen chips that power laptops and desktops. 

    So don't expect the same level of performance as the desktop CPUs, but this may be one of the most powerful single board computers on the market. 


    The UDOO BOLT is a 4.7″ x 4.7″ single-board PC with support for either a Ryzen Embedded V1202B processor with Radeon Vega 3 graphics or a Ryzen Embedded V1605B chip with Radeon Vega 8 graphics.

    First off, let's talk about the form factor.  While I could talk about how small that is, I think that showing would be better. 

    4.7 inches equates to roughly 120mm.

    So if you have a 120mm fan lying around, you can roughly judge the size, which needless to say, is quite tiny.


    Now let's talk about the CPU options.

    Both of those are low power, both of them having a 15w TDP.

    The V1605B is the same exact CPU that the upcoming Smach Z is using, which seems to play most modern titles at around 720p at 30-60FPS, which for such a low powered CPU, is rather impressive. 


    UDOO says the system can power up to four displays with resolutions up to 4K thanks to its dual HDMI 2.0 ports and dual USB 3.1 Type-C ports. There are also two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, and the system features Gigabit Ethernet, a headset jack, an IR receiver, Arduino-compatible pins, and other I/O connectors.


    It comes with 32GB of eMMC 5.0 storage and supports SATA hard drives or SSDs as well as M.2 PCIe NVMe solid state storage. And there are two SODIMM slots for up to 32GB of DDR4-2400 RAM.

    While this won't be a proper desktop replacement for gamers, it could serve that purpose for general use, the Arduino compatible pins are what's going to interest tinkerers though.

    32 GB of EMMC is too small for a Windows installation, but it should work with most linux distros.  There are SATA ports for HDDs/SSDs though, as well as an m.2 PCIe slot, while you would traditionally think to put an SSD there, you are able to hook up an external GPU to the lattepanda alpha (another powerful single board computer) with an adapter, and I wonder if the same thing could be done here.  Strapping on an external GPU and PSU (since the GPU needs to be powered) kinda defeats the purpose of the small form factor though. 


    The developers of the UDOO BOLT raised over $600 thousand through a Kickstarter campaignthat launched in May, 2018 with the goal of shipping the device to backers by December of that year.

    That didn’t happen, but in an update posted to the campaign a few days ago, UDOO notes that the system has passed all necessary certification tests, and the first 300 units should ship to early bird backers of the campaign within days.

    And now the elephant in the room.  This is a kickstarted product, that's not nessacarlly bad, but kickstarted projects tend to have a rather bad reputation of not delivering, this product was already supposed to be shipped out last year, and it's almost April. 

    However in the grand scheme of things, 1/4th of a year isn't the end of the world, and it seems like the early bird backers will get the first batch.


    So not available to the general public yet, but that will hopefully change in the coming months. 


    And now for an opinion piece from me.  I have recently gotten into single board computers, and this interests me for several reasons. 

    First off, I don't think that I have ever seen a Ryzen single board computer, and second, this is a lot of power in a small form factor.  The most powerful single board computer currently is the lattepanda alpha, which I already mentioned briefly, but that board has some limitations, soldered in RAM, no SATA ports, etc.  It's a great board, but it's limited in expansion, while that makes it very thin (as well as smaller then the UDOO BOLT footprint wise) it limits what you can do with it. 

    Furthermore, the GPIO on the lattepanda alpha can only be controlled by the on board ATMega32u4 microcontroller, which connects to the CPU via serial interface, further limiting what you can do with the board. 


    So my hope with the UDOO BOLT is if it gives similar, if not greater CPU performance without the shortcomings of the lattepanda alpha. 

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