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Tiny Radxa Zero SBC Runs Armbian on Amlogic S905Y2

Written by Eric Brown

Radxa’s Raspberry Pi Zero-like “Radxa Zero” SBC runs on Amlogic’s quad -A53 S905Y2 and sells for $15 (512MB LPDDR4) to $45 (4GB with 16GB eMMC). Features include Wi-Fi/BT, 4K-ready micro-HDMI, 40-pin GPIO, and 2x USB Type-C.

The Raspberry Pi Compute Module series has followed mainstream Pi SBCs into Cortex-A53 and Cortex-A72 territory with the RPi CM3/CM3+ and CM4. Yet, the slightly larger and more SBC-like Raspberry Pi Zero and WiFi/BT enabled Raspberry Pi Zero W are still stuck with a 1GHz, ARM11-based Broadcom BCM2836. They nevertheless remain popular due to their $5 price, 65 x 30mm dimensions, and support for Raspberry Pi HATs and most Pi software.

Radxa Zero, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

Radxa has now introduced limited quantities of an early developer version of a Radxa Zero SBC with roughly the same form factor, but rocking Amlogic’s 1.8GHz, quad-core, Cortex-A53 S905Y2 (see farther below). Other Raspberry Pi Zero W pseudo-clones include SinoVoip’s Allwinner H2+ based Banana Pi M2 Zero and Trenz’s Xilinx Zynq-7010 based ZynqBerryZero.

The first Radxa Zero models are available in the following configurations (Note: WiFi 4 is 802.11n and WiFi 5 is 802.11ac):

  • 512MB LPDDR4, WiFi4/BT4 — 15$
  • 1GB LPDDR4, WiFi4/BT4 — 20$
  • 2GB LPDDR4, 8GB eMMC, WiFi5/BT5 — 30$
  • 4GB LPDDR4, 16GB eMMC, WiFi5/BT5 — 45$

First 100
Radxa Zeros

The eMMC is expandable to 128GB and there is a microSD slot. Aside from the faster processor and greater memory capacity, one of the key enhancements is the switch from an HD-ready mini-HDMI port to a micro-HDMI 2.1 with 4K@60 HDR and 4Kx2K@60 H265/VP9 decode.

In place of the Pi Zero’s dual micro-USB ports, one of which is dedicated to power input, you get dual Type-C ports. The USB 2.0 Type C is an OTG port that supports 5V input and the USB 3.0 Type-C is a host port. Like the Pi Zero, the 66 x 30mm SBC has a 40-pin GPIO header and supports ADC, UART, SPI, and PWM. There is also a crypto chip, an antenna mount, and a user button.

Amlogic’s 1.8GHz, quad-core, -A53 S905Y2 has a Mali-G31 MP2 GPU. This is one of Amlogic’s 12nm fabricated 12th generation SoCs along with a similar S905X2, which adds GbE and 10/100 PHYs, among other changes. (The S905Y2 lacks Ethernet.) These two “g12a” architecture SoCs were announced in 2018 along with the more powerful, g12b architecture S922X, a quad -A73 SoC that powers the Odroid-N2 SBC.

The Radxa Zero supports Android 9, but the official support OS is Armbian. The Radxa Zero will almost certainly offer open-specs and community support like other Radxa SBCs, such as the recent, RK3399 OP1 based Rock Pi 4 Plus. We do not yet see a wiki page, however.

Speaking of Armbian, Khadas just announced Armbian support for its high-end, Amlogic A311D based Khadas Vim3 SBC. Khadas also announced VIM3 support for Google AOSP and the non-Linux Google Fuchsia. Fuchsia recently appeared as an option on Google’s first-gen Nest Hub.

Further information

Limited quantities of the Radxa Zero are available starting at $15 to early developers (see pricing above). A shopping page should follow when full production starts in mid-August. More information may be found in the Radxa Forum announcement.

This article originally appeared on on June 16, 2021.

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Tiny Radxa Zero SBC Runs Armbian on Amlogic S905Y2

by Eric Brown time to read: 2 min