Khadas Launches VIM3 SBC With Amlogic A311D SoC
Khadas’ VIM3 SBC Offers Larger Slice of Performance Pie At A Premium
Single Board Computers (SBC) continue to ramp up the features and performance enabling new products and workloads. Looking to compete with tiny development boards like NVIDIA’s Jetson Nano, ODROID, Asus Tinker, and Intel (though the future of some of their product lines is unknown), Chinese Shenzhen Wesion Technology Co., LTD under it’s Khadas brand has launched the VIM 3 and VIM 3 Pro packing a 64-bit Amlogic A311D SoC, two or four GB LPDDR4, 16 or 32 gigabytes eMMC 5.0 storage, and modern I/O including USB 3.0, M.2, GPIO, HDMI, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Gigabit Ethernet. The boards measure 82 x 58 x 11.5mm and weigh 28.5g with the VIM 3 having a MSRP of $99.99 and the VIM 3 Pro at $139.99.
Sitting at the heart of the Khadas VIM 3 (and VIM 3 Pro) is a 12nm Amlogic A311D SoC featuring four 2.2 GHz ARM COrtex-A73 cores plus two Cortex-A53 cores at 1.8 GHz in a big.LITTLE configuration along with an ARM Mali G52 MP4 GPU at 800 MHz, a NPU (neural processing unit) rated at 5.0 TOPS (tera operations per second) and 1536 MAC (multiply-accumulate) INT8 inferences per cycle, a Cortex M4 low power core for “always-on” processing, and ARM TrustZone security support. There is also a separate programmable STM85003 MCU with programmable EEPROM. According to a review by ETA Prime, the Khadas VIM 3 puts up a good showing on the performance front, though the usefulness and performance of the touted NPU is still up in the air as we wait for software support, developer interest, and more details on the hardware capabilities. On more traditional computing tasks, the CPU and GPU deliver a notable bump in performance versus cheaper options like the Raspberry Pi and it is able to playback 4K video smoothly (though it struggled with some of the very high bitrate sample videos) with H.265 being your best bet but H.264 being serviceable. Officially, Khadas rates the board at 4k75 H.265 10-bit decode or “low latency” 4k60 or 1080p60 decodes with multi-video 4k60+1080p60 also being possible. In ETA Prime’s review, he managed to get a Geekbench 4 single core score of 1522 and multi core score of 4165 as well as 2976 in Gfx Bench, and 1258 in 3DMark SlingShot Open GL3.1. Reportedly, emulation of PSP and Dreamcast games is possible, but GameCube and PS2 are out of reach for this SBC.
Other internal hardware on the board includes a 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi + BT 5.0 chip (AP63985), Real-Time Clock (RTC), PWM fan header, Wake On LAN support, MIPI CSI and DSI connectors for dual cameras (8MP ISP) and a display, a TF card slot (SDXC), 40 GPIO pins, and a M.2 connector (though unfortunately only PCI-E 2.0 x1) that can connect an SSD, be USB 2.0, or connect via ribbon cable to an extension board for things like a cellular modem or multiple SSDs. There are also power, reset, and function buttons.
As for external I/O, the VIM 3 offers one USB 3.0, one USB 2.0 plus a Type-C 2.0 OTG port (also used for power), Gigabit Ethernet, SD card slot, IR, and HDMI 2.1 video output.
The Khadas VIM 3 seems like a decent single board computer option if you are looking for something with a bit more hardware horsepower than entry-level options like the Raspberry Pi. If the software support (particularly for the NPU) is there, it may prove to be a good option for robotics and automation projects, and the ARM Mali GPU may prove easier to work with than Broadcom’s VideoCore series thought that seems to ever so slowly be less of an issue. It is certainly in a different class at $100+ but for developers and enthusiasts that can justify the extra money for the additional compute horsepower it may be worth it.
What are your thoughts on the more expensive SBCs?