The world of Raspberry Pi-style nano-computers (SBCs, for Single Board Computer) has benefited from very rich news for a few years, but this is often the case for minor brands. It should also be noted when a major player like Asus is launching a new model with its Tinker Board 2 and 2S, two cards which take over from its first model launched in 2017.
Similar in dimensions to a Raspberry Pi 4, the Tinker Board 2 and 2S – which differ only by the addition of 16 GB of eMMC storage on the latter – benefit from a new processor: the old Rockchip RK3288 is replaced by the RK3399, more powerful. Although also engraved in 28 nm, the latter is more complex – CPU with big.LITTLE architecture with two Cortex-A72s and four A53s against a simple four A17 cores for its ancestor – it manages more RAM (up to 4 Go) and its integrated GPU, the Mali T860 is up to 30% more efficient. Although dating from 2016, the RK3399 will therefore offer a good jump in performance compared to the old generation – Asus promises 50% on average.
The USB connection is rich on the cards, with no less than four USB 3.2 standard sockets, three in USB A format and one in USB C format. However, you will always have to use a conventional charger (5.5 12-19V jack) and not from USB C as on the Raspberry. For storage, both cards benefit from a Micro SD slot, the standard for SBCs.
We still take advantage of Wi-Fi and a gigabit RJ45 socket, but no dual micro-HDMI, but a real full-format HDMI socket, which is a good thing: the dual screen is useful for workstations, it This is a development board, hack, etc. The practicality and robustness of a full-frame HDMI seem more relevant. As on the previous versions, the Raspberry Pi and most of the SBCs, we obviously find the 40 GPIO pins to interface with other elements.
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If it remains to be seen how the community will react, almost omnipresent by the Raspberry Pi 4, it is not only good to see competition, but especially perseverance: too frequent are manufacturers who throw in the towel after a single iteration. Asus continues its efforts and even promises, on the software side, support for GNU / Linux (Debian 9) and Android (10) distributions and is committed to regular updates.