Computer/Embedded Technology


‘World’s smallest’ single-board computer

29 April 2020 Computer/Embedded Technology

AMD has been producing x86 type CPUs since the eighties. Over the years it has had numerous CPU families and in 2017 released its latest Zen Core family and branded the CPUs ‘Ryzen’.

In 2020 AMD released the Ryzen R1000 series of embedded CPUs. The current top-end model is the R1606G which is a 14 nm, 64-bit dual-core (four threads) CPU. The R1606G operates at a base frequency of 2,6 GHz and draws typical power of just 15 W. It supports up to 32 GB of DDR4 RAM and incorporates a Radeon Vega 3 GPU with up to three display outputs at a maximum of 4K resolution.

In terms of performance (PassMark) the Ryzen R1606G CPU slightly outperforms the latest 10th generation mobile processor from Intel called the i3-10110U (itself being remarkable in terms of speed and the minimal amount of power it needs). Being only a couple of months old, only a handful of suppliers have released systems based on the R1000 series of Ryzen CPUs.

A Taiwan-based company called DFI recently released the GHF51 which is a 1,8-inch Femto-ITX sized single-board computer (SBC), powered by the R1606G SoC (system on chip). Dimensions of the SBC are 84 x 55 mm, which matches that of a Raspberry Pi embedded controller.

DFI also has a similar sized SBC called the ALF51 which is based on Intel Atom processors (N3350, N4000 and E3900 series). Initial pricing shows the Ryzen-based GHF51 with 4 GB of RAM to be only around $5 to $10 more expensive than the Intel Atom-based AFL51 with 2 GB of RAM. The price difference can easily justify the extra 2 GB of RAM.

Even though it is too early to say what the typical pricing of R1606G-based boards compared to Atom-based boards will be, it is possible that the R1606G and the Intel i3-10110u can become the new entry-level processors in the embedded or industrial PC arena.

For roughly the same price (hopefully) compared to previous Intel Atom models, you get two to three times faster speed while drawing only marginally more power (15 W as opposed to 8 to 15 W for the Atom processors).You also get much improved display features.

The GHF51 and most other SBCs can run different operating systems including Linux and Windows 10. The GHF51 has a mini-PCIe expansion slot which makes it possible to configure your system as needed. Being fully PC compatible, you get immediate access to numerous software programs and development tools.

These embedded PCs target a different market than that of the Raspberry Pi. The Pi provides a cost-effective tool for many simpler applications whereas embedded PCs often are simpler to develop with, provide more and easier expansion options and support a very wide range of existing programs. The GHF51 is expected to cost around five to six times more than a Raspberry Pi 4 with 4 GB of RAM.

Below is the press release from DFI on the GHF51. Readers can contact local supplier Centurion Micro Electronics for pricing and availability on GHF51 and related embedded boards and embedded systems.

DFI unveils credit card-sized AMD Ryzen board

DFI has announced what it considers the world’s smallest single-board computer (SBC) that uses an AMD Ryzen Embedded processor. The highly integrated, credit card-sized GHF51 motherboard can be used for a variety of applications that have to be small, yet offer capabilities as well as performance of a modern PC.

The DFI GHF51 1,8-inch platform carries AMD’s dual-core Ryzen Embedded R1000-series SoC with AMD Radeon Vega GPU featuring three compute units (192 stream processors) with hardware H.264, H.265 and VP9 decoding. The SoC can be paired with 2/4/8 GB of DDR4-RAM as well as 16/32/64 GB of eMMC storage. The SBC features one Mini PCIe slot for an add-in card, an 8-pin DIO header, two micro HDMI 1.4 outputs (4K resolution at 30 fps), one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port and a GbE connector.

At present, DFI lists two AMD Ryzen-powered SBCs: the GHF51-BN-43R16 with the Ryzen Embedded R1606G APU (2,60 GHz–3,50 GHz, 12 W) as well as the GHF51-BN-43R15 with the Ryzen Embedded R1505G APU (2,40 GHz–3,30 GHz, 12 W).

Eventually, the company plans to add motherboards powered by the lower-power Ryzen Embedded R1102G (1,20 GHz–2,60 GHz, 6 W) or Ryzen Embedded R1305G (1,50 GHz–2,80 GHz, 8/10 W) SoCs into the lineup in a bid to address applications that have to be less power hungry.

The 1,8-inch SBCs can power various small form-factor or IoT applications that can take advantage of high-performance Zen cores, but theoretically they can also be used inside devices that currently use Raspberry Pi or similar. Obviously, a Ryzen Embedded SBC will cost much more than a Raspberry Pi, but it will also provide higher performance, which opens doors to new use cases.


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