what is a single-payer and what is it capable of
Since the release of the first Raspberry Pi, the popularity of single-board PCs has grown exponentially. At the moment, there are probably hundreds of different models on the market from different manufacturers. Another Geniatech XPI-3566-Zero device appeared last year. This is a basic device that is positioned as an alternative to the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W. Let’s evaluate its features and capabilities.
What kind of device is this?
The Geniatech XPI-3566-Zero is very similar in form factor to the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W, but its performance is better, at least in older models. At the user’s choice – from 512 MB to 8 GB of RAM and from 8 to 128 GB of eMMC memory. The increased amount of RAM and main memory is what the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W lacks.
Here are the specifications of the device:
SoC: Rockchip RK3566
CPU: Quad-core Arm Cortex-A55 CPU up to 1.8 GHz
GPU: Arm G52 2EE GPU
NPU: Built-in RKNN NPU AI accelerator, 1Tops@INT8, supports Сaffe/TensorFlow/TFLite/ONNX/PyTorch/Keras/Darknet
RAM: 512MB/1/2/4/8GB LPDDR4
memory: 8-128GB eMMC
OS: Debian 11/Raspberry Pi OS Emulator
ports: Mini HDMI, 1 × Type-C for USB 2.0 OTG, 1 × Type-C for USB Host, MIPI-CSI
network: Ampak AP6256 2.4/5 GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
GPIO: 40 Pin, UART/SPI/I2C/PWM and Digital IO
power supply: 5V 2A via USB-C
dimensions: 65×30 mm
The location of the ports and connectors is the same as in the Raspberry Pi Zero W, so the new device can be used as a replacement for the “raspberry” if the capabilities of the latter are no longer enough. However, there is one difference – there is no microSD card slot, but there are USB-C ports. But it is unlikely to become an obstacle for replacement, the difference is not particularly critical for a number of projects.
By the way, there is a connector for the antenna of the wireless communication module, which can be useful for many DIY enthusiasts.
Unfortunately, this single board will not fit into the case for Zero W precisely because of a slight difference in the configuration of ports and the location of elements on the board. If you’re using a case like this, this could be a problem. But, on the other hand, if you have a 3D printer, you can print any other, so the replacement process will take a minimum of time.
What about performance?
It is sufficient for most projects that do not need to work with streaming video or something similar. Unfortunately, although the single-board device is relatively productive for its class, it is unlikely to be suitable as a desktop for solving office tasks.
By the way, the built-in eMMC drive is quite fast, providing data reading at a speed of approximately 113 MB per second. This is better than most SD cards today.
It copes well with office software, but if you need to watch a video, there will be problems. Already at 720P, frames are skipped, which significantly affects viewing comfort. So that’s something to keep in mind. On the other hand, hardly anyone buys such devices in order to get an ordinary office computer – for this you can use any of the inexpensive mini PCs offered by Chinese sellers from AliExpress.
The presence of wireless communication with support for 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth 5.0 is a huge plus, especially if you consider the presence of a connector for the antenna, which was already discussed at the beginning.
During operation, the accessory heats up, and quite strongly. The maximum temperature during productive tasks is about 82 ℃. In normal mode, the heating is insignificant – about 40 ℃. In order for the device not to overheat, you can use a cooler from the same “raspberry” – in this case, the temperature does not exceed 50 ℃.
Getting started and additional features
Since the device does not have a slot for memory cards, you need to work with a built-in storage device — you can download data via USB. As for the driver and software, all this is downloaded from the manufacturer’s website.
Since the manufacturer is a Chinese company, the default language is also Chinese. In order to change English, you need to change the Selected setting to 2 in the configuration file, after which everything should work.
The rest, in general, does not differ from the usual work with a single-payer, there is no need for any dances with a tambourine.
As for the GPIO, the connection is also seamless. The only thing is that you will not be able to use Raspberry Pi HATs without finalizing them. Will come to study the documentation if there is a need to work with them.
Configuring GPIO, PWM, I2C and SPI requires Bash. In addition, you can use C code.
In general, there is nothing difficult about operation – users who managed to work with the device did not find any particular problems. The single board can be used as a more advanced alternative to the Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W. If you need a device with more memory and RAM, you should buy an older model. If there is no such need, the cheapest option will do.
On the software front, Geniatech says the SBC supports Android 11 and Debian 10, as well as a Raspberry Pi OS emulator offered by the manufacturer.
Here is the cost of several models of the device:
8GB RAM + 128GB eMMC – $82
4GB RAM + 32GB eMMC – $43
2GB RAM + 32GB eMMC – $31
So far, the manufacturer offers either the wholesale purchase of devices (then they are cheaper), or the sale of single boards on request.