Sipeed Lichee, the board that could perfectly be the Raspberry Pi 5

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the price of the Raspberry Pi has doubled. Not only that, it has meant the indefinite delay of the Raspberry Pi 5. But, there is an alternative available on the market that could well be this board that never arrived. We talk about the Sipeed Lichee Pi 4A with up to 16 GB of RAM.

A few months ago Eben Upton, CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, gave a very interesting interview. He stressed that by the end of the year the stock of the Raspberry Pi 4 would be recovered and that, consequently, the price would drop. He also commented that they would release more products next year, but he didn’t speak clearly about the Pi 5.

Due to the pandemic, the production of chips has been greatly complicated. Due to the confinement, there was an unusual demand for computers for teleworking. At the same time, many chip production and system manufacturing plants were shutting down in whole or in part. Something that has generated major problems in an industry not prepared for this incident.

A powerful pocket computer

The first thing to note is that its design is quite different from the Raspberry Pi. We are talking about a “motherboard” with a connection port similar to that of SODIMM RAM. This connector is designed to install the board with the processor, RAM and storage. Therefore, we are talking about a fully modular design.

The LM4A module includes a Alibaba TH1520 processor with four 12nm C910 cores. It should be noted above all that these nuclei are based on the RISC-V architecture. It includes a simple integrated graphics card Fill 3168M. A 4 TOPS co-processor for artificial intelligence is also included.

It is available in the following variants:

It also has a large catalog of accessories that we can purchase independently to expand its capabilities. Among the most outstanding we have a 10.1-inch screen and a resolution of 1280 × 800 pixels or a camera. A PoE module, chassis with fan, or power adapter are also sold.

Great alternative to the Raspberry Pi

The motherboard features two Gigabit Ethernet ports with PoE support. In addition, it has four USB 3.2 ports, an HDMI 2.0, an audio connector, a 20-pin GPIO connector, a USB 2.0 Type-C port and a microSD card reader, as well as a power input.

The motherboard includes support for WiFi and Bluetooth, as well as a MIPI-DSI and MIPI-CSI connector for screens and cameras.

Sipeed indicates that it is compatible with Debian, Android and OpenWRT operating systems. Note that, at the moment, the RISC-V architecture is not compatible with Windows.

On the other hand, the company has highlighted that it is developing other powerful solutions. These are:

  • Lichee Pad 4A with a 10.1-inch screen
  • Lichee Phone 4A with 6-inch screen
  • Lichee Router 4A with a compact chassis, antenna and optional WiFi 6 support
  • Lichee Cluster 4A mini ITX board with slots for up to 7 LMA4 modules, 8-port Gigabit Ethernet switch, and individual SB and SD cards for each module

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