Libre Computers’s $25 to $35 “Le Potato” is an RPi 3 clone that runs Android 7.1 or Linux 4.13 on a quad -A53 S905X. There’s no WiFi, but you get HDMI 2.0.
A Shenzhen based Libre Computer Project from Shenzhen Libre Technology Co. Ltd. has gone to Kickstarter to launch the first of a series of “Libre Computer Boards” called Le Potato. The project has so far received less than $4K toward its $25K all or nothing goal, with the campaign due to finish on July 24. However, if the project doesn’t fund, “You will receive a refund from Kickstarter and we will utilize our other pre-prepared financing option and go directly to retail,” says the company.
Le Potato prototype, front and back
(click images to enlarge)
Le Potato sells for $25 with 1GB RAM, $35 for 2GB, or $65 for a 2GB kit with an active cooling case, power adapter, heatsink, HDMI cable, and 32GB microSD card. There’s also a $99 version of the kit that adds 64GB eMMC.
Le Potato has the same size and port layout as the Raspberry Pi 3, as well as the familiar 40-pin expansion interface. Unlike most Pi pseudo-clones, there’s no promise of open source hardware support. On the other hand, it will run fresh Android 7.1 and offer basic upstream support in Linux 4.1. There are plans to support Linux 4.9 LTS with mainline distributions. Debian and Ubuntu images will be posted.
Oddly, the only mention we found of the SoC was in the detail view below. The Amlogic S905X, which is also found on the Khadas Vim SBC, is a lower-cost upgrade to the quad-core, Cortex-A53 Amlogic S905 used by the Odroid-C2.
Le Potato detail view
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No clock rate is listed here for the SoC, which has four Cortex-A53 cores that are clocked at up to 2GHz on the Khadas Vim. There’s also a Mali-450 GPU with 4K support. Libre claims the SoC is 50 percent faster and consumes less power than the RPi 3’s 1.2GHz quad-core -A53 Broadcom BCM2837 SoC. The Amlogic S905X also stands out for its support of Kodi.
Like the Raspberry Pi 3, Le Potato offers 4x USB 2.0 host ports, a Fast Ethernet port, and CVBS, S/PDIF and UART headers. It adds some features missing from the RPi 3, including an eMCC storage socket, an IR receiver, and an ADC + I2S header. In addition, the microSD slot offers UHS support, and the HDMI port moves from 1.3 to 2.0, enabling full 4K. Libre Computers also claims that unlike the RPi 3, bandwidth is not shared between LAN and USB.
Le Potato portside view (left) and with optional heatsink
(click images to enlarge)
RPi 3 features missing from Le Potato include DSI and CSI interfaces and a WiFi/Bluetooth module. More honestly than most, Libre Computers admits that its 40-pin header may not run all RPi add-on boards, despite similar header placements for I2C, SPI, PWM, 5V, 3.3V, and GPIO. In addition: “Most Raspberry Pi HATs can be supported by the hardware but the software bits to get them working on this board is simply not there yet.”
Le Potato is available through July 24 on Kickstarter for $25 with 1GB RAM or $35 for 2GB (add $4 apiece if you miss the early bird models). You’ll pay $65 for a full 2GB kit with case, etc., and $99 for a 2G kit with 64GB eMMC. Shipments (only to U.S. and Europe) are due in August or September depending on the kit. More information may be found on the Le Potato Kickstarter page.