Sipeed’s Lichee Pi 4A is a compact computer that the company says offers better performance than a Raspberry Pi 4. But it has a few key features that set it apart from Raspberry Pi’s devices.
First, the Lichee Pi 4A is powered by a RISC-V processor. Second, it supports up to 16GB of RAM. And third, that memory and storage is actually part of a LM4A system-on-a-module that connects to the Pi 4A carrier board. You can use that same module with other upcoming Sipeed products including a router kit, cluster board, tablet, and phone.
At the heart of the LM4A module is an Alibaba T-Head TH1520 processor. It’s a 12nm RISC-V chip with Xuantie C910, C906, and E902 cores, and up to 4 TOPS of AI performance.
The module also supports up to 16GB of LPDDR4x-3733 memory and up to 128GB of eMMC storage, among other things.
The LM4A module is designed to slot into carrier boards like a stick of RAM, and the first board to support the module is the Lichee Pi 4A, which provides plenty of I/O options including;
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports (with PoE support)
- 4 x USB 3.0 Type-A (5 Gbps) ports)
- 1 x HDMI 2.0 (4K/60fps support)
- 1 x 3.5mm audio
- 1 x 20-pin header
- 1 x USB 2.0 Type-C (power only)
- 1 x microSD card reader
- 1 x 5V DC power input
The carrier board also features a WiFi & Bluetooth adapter and MIPI-DSI and MIPI-CSI connectors for displays and cameras.
Sipeed says the system supports Debian, Android, and OpenWRT operating systems, and the company is offering configurations with as little as 2GB of RAM and 0 storage or as much as 16GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
Customers looking to pre-order can fill out a questionnaire to express interest and the company says it will notify you when the board and module are available. They’re expected to begin shipping in the first quarter of 2023 and Sipeed says a model with 8GB of storage is expected to sell for around $99 while a 16GB version will cost about $140. There’s no word on how much lower-spec versions will cost.
Sipeed says it’s also begun planning for other LM4A-powered products including:
- Lichee Pad 4A with a 10.1 inch display
- Lichee Phone 4A with a 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