Asus has been using the Tinker Board name for tiny single-board computers since 2017, but now the company is teaming up with Google to turn Tinker into an artificial intelligence-focused board.
As AnandTech reports, two new Tinker Boards will be offered called the Tinker Edge T and the Tinker Edge R, and both will ship with official support for Debian Linux and Android operating systems. The Edge T uses an NXP i.MX8M processor combined with Google’s Edge TPU designed for running AI. The Edge R uses a Rockchip RK3399 Pro processor combined with a Numerical Processing Unit (NPU). Which one is chosen depends on the required AI task, for example, image processing.
You may remember Asus launched the Tinker Board in the US back in early 2017. It cost $ 60 and was clearly trying to compete with the Raspberry Pi. While nowhere near as popular, it certainly offered more features and performance than the Pi boards available at the time. As well as refocusing on AI and working with Google, the other big difference these new Tinker Boards have is active cooling, as both ship with a fan.
There’s nothing to stop you picking up one of these boards to use as a tiny desktop Linux machine. They officially run Debian, which means other Linux distributions will also work. Connectivity also isn’t a problem as they include HDMI , USB 3.0, Ethernet ports.
Asus announced the new boards ahead of the ET & IoT Technology 2019 conference being held on Nov. 20 in Yokohama, Japan. Pricing and availability has yet to be announced, but may become clear during the three-day conference. As these boards are going to be aimed at the enterprise sector, it’s likely bulk buying will result in big discounts. I suspect they’ll cost significantly more than the original $ 60 Tinker Board, though.
If you want more performance and features than a single-board computer can offer in a still relatively-small package, don’t forget Intel’s Frost Canyon NUCs are expected soon, complete with 10th-generation Core processors.