BELABOX for Rockchip RK3588 - beta

Supported boards - comparison
Orange Pi 5 Plus Radxa Rock 5b Banana Pi BPI-W3
List price $90 (4GB version) $129 (4GB version) $162 (8GB version)
Total cost1 $127 (4GB version) $168 (4GB version) $215 (8GB version)
eMMC removable module (not included) removable module (not included) soldered
  • mobile network modems cause HDMI capture to fail if placed next to the board / HDMI cable
  • the two USB 3.0 ports and the USB-C port are less convenient to use on the opposite side of the board from the other ports
  • no USB-PD support for power (power is USB-C 5V only)
  • mobile network modems cause HDMI capture to fail if placed next to the board / HDMI cable
  • less robust micro HDMI port for HDMI input, also less convenient on the opposite side of the board from all the other ports
  • mobile network modems cause HDMI capture to fail if placed next to the board / HDMI cable
  • double the size of the other boards
  • the HDMI capture interface on this board appears to be less affected by interference from nearby mobile network modems compared to the others - but it's still affected in some cases
  • two Ethernet interfaces
  • stocked in many countries by OKdo
  • all ports on a single side of the board
  • choice of 12V barrel jack or USB-C w/ PD for power - don't connect both at the same time, you'll burn out a protection IC of the USB-C port
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1total I've paid for my boards including delivery and import fees / taxes to the UK
Are there any advantages over using BELABOX on a Jetson Nano?
I already have a Jetson Nano-based BELABOX setup. Should I switch to a RK3588-based setup?

If you have a working Jetson Nano-based setup, there's no need to switch over. In time, it may turn out that the RK3588 platform has some compelling advantages, but you'll be in a better position to make an informed decision if you let the early adopters have a go at it first.

Which board should I get?

The comparison above is provided so you can make the right choice for you. If you're uncertain, the Orange Pi 5 Plus is currently considered the best compromise for most users - mainly because the HDMI input appears to be slightly more resistant to the radio interference caused by LTE / 5G modems, it has a full sized HDMI port, and it's the cheapest model

The 4GB version of each model has sufficient memory for BELABOX usage, there's no advantage in getting the versions with more RAM.

How do I install this?

The installation works pretty much the same as on Jetson Nano, starting with flashing an image file to a micro SD card. So you can follow the original BELABOX tutorial. Just forego the USB capture card and remember to download the correct image file for your board. If your board supports a removable eMMC module - see the table above - and you have an eMMC reader or eMMC-to-microSD adapter then you can also flash it to an eMMC module instead of a micro SD card.

What's the status of the port?

You should consider the software port to be beta-quality for now. From our experience in developing the original BELABOX implementation for Jetson Nano, we expect there will be a period of few months while this new platform is gaining adoption, when we're all going to be learning together about its hardware quirks, diagnosing hardware problems from specific behaviours, discovering edge cases and fixing bugs, etc.

Right now, should I build a RK3588-based or a Jetson-based BELABOX setup?

If you just want to build a setup for your streams, a Jetson Nano-based setup is currently the safer choice in that its it's a pretty mature solution. And its quirks, limitations and common problems are well understood and you'll be able to get help more easily. On the other hand if you don't mind tinkering and being more hands-on, and have some technical skills, then a RK3588-based setup may be cheaper and more future-proof.

What functionality is currently working?

All the major features of BELABOX are working. This includes SRTLA bonding, BELABOX cloud remotes, HDMI capture and encoding, BELABOX's WiFi manager and receiving RTMP feeds and transcoding them to H265.

Are these any known issues?

On all boards, routing the HDMI cable very close to an LTE / 5G modem or placing the board itself next to the modem can cause interference that makes the HDMI capture fail until the modem is removed. The effect seems to vary depending on what HDMI cable, LTE bands, modem transmit power, etc is used. Be prepared to move your modems away from the board and the HDMI cable in case you run into this problem. This appears to be a hardware design issue, and it's very unlikely that a software fix is possible. If this potential issue is a deal breaker for you, it would be best not to build a setup based on one of these boards at this time.

The Linux kernel built for RK3588 doesn't currently include the out-of-tree drivers needed to support the majority of USB Realtek WiFi adapters. These are commonly used w/ BELABOX on Jetson Nano.
Update: some Realtek USB WiFi drivers have been added via an OTA update. We still recommend Intel 8265 M.2 WiFi adapters, which are known to be working reliably, and can be bought for less than $10. Note that you specifically need to use PCIe adapters in the M.2 slot, as CNVi/CNVio/CNVio2 adapters (such as AX201, AX211 and AX411) will not work.

If the HDMI input resolution changes while you're actively streaming, you may experience some problems. For example, if switching from a lower resolution to a higher resolution, then the stream will continue to show a top left corner crop of the new HDMI feed. To fix this, simply stop and start again the stream - and just the stream, you don't have to restart the board.
Update: this has been fixed via an OTA update

If the HDMI input doesn't include audio, then you have to manually select No audio as the Audio source, otherwise the stream won't start.
Update: this has been fixed via an OTA update

How does the video quality compare between RK3588 and Jetson Nano?

Jetson Nano's H265 encoder gets a higher VMAF score, all things being equal. Subjectively, I find that the RK3588's encoder is less prone to producing noticeable compression artifacts. The RK3588 platform needs more real world use in a variety of scenes before giving a definite answer, but for now we believe the RK3588 has a small edge.

Is the Jetson Nano BELABOX port going to continue being maintained?

Yes. At the moment there are no plans for discontinue the Jetson Nano port. Significant notice will be given if that decision gets taken, and not while the Jetson Nano platform remains in popular use.

Can you add support for <insert another RK3588 board>?

There is a significant overhead in adding, (and testing on a continuous basis!) each board, so we have to be pretty selective here. That being said, if you're aware of other RK3588-based boards with 1) a HDMI input, preferably using a full sized HDMI connector, 2) a resonable selection of expansion ports (M.2/USB ports), 3) priced at least as competitively as the boards already supported, and 4) any unique selling points, then let me know in #rk3588 in Discord.

Can you add support for <insert a board that's neither Jetson Nano, nor RK3588-based>?

Probably not. BELABOX was designed to be portable from the beginning, so demonstrating a proof of concept running on a different platform tends to be trivial. However, inevitably there are many many bugs, design issues, corner cases and other challenges presented by the drivers and board support software that need to be fixed before a new platform will run BELABOX correctly and reliably enough. IRL streaming is a very tough environment, and tech issues create a lot of friction, so we won't release half-baked software.

As an example, it took about a week from first booting up a RK3588 board to running the first proof of concept stream going to BELABOX Cloud. But from that point, it took several months of full time work in evaluating the available boards, understanding how all the hardware-specific support software works, testing all the relevant features, fixing bugs in the drivers, support libraries and gstreamer modules, developing a disk image builder, etc.