First Thoughts on the Tritium SBC

Alasdair Allan
3 min readNov 14, 2017

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Earlier in the year the Libre Computer crowdfunded the “Le Potato” board on Kickstarter. Like other single-board computers we’ve seen in recent months the board shared the familiar Raspberry Pi form factor that is rapidly becoming a de facto standard in burgeoning market.

Now Libre are back with another board, a much cheaper one, called Tritium.

Tritium SBC prototype boards. (📷: Libre Computer)

The board comes in three version. The cheapest is based around the 32-bit Allwinner H2+and has 512MB onboard, it costs just $9. The obvious board to compare it to is the Orange Pi Zero which, while it boasts far fewer ports, can be picked up on AliExpress for around the same price—and unlike the Tritium the Orange Pi has onboard WiFi.

The next board up in the range costs $19, and is based around the 32-bit Allwinner H3, although this time it has 1GB onboard and is capable of 4K30 output via the HDMI socket. The most expensive model is the $29 2GB board, based around the 64-bit Allwinner H5 chip. All three of the boards have a proprietary Mali-400/450 GPU onboard.

The main attraction I see for this board is that it’s cheap, and about as compatible with the Raspberry Pi as it can be without somehow getting hold of the Pi’s Broadcom processor. For instance, the Tritium 40-pin GPIO header maintains as much compatibility as it can with the Raspberry Pi, and most existing HAT stand a decent chance of working out of the box — the placement of I2C, SPI, PWM, UART, 5V, 3.3V, and the GPIO are the same.

(📷: Libre Computer)

Unfortunately, just like its predecessor “Le Potato,” the new board lacks both onboard WiFi and Bluetooth. Despite attempted justification by Libre, that really isn’t acceptable any more. While I’m not a fan of what I call “kitchen sink” boards, we have perhaps reached a point where both the price point and form factor of boards without wireless networking—at least of some kind—probably are lower, and smaller, than the Tritium.

The Libre Computer Tritium board is now raising on Kickstarter, and pledges start at $9 for the 32-bit 512MB model, with the 1GB model costing $19, and the higher spec 64-bit 2GB model weighing in at $29. Shipping is an extra $9 on top, worldwide.

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Alasdair Allan

Scientist, Author, Hacker, Maker, and Journalist.