back to article Enthusiasts dash for RISC-V computer with GPU

It seems computers without an Arm or x86 chip are in serious demand in the RISC-V community. A Raspberry Pi-like small-board computer with an RISC-V chip and GPU went up for preorder on Alibaba two days ago, but is now listed as being no longer available. Sipeed No longer available. Source: Sipeeed. Click to enlarge The …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Omg it looks awesome! I love cute little powerful things like this, the jetson nano is AMAZING especially as it has mipi connectors for proper cams! :D

    1. druck Silver badge

      You've got to be pretty keen on a royalty free processor to pay $399 for a sub Raspberry Pi 3B experience, seeing that the 3B+ is only $39.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Your thinking "royalty free processor". I would suggest that the market is more to people for whom "Western technology free" computers are more of an interest given we block technology transfers to countries we don't like.

        It's easy to dismiss this now as being ten times the cost of a Pi but if it's a pre production sample for people to write software for then when a full production example starts getting turned out in quantity at a comparable (or cheaper) price then it might be premature to dismiss it.

        1. Justthefacts Silver badge

          What does “Western technology free” mean?

          Is it -

          National pride?

          “provably no hidden CIA plots”?

          “the US can’t stop us having this”

          “can be developed in any way we like”

          None of these make a lot of sense to me, with 2&3 being factually incorrect, but I’m genuinely curious which one you mean.

      2. 3arn0wl

        These boards are aimed at developers, not your average consumer... It's more likely to be a company's purchase than and individual's.

      3. Bruce Hoult

        It's not sub Pi 3. The C910 cores are roughly Pi 4 class -- claimed ARM A73 class vs A72 in the Pi 4.

        The U54 cores in the 3.5 year old HiFive Unleashed were a little slower than Pi 3. The U74 cores in the HiFive Unmatched (and the now cancelled BeagleV "Starlight") are ARM A55 class, which is significantly better than the A53 in the Pi 3. Benchmarks bare this out -- other than ones that depend on SIMD or crypto instructions, obviously, as that's something coming in RISC-V next year.

        1. druck Silver badge

          There's still only two of them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            And they’re fat.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RISC-V compatible GPU...

    ...aren't most GPUs that are supported by Linux "RISC-V compatible"? I don't see why a working GPU is such a surprise.

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: RISC-V compatible GPU...

      As I understand it, not many RISC-V boards to date have a PCIe bus, so GPU support is pretty sporadic at best, and then there's the issue of drivers - or lack thereof.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: RISC-V compatible GPU...

        The OpenSource Linux GPU drivers are all fine. AMD and Intel GPUs have been shown to work on RISC-V boards with PCIE

        1. Def Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: RISC-V compatible GPU...

          Then I got nothing. :)

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Linux

    indicating possible use for kiosk applications

    Oooh! A whole new opportunity for Bork Bork Bork moments!

    Only... it'll probably just work and ruin the fun.

  4. karlkarl Silver badge

    The hardware looks really interesting. I hope they get over this "small run" hurdle. I see it on kickstarter a lot. The first run is often popular but by the second, everyone interested already has one so it flops and the company does something else profitable.

    If they can somehow keep churning out the old unpopular kit, it might start to become sourcable enough for some big players to depend on it.

    As a user myself (I don't really know too much of the hardware industry), I tend to wait for OpenBSD to support it and by then it is so difficult to track down the actual hardware. Yes, personally I can just buy in advance (and I often do) but this is not a good cycle for the larger companies who will put out the real money.

  5. Elledan

    More a matter of blobs

    What really appeals in a platform are open drivers and APIs. I can't count the number of SBCs that are essentially e-waste because with newer Linux kernels gradually support for more hardware features vanish. Only a small fraction of hardware features like GPU support (including encoding/decoding) ever make it into mainline Linux.

    Regardless of the ISA, if these boards are doing the same nonsense trick with driver blobs, they're just ever so more e-waste the moment the manufacturer drops active support. This is where x86 and similar platforms have a massive leg up on ARM in terms of openness.

  6. 3arn0wl

    An open source board capable of powering cash registers, ATMs, public signage... etc.

  7. Bartholomew Bronze badge
    Happy

    good news everybody, here comes the sun

    I welcome this RISC-V board and future boards with much higher specs.

    What would be ideal would be an ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, mini-ITX etc. style of motherboard with PCIe slots and upgradable memory. Standard CPU socket types that would allow for easy upgrades are not likely to happen. Even the x86-64 CPU sockets are not standard between Intel and AMD. Even a headless board similar to the, now dead, Applied Micro XC-1 (16 GB of RAM, 8-core 64-bit ARMv8 @ 1.6 GHz) would be fantastic.

    It might "enable future porting work (e.g., ARM or RISC-V)" and spark some ferrocerium under the illumos project (fork created in 2010 just before Oracle discontinuation of the OpenSolaris project). (ref: https://github.com/illumos/ipd/tree/master/ipd/0019 ).

    1. StrangerHereMyself Bronze badge

      Re: good news everybody, here comes the sun

      Even if that happens it's still missing one important piece: software. Without better software support these boards are nothing more than a curiosity.

      1. Bartholomew Bronze badge

        Re: good news everybody, here comes the sun

        Yea but that is the catch 22, without the hardware not enough people can debug their software, and not enough software then people are not interested in buying the hardware. Luckily most open source operating systems are looking forward to porting a minimal amount of bootstrap code for the new architecture, and are champing at the bit to get their hands on the hardware.

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