back to article One of the first RISC-V laptops may ship in September, has an NFT hook

It seems promoters of RISC-V weren't bluffing when they hinted a laptop using the open-source instruction set architecture would arrive this year. Pre-orders opened Friday for Roma, the "industry's first native RISC-V development laptop," which is being built in Shenzen, China, by two companies called DeepComputing and …

  1. ShadowSystems Silver badge

    Not enough details.

    Ports? Screen resolution? Audio capabilities? Battery size? Average/max run time? Etc, etc, etc.

    I tried to visit the preorder page to get more info, but there was a blatant void in that department. They're happy to collect all your details, you have to register that you're interested with full name, email, mailing address, business, whom referred you, etc, and all those fields are marked *Required*, but not a jot about product specs, pricing, or even when/if you can expect to get one.

    It's like KickStarter, but with less oversight or product details. =-/

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      WTF?

      Re: Not enough details.

      You expect detailed specs? For vapourware?

    2. Tams

      Re: Not enough details.

      No, no, no. You don't understand. All it needs is NFT.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Disappointingly I get the feeling this is just going to be more "niche small batch" junk to lose support a year later and lay in your cupboard.

    Just buy an old cheap refurbished ex-business surplus ThinkPad.

    1. Sampler

      Well, the NFT seems about as useful as the windows keyboard button in the mock-up image - maybe the whole laptop?

  3. thames Silver badge

    I suspect that the main market for the first RISC-V laptop is going to be software developers who want a native platform on which to test and debug the software needed to help create the second RISC-V laptop.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > I suspect

      It says as much in the article.

  4. trevorde Silver badge

    NFT angle

    It has to be a scam

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: NFT angle

      Or just a re-imaging of the serial number that should uniquely identify the device and user id that should uniquely identify the user and thus content creator.

  5. werdsmith Silver badge

    I would be interested myself, but the way this is being done is a bit unnerving. I expect it will be US keyboard layout only.

    I have a RISC V SBC and it’s fun to mess with but the Linux support is all a bit ropey, qemu on my existing laptop could have provided for my requirements just as well.

    I’m way, I’ll keep watching for more information.

  6. Abominator

    No thanks.

  7. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Sanctions

    There is hope that RISC-V get on the list of sanctions for supporting Russian terrorist state.

    SoC Design Challenge: the first engineering hackathon for students in Russia

    Organisations supporting terrorism should not have a place in our society.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sanctions

      Terrorist, freedom fighter, it kinda depends on which side of the fence you are. Or which side has the oil/resource you want.

      1. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

        Re: Sanctions

        Tell that to Ukrainians bombed out of their homes. I doubt many see the Russians as freedom fighters.

  8. Justthefacts Silver badge

    CPU

    So, we’ll start with:

    The 12nm CPU must be the StarFive Dubhe, which makes it (and don’t all rush at once) “up to” 2GHz and 64-bit

    https://riscv.org/news/2021/12/starfive-dubhe-64-bit-risc-v-core-to-be-found-in-12nm-2-ghz-processors-jean-luc-aufranc-cnx-software/

    Coming out in “late 2022 or 2023”, which from long experience of such announcements means “late 2023, early silicon with errata”

    1. low_resolution_foxxes Silver badge

      Re: CPU

      Out of curiosity, on the high end RISC side, how much are the licensing fees for arrm CPUs?

      I thought the fees were relatively trivial. Is it literally just because the Americans are being difficult and restricting sales to China and Russia, is it the nature of open source coders, CompSci PhD students, or just the nicety of having CPUs with confirmed lack of patent worries??

      1. Justthefacts Silver badge

        Re: CPU

        Licensing fees for something high end might be a million. Royalties typically might be 1-2% per chip. But all this misses the point:

        Manufacturers buy wafers, not chips. Yield adds directly proportionately on costs, and just dominates over any royalty in practice.

        When you just drop in an ARM Cortex A53 (say) into your SoC, and get it fabbed on TSMC 7nm, they’ve made the exact same thing before. They will guarantee you 95% yield contractually, and pay any shortfall on that. It’s reputational and core risk: if they have low yield on that, they need to fix it - for everyone, not just you, otherwise they don’t have a business.

        If you DIY a RISCV, even if it’s identical source, unless it’s been through *traceably* identical toolset, synthesis, clock and power tools, drive strengths, etc. There is enough “black art” in the fab process that you will be lucky to get 80% yield. And TSMC won’t guarantee it. That 15% shortfall is 15% higher effective chip price for *you*. 2% royalty overhead totally misses the point.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: CPU

        The point is that the restrictions of the ARM licenses are excessive, and the fact that it costs more than $0.

        If you want to make modifications to ARM chips, you aren't allowed to. If you just need a low end processor for a controller board, why would you want to pay for it unnecessarily?

        1. Justthefacts Silver badge

          Re: CPU

          “If you want to make modifications of ARM chips you’re not allowed to”.

          A) Rubbish. Of course it’s allowed, there’s a license available to add your own special instructions on ARM core.

          B) As ASIC designer, and leader, and manager, I’ve been involved in dozens of tech tradeoffs. There’s always some bright young thing who thinks they are the first to consider a custom instruction to accelerate a tight loop. And we always consider it. But after careful tradeoff, it’s just always more optimal to hang it as a memory-mapped IP block.

          Multiple reasons:

          1 Cost of re-optimising and re-verifying the CPU core.

          2 Risk of yield problems on the modified CPU core (big one this).

          3 Hanging extra logic onto the fan out of CPU registers, increases required drive strengths, which means extra power dissipation all the time (not just when executing the tight loop).

          4 It also messes around the whole floor planning, which tends to drop the clock frequency. Have you ever wondered what an amazing coincidence it is that all the CPU dies you’ve seen are rectangular? There’s no a priori reason for the gates to pack nicely like that. Add just ten gates in the wrong place, and *everything* has to move to the other side, which completely alters the critical paths, as they are dominated by routing delay in many cases.

          5 Most tight loops iterate around a block of data, possibly larger than L1 cache. The *last* thing you want is to waste memory bus cycles pulling all that data into and out of registers, with cache misses. Better to provide dedicated on-chip scratchpad SRAM that never gets swapped, and operate on it without involving memory bus.

          6 When you’re not executing the tight loop, you can power down an IP block. You can’t separately power down a tightly coupled execution unit within the CPU core.

          Academics and “researchers” often think it’s cool, and makes it more “flexible” in software. It really isn’t, and actually it isn’t more flexible either than a well-designed and parameterised memory-mapped IP.

          1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

            Re: CPU

            I would upvote twice if I could.

            1. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

              Re: CPU

              But some sourpuss downvoted you instead. Facts often hurt.

              It was one of the best posts I've read here for a while.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: CPU

            Special license? To do basic research? That’s exactly why people should just switch to RISC-V

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: CPU

              Special license? To do basic research? That’s exactly why people should just switch to RISC-V

              That's idealism. Idealism is the place people consider first before they go with realism.

        2. juice Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: CPU

          > If you want to make modifications to ARM chips, you aren't allowed to

          Apple seem to have little or no problems in modifying their ARM chips to make them significantly faster than any other ARM chips out there. And they've raked in vast amounts of money as a result...

  9. nautica Bronze badge
    Thumb Down

    Just checked my Driver's License...

    Anyone who falls for this train-wreck deserves exactly what they are going to get---absolutely guaranteed. Everywhere one looks and no matter which way one turns in trying to get a rational handle on this so-called product, a red flag pops up.

    Oh...my Driver's License confirmed the fact that I wasn't born yesterday. If you are even remotely considering this device or its <charitable>perpetrators</charitable>, you need to check your Driver's License.

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