Are there any plans for RISC-V GNU/Linux capable board for reasonable price?


(Krists) #1

Feedom Unleashed currently is the only option if you want to run GNU/Linux. The problem is that it is insanly expensive (1000 cpu board + 2000 dollar fpga). Thats 3000 dollars! Will there be any Raspberry pi like boards, but with RV32 or RV64 for reasonable price (<200euros)?

I red, that PowerVR GPU is now avaliable (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/powervr-gpu-nna-available-sifive-130000663.html?guccounter=1). Does that mean that full, self contained SOC is possible? What else is needed to archieve next step? What do community and main humans in SiFive think?


#2

Hi!
Maybe you can have a look at https://github.com/firesim/firesim. It’s said to be opensource and free for simulation. Besides the Rocket-chip could be put into the Xilinx XC7A100T, which is not so expensive and is able to run Linux.


(Krists) #3

Thanks for reply, but I meant real RISC-V mass produced hardware, not fpga.


(Jim Wilson) #4

ARM sells the Juno development board for 10K USD. So by comparison, our HiFive Unleashed development board is not unreasonably expensive. But of course people don’t buy computers from ARM directly. You buy computers from computer companies that buy (or license) processors from ARM. Similarly you shouldn’t be looking for us to build computers, but rather for someone else to buy (or license) processors from us and use them to build computers. Meanwhile, we (and ARM) produce development boards for testing and software development for new cores and peripherals, and since these are produced in small quantities they tend to be expensive, but they aren’t intended for the consumer market.

Volume dictates price. The processors used in boards like the raspberry pi are produced for the cell phone market, and are manufactured in large quantities which is why they are cheap. Meanwhile, we are producing processors in small quantities for testing and software development. Small production runs means that they are necessarily expensive. This will eventually change when someone wants large quantities of RISC-V parts.

It is still very early in the RISC-V market. Give us some time, and I expect that there will eventually be lower cost boards that you can boot linux on. This may take another year or so.


(Bruce Hoult) #6

Thanks Atif, that’s pretty cool!

With an FPGA CPU and 64 MB of SRAM that should be able to run the same kinds of Linux distributions at about the same speed as 486’s or early Pentiums.

That’s plenty for many embedded-style uses (as befits the Arduino compatibility) and I’d certainly love to have one.

However it’s not going to run modern desktop Linux distros as I imagine most of us are patiently waiting for :slight_smile: (and as the HiFive Unleashed does, admittedly at much higher price)


(Atif Zafar) #7

Thank you Bruce. We can get a board in your hands soon to try out. The purpose of this board is really first education and then maker spaces so its not designed to run a full-fledged Linux distro, just a kernel with some additional utilities. I imagine with the graphics shield we can create a simple GUI based display that can be used for HMI and other applications.

We are also very interested in using this board and the graphics shield for retro-computing applications using the FPGA.

Cheers
Atif


(Ty) #8

I’m not sure how the pricing works for small batches but I think it would benefit the risc-v ecosystem to have something in between the unleaded and hifive1. The minimum for me is machine + supervisor + user modes, virtual memory and a few hundred MB RAM.


(Bruce Hoult) #9

Sure, it would be great.

SiFive isn’t in the business of making and retailing every variation of board and CPU possible, but if someone wants to come up with a spec and manage a project on Kickstarter or whatever then you can get a quote from our sales team for what you want, both in full production quantities, and as low volume prototype. We’ve got the IP licensed to put whatever you want on the SoC … DDR, PCIe, ethernet, USB.

If you come up with a decent and useful SoC then you could put in on Mouser etc and potentially sell millions and millions of them.

The Kendryte guys have seemed to managed to make something of interest to a lot of people, more or less in the range you’re talking about but just without (most importantly) DDR so they’ve only got the 8 MB of on-chip SRAM. But they’ve got some pretty interesting peripherals/accelerators.