Seeed Studios, the manufacturer of the Odyssey micro-PC we reviewed in August, has cooperated with the well-known SBC supplier BeagleBoard to produce an affordable RISC-V system designed to run Linux.
The new BeagleV (pronounced “Beagle Five”) system has a dual-core 1GHz RISC-V CPU produced by StarFive, which is one of the RISC-V startup networks created by the well-known RISC-V supplier SiFive. The CPU is based on SiFive’s two U74 standard cores. Unlike a simple microcontroller-based design, it has an MMU and all other modifications required to run a mature modern operating system (such as a Linux distribution).
StarFive’s VIC7100 processor is designed for edge AI tasks and general computing. In addition to two RISC-V CPU cores, it also has Tensilica Vision VP6 DSP for machine vision applications, a neural network engine and a single-core NVDLA (Nvidia Deep Learning Accelerator) engine.
BeagleV is not the first general-purpose RISC-V Linux PC in the SiFive design, or even the second, but it is more cost-effective than earlier designs such as the $680 HiFive Unmatched. The lower cost should make it more attractive to hobbyists, and ready-made support for Fedora Linux and support for Debian Linux and FreeRTOS microcontroller operating systems will appear in the near future.
In addition to the StarFive processor, BeagleV also includes 8GiB of LPDDR4 RAM, Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.2 chipset, and a dedicated hardware video transcoder that supports 4K and 60fps H.264 and H. 265. Provides four USB 3.0 ports, a full-size HDMI output, a 3.5mm conventional audio jack and a 40-pin GPIO connector. Provide 5V/3A power through USB Type-C port, system boot from standard SD card.
We expect to get a BeagleV review sample at Ars sometime in late March, and deliver the first batch of hardware to the community after April. Broad general availability will be released in September 2021. Although the first batch of hardware runs entirely for a $140/8GiB system, it is expected that a low-cost variant with less RAM will be released in subsequent versions.
The initial trial run of BeagleV will use Vision DSP hardware as the graphics processor, thereby providing a complete graphical desktop environment under Fedora. Subsequent hardware runs will also include unspecified models of Imagine GPU.
Ars readers interested in purchasing one of the early “pilot” committees scheduled to be delivered in April can apply here to be part of the initial plan.
List image by Seeed