BeagleBoard just announced an affordable (rumored around ~$120) RISC-V board with Linux support

that would be nice

also it has useful peripherals such as USB, HDMI, audio, WiFi, built in, for comparison, my SiFive Unleashed was ~8× as expensive and had none of those, basically only LAN and a SD card slot

@orionwl Keep in mind that the first batch doesn't contain a GPU, a following (September 2021) will get one from Imagination Technologies


@FreePietje you're right, i guess the first batch only has a Display Controller which can do framebuffer out to HDMI, no GPU so no accelerated rendering of any kind—those tend to be separate cores in embedded SoCs

then again that'd be enough for terminals and status displays and simple UIs

i don't quite intend to use it for gaming anyway 🤭

@orionwl AFAIK, you're entirely correct. And if your goal is to run it (as a) headless (node), you don't need the GPU.
But if you're not in a hurry and don't want the bleeding edge, you get the GPU at no extra cost afaik.

@FreePietje true, might just wait for that

some good news i've heard (In on freenode) is that ImgTech has promised to actively work on FOSS kernel and user-space mesa drivers

(given their reputation of being even more hostile to open source than NVidia, that's great, we'll have to see how it pans out ofc)

@orionwl I've read that too, but can't find it right now. Most likely on -riscv or -arm but I suspect the same msg/info is crossposted along those channels


So what is the benefit vs arm? Is this a completely open architecture? If I ran it then my programs would have to be compiled to support this architecture correct? Like if there wasn't a bitcoin core binary I would need to compile it myself.

unlike ARM and x86 it's unencumbered by intellectual property, which means that everyone can, potentially, produce cores using it, this allows for more competition and experimentation

it also means that completely open hardware cores exist, of which the gateware can be re-used freely (not this one, probably, though)

fwiw: there is a bitcoin core download for rv64, and mainstream linux distributions like fedora, debian, have had a flavor for it available for a while

@BitcoinLizard in general, if you're using linux, you're going to have the least trouble with a new CPU architecture

some BSD variants also have ports

wouldn't hold my breath for proprietary OSes, RISC-V Windows or MacOS, but who knows in the long run … 🤷‍♀️


This sounds very interesting. I'm a seasoned Linux user so this is probably similar to moving from x86_64 to arm. A couple things you need to compile by hand that existed as binaries on x86.

The RPi 4 makes for a nice low end node however I run a bunch of services on mine and I would like something a bit more powerful. I don't want to run a full PC with x86. Maybe this device fits that need.

@BitcoinLizard right, rpi4 is a good choice at the moment--i'm not sure how this particular device compares to rpi4 with regard to performance

i do think it's likely that RISC-V devices will some day out-compete in the Rpi (and other low end computer) space, not having to pay for ARM IP could reduce the price

that said, my interest in RISC-V is mostly for idealistic reasons, i like the idea of a standardized freely available ISA, and that open hardware is winning territory


I can certainly understand doing things for ideological reasons. I would love to use hardware with no binary blobs but I'm not quite willing to run a super old, reconditioned laptop like Richard Stallman 😃

Maybe this architecture will get us there without the comprises.

it's definitely something that needs a compromise based on the application, e.g. for some key handling things i'd be fine with super slow computing (even cores implemented on FPGA like, but say, not for compilation during development, i'd rather just use a 64-core threadripper machine as available

@BitcoinLizard @orionwl
According to (a comment I read on) the performance is comparable to a RPi3.

But it has WAY more RAM, Gbps network speed and 4 USB3 ports which you can use for storage, which is much better then RPi3 has.
I don't know if it has (some) crypto functions in hardware and that could make a big difference (for a node at least).

And probably a better architecture overall and no need for binary blobs.

@BitcoinLizard @orionwl
Found the specific comments:
"The Rpi4B has a Quad-core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.5 GHz with 1MB L2 cache. The A72 claims 4.7 DMIPS/MHz.

This board has a Dual-core U74 (RV64GC) 64-bit SoC @ 1.5 GHz with 2MB L2 cache. The U74 claims 2.5 DMIPS/MHz.

So, roughly 1/4 as fast as a RPIi 4B given the roughly half DMIPS/MHz and half the cores?

That, of course, is a really rough guess, ignoring lots of potential variables. "

@BitcoinLizard @orionwl
The CPU cores are comparable to the ARM A55, rather than the A72.

"It's more MHz and a better uarch than the cores in a Pi 3, so should outperform even the newer Pi 3+ on tasks that don't use NEON and don't use more than 2 cores. "

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