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Some exciting news for hardware enthusiasts, as Framework just announced today that DeepComputing has made the first partner-developed mainboard with RISC-V.

This RISC-V StarFive JH7110 SoC mainboard will be compatible with the Framework Laptop 13 model, truly showing the power of what modular computing can be for laptops. Here's a shot of it below:

DeepComputing will be showing it off during the RISC-V Summit Europe 2024 between June 24th - 28th in Germany. They noted it's still in early development though, but it's designed to just be an easy quick swap like other modules for the Framework Laptop 13.

From the DeepComputing press release:

“This is just the beginning. This modular RISC-V mainboard showcases our commitment to pioneering open-source hardware solutions that will empower developers and enthusiasts alike.” says Yuning Liang, CEO of DeepComputing.

“There is fantastic philosophical alignment between the Framework and RISC-V communities with a focus on developer and end-user empowerment. We designed the Framework Laptop from the start to enable this kind of architectural flexibility, and we’re excited to see what DeepComputing is creating with the new RISC-V Mainboard.” says Nirav Patel, CEO of Framework.

You can see more in the Framework blog post too which goes over some more details. Linux and open source enthusiasts should keep a close eye on RISC-V with it being an entirely open architecture, so there's no fees involved like with ARM and no gatekeeping like x86-64.

Framework also recently put up open source shell CAD designs for both the Framework Laptop 13 and Framework Laptop 16, so that you can basically do anything with it that Framework said was to enable "unlocking development of cases, skins, and other customization parts".

DeepComputing also recently announced an Ubuntu RISC-V laptop as well, the DC-ROMA laptop II, that features the SpacemiT’s SoC K1.

A very fun time to be following hardware with RISC-V and ARM both taking bigger steps towards more desktop use. The next 10 years certainly will be interesting, looks like we're slowly getting a processor shakeup that's been long overdue.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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18 comments
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slaapliedje Jun 18
Oooh, I'm wanting an FPGA / MiSTer based motherboard now too! Like how awesome would that be? Stop trying to make me buy from you, Framework!
ToddL Jun 18
I'm glad that RISC-V continues to make in-roads when it comes to CPU architectures and interested to see where it goes in the future since it's nice to have CPU alternatives besides ARM and x86-64.


Last edited by ToddL on 18 June 2024 at 6:08 pm UTC
hell0 Jun 18
I am so glad to see RISC-V slowly but steadily making its way to a broader audience.
I'm honestly kind of iffy about Framework. I did buy a DIY kit off of them once but it wouldn't work and it took an entire month for them to return it. I probably won't bother with them again to be honest, which sucks because I really agree with their stated goal.

I am slightly interested in RISC-V at least - a laptop-style device could make a good development board. What's the performance and battery life like compared to ARM?
LoudTechie Jun 19
Quoting: ShadowXeldronI am slightly interested in RISC-V at least - a laptop-style device could make a good development board. What's the performance and battery life like compared to ARM?

RISC-V is pretty efficient even when compared to ARM, but that is mostly because it allows you to customize your hardware based on your needs.
As such it's hard to make a good consumer device out of it.
LoudTechie Jun 19
I see no hope in this.
RISC-V has an even less functional software ecosystem, so it's useless for most consumers.
Although the architecture of RISC-V is open source the firmware isn't yet and some ARM processors do offer open firmware making them more suited for tinkering, because making or manipulating your own chips requires a lot more resources than doing the same with firmware meaning its out of the range of most tinkerers.
Boldos Jun 19
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I have RISC-V powered LicheePi4A (with 16GB LDPPR4 RAM and 128 GB eMMC storage, all integrated) from Sipeed.

The overall results are (as of now; this is a subject to change in time!): "Not great, not terrible".
Overal performance is somewhere around RPi 4B+, maybe a bit above.

My device has different CPU than ROMA II laptop; LicheePi4A uses Alibaba TH1520 RISC-V CPU:
- 4 core @1.85GHz (up to 2GHz, dependant on chip quality)
- vectoring instruction support 0.7.1 (RVV071)
- integrated 5TOPS NPU
- integrated graphics (mobile GPU from Imagination)
- integrated VPU (for hardare video coding/decoding)

These RISC-V solutions suffer from older manufacturing technology (it seems all those Chinese manufacturers are currently stuck at around 12nm manufacturing process, so somewhere at around max. 2GHz clock speeds etc). Good enough for low(er) performance applications (phones, tablets, low-perf laptop/desktops), not good enough for high-performance desktops yet. They will get there in time, though...
Some parts of platform's ISA specifications are still being worked out/added (like hardware virtualization support instruction set).

Also the software/driver support still has to mature: Majority of current RISC-V solutions (Milk-V, StarFive, Sipeed etc., with all their integrated solution boards) are still working to get their drivers to the Linux upstream progressilvely for the past two years (e.g. this LicheePi is currently still stuck on Debian kernel 5.11, kernels 6.x coming soon(tm), also Sipeed's SDK with drivers and 3rd party stuff is required to actually build a bootable kernel/system). Also, the GPU drivers from Imagination are not opensource (yet), despite Imagination's declared goal of opensourcing the drivers (realistically this will take probably years...), so limitted to none desktop/app hardware acceleration availability. Moreover, this (mobile) GPU supports only OpenGL ES, not full OpenGL. Although the GPU does support Vulkan, everything will have to wait for drivers from Imagination...

So despite the platform maturing for the past two-three years, it still has a lot of work ahead. But it will get there in time, it needs a couple of years, maybe. And I'm looking forward to the new open-spec hardware platform
(Also, I'd be very concerned about my future if I was ARM )


Last edited by Boldos on 20 June 2024 at 8:01 pm UTC
Boldos Jun 19
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For the Framework laptop: it uses StarFive JH7110 as CPU. That one is a bit slower - typically clocked on max 1.6GHz - and lacks support for vectoring instructions (RVV), which could/will limit it's performance. This will be used potentially only as a low-end device.

(Disclaimer: Think of RISC-V vectoring instructions specification (or RVV) to be similar to MMX/SSE/AVX instructions from Intel/AMD CPU world).

For the ROMA II laptop, the K1 has double the cores (8x), higher clocks (2GHz) and support for full vectoring instruction standard (RVV10), so it is expected to be much more performant. Still the K1 is a new CPU and I do not thing that - as of now - there are any relevant/consumer performance metrics available (remember, cache/bus/RAM latencies are currently unknown and will also affect overall performance).

Moreover, software/driver support for this brand new K1 platform is an unknown. Here they claim full Ubuntu support which sounds great. It remains to be seen, what exactly that means though...

So on one hand, there are currently lots of performance and sw/driver support unknowns, also the ROMA II laptop for that price seems to be quite overpriced. EDIT: Maybe it is not AS overpriced as I perceived it at the time of writing this. Still, they could probably do better I guess...

On the other hand, if they really manage to have full and good sw/driver support (including the GPU, HW accel of destop and full support of VPU on-chip codecs for e.g. high-performance HW decode of video streams) this really could be the first consumer-grade RISC-V machine for bigger masses.

Hopes are high


Last edited by Boldos on 19 June 2024 at 5:40 pm UTC
hell0 Jun 19
Quoting: LoudTechieI see no hope in this.
RISC-V has an even less functional software ecosystem, so it's useless for most consumers.
Although the architecture of RISC-V is open source the firmware isn't yet and some ARM processors do offer open firmware making them more suited for tinkering, because making or manipulating your own chips requires a lot more resources than doing the same with firmware meaning its out of the range of most tinkerers.

These devices are exactly what is needed for the software ecosystem to progress. There is only so much a software developper can do without testing his work on an actual device. It's definitely not for the masses yet.

Keep in mind, ARM is over 40 years old (project started in 1983) and x86 was released in 1978 (probably in the work a while before that).
slaapliedje Jun 19
Quoting: ToddLI'm glad that RISC-V continues to make in-roads when it comes to CPU architectures and interested to see where it goes in the future since it's nice to have CPU alternatives besides ARM and x86-64.
What would be nice is if there were an affordable PPC as well...
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