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BeagleV RISC-V SBC reborn as VisionFive V1

Nov 26, 2021 — by Eric Brown 6,745 views

[Updated: Dec. 1] — StarFive revealed details about a “VisionFive V1” SBC that runs Linux on a StarFive JH7100 SoC with dual 1.5GHz SiFive U74 cores and a 1-TOPS NPU based on RV64GC RISC-V. The $149 Pico-ITX SBC has up to 8GB RAM and 40-pin GPIO.

In January, BeagleBoard.org and Seeed launched an early access release of a BeagleV SBC (later referred to as the BeagleV – StarLight) that runs Linux on a RISC-V architecture StarFive JH7100 SoC with dual Cortex-A55 like SiFive U74 cores. BeagleBoard.org withdrew from the project over the summer, and StarFive is now prepping an updated version called the VisionFive V1 starting at $149.



VisionFive V1 (left) and earlier BeagleV – StarLight
(click images to enlarge)

StarFive will officially unveil the new design next week at the RISC-V Summit 2021, and in the meantime Heise Online (via Market Research Telecast) revealed extensive details and linked to a slide-deck and product page. The layout has changed, but the specs are almost the same as on the BeagleV.

A forum entry on BeagleBoard.org’s BeagleV page notes that its open source design for the BeagleV – Starlight continues to be freely available, and that in addition to the approximately 300 boards already shipped, there will be sample reference boards available to interested community members. While there are no plans to mass produce the SBC, BeagleBoard.org plans to launch a series of other BeagleV branded SBCs based on RISC-V SoCs.

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[Update: In response to this story, BeagleBoard.org’s Jason Kridner wrote: “BeagleBoard.org is currently working on two other RISC-V-based boards using other SoC providers that will launch at or around Embedded World.” So we will expect to hear more in early March.]

The StarFive JH7100 was previously announced as the processor powering Antmicro’s upcoming ARVSOM compute module. The ARVSOM will work on Raspberry Pi CM4 carrier boards and will be available with a Scalenode carrier that supports cluster applications.

The StarFive JH7100 appears to be one of fastest Linux-driven RISC-V SoCs to date except for the quad-core, 1.4GHz SiFive FU740 SoC, which uses a variant of the U74 called the U74-MC, a quad-core focused design that provides a fifth monitor core. The SiFive FU740 powers SiFive’s HiFive Unmatched development board. (Some other Linux-driven RISC-V SoCs and SBCs are summarized below the spec list).

The RISC-V Summit Lightning Talk blurb for the VisionFive V1 says the dual RV64GC compliant U74 cores are clocked at 1.5GHz, although the datasheet says 1.0GHz. As noted, the quad-core SiFive FU740 runs at 1.4GHz.



StarFive JH7100 (left) and software overview for the VisionFive V1
(click images to enlarge)

The StarFive JH7100 is equipped with machine vision and AI coprocessors including a Tensilica Vision VP6 DSP, a 1-TOPS NPU, and an NVLDA (Nvidia Deep Learning Accelerator) Engine. There is also an ISP to work with the board’s MIPI-CSI interface. The SoC is equipped with a 4K ready VPU but lacks a 3D GPU.

[Update: A slide-deck for the VisionFive mentions a future VisionFive V2 model based on an upcoming, quad-core StarFive JH7110 SoC that will add a 3D GPU and audio DSP. Market Research Telecast reports that the V2 will provide Imagination’s IMG BXE-4-32 3D GPU. The V2 board will add dual PCIe Gen2 interfaces, CAN, and TDM, as well as a second GbE port and 4K HDMI 2.0. A CNXSoft story today says StarFive is collaborating with Radxa on producing the VisionFive boards.]



StarFive VisionFive software ecosystem slides
(click images to enlarge)

In October, LWN.net reported on the progress of Linux support for the JH7100, and more details are available at the JH7100 GitHub page, including this Fedora page. The VisionFive will launch with Fedora Linux support, and as seen in the diagrams above, will support mainline Yocto and Buildroot. There are also plans for supporting Debian, Ubuntu, Gentoo, openSUSE, and more. FreeRTOS and Zephyr support will also be available. Community support is provided at RVspace.org.

Aside from the rearrangement of the layout, the VisionFive V1 has almost the sane features as the BeagleV. The 100 x 72mm Pico-ITX board is equipped with 4GB to 8GB LPDDR4, a microSD slot, and boot flash. There is a GbE port, 2.4GHz WiFi with BT 4.2, 4x USB 3.0 host ports, and a Raspberry Pi style 40-pin GPIO.



VisionFive V1 (left) and block diagram
(click images to enlarge)

Other media features include MIPI-DSI, 2x MIPI-CSI, and an audio jack. A USB Type-C port provides 5V input. It appears that the board also adds a ChipLink FPGA.

Preliminary specifications for the VisionFive V1 include:

  • Processor:
  • Memory/storage:
    • 4GB or 8GB LPDDR4-2800 via dual channels
    • MicroSD slot (bootable)
    • QSPI NOR and NAND flash for firmware and U-boot
  • Networking:
    • 10/100/1000 Ethernet port
    • 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.2 BLE
  • Media I/O:
    • HDMI 1.4 port with audio for up to [email protected]
    • MIPI-DSI
    • 2x MIPI-CSI with MIPI-CSI TX
    • 3.5mm audio out jack
    • ”1. 4-pole” stereo audio
  • Other I/O:
    • 4x USB 3.0 host ports (hub)
    • USB Type-C port for 5V power input
    • JTAG and UART debug headers
    • 40-pin GPIO (RPi standard)
  • Other features — user button
  • Power — 5V/3A input via USB Type-C and GPIO header; boot and reset buttons
  • Dimensions — 100 x 72mm (Pico-ITX form factor)
  • Operating system — Fedora with mainline Linux plus other distros

 
Other Linux-ready RISC-V boards

Perhaps the closest contender to the StarFive JH7100 aside from the quad-core SiFive FU740 is Alibaba T-Head’s dual-core, 1.2GHz XuanTie C910 ICE SoC, which is found on Sipeed’s $399 RVB-ICE SBC. (Back in 2019 T-Head revealed a faster, 16-core, 2.5GHz XuanTie C910 proof of concept that has yet to reach market.)


RVB-ICE

The JH7100 is much faster than the Allwinner D1, which has a single 1GHz T-Head C906 core. The D1 is found on Sipeed’s Raspberry Pi like Nezha and newer, minimalist LicheeRV SBCs. The JH7100 also beats out the Kendryte RISC-V chips, such as the dual-core Kendryte K210 and new, up to 3.0-TOPS Kendryte K510.

The StarFive JH7100 is also faster than Microchip’s PolarFire SoC (except perhaps for FPGA-driven applications). The PolarFire SoC which has dual Cortex-A35 like SiFive U54 cores along with an FPGA, has appeared on several boards such as the recent Aldec TySOM-M-MPFS250 SBC. Microchip just announced a second Smart Embedded Vision development tool for the PolarFire SoC that targets IIoT and factory automation applications.

 
Further information

The VisionFive V1, which will be formally announced Dec. 8 at the RISC-V Summit. The board will ship sometime in 2022 starting at $149. More information may be found on StarFive’s product page and this more detailed slide-deck (PDF).
 

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PLEASE COMMENT BELOW

One response to “BeagleV RISC-V SBC reborn as VisionFive V1”

  1. Drew Fustini says:

    I wanted to make one point of clarification, BeagleV is the BeagleBoard.org Foundation’s brand for RISC-V based boards and is not a specific board. I made a brief update on our forum yesterday that we will be launching two new boards under the BeagleV brand around the time of Embedded World.

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