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Dev kit debuts RISC-V XuanTie C910 SoC with a 3D GPU and Android and Linux support

Oct 13, 2021 — by Eric Brown 1,679 views

Sipeed and Alibaba T-Head have opened $399 pre-orders on an “RVB-ICE” dev kit featuring a RISC-V compatible, dual-core, 1.2GHz XuanTie C910 ICE SoC with a Vivante 3D GPU, an NPU, 4GB RAM, and support for Android 10 and Debian 11.

Sipeed and Alibaba’s T-Head Semiconductors unit (AKA Pintouge) are launching a development kit for a XuanTie C910 ICE SoC, featuring the first 3D GPU we have seen on a commercially available RISC-V SoC. The RVB-ICE dev kit is available for pre-order in limited quantities at $399, including a 7-inch touchscreen, with shipments expected in November.

The integration of the non-RISC-V Vivante GC8000UL GPU enables Android AOSP support, which was demonstrated in January by T-Head, following an earlier preliminary Android port by China’s PLCT Lab in 2020. The XuanTie C910 ICE SoC also supports Debian Linux.



RVB-ICE (left) and attached to back of bundled 7-inch touchscreen
(click images to enlarge)

The XuanTie C910 ICE SoC incorporates dual XuanTie C910 cores, which appear to be a variant of the processor that formed the basis for the up to 16-core, 2.5GHz XuanTie C910 RISC-V SoC proof-of-concept unveiled in 2019. Although the XuanTie C910 ICE SoC is limited to dual 1.2GHz cores, the C910 design supports up to 4x cores and will eventually be deployed in up to 4x clusters for 16 cores in commercial SoCs.

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Alibaba T-Head also offers a single-core, 1GHz XuanTie C906 RISC-V processor with Linux support that forms the foundation of Allwinner’s D1 SoC. The Allwinner D1 debuted on Sipeed’s $99 Nezha SBC.

Like the C906, the C910 offers RISC-V RV64GCV vector extensions, which are also supported by RISC-V processors such as SiFive’s SiFive Intelligence X280. The vector extensions enable on-chip processing of AI/ML tasks, enabled on the XuanTie C910 ICE SoC via a deep-learning processor unit (DPU), another name for an NPU. No TOPS specs were listed.



XuanTie C910 simplified (left) and annotated block diagrams
(click images to enlarge)

The XuanTie C910 core is a 12-stage pipelined, 3-issue, superscalar out-of-order design with two memory accesses per cycle. The processor offers up to 64KB I- and D- cache and up to 8MB L2 cache.

The C910 integrates a RISC-V standard performance monitoring core, which is also found on SiFive processors. The core design also includes an MMU, a single/double-precision floating point engine, an interrupt controller, an AXI4 bus interface, and more than 50 new instructions layered on top of RISC-V.

Inside the RVB-ICE dev kit

The RVB-ICE board was announced by Sipeed on Twitter and was also revealed yesterday at the CHIPS Alliance Fall Workshop. The workshop is run by the Linux Foundation’s CHIPS Alliance, a companion organization to RISC-V tasked with curating and developing open source code for open hardware chips.



XuanTie C910 ICE SoC block diagram (left) and RVB-ICE detail view
(click images to enlarge)

The RVB-ICE SBC is equipped with 4GB LPDDR4, 16GB eMMC, and microSD slot. A GbE port and WiFi/Bluetooth handle communications tasks.

An LCD interface supports up to HD displays on the bundled 7-inch capacitive touchscreen. It is unclear if an audio interface is available.

The SBC is further equipped with a micro-USB-OTG port and a USB Type-C for serial debug and an alternative power input to the 5V jack. You also get 48 GPIO pins.

As noted by the CNXSoft post that alerted us to the RVB-ICE, the Android GitHub repository for T-Head’s Android port has not been updated in five months. However, this Chinese-language T-Head page on the RVB-ICE may have more details.

Specifications listed for the RVB-ICE board include:

  • Processor — Alibaba T-Head XuanTie C910 SoC (2x C910 RISC-V cores @ 1.2GHz with RV64GCV extensions); Vivante GC8000UL GPU; DPU (NPU)
  • Memory/storage:
    • 4GB LPDDR4
    • 16GB eMMC
    • MicroSD slot
  • Networking:
    • GbE port
    • WiFi/Bluetooth
  • Other I/O:
    • RGB888 LCD interface up to 1080p for 7-inch, 1024 x 600 cap touchscreen
    • Micro-USB 3.0 OTG port
    • USB Type-C port with serial debug and power input support
    • 2x 24-pin expansion headers for 2x UART, I2C, SPI, ADC, GPIO
  • Other features — user and reset buttons, LED
  • Power — 5VDC input jack or Type-C
  • Operating system — Android 10; Debian 11

 
Further information

The RVB-ICE dev kit is available in limited quantities at AliExpress for $399, with shipments due in November.
 

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