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Tiny SBC runs Linux on new RAM-equipped Allwinner RISC-V SoC

Oct 27, 2021 — by Eric Brown 5,201 views

MangoPi is prepping a tiny “MangoPi-MQ1” SBC with the new Allwinner F133-A (D1s), a spin-down of Allwinner’s D1 that adds 64MB RAM. Both SoCs use the XuanTie C906, one of several RISC-V cores that Alibaba T-Head is now open sourcing.

A MangoPi project from Beijing Wadora Technology Co. has announced a Linux-driven MangoPi-MQ1 SBC equipped with a new Allwinner F133-A (D1s) SoC. Allwinner’s F133-A is a slightly scaled down version of the Allwinner D1 SoC, which powers Sipeed’s Nezha SBC. Both SoCs are equipped with a RISC-V architecture XuanTie C906 core, which last week Alibaba’s T-Head subsidiary announced is being open sourced along with several other cores (see farther below).



MangoPi-MQ1, front and back
(click images to enlarge)

The MangoPi project announced the tiny MangoPi-MQ1 (“Sparrow”) SBC on Twitter with only a few details. The company plans to launch the SBC by the end of the year. The open source board offers “1G RV,” referring to the 1GHz Allwinner F133-A, which provides RISC-V RV64 vector extensions for potential AI applications. The SBC also offers “512Mbit,” which refers to the 64MB DDR2 integrated on the Allwinner F133-A.

The MangoPi-MQ1 is further equipped with a WiFi/Bluetooth 4.0 radio and MIPI-DSI, MIPI-CSI, and RGB (LCD) connectors. The images show what appear to be a pair of USB Type-C ports, a microSD slot, and numerous I/O pin-headers.

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The Allwinner F133-A (D1s) came to light when CNXSoft picked up on the MangoPi tweet. Equipped with the same 1GHz XuanTie C906 RISC-V as the Allwinner D1, the F133-A adds 64MB of built-in DDR2 RAM via a SIP.



Allwinner F133-A/D1s (left) and Allwinner D1 block diagrams
(click images to enlarge)

Allwinner has removed several features, primarily related to media. The SoC is limited to 1080p60 instead of 4Kp30 output and no longer supplies a HiFi 4 audio DSP. Allwinner has removed the HDMI interface and has diminished the I2S/PCM and ADC interface counts from three to two.

The SoC presumably offers the same OS support as the D1, including the OpenWrt-based Tina Linux distro from Allwinner. There is also an RT-Thread based Melis RTOS, and T-Head offers other distributions for the C906 cores including xuantie-yocto and buildroot.

 
Alibaba T-Head opens sources RISC-V XuanTie core designs

Although the RISC-V architecture is an open design with free licensing of the base instruction set, it offers a permissive license to companies using it. As a result, chipmakers can keep much of their IP proprietary. Some chipmakers, however, see value in open sourcing at least some or parts of their designs to boost adoption in an increasingly competitive landscape of RISC-V cores.

Among them is Chinese tech giant Alibaba, which at the recent 2021 Apsara Conference announced it has open sourced four of the XuanTie RISC-V CPU core designs from its T-Head subsidiary. The cores are licensed under Apache 2.0.



Zhang Jianfeng, President of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, announcing open sourcing of XuanTie series at the 2021 Apsara Conference
(click image to enlarge)
Source: 163.com via Pandaily

In addition to the single-core XuanTie C906 used by the Allwinner D1 and D1s (F133-A), Alibaba has posted detailed information on the dual-core, 1.2GHz XuanTie C910, which similarly supports Linux. The C910 debuted recently on an RVB-ICE dev kit.

Also being open sourced are the E902 and E906 cores, which appear to be MCU-class designs. All these open source XuanTie cores have been given “open” prefixes, as in openc906 and openC910, suggesting the possibility T-Head may also offer versions of these designs with proprietary extensions. CPU IP code and instructions are available along with software development tools and other resources.

 
Further information

The MangoPi-MQ1 SBC with the Allwinner F133-A (D1s) will enter mass production in November and launch on Seeed and Taobao shortly after, with pricing undisclosed. More information may be found on the MangoPi project’s MangoPi-MQ1 tweet, the MangoPi GitHub page, and the MangoPi.org website (in Chinese).

The Allwinner F133-A appears to be production. More information may be found on the Allwinner F133-A (D1s) product page.

 

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