PicoRio Linux RISC-V SBC is an Open Source Alternative to Raspberry Pi Board

There’s a lot of interest/hype around RISC-V, and low-cost boards such as Longan Nano or Maixduino are already available, but those are based on microcontroller-class chips, even though it’s possible to run Linux on Kendryte K210 RISC-V board, it comes without MMU, so it’s not for everyone.

Linux capable RISC-V boards do exist but cost several hundred dollars or more with the likes of HiFive Unleashed and PolarFire SoC Icicle development kit. If only there was a RISC-V board similar to the Raspberry Pi board and with a similar price point… The good news is that the RISC-V International Open Source (RIOS) Laboratory is collaborating with Imagination technologies to bring PicoRio RISC-V SBC to market at a price point similar to Raspberry Pi.

The PicoRio board was presented at the RISC-V Global Forum on September 3rd. I could not find the full presentation slides yet, but there are some screenshots here and there on Twitter giving us a few more details.

PicoRIo preliminary specifications:

  • PicoRio SoC
    • Quad-core 64-bit RISC-V (RV64GC) processor at 500+ MHz
    • 1x 32-bit RISC-V (RV32IMC) always-on core
    • Imagination Technologies PicoRio GPU (only in second revision of chip)
    • 512KB L2 cache
    • Package – 4.3 x 3.4 mm die size , fcCSP package
    • 28 nm Process
  • System memory – 16-bit LPDDR4
  • Storage – TBD, likely MicroSD card
  • Video Output – TBD
  • USB – USB 3.0 interfaces
  • I/Os – UART, I2C, SPI, etc…

The first board without GPU is planned for Q4 2020, following with one with PowerVR GPU in 2021.

PicoRio aims to be open-source hardware as much as possible, with the CPU part being fully open, but the memory PHY, USB 3.0 PHY, GPU, and other I/Os will still be closed source, even though the goal is to eventually have as much IP released under a BSD-like open source license.

The board will target the Raspberry Pi price, but be more efficient with battery-powered devices in mind. PicoRio will run Linux, and support higher-level languages like WebAssembly and JavaScript.

More details should eventually surface on RIOSLab website that is currently very much work-in-progress…

Thanks to Arnaud for the tip.

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