Pine64 Star64 SBC with StarFive JH7110 RISC-V SoC with GPU to launch for $69.99 and up

Pine64 Star64 is a single board computer (SBC) powered by StarFive JH7110 quad-core 64-bit RISC-V processor equipped with an Imagination BXE-4-32 GPU, and in a form factor similar to the earlier Pine64 model A boards such as the Quartz64 Model A.

The Star64 SBC ships with either 4GB or 8GB of RAM, an HDMI 2.0 video output connector, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, a WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 module, USB 3.0 ports, a PCIe slot, and a GPIO header for expansion.

Pine64 RISC-V Linux single board computer

Star64 specifications:

  • SoC – StarFive JH7110 with
    • CPU – Quad-core 64-bit RISC-V (SiFive U74 – RV64GC) processor @ up to 1.5 GHz
    • GPU – Imagination BXE-4-32 GPU @ up to 600 MHz supporting OpenGL ES 3.2, OpenCL 1.2, Vulkan 1.2
    • VPU
      • 4Kp60 H.265/H.264 video decoder
      • 1080p30 H.265 video encoder
  • System Memory – 4GB or 8GB LPDDR4
  • Storage – MicroSD card slot, eMMC flash module socket up to 128GB, 128Mbit QSPI flash
  • Video Output
    • HDMI 2.0 port up to 4Kp30 (as per the Wiki)
    • 4-lane MIPI DSI connector + touch panel connector
  • Camera I/F – 4-lane MIPI CSI camera connector
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack
  • Networking
    • 2x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 ports
    • On-board Fn-Link RTL8852BU WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2 module and 2x u.FL antenna connectors
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 port, 3x USB 2.0 Type-A ports, 2x USB 2.0 interfaces via headers
  • Expansion
    • 40-pin color-coded GPIO “Pi2” header
    • PCIe x4 slot with PCIe 2.0 x1 interface
  • Misc – Power button, fan header, 3-pin UART/debug header, DIP switch for boot configuration (flash, SD, eMMC, UART)
  • Power Supply – 12V DC @ 3 A via power barrel jack or 4-pin header; on-board PMIC
  • Dimensions – 133 x 80 mm

Star64 SBC

Based on the information from the wiki, software support for the Star64 is still considered to be at the Alpha stage with the Linux 5.15 kernel maintained by Icenowy, and I can’t find any images for download. But Debian or Ubuntu should be available soon as I tested the JH7110-powered VisionFive 2 SBC with Debian 12 last February. Note there’s still a lot of work to do for better support for the StarFive JH7110 SoC, and some packages will be missing and need to be built from source, I found NVMe storage and Ethernet worked fine, but I was unable to test video output and any graphics since my none of my displays would play nice with the board, even after applying some known workarounds.

The Star64 and VisionFive 2 SBCs offer many of the same features, but the Pine64 board provides access to the PCIe interface via a PCIe x4 (PCIe 2.0 x1) slot instead of an M.2 socket and is equipped with a wireless module for WiFi and Bluetooth that the VisionFive 2 board completely does without. Both should be considered software development platforms and are not suitable for integration into products and projects for most applications.

The VisionFive2 has been shipping to backers since last December who got one for as low as $46 during a crowdfunding campaign, but now the 4GB RAM version cost around $90 without WiFi on Amazon or Aliexpress, and the 8GB model goes for $116 while WiFi 6 adds an extra $13 to $14. The Star64 SBC should offer a cheaper alternative as it will be available for $69.99 and $89.99 plus shipping with respectively 4GB and 8GB LPDDR4 memory starting on April 4.

Via Pine64’s March 2023 update.

Update: The article was initially published on August 29, 2022 with the specifications, and updated before the official April 4 launch

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43 Comments
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RK
RK
1 year ago

Apparently, some firmwares aside, the GPU drivers are open source and are in the process of being upstreamed while the user land stack is the normal Mesa so the opengl and vulkan bits will be shared with Intel and AMD: https://developer.imaginationtech.com/open-source-gpu-driver/

RK
RK
1 year ago

I didn’t know about it myself. I originally found the drivers by googling for imgtec open source graphics drivers. When you said you weren’t sure about the coverage, I googled “https://developer.imaginationtech.com/open-source-gpu-driver” thinking some distro including the drivers might mention the hardware supported in their release notes which led to a facebook post “https://www.facebook.com/groups/riscv.tw/posts/1611033709104137/” and a link to their forum.

P.P.A.
P.P.A.
1 year ago
  RK

Is it going to have hardware accelerated video decoding working out of the box, too? That’d place it miles ahead of half of the usual ARM SoCs.

RK
RK
1 year ago

They don’t mention anything about the video decoder but I believe vulkan has an extension for h.256 decoding nowadays so they might end up exposing it there instead of doing separate video drivers…

jernej
jernej
1 year ago

Embedded GPUs very rarely support video decoding natively, if at all. This SoC is no different and has separate video decoding core. That means separate video decoding driver based on V4L2.

xnc-hardware
xnc-hardware
1 year ago

Lol, stacked RJ45 ports, upward PCIe x4 slot 🙂
(Please stack the 4 USBs too haha)
12V DC via power barrel jack
StarFive VisionFive 2 much better,

  • no port madness
  • usb-c for power
  • better eMMC socket
  • M.2
Nate
Nate
1 year ago

I’d honestly rather have a 12v barrel plug that screw around with type c for no good reason.

Ray Knight
Ray Knight
1 year ago

Even better would be a 12-20V tolerant barrel plug connector. That would allow using the abundant supply of 19-19.5 volt laptop power supplies.

andelf
andelf
1 year ago

For a NAS, a full PCIe x4 is a lot better than an m.2 socket. I’m actually considering buying this as a dedicated Nas/Kodi machine, instead of an itx-based NAS and a cheap Android TV box

tkaiser
tkaiser
1 year ago

> For a NAS, a full PCIe x4 is a lot better than an m.2 socket

It doesn’t really matter as it’s only Gen2 x1. On Star64 the 2nd PCIe lane is USB3 (pinmuxed) while on the VisionFive 2 this PCIe lane is occupied by a VL805 USB3 host controller like on RPi 4.

If you’re fine with 5 SATA ports there exist M.2 JMS585 boards for VisionFive 2. With Star64 you get one SATA port more by choosing an ASM1166 card. Always severly bottlenecked of course (Gen3 x2 vs. Gen2 x1).

tkaiser
tkaiser
1 year ago

The board layout and DC-IN tries to be compatible to former larger Pine64 boards which might help their developer community.

BTW: if you’re not a developer wanting to help upstreaming RISC-V this is not for you anyway. As for the VisionFive 2 comparison: the eMMC socket is the same (just a second row of pins for more sturdiness), USB-C with USB PD for power is actually a disadvantage in ‘board bring up’ stage and real PCIe is also better for developing/testing PCIe compatibility.

Jack
Jack
1 year ago

The compact version (model B) should come soon after.
I never liked this board format…

kxygk
1 year ago

Why don’t they make one board that can be both used standalone and in the pinebook(pro) shell?

You’d develop on the laptop and then “deploy” on bare boards and you’d have one consistent cohesive ecosystem instead of a bunch of similar but slightly different boards..

This boards seems to have basically all the parts you need in a laptop (connectors for display, camera, audio, SD, battery?). Just needs a tweaked form factor.

I’m probably just overlooking something..

tkaiser
tkaiser
1 year ago

> I’m probably just overlooking something..

Have you found a battery connector on this board (or the VisionFive 2)? Me not.

Since both boards use X-Power PMICs I would assume they’re both more or less StarFive’s reference design which might rely on a PMIC not capable of charging.

I guess this here is ‘board / platform bring up’ and not consumer’s paradise.

Theguyuk
Theguyuk
1 year ago

Need not worry ”  In this laptop solution developed and designed by StarFive and its partners, the laptop is powered by batteries, expands necessary communication peripherals through PCIe and USB, and supports a front camera and 2K LCD touch screen. These shape a set of competitive entry-level notebook computers solution. “

kxygk
1 year ago

It seems logical that they’ll eventually make a pinebook compatible board as well.. I just don’t get why make extra SKUs (granted this is a dev board and maybe won’t be put into production). It dilutes the brand and you seemingly only save a tiny bit on a charging circuit here.

Every board needs extra documentation, OS images etc etc and confuses consumers. The one thing the RPi guys did right is keep the number or boards they release to a minimum so they all have good comprehensive support

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 year ago

Pin64 model B boards such as the Quartz64 Model A.

  1. Pin64
  2. model B … Model A?
tkaiser
tkaiser
1 year ago

> On-board RTL8852BU WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.2

Are you sure about that? BU would be an USB3 part while the sticker on the module suggests it’s SDIO 3.0 instead.

tkaiser
tkaiser
1 year ago

> The module is FnLink 6252B-UUB, based on RTL8852BU

Thanks for asking. So it’s USB Hi-Speed most probably behind an internal hub.

tkaiser
tkaiser
1 year ago

> the VisionFive 2 has two USB 3.0 Type-A ports

And on the board pictures a VL805 chip next to them can be seen. That’s the PCIe attached USB3 host controller also used on RPi 4 to provide there 2 x USB3-A and 2 x USB2-A.

On the Star64 pictures two Terminus USB2 hubs can be seen.

Tim
Tim
1 year ago

I need a board similar to this with arm cpu with two m.2 SSDs. Can anyone recommend one?

MaxEntropius
MaxEntropius
1 year ago

according to the pine64 wiki, the CSI2 connector brings out all 4 lanes, not just 2:

4 lane MiPi CSI port for camera module

andelf
andelf
1 year ago

I wonder how this holds up against my current nas – a j1900-based system. I guess the hbm (8x sata) would be a lot slower, but lower power

Willy
1 year ago

I/Os are generally not good on new boards as it takes time to make use of all acceleration features in various controllers (DMA, PCIe, ethernet etc). In general the initial focus is on getting them to boot, then to be flashable from the OS itself (to avoid rebooting to the bootloader) then to stabilize CPU and power management to make sure the board doesn’t need to be rerouted differently, then to get something displayed in order to spread the word on hardware reviews sites, and only then to try to get I/O to work better.

tkaiser
tkaiser
1 year ago

What people measured so far with JH7110 and PCIe (NVMe SSDs) is underwhelming (for potential reasons see Willy’s explanation though maybe a hard bandwidth limitation exists).

With a ‘GbE bottlenecked NAS’ most probably performance is pretty much the same. And your J1900 features only four Gen2 PCIe lanes, on a NAS at least one is used for a NIC so any SATA HBA in addition to native SATA ports will be Gen2 x2 connected at best.

Jeroen
Jeroen
1 year ago

Lets hope they will also sell this in the eu shop.

tkaiser
tkaiser
1 year ago

Somewhat unlikely since the EU store is for selling Pine64 consumer products (including warranty handling, return policy and so on).

The Star64 at this point in time is quite the opposite of a consumer product. It’s a vehicle to improve RISC-V software support situation.

Jeroen
Jeroen
1 year ago

Don’t think there is any difference in warenty in this case, the eu just wants 2 years for all electronics if i am not mistaken.

For me its i just don’t want the hassle of import handeling costs etc, don’t mind paying the tax and vat, its just the extra cost and troubles for the import.

tkaiser
tkaiser
1 year ago

> Don’t think there is any difference in warenty in this case, the eu just wants 2 years

And you get 30 days in Pine64’s official store. Also imagine some weird EU consumer buying Star64 right now and then asking for refund and publicly throwing dirt at the company for not delivering ‘a working OS’ while the whole Star64 journey at this point in time is just enabling developers to get their hands on real and affordable RISC-V silicon (and this is just the start).

mark
mark
1 year ago

Sold out within a couple of hours! What does that say about the new platform?

I hope they fall into the hands of developers who can get the OS(s) to boot easily.

tkaiser
tkaiser
1 year ago

> I hope they fall into the hands of developers who can get the OS(s) to boot easily.

OS(s) fortunately don’t matter if it’s about booting. This is basic kernel/driver stuff and StarFive’s 5.15 branch works pretty well with JH7110 devices (regardless whether they’re called Star64 or VisionFive 2 or whatever).
To get an idea about upstream software efforts: https://rvspace.org/en/project/JH7110_Upstream_Plan (if this happens at the same speed as with ARM then 2028 will be an interesting year 😉 )

mark
mark
1 year ago

Thanks for the link.

I just learnt that Pine64 are planning to bring out a RISC-V version of their PineTab using this chip, priced $160. Interesting times.

Pete
Pete
1 year ago

Hi Mark,

PineTab-V was mentioned in their blog. People suspected it was an April Fools joke, ‘Powered by unicorns and candyfloss’.

mark
mark
1 year ago

Well I wouldn’t know one way or the other, but Brad Linder over on Liliputing seems to think it’s real :

“First unveiled in an April 1st post on the Pine64 blog, it was unclear at first whether the tablet was an April Fools’ Day joke. But the company has since revealed that the PineTab-V is real and it will be available for purchase starting April 11th for $159 and up.”
https://liliputing.com/pinetab-v-is-a-159-tablet-with-a-risc-v-processor-and-virtually-no-software-support/

I guess we’ll find out on 4/11.

Khadas VIM4 SBC