Alibaba T-Head TH1520 user manuals released

Further Alibaba T-Head TH1520 quad-core RISC-V processor documentation has been released with nine user manuals covering video and audio processing, peripheral interfaces, memory interfaces, system registers, and the built-in NPU for video acceleration.

We first noted the TH1520 RISC-V SoC in the expensive web3-focused ROMA laptop in October 2022, but since then there have been some very interesting developments with the release of Sipeed’s Lichee Pi 4A SBC and various other platforms based on the LM4A system-on-module plus the’s BeagleV Ahead. Both boards also have preliminary support in mainline Linux with the Lichee Pi 4A making it to Linux 6.5, and the BeagleV Ahead was added to the just-released Linux 6.6 kernel.

Alibaba T-Head TH1520 user manualsHowever I had not noticed documentation for the processor was not released publicly until now as both Sipeed and have now made available nine user manuals in English, and the Sipeed link has the Chinese versions as well.

Here’s a quick overview of the nine user manuals:

  • TH1520 Audio Processing User Manual.pdf – 141 pages – Documentation for CPR (Component Parameter Register?), I2S, TDM, VAD, and SPDIF
  • TH1520 Memory Interface User Manual.pdf – 261 pages – Documentation for SRAMC, LPDDR4, eMMC/SD, and QSPI
  • TH1520 NPU User Manual.pdf – 12 pages – Not much there… just a quick overview and description of the capabilities of the AI accelerator, as well as a diagram of the processing order and a 7-step NPU usage procedure.
  • TH1520 Peripheral Interface User Manual.pdf – 375 pages – Documentation for the GMAC, USB, MPJTAG, ADC, I2S (again), PWM, I2C, UART, and GPIO
  • TH1520 System User Manual.pdf – 1,240 pages – Documentation for the address map, interrupts, pinmux, clock, reset, low power modes, Boot, Processors (C910, C906 and E902), DSP, MBOX, RTC, WDT, Timers, DMAC, PVT, System Configuration, and BMU (Bus Monitor Unit)
  • TH1520 Video CODEC User Manual.pdf – 14 pages – Basic video decoder and video encoder documentation
  • TH1520 Video Image Processing User Manual.pdf – 18 pages – Basic documentation for the 3D GPU (BXM-4-64), G2D 2D graphics accelerator, and DEWARP processors
  • TH1520 Video Input User Manual.pdf – 85 pages – Documentation for MIPI CSI, VIPRE (GLUE, MIPI2DMA and MUX logic), ISP, and IVS (handshake interaction between ISP and VENC)
  • TH1520 Video Output User Manual.pdf – 37 pages – Documentation for the DPU, HDMI, and MIPI DSI

Those documents would usually be useful for people writing drivers for the SoC and most user manuals describe the registers with basic usage instructions. While it’s great to have some public documentation, I feel that many of those documents don’t provide enough details to be really useful, especially the documents related to the video blocks for the TH1520 processors.

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1 Comment
David Willmore
David Willmore
6 months ago

This is great to see! It’s using the pre-release vector unit T-Head processors, so I’ll never consider buying it, but it’s nice to see this level of documentation for a SoC from any vendor at all.

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