The easiest way to explain what RISC-V is is qualify it as the Linux of processors. This Open Source architecture is a challenge to the proprietary approaches that companies such as Intel, AMD or ARM have always raised – which in the past acted in a debatable way to discredit this project – and although its arrival on the market is being difficult, efforts that are giving promise to those seeking alternatives.
SiFive is the most popular company in this field, and they have just launched the HiFive Unmatched, a board with everything necessary for users to work with this architecture and with this concept for the first time thanks to its Linux support.
A motherboard unlike any other
The design, careful, it does not come cheap: it will appear during this fourth quarter of the year and will do it for 665 dollars, and whoever pays them will not find a desktop PC or a laptop to use, but with that plate in the style of the Raspberry Pi but with a somewhat different ambition and orientation.
The SiFive company is generating a lot of interest in this industry. Intel and Qualcomm – among others – invested 61 million dollars in this company, which has seen a former director of Qualcomm, Patrick Little, become its CEO to achieve something very complicated: make SiFive an alternative to ARM.
This development could be an interesting way to help drive this entire platform and this theoretical revolution. The SiFive HiFive Unmatched features a SiFive FU740 processor (four SiFive U74 cores and one S7), and the board adopts a mini-ITX format to allow easy integration into a PC in this format.
In fact SiFive also adds some industry standard connectors on that board. Thus, we have the ATX connector for the power supply, PCIe expansion, one GbE port, two M.2 ports (one for SSD and one for a WiFi / BT module) or USB ports.
The processor is accompanied by 8 GB of DDR4 memory and a microSD slot from which it is possible to start a Linux operating system that supports this architecture and that allows users to work with these “teams” and be able to begin to propose their developments in this new and unique concept of processor and PC.