SiFive’s HiFive Unmatched is a computer powered by the company’s Freedom U740 processor, the most powerful RISC-V processor commercially available at the moment.
But there are a few changes: instead of shipping with 8GB of RAM, the system will feature 16GB. And because of that change, it’s now expected to ship in the first quarter of 2021 rather than the third quarter of 2020.
Other specs remain largely unchanged, so the HiFive Unmatched is still a PC motherboard with SiFive’s 5-core RISC-V processor and:
- 16GB DDR4 memory (embedded, not upgradeable)
- x16 PCIe Gen 3 Expansion Slot (eight lanes usable)
- M.2 Key M Slot (PCIe Gen 3 x4) for NVMe 2280 SSD
- M.2 Key E Slot (PCIe Gen 3 x1) for Wi-Fi / Bluetooth
- Header for FU740 I/O (I2C, SPI, QSPI, GPIO)
- 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A ports (1 charging port)
- 1 x Micro USB UART/JTAG connector
- MicroSD card socket
- 10/100/1000 Ethernet
- 32 MB Quad SPI boot flash
- 256 KB EEPROM (for manufacturing data)
- 24-pin ATX power supply connector
The system is a mini ITX board that measures about 6.7″ x 6.7″ (170mm x 170mm) and comes with a 32GB microSD card loaded with software and accessories that will allow you to mount the computer board in a mini ITX-compatible case.
You’ll need to supply your own M.2 2280 NVMe SSD, wireless card, GPU, and power supply.
RISC-V architecture is designed to be a open and royalty-free competitor to proprietary chip designs like x86_64 and those from ARM Holdings. But even with an open standard, it takes a certain amount of expertise to actually produce chips based on RISC-V architecture, and that’s where companies like SiFive come in.
The company was founded in 2015 and has been one of the leaders in the RISC-V space in recent years, producing a number of processors and related products. While the HiFive Unmatched is one of the company’s most versatile solutions to date, since it can be used in a standard PC case with standard PC components (a list of validated hardware is coming soon), it’s still designed more as a platform for developers and early adopters/enthusiasts than for general users.