The BeagleV Starlight single-board computer was supported to be an affordable development platform for folks who wanted to get started with RISC-V architecture. Expected to sell for under $150, the BeagleV project was first announced in January and boards were expected to begin shipping in April.
But the BeagleV Starlight never went into mass production, although some prototypes were shipped to developers. Now the board is considered a prototype, and the project has been closed. But the folks at BeagleBoard say they’re working with Seeed Studio on a new RISC-V board that could be ready to ship in the first quarter of 2022.
There are few details available about that upcoming board, and virtually no information about why the BeagleV Starlight board was cancelled. But BeagleBoard’s Drew Fustini made both announcements in a brief post at the BeagleBoard forum.
The discontinued Starlight board was designed around a 1.5 GHz SiFive U74 dual-core processor based on the open standard RISC-V architecture and delivering performance that’s roughly on par with an ARM Cortex-A55 processor.
It was supposed to feature 8GB of LPDDR4 memory, HDMI, Ethernet, audio, and USB ports, plus support for WiFi 4 and Bluetooth 4.2 wireless connections, MIPI-CSI and MIPI-DSI connectors for cameras and displays, and a 40-pin GPIO connector.
The SiFive U74 system-on-a-chip also includes a neural engine for hardware-accelerated AI, but the system lacked a dedicated GPU, which would have made it tough to use for video, gaming, or graphics applications. Still, as a development platform, it would have been one of the more affordable, versatile RISC-V solutions available… if it had ever become widely available.
Maybe the next BeagleV device will deliver on that promise if and when it ships.
August 4, 2021 Update: StarFive, the company behind the JH7100 processor used in the BeagleV Starlight, says it’s working with Radxa to produce a new single-board computer featuring the same chip. It’s expected to launch by the end of Q3, 2021.
via BeagleV and CNX Software
In an interesting development, StarFive have issued a press release, saying that they will release a single board computer by the end of Q3 2021, with the next-generation JH7110 chip and GPU.
Huh, thanks for the heads up. I wonder if this has anything to do with the Starlight being canceled. Like maybe StarFive had another deal lined up and that scuppered the BeagleV partnership.
Well – on the face of it, it seems like this is StarFive committing to carrying on the project. So far as I know, Beagleboard haven’t publicly given any reason for pulling out.
iirc, the commercial board was going to have a SiFive CPU and an Imagination GPU… This looks to still be using StarFive’s JH7100, with an unspecified GPU.
I’m witnessing RISC-V move from a CPU-processor into a NPU-processor. So instead of being the “heart” of a computer, it’s becoming a “helper” coprocessor for AI/ML/Neural related tasks. That’s smart from a business and financial perspective, since there’s very little competition in that space and lots of funding.
Making it a new CPU is harder, bigger hurdles, and less funding when the established competitors are around (AMD, Intel, ARM). Which is rather sad when RISC/MIPS processors are fading out, where even IBM has left the market, x86 is hitting a plateau, and ARM may become regulated (Nvidia).
The defacto CPU is now going to be ARMv9. We’ll probably see a few niche RISC-V products as the CPU, but their innovations will be common as NPUs either integrated into the motherboard, the CPU-block, or inside a dGPU. Especially for popular tasks like RealTime RayPath Tracing, or Camera image processing. That seems to be the direction even Jim Keller is going.
There seems to be a consensus around heterogeneous computing being the model going forward, and RISC-V is certainly a part of that, with billions of cores already deployed in all manner of devices, including high-end consumer products.
And there is much interest in (and money being thrown at) RISC-V for emerging technologies – it seems the simple, clean, and free-to-riff-on extensibility of the ISA has some real advantages.
But open hardware CPUs are advancing too, with efforts like T-Head’s XuanTie C906 and XT910, and ICT’s XiangShan not being too far off the pace. We’re beginning to see RISC-V SoCs running Linux, AOSP and HaikuOS.
This is disappointing news to anyone following RISC-V, and willing on its progress – 2021 is supposed to be the Year of the RISC-V SBC, and Starlight was a big part of that.
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