The first single-board computers powered by an Allwinner Xuantie-C906 processor could be set to ship soon. The chip isn’t exactly a speed demon, but it is expected to be one of the most affordable processors based on RISC-V open chip architecture.
Earlier this year Pine64 announced it was developing a single-board computer (SBC) featuring the C906 processor that could sell for less than $15. And now CNX Software notes that chip maker Allwinner also plans to begin shipping its own single-board computer featuring the chip in May.
Late last year we learned that the Allwinner board would support Debian Linux and have a starting price as low as $13, which could make it an affordable entry point for developers looking to get started working with RISC-V hardware.
If you’re looking for a high-performance, general-purpose computer, you may still be better off picking up a SiFive HiFive Unmatched, which is a mini-ITX motherboard with one of the most powerful RISC-V processors to date. But while pre-orders for that board opened in late 2020, it’s not currently expected to ship until June, 2021. And with a $665 price tag, it’s also a lot more expensive than the Allwinner and/or Pine64 boards.
The upcoming BeagleV single-board computer with a RISC-V processor should be more affordable, with an expected price tag of $150 or less. But that’s still ten times the price of Allwinner’s entry-level model.
Just don’t expect these sub-$15 boards to offer the same level of performance as the HiFive Unatched or BeagleV. At the heart of the Allwinner SBC will be an Allwinner D1 system-on-a-chip that features:
- 1 GHz XuanTie C906 single-core 64-bit processor
- HiFi4 digital signal processor
- G2D 2D graphics accelerator
The computer will support up to 1GB of DDR3 memory and up to 256MB of onboard flash storage plus a microSD card reader for additional storage. But according to @SipeedIO, entry-level models may have as little as 32MB or 64MB of RAM and folks who want 1GB may have to pay $50 or more. Prices are said to be higher than anticipated due to the increase in chip prices caused by the global semiconductor shortage.
With support for HDMI 1.4 ([email protected] output), MIPI DSI ([email protected] touchscreen support), Gigabit Ethernet, and USB 2.0 Type-A and Type-C ports, the board should be versatile, if not particularly fast. It also has a 40-pin GPIO connector, 4-pin UART header, a 3.5mm audio jack, and support for 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth.
The system is about the same size as a business card (or a Raspberry Pi), measuring 85mm x 56mm (3.35″ x 2.2″).
You can find more details at CNX Software, with even more likely to come next week when Allwinner officially launches the Allwinner D1 single-board computer.