The Milk-V Meles is a single-board computer that could easily be mistaken for a Raspberry Pi Model B. It’s the same size and has a similar set of ports. But instead of an ARM-based processor, the Meles has a 2 GHz T-Head TH1520 quad-core processor based on RISC-V architecture.

It’s the latest addition to a growing line of RISC-V computers from Milk-V, and the Meles is expected to go on sale soon for $99 and up.

Milk-V Meles

The little little computer comes with 8GB or 16GB of LPDDR4x-4266 memory and features an eMMC slot and microSD card reader for storage.

Ports and connectors include:

  • 1 x HDMI 2.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 4 x USB 3.0 host ports
  • 1  x USB 2.0 Type-C port
  • 1 x 3.5mm audio jack
  • 1 x 40-pin GPIO header
  • 1 x MIPI-DSI 4-lane display connector with touchscreen support
  • 1 x 4-lane MIPI-CSI camera input
  • 1 x 2-lane MIPI-CSI input

The 85 x 56mm board supports WiFi 5 and Bluetooth 5.2 and it’s designed for use with a 5V/4A USB Type-C power adapter.

This is actually the second Raspberry Pi-sized computer from Milk-V. The other is the Milk-V Mars, which is the same size, but has a much lower starting price of $39, and a few key differences.

For example, that starting price is for a model with 2GB of RAM. The company also lists 4GB and 8GB versions, but there’s no 16GB model. The Mars has a 1.5 GHz SiFive JH7110 quad-core processor instead of a T-Head TH1520 chip. And the Mars lacks built-in support for WiFi and Bluetooth, but it does have an M.2 E-Key connector that allows you to add your own wireless card.

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  1. A clone should be indistinguishable from the original. This is a risc-v which means it is not a clone.

  2. 1 x HDMI 2.0
    1 x Gigabit Ethernet
    4 x USB 3.0 host ports
    so nothing to comment..
    Yes it has Risc-V cpu but other spec is old. It should has:
    1 x HDMI 2.1 (not necessary if has USB4)
    2 x Gigabit Ethernet
    1 x USB 3.2 host ports
    1 x USB4 host ports
    and so on

    1. Valid points but its apparent that Milk-V are aiming to sell cheaper RISC-V devices that match the Raspberry Pi form factor so if you want the better I/O or peripherals you can always try the StarFive Vision 2 or newer Sipeed Lichee Pi4A but expect to pay more or significantly more as is the case with the Pi4A.

  3. I for one am very curious to see what the software support is going to be for this board? I can’t imagine it will be very good.

    A number of years ago I picked up what I thought was a killer deal on an off brand SBC. Only to find out that seemingly nothing I wanted to do with it was possible because it used an Allwinner chip.

    At the time I thought that all ARM chips could run anything the others could just maybe not as fast. Like it is with x86/64. Boy was I wrong! To top it off there was no detailed documentation of how everything was implemented on this chip. It was a mess and taught me if I’m after anything more than a toy, to be cautious.

    1. In theory at least, this board uses the same chip as in the ROMA laptop, Sipeed LM4A and LicheePi 4A, Andy BeagleV Ahead boards so hopefully there should be a fair degree of support.

      What Amlogic chip did you have on that board? There are full Linux OS images for some SBCs with Amlogic chips, such as on the Radxa Zero and Libre Computer Sweet Potato, as well as Core/Libre/EmuELEC images for various Amlogic-based Android TV boxes.

  4. I like that it uses the Pi 1-3 layout with a full-sized HDMI port.

    I wish the Raspberry Pi folks had stuck with this layout, and made the USB-C port support an alt-mode for video output rather than going with micro-HDMI ports on the Pi 4 (especially when they use mini-HDMI on the Pi Zero!)

    1. I agree. The use of Micro-HDMI was the only thing that kept me from buying a Pi 4.

      The pricing for Micro-HDMI cables/adapters seems to have come down since the Pi 4 launched, but back when it launched it was like $30 CAD minimum for an adapter here in Canada.

    2. I don’t like micro-HDMI either. The connection is fiddly and unreliable. I’ve also never driven two displays from my Raspberry Pis, so I’m not getting any advantage out of the second port.

      I agree that a full-function USB-C port would be a great addition. The ability to drive a Nexdock or USB-C monitor with just one connection would be very handy.

    3. They wanted dual video output on the board. It was becoming very popular for inexpensive digital signage in the education and marketing sector. A school can buy a Pi 4 with 2 Walmart TV’s for most use cases, instead of spending several thousands for proprietary solutions like before for school postings around the campus. Trying to utilize the usbc for the second output as well as power input would add engineering complexity to account for different vendor usbc fancier implementations. Look at what happened when some people used their Apple adapters just for power. Why deal with that headache knowing many non technical users would likely run into such problems when you are producing a cheap $35 board. Keep it simple. Have the ports only as signal out. So the only room was 2 micro hdmi ports.

  5. Someone Somewhere should do a table or graph, comparing the performance architectures between ARM and RISC-V.

    How are enthusiasts supposed to know the performance profile of a TH1520, let alone consumers.

    ARM v8 can be categorised from 2014 to 2021. Example by Performance at node-parity : Cortex A35, A53, A55, A57, A73, A72, A75, A76, A77, A78, X1.

    Or by Efficiency at node-parity : Cortex A57, A55, A53, X1, A72, A75, A73, A77, A76, A78, A35.

    1. This is going to be much worse as there will be a lot of differente RISC-V cores, much more than ARM, and each one will use the names-number they want.

      In ARM it isn’t as easy as you say because a lot of them use own ARM designed cores (for example Cotrex-xx) but there are a lot of manufactures (most of them fabless) who design their own ARM cores and only use ARM instruction set design: for example Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, etc.

      With so many CPU/cores with different implementation desgin, and options inside what extensions/capabilities they includde from RISC-V ISA (note than on RISC-V each one can add what they want to same base ISA, or even include some custom extensions), this can be crazy. The only half solution would be to watch detailed sepecs and benchmarks, and you know benchmarks some times don’t show real life performance.

      PD: In ARM there is also a lot of different “extensions” from ISA, but as ARM rules it, they are more or less clear by application target.

  6. Ahhh sweet I hadn’t seen photos of the Meles before your post; I’d only seen the Autoshape-like renders!

    Quite surprised by the 4A power requirement – is that due to having 4 x USB3-A ports?