The Nezha single-board computer is about the size of a Raspberry Pi, but instead of an ARM-based processor, this little computer is powered by a chip that uses RISC-V architecture.

It’s not a very powerful chip, but with a $99 price tag and support for Linux, the Nezha is one of the most affordable options for developers and hobbyists who want to begin working with RISC-V.

The Nezha is available for pre-order from AliExpress or Indiegogo for $99 and up, and it should ship in June.

We actually got an early look at this little computer in April, when images and details started making the rounds. But pricing hadn’t been revealed at that point, and neither had the official name.

Now we know that the Nezha’s feature set includes:

  • Allwinner D1 XuanTie C906 1 GHz single-core RISC-V 64-bit processor
  • HiFi 4 DSP
  • G2D 2D graphics accelerator
  • 1GB DDR3 memory
  • 256MB SPI NAND flash storage
  • microSD card reader
  • HDMI 1.4 (4K @ 30 Hz or 1080p @ 60 Hz)
  • 3.5mm audio jackk
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • WiFi 4
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 1 x USB 2.0 port
  • 1 x USB Type-C OTG port
  • 1 x USB Type-C 5V/2A power input
  • 40-pin GPIO header
  • MIPI DSI display & touch panel connector

The board measures 85mm x 56mm (3.34″ x 2.2″), making it about the same size as a Raspberry Pi Model B, but it’s pricier and less powerful. The key reason to buy something like the Nezha board isn’t because you’re looking for a higher-performance device or a better value, but because you want to begin dabbling in RISC-V architecture.

The $99 starting price for the Nezha board includes a microSD card with Debian 11 Linux image pre-installed, but the system can also support Tina, an embedded Linux distribution designed for IoT devices and forked from the OpenWRT project.

Allwinner says it’s working on bringing mainline Linux support, and developers are also working to port other operating systems including Fedora, Gentoo, and Ubuntu to work with Nezha.

You can also pick up a bundle featuring a Nezha board plus accessories during the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign:

  • $109 Nezha Vision Suite comes with a 720p USB camera
  • $116 Nezha Audio Suite comes with a microphone array featuring 6 digital mics, 12 serial RGB LED lights, and five buttons
  • $149 Nezha Panel Suite comes with an 8 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel IPS LCD touchscreen display panel
  • $170 Nezha Full Suite has all of the accessories mentioned above

If you order from AliExpres, you have a choice of picking up a $99 basic package that includes a 32GB SD card, power adapter, heat sink, acrylic case, and cables, or a $115 upgrade pack that also includes a USB camera, light sensor, and atmospheric intensity sensor.

Clearly the Nezha is positioned as a development platform for IoT projects.

via CNX Software

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3 replies on “Nezha is a $99 single-board PC with a RISC-V processor”

  1. Christian Stewart has produced a SkiffOS image for Sipeed’s Nezha RISC-V SBC (based on the open sourced XuanTie906). It runs Docker and Alpine Linux.

    “Even though it’s a single processor core at 1ghz with 500mb of ram, I’m already able to build + push skiff-core Alpine, Ubuntu, and soon Gentoo. It’s actually quite a lot faster and more responsive than expected, I have to say.”

  2. Not planning to buy one, but it would be interesting to see if the latest Ubuntu compiles and runs decently on this board. I hope they win the high school science fair this year.

    1. Ubuntu has pre-built disk images for RISC-V for 20.04.2 LTS and 21.04.

      The same Linux kernel runs on all (64 bit) RISC-V hardware. The FSBL and U-Boot are responsible for setting up the hardware and installing “OpenSBI”, a BIOS-like software layer that provides services to the Linux kernel.

      Using a generic RISC-V Ubuntu (or other) requires:

      copying kernel extensions from a D1 distro (TINA or Debian) and inserting them into the same directories in the Ubuntu root file system
      replacing the TINA or Debian root file system partition with your Ubuntu one, keeping the U-boot+OpenSBI partition.

      Someone is sure to have pre-done Ubuntu images available shortly.

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