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Earlier this summer Sipeed launched the Lichee Pi 4A computer board powered by a system-on-a-module with a quad-core RISC-V processor. At the time, Sipeed also announced plans to release a bunch of other products powered by the same module, including a mini-laptop, tablet, and cluster board.

The laptop and tablet went up for pre-order recently. And now Sipeed is taking orders for the Lichee Cluster 4A board that lets you combine up to 7 Lichee 4A modules for more horsepower when applied to tasks that support parallel processing. Basically it turns a bunch of little computers with quad-core chips into a single system with as many as 28 RISC-V processor cores.

At the moment Sipeed isn’t selling the Lichee Cluster 4A as a standalone product, so it’s kind of expensive. Prices start at $929 for a cluster board paired with 7 Lichee Module 4A boards with 8GB of RAM and 32GB of storage each. You can also pay $1239 for a bundle that includes 7 boards with 16GB of memory and 128GB of storage, and/or spend a little more if you want a chassis with a built-in handle that makes it a little easier to transport the system.

The cluster board measures 170 x 170mm (6.7″ x 6.7″), which means it should also fit in just about any computer case designed for mini ITX boards.

But unlike most PC boards, the Lichee Cluster 4A has 260-pin SODIMM slots for up to 7 of the company’s LM4A systems-on-a-module, each of which has an Alibabab TH1520 processor with four 1.85 GHz T-Head C910 processors based on RISC-V architecture.

Each module also features an Imagination BXM-4-64 GPU and a neural processing unit with up to 4 TOPS of INT8 performance.

Since each module also supports up to 16GB of LPDDR4X memory and up to 128GB of eMMC storage, the Cluster 4A supports up to a total of 112GB of memory and up to 896GB of eMMC storage. But there’s also support for external storage devices including SD cards or USB hard drives or SSD.

Ports include:

  • 7 x USB 3.0 (one for each board)
  • 7 x microSD ports (one for each port)
  • 1 x USB 2.0 port (for Baseboard Management Controller or BMC)
  • 1 x HDMI port (for video output from slot 1)
  • 3 x Ethernet ports (1 x GbE for slot 1, 1 x GbE switch, and 1 x 10/100 for BMC)

Sipeed says the cluster board requires at least a 60W power supply, but suggests you use 90W or higher for best performance.

Other features include support for a CR2032 RTC battery, seven 5V fan interfaces and a single 12V fan interface for a larger, higher-performance fan, and a 24-pin ATX power socket.

According to Sipeed, the system support Debian Linux-based software.

via Sipeed and AliExpress

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  1. Hopefully slot #1 SD card is the only one needed (all other slots can network boot from slot #1). It would be cool to see if they can implement NVMe/TCP storage (have a FPGA connected to the Switch and SSD).

    1. All the boards have eMMC, so even if they don’t have network booting, you would not need to have an SD card if you put your image on that. It doesn’t even have to be your full image, just enough to retrieve and boot the rest from a network. I’m not sure if they have modules without storage, but if they did, they would be obvious choices for this cluster and they’re not selling that combination for now.

  2. Typo/error in the “Ports included:” section BMC ethernet port is listed twice,
    in Ethernet ports group and on its own. Making it look like they are 4 instead of 3.

    It has both DC power input socket and 24-pin ATX power socket
    How that even works?