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Sipeed’s Lichee Pi 4A is a compact computer that the company says offers better performance than a Raspberry Pi 4. But it has a few key features that set it apart from Raspberry Pi’s devices. First, the  Lichee Pi 4A is powered by a RISC-V processor. Second, it supports up to 16GB of RAM. And third, that memory and storage is actually part of a LM4A system-on-a-module that connects to the Pi 4A carrier board.

That same module could be used to power other products and Sipeed is already working on LM4A-powered tablets, routers, cluster boards, and even a phone-sized device. First announced in December, 2022, the Sipeed Lichee Pi 4A is now available for purchase for $119 and up.

At the heart of the LM4A module is an Alibaba T-Head TH1520 processor. It’s a 12nm RISC-V chip with Xuantie C910, C906, and E902 cores, and up to 4 TOPS of AI performance.

The module also supports up  to 16GB of LPDDR4x-3733 memory and up to 128GB of eMMC storage, among other things.

Prices for the module + carrier board range from $119 to $179, depending on the memory and storage configurations:

  • 8GB RAM + 8GB eMMC storage for $119
  • 8GB RAM + 32GB eMMC storage for $135
  • 16GB RAM + 128GB eMMC storage for $179

You can also buy optional accessories from the same link, including a power adapter, camera, PoE module, or a 10.1 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel display.

The LM4A module is designed to slot into carrier boards like a stick of RAM, and the first board to support the module is the Lichee Pi 4A, which provides plenty of I/O options including;

  • 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports (with PoE support)
  • 4 x USB 3.0 Type-A (5 Gbps) ports)
  • 1 x HDMI 2.0 (4K/60fps support)
  • 1 x 3.5mm audio
  • 1 x 20-pin header
  • 1 x USB 2.0 Type-C (power only)
  • 1 x microSD card reader
  • 1 x 5V/2A DC power input

The carrier board also features a WiFi & Bluetooth adapter and MIPI-DSI and MIPI-CSI connectors for displays and cameras.

Sipeed says the system supports Debian, Android, and OpenWRT operating systems for the little board (which measures 103 x 85mm (4.1″ x 3.3″).

The company says it’s also begun planning for other LM4A-powered products including:

  • Lichee Pad 4A with a 10.1 inch display
  • Lichee Phone 4A with a 6 inch screen
  • Lichee Router 4A with a compact chassis, antenna, and optional WiFi 6 support
  • Lichee Cluster 4A mini ITX board with slots for up to 7 LMA4 modules, 8-port Gigabit Ethernet switch, and individual SB and SD cards for each module

Update: As noted by LinMOB, SiPeed has ended plans for the LicheePhone, but still plans to produce a LicheePad tablet as well as a LicheeBook laptop computer.

thanks Mark!

via @SipeedIO (1)(2) and LinuxGizmos

This article was first published December 26, 2022 and most recently updated July 9, 2023 to reflect global availability. 

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  1. What are the mechanical drawing spacings for those mounting holes on the Sipeed LM4A? Is a low profile ice tower cooling fan and heat exchanger available for that?

  2. 2 x Gigabit Ethernet ports (with PoE support) <- (2,5 Gb ?)
    4 x USB 3.0 Type-A (5 Gbps) ports) <- why not one port inType C with (10 Gbps)
    1 x HDMI 2.0 (4K/60fps support) <- Why not 2.1v or DP 2.1 !!!!
    No info about nvme controller so no NAS perspective..

  3. I’ll believe the phone both exists and works when I see it. Trying to break free of the duopolies that rule over us has been a path filled with unending let-downs, failures, and in general, things that make you look stupid for supporting.

    1. I’m with you on this one. An SBC, I believe it. A router (SBC in a box with an antenna), easy enough. A smartphone setup for it would be a really big move as would a tablet. They’ve been niche for some time, and I’ve heard a lot more people talk about making one than actually make one.

      1. The tablet doesn’t seem that big, does it? I guess it means graphics hw (and linux drivers that run on RISC-V). I agree the smartphone seems extremely aspirational, though.

        The SBC / ‘Compute Module + carrier’ seems totally doable, though it’s kind of spendy, I am also a little surprised they didn’t go with the near-standard 2×20 GPIO, I guess they don’t see hobbyists as much of a market.

        1. The hardware is not the issue. China pumps out hundreds of models of cheap, shitty smartphones that nonetheless do their job. It’s the software, and especially the app ecosystem, that’s so far proven impossible to duplicate thus far

  4. Seems they need to get real world samples out in order to alay customers trust issue s. Either truth founded or not.

  5. Runs AndroidOS, DebianOS and OpenWRT
    Stated to be faster than the RPi 4B
    Has all the ports

    …seems very ambitious and I’m skeptical. But I wish them all the luck. Getting AOSP and Debian means that other Android Systems can be ported, and other Linux Distributions. I’m still skeptical of its final performance, since RISC-V has been mostly unkept promises, but again I wish them good luck.

  6. 😀 I REALLY like what Sipeed are doing with this SoM and docker boards, and I wish them well with it.

    I think 2023’s going to be the year of the RISC-V SBC – especially since Eben has decided to take a pass on a Pi 5 next year!

    It’s also got to be the year of software getting rebased for RISC-V though, in order to make boards like this attractive to techies as well as devs.

  7. I really like the Sipeed Gowin fgpa boards. Good quality and well thought out boards. I’m not interested in Riscv software so I will pass on this board.