The first laptop powered by a processor that uses RISC-V architecture is up for pre-order. The “Roma” laptop comes from a collaboration between China’s DeepComputing and Xcalibyte. It’s expected to begin shipping toward the end of the fourth quarter of 2022.
For now it appears to be aimed at developers looking to build and test software on a native RISC-V computer, but it could pave the way for future laptops (and other devices) designed for the general public.
At the heat of the Roma computer is a system-on-a-module (SOM) featuring an “unannounced” quad-core RISC-V processor both a GPU and NPU for hardware-accelerated graphics and AI.
The companies plan to offer a choice of 12nm (Pro) or 28nm (Standard) chips at launch, but the SOM is removable and upgradable, allowing users to switch from one to the other or possibly even upgrade to a higher-performance processor in the future.
In fact, Xcalibyte says the developer-centric computer “comes with free RISC-V SoC and SOM upgrades as well as early access to any next generation laptop and accessory upgrades, along with a generous discount”.
Other features of the laptop include support for up to 16GB of LPDDR4/LPDDR4X memory, up to 256GB of storage, and an ARM SC3000 secure enclave. The companies say the computer supports “most Linux variants.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve head about a RISC-V laptop. last month CNX Software reported that Chinese RISC-V chip designer StarFive had been asking people to fill out a survey about their interest in RISC-V laptops, mini PCs, or single-board computers. It’s unclear if that project is related to the Roma computer or if the new laptop from DeepComputing and Xcalibyte is a separate project.
According to the laptop announcement, the Roma computer was designed with support from RISC-V International, and Linux news site Phoronix says they were first tipped off about the new laptop by a contact at RISC-V International, giving a bit of credibility to the project.
It’s said to only be available in limited quantities at launch. Folks who are interested in pre-ordering can register their interest at the Roma website.
Update: This article originally suggested that the laptop would only be available in China. But a PR contact reached out to let me know that it will ship to customers in other countries as well.