The RISC V universe should soon receive a powerful ally in its democratization : a low-cost development board called PicoRio. Developed by the RIOS Lab and supported by Imagination (read further), this mini motherboard will integrate five RISC V cores (a group of 4 hearts 64 bit and a heart 32 very low power bit).
A bit like the Raspberry Pi in the ARM world, the future PicoRio card could start the creation of a software ecosystem that the instruction set architecture needs. Because even if RISC V has the wind in its sails due to its open source side (compared to x86 and ARM which are proprietary), his universe is very poor for the moment, both in software and hardware.
What if giants like Western Digital can afford to develop their own chips (hard drive controllers), students and other computer researchers are not necessarily ready to spend a few hundred or even thousands of dollars to acquire platforms that we know will only be used to serve the development of the ecosystem.
Engraved in 28 nm and initially clocked at 500 MHz, the "Pygmy" SoC (pygmy in english) will obviously not target performance, but will be an excellent inexpensive entry point to start concrete development. And the first task of the developers will be, according to PicoRio officials, port and compile existing Linux software on RISC V.
In the current context of the Sino-American war over semiconductors, the RIOS Lab (RISC-V International Open Source Laboratory) looks like a UFO. The controls, we indeed find TBSI, an institute located in Shenzhen bringing together two renowned universities : the American Berkeley and the Chinese Tsinghua. But as strong as their researchers and their students are, the development of an SoC requires a lot of resources.
So, the first version of PicoRio which should be released by the end of the year will be a chip without graphics (GPU). Fortunately, from version 2.0 planned current 2021, the SoC will be equipped with a GPU signed by Imagination Technologies, the company that designed and designs (again) GPUs for Apple's ARM chips.
A strong support since Imagination Technologies is the one that gave its letters of nobility to the development of high performance and low consumption graphics chips in the ARM universe, the famous Power VR. And the company seems to want, by this cooperation, ensure its position as master graphic designer of the on-board.
No tariff, no availability date has been announced for the PicoRio 1.0, but the first cards could be marketed by the end of the year.
RISC-V, Reduced instruction set computer, Raspberry Pi
World news – FR – With PicoRio, the RISC V ecosystem will soon have its Raspberry Pi