Seeed Studios – the makers of the Odyssey mini PC we reviewed in August – have teamed up with well-known SBC vendor BeagleBoard to produce an affordable RISC-V system designed to run Linux.
The new BeagleV system (pronounced “Beagle Five”) features a dual-core, 1GHz RISC-V CPU made by StarFive – one of a network of RISC-V startups created by better-known RISC-V vendor SiFive . The CPU is based on two of SiFive’s U74 Standard Cores – and unlike simpler microcontroller-only designs, it features an MMU and all the other bells and whistles needed to run full-fledged modern operating systems such as Linux distributions.
StarFive’s VIC7100 processor design is aimed at both edge AI tasks and general use. In addition to the two RISC-V CPU cores, it features a Tensilica Vision VP6 DSP for machine vision applications, a Neural Network Engine, and a single-core NVDLA (Nvidia Deep Learning Accelerator) engine.
The BeagleV isn’t the first general-purpose RISC-V Linux PC to come out of SiFive’s designs, or even the second, but it’s significantly more cost-effective than previous designs, like the $680 HiFive Unmatched. The lower cost would make it worth it. much more appealing to hobbyists, as is the out-of-the-box support for Fedora Linux, with support for Debian Linux and the FreeRTOS microcontroller operating system coming shortly after.
In addition to the StarFive processor, BeagleV includes 8GiB LPDDR4 RAM, gigabit Ethernet, an 802.11n Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.2 chipset, and a dedicated hardware video transcoder that supports H.264 and H.265 at 4K and 60fps. offers four USB 3.0 ports, a full-size HDMI output, 3.5mm conventional audio jack, and a 40-pin GPIO header. 5V/3A power is supplied through a USB Type-C port and the system boots from a standard SD card.
We expect to have a test sample of the BeagleV with Ars sometime in late March, after which the community will deliver the first hardware run in April. Widespread general availability will happen in September 2021. While the first hardware run will be fully $140/8GiB systems, cheaper variants with less RAM are expected in subsequent releases.
The first trial run of BeagleV will use the Vision DSP hardware as a graphics processor, enabling a full graphical desktop environment under Fedora. The following hardware runs also include an unspecified model of Imagine GPU.
ARS readers interested in purchasing one of the early “pilot” boards slated for delivery in April can sign up here to be part of the initial program.
List image by Seeed