Two hardware makers are planning to offer chips later this year featuring the RISC-V free and open architecture standard, joining the US $180 Linux-capable StarFive VisionFive RISC-V board that went on sale in January. In late June, Pine64 said it was designing a single-board computer for the market now dominated by Raspberry Pi, and Xcalibyte and DeepComputing said they would begin shipping RISC-V-based laptops at the end of the summer.
The 12-year-old RISC-V computer instruction set architecture standard belongs to no one and everyone, giving it unique appeal compared with Intel and Arm chips, which require licensing fees. At the same time, RISC-V’s relative novelty and reduced feature set and support are barriers to more widespread adoption. An open-source development effort last year to produce a Linux-capable mini-PC with RISC-V ended in failure. VisionFive was involved in that project, too. Like any new tech ecosystem, software support for RISC-V is more limited than in Raspberry Pi’s robust development community, says independent software engineer Leon Anavi in a review of the VisionFive. That said, he encouraged viewers to join in and contribute to the growing RISC-V community.