Linux 5.17 Adds Support For "The First Usable, Low-Cost RISC-V Platform"

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 12 January 2022 at 09:30 AM EST. 15 Comments
In addition to the prompt support for Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, another exciting milestone for the in-development Linux 5.17 kernel is introducing mainline support for the StarFive JH7100, which has been trying to make its debut as the first usable and low-cost RISC-V platform.

The StarFive JH7100 SoC is powered by SiFive's U74 dual-core 64-bit RISC-V processor running at 1.5GHz while having 4K display support but no integrated 3D GPU at this point. The StarFive JH7100 was announced last year as a low-cost RISC-V SoC. The performance out of the SiFive U74 cores is reported to be in similar ball park to Arm Cortex-A55 cores.

Making the StarFive JH7100 support more exciting is that this Chinese SoC is on track for appearing in some lower-cost RISC-V development boards. For Linux 5.17 in addition to the JH7100 SoC support itself is also the DeviceTree for the BeagleV Starlight prototype board. Unfortunately, Starlight was dropped before reaching mass production. Additional boards being based on this RISC-V SoC are also expected to be mainlined.

The pull request introducing the mainline JH7100 support and Starlight prototype board notes, "This SoC promises to be the first usable low-cost platform for RISC-V."

StarFive VisionFive V1

The StarFive VisionFive V1 is another single board computer based on this SoC. That VisionFive V1 uses the JH7100 SoC with 8GB of LPDDR4 memory, microSD card slot, HDMI 1.4 display, 4 x USB 3.0 ports, and can run RISC-V Linux distributions. That VisionFive SBC is available for order from China at $175 USD though noting its considered experimental and just for engineering/development.

Antmicro is another company that has been working on a JH7100 board, the Antmicro ARVSOM, that offers Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 form factor compatibility. But we'll see which of these boards reach broad availability in western markets and achieve mainline kernel support. Hopefully more boards take off with the JH7100 in the sub-$200 price point soon and good to see this mainline kernel support coming to pan out for the SoC. For those able to afford more, the SiFive HiFive Unmatched is a great RISC-V development board. Hopefully in 2022 we also see some new higher performance SiFive development board with more power for fostering RISC-V Linux development.

Various tech docs on the JH7100 SoC are available from StarFive's GitHub. The JH7100 support was merged on Monday with just under four thousand lines of new code / DT / YAML.
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