Ubuntu Working To Provide Good Support For The VisionFive Low-Cost RISC-V Board

Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 10 June 2022 at 05:48 AM EDT. 10 Comments
In recent weeks Ubuntu developers have been working on bringing up and improving support for the Starfive VisionFive, which is one of the most promising "low-cost" RISC-V single board computers to date. Hopefully for Ubuntu 22.10 we'll be seeing good support for this sub-$180 RISC-V computer.

The Starfive VisionFive is a currently $179 USD RISC-V board that is intended to run full-blown RISC-V Linux distributions. The board comes in two varieties with 4GB or 8GB of system memory, powered by a dual-core SiFive U74 RV64 SoC @ 1.0GHz, NVDLA deep learning accelerator engine, Tensilica-VP6 Vision DSP, and a neural network engine. The board also has WiFi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.2, HDMI output, four USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, and powered via USB-C or from the 40-pin GPIO header.

Considering the performance of the much more capable HiFive Unmatched development board (that is also multiple times more expensive) and even that sometimes being outpaced by the Raspberry Pi, don't get too excited for the dual-core 1.0GHz RISC-V 64-bit SoC for general purpose workloads. But this VisionFive board may be interesting for some machine learning and other use-cases thanks to its additional accelerators. It's also one of the few RISC-V boards capable of running a full Linux distribution in the sub-$200 space.

Since the upstream Linux 5.17 kernel there has been mainline support for the VisionFive v1 board. Ubuntu developers are working on enabling the StarFive VisionFive board for their RISC-V kernel build.

They are currently working through various issues such as enabling Bluetooth support. One of the Canonical engineers is also said to be "still trying to understand why Fedora graphics are faster."

In any event Ubuntu does have an apparent interest in the VisionFive board so hopefully it will materialize as one of the good, lower-cost RISC-V single board computers for those wanting to try out RISC-V computing. Depending upon the Internet retailer some still list the VisionFive as a "pre-order" or "out of stock" status, so hopefully Ubuntu and other distributions will be ready for this board by the time availability eases up.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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