New Part Day: A 64-Bit RISC-V CPU In Raspberry Pi Hat Form

Over the last few years the open-source RISC-V microprocessor has moved from existing only on FPGAs into real silicon, and right now you can buy a RISC-V microcontroller with all the bells and whistles you would ever want. There’s an interesting chip from China called the Sipeed M1 that features a dual-core RISC-V core running at 600MHz, a bunch of I/Os, and because it’s 2019, a neural network processor. We’ve seen this chip before, but now Seeed Studios is selling it as a Raspberry Pi Hat. Is it an add-on board for a Pi, or is it its own standalone thing? Who knows.

The Grove AI Hat for Edge Computing, as this board is called, is built around the Sipeed MAix M1 AI Module with a Kendryte K210 processor. This is a dual-core 64-bit RISC-V chip and it is obviously the star of the show here. In addition to this chip you’ve also got a few Grove headers for digital I/O, I2C, PWM, and a UART. There’s a a USB Type C for power (finally we’re getting away from USB micro power plugs), and of course a 40-pin Raspberry Pi-style header.

This board is essentially a breakout board for the Sipeed M1 chip, which is one of the most interesting new microcontrollers we’ve seen since it launched late last year. There’s a lot of power here, and already people are emulating the Nintendo Entertainment System on this chip with great success. The problem with this chip is that apart from making your own breakout board, there aren’t many options to get it up and running quickly. This is the solution to that; at the very least it’s a Sipeed chip on a board with a power supply, and it’s also a co-processor that can be accessed with Linux and a Raspberry Pi.

NES On RISC-V

RISC architecture might change the world, but it runs an NES emulator right now. That’s thanks to MaixPy, the new MicroPython for the K210, the recently released RISC-V microcontroller that’s making waves in the community. [Robot Zero One] has the tutorial and [Other Dave] of EEVBlog has a video of the thing in action.

The Sipeed K210 came to the English-speaking world in the form of a weird pre-order thing on Taobao last October promising a dual-core RISC-V CPU for just a few bucks. Seeed, the same people who brought the ESP8266 into mass distribution quickly latched on and started selling modules last February. Now, Seeed is looking at a Raspberry Pi hat using a Sipeed module, and the future for RISC-V microcontrollers is looking great. Now someone just needs to write some software. That’s exactly what the engineers at Sipeed did, and somewhere in one of the released binaries there’s an NES emulator.

The parallel to the question of if something can run Doom is if something can run an NES emulator, so with the release of MicroPython support for the K210, the obvious thing to do is to release an NES emulator. The hardware required is a Maix M1w Dock, available from Seeed and Banggood.

The new support for MicroPython is great, and an NES emulator is amazing, but this should really come as no surprise. From our first hands on with the first Open Source microcontroller two years ago, RISC-V was obviously faster. Now it’s cheap, and we can’t wait to see what’ll come next.

Continue reading “NES On RISC-V”

Hackaday Links: March 10, 2019

Do you like hamburgers? Everyone likes hamburgers. Inspired by a phone you could buy at Spencers in 1991, [Love Hulten] built a Game Burger Advance. The guts are a Raspberry Pi Zero, a standard LCD display and what appears to be a USB control pad. The fabrication is where this one really goes crazy. It’s a significant amount of laser-cut plywood or MDF stacked together into a laminate then sanded and painted to look like a hamburger. Actually, it’s a cheeseburger, but we don’t deal with the prescriptivist view of linguistics and Wendy’s doesn’t sell hamburgers, they sell cheeseburgers without cheese. Hamburgers are not cheeseburgers without cheese but I digress… Just be glad this links post isn’t me going off for two thousand words talking about language and cheeseburgers.

If you have a 2012 MacBook Pro, congratulations, you have one of the last good laptops Apple will ever build. [Docatl] over on Reddit has one of these fine machines, but found it was overheating. This Genius did what anyone would do — drilled some vents in the bottom of the laptop. The results are impressive, with stock temperatures climbing to 80º C when rendering video, and the post-drilled temps cooling down to a balmy 65º.

Here’s a Kickstarter for you. It’s an Arduino Zero in a narrow DIP-16 package, albeit with a USB connector hanging over the outline of a normal DIP-16 footprint. The specs are an ATSAMD21 Cortex-M0+ running at 48 MHz, 256kB of Flash, 32k of RAM, and an integrated bootloader.

Ha ha Tim Cook changed his name to Tim Square because Apple users are squares amirite?

We’re not going to get into a discussion about mental health or anything here, but TheFlightChannel just published a flight sim reenactment of the SeaTac Dash-8 Horizon Air incident from last summer. This video is absolutely fantastic.

The Sipeed K210 is a chip you should know about. It’s a RISC-V microcontroller that’s right up there with the fastest, most powerful STM32 chips, but it’s RISC-V and it costs eight dollars. Also, it has neural networks, because. We first heard about this chip as a preorder on Taobao (?!), but now it’s getting a slightly more official release. Seeed is working on a Raspberry Pi Hat for this chip, and they want your input. Right now we’re looking at two versions, one with WiFi and one without, and both can either work with a Raspberry Pi or as a standalone board. They have the basic layout, but they’d like to know what features the community would want.

New Part Day: A RISC-V CPU For Eight Dollars

RISC-V is the new hotness, and companies are churning out code and announcements, but little actual hardware. Eventually, we’re going to get to the point where RISC-V microcontrollers and SoCs cost just a few bucks. This day might be here, with Seeed’s Sipeed MAix modules. it’s a RISC-V chip you can buy right now, the bare module costs eight US dollars, there are several modules, and it has ‘AI’.

Those of you following the developments in the RISC-V world may say this chip looks familiar. You’re right; last October, a seller on Taobao opened up preorders for the Sipeed M1 K210 chip, a chip with neural networks. Cool, we can ignore some buzzwords if it means new chips. Seeed has been busy these last few months, and they’re now selling modules, dev boards, and peripherals that include a camera, mic array, and displays. It’s here now, and you can buy one. If it seems a little weird for Seeed Studios to get their hands on this, remember: the ESP8266 just showed up on their web site one day a few years ago. Look where we are with that now.

The big deal here is the Sipeed MAix-I module with WiFi, sold out because it costs nine bucks. Inside this module is a Kendryte K210 RISC-V CPU with 8MB of on-chip SRAM and a 400MHz clock. This chip is also loaded up with a Neural Network Processor, an Audio Processor with support for eight microphones, and a ‘Field Programmable IO array’, which sounds like it’s a crossbar on the 48 GPIOs on the chip. Details and documentation are obviously lacking.

In addition to a chip that’s currently out of stock, we also have the same chip as above, without WiFi, for a dollar less. It’ll probably be out of stock by the time you read this. There’s a ‘Go Suit’ that puts one of these chips in an enclosure with a camera and display, and there’s a microphone array add-on. There’s a binocular camera module if you want to play around with depth sensing.

The first time we heard of this chip, it was just a preorder on Taobao. It told us two things: RISC-V chips are coming sooner than we expected, and you can do preorders on Taobao. Seeed has a history of bringing interesting chips to the wider world, and if you want a RISC-V chip right now, here you go. Just be sure to tell us what you did with it.