SiFive readies the HiFive Unmatched, world's first RISC-V-based desktop PC platform
SiFive and its RISC-V processors are currently getting some good publicity especially now that many market analysts are concerned with what is to become of ARM under the Nvidia leadership. While the current SiFive endeavors are mostly focused on providing good alternatives in the server-oriented sector, the company is also considering entering the desktop PC market. ARM had a similar plan with the Windows-on-ARM initiative, but that was geared towards laptop PCs rather, and it did not really take off. Apple might have more luck with its plans to develop in-house ARM-based laptop CPUs, however, the Nvidia acquisition might cast a shroud of uncertainty on that whole project. There are quite a few ARM customers that are now considering switching to RISC-V, so SiFive is releasing all sorts of new products, including a new desktop PC platform called HiFive Unmatched.
This new platform is based around the SiFive FU740 64-bit processor that integrates 4x U74 cores plus an S7 core, and is marketed as a professional development solution. SiFive is making things easier for DIY developers, as the platform motherboard comes in a mini-ITX form-factor with ATX 24-pin PSU connector. The small motherboard also features 8 GB of onboard DDR4 RAM + 32 MB QSPI flash memory, and also comes with a microsSD card reader. Users can add a PCIe Gen 3 X4 NVMe SSD in the included M.2 2280 slot, and there is also a PCIe Gen 3 X8 slot for dGPUs or other expansion cards. Port selection includes 4x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 + microUSB connectors, along with a GbE jack. Additionally, the included M.2 Key E slot offers support for a wireless NIC.
The SiFive HiFive Unmatched platform will soon be available for preorder on the official site with a US$665 MSRP and it will be shipped with a bootable SD card that includes a Linux distro plus popular system developer packages. Updates will also be available for download at regular intervals and users can also install their preferred GNU distros like Yocto, Debian or Fedora.