HiFive Unmatched SBC showcases new FU740 RISC-V SoC

http://server.digimetriq.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/HiFive-Unmatched-SBC-showcases-new-FU740-RISC-V-SoC.jpg SiFive has placed preorders for a Mini-ITX HiFive card with an unmatched value of $665 that can power a PC. SBC runs under Linux on a 64-bit Penta-Core SiFive FU740 SoC and offers 2x M.2 and PCIe x16 for graphics.

When SiFive announced the release of the SoC FU740 (Freedom U740) in September, the developer of the RISC-V chip stated that the SoC would soon be running on a PC. At the time, we assumed that the demo would include a new HiFive card to upgrade the Linux and U540 engines, HiFive Unleashed for $999, running on an old Freedom U540 (FU540). In fact, SiFive has now placed pre-orders for an unmatched $665 HiFive mini-ITX card, scheduled for release in the fourth quarter and running Linux on the U74-MC.

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Unsurpassed HiFive
(click on the images to enlarge).

HiFive Unmatched was presented at the Autumn Processor Conference in Linley and is considered the fastest national RISC-V development platform in the world. The unbeatable is mainly intended for the power supply of your PC. With a processor that may be slower than the four-core Broadcom A72 SoC on the Raspberry Pi 4, potential SiFive customers are likely to see the niche of low-cost Linux laptops currently run by Google ChromeOS. We believe that unparalleled quality will also inspire a number of integrated designs.

The FU740 is based on SiFive’s 64-bit Cortex-A55 U7 series 64-bit kernel with Linux support and is expected to deliver performance of 2.5 DMIPS/MHz and 4.9 CoreMark/MHz. The U7 series consists of a single-ker U74 and a square U74-MC, which are used on an unparalleled board. The MC model adds a fifth real-time monitoring core based on the same 64-bit IP 7 core architecture as the S7 MCU series.

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FU740 Block diagram (left) and mixture + associated concept map
(click on images to enlarge)

In July SiFive upgraded its U7 series and older U5 series processors with the launch of the 20G1, improving performance and reducing power consumption. Earlier this month an extra 20G1 6.0 update for U7 was released. All these processors use the unlicensed RISC-V architecture.

The U7 series offers heterogeneous multi-core mix+match technology, similar to Arm’s Big.Little with DynamIQ. Mix+Match allows you to add the fifth core to the FU740 monitor, but it can also be used in other multi-core configurations with less powerful E7 cores. SiFive initially announced mix+match as part of the 7nm compatible Cortex-A72 U8 series, which can be used in configurations with octave cores operating at different speeds. For more information about U7, see our FU740 report.

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HiFive Unsurpassed detailed view and block diagram
(click on images to enlarge)

Although HiFive offers much more features than HiFive Unleashed, the largest HiFive Unleashed costs about a third less. Just like Unleashed, HiFive Unmatched is a map with open specifications and schematics. It is also equipped with 8GB DDR4, 32GB Quad-Core SPI Flash and a microSD slot.

A 32GB microSD card is pre-installed with a Freedom U SDK based on Yocto and a Linux OpenEmbedded (OE) card, which appears to be an updated version of the SDK used for Unleashed. Debian and Fedora should work too.

HiFife connection

Although the FU740 is a headless, GPU-free SoC, you can add a graphics card via the PCIe x16 slot, which is supported by the PCIe Gen3 x8 interface. There are also M.2 M-Key and E-key slots for optional NVMe or WiFi/BT cards.

The unique 170 x 170 mm HiFive card has a GbE port, 4x USB 3.2 Gen1 (USB 3.0) ports and a micro USB serial console port. Other features include 24-pin GPIO, JTAG and RTC. An ATX power supply is also available. It is not clear if the small fan and heater in the picture above are optional.


Technical specifications of HiFive Unsurpassed include

  • Processor – SiFive U74-MC (64-bit RISC-V FU740) with 4-core U74 processor at 1.4 GHz (can operate up to 1.5 GHz) and 1x low-power S7 monitor; 2 MB L2 cache memory
  • Memory/storage :
    • 8 GO DDR4-2400
    • 32 MB QSPI NOR Flash
    • MicroSD slot with 32 GB card, pre-installed with Freedom U-SDK
    • The SSD/NVMe is available via the M.2 M button (see below).
  • Communicate:
    • Gigabit Ethernet connection with 3M CAT5e cable
    • WiFi/BT is available via the electronic button M.2 (see below).
  • Other inputs/outputs :
    • 4x USB 3.2 Gen1 host ports
    • Micro USB connector for UART console
    • Head of JTAG
    • 24-pin peripheral input/output (4x GPIO, 2x I2C, 2x QSPI, 2x UART, PWM)
    • Mini-ITX front panel connection
  • Expansion (via PCIe Gen 3 x8) :
    • M.2 M Key, which supports both PCIe Gen 3 x4 as well as SSD and NVMe 2280 (3.9 GB/s bandwidth).
    • M.2 E-key (PCIe Gen 3 x1) for WiFi/BT
    • PCIe x16 connector
  • Other features – RTC with battery; rear I/O display; mounting screws/brackets for M.2 and ATX enclosures.
  • Power supply – 24-pin ATX connector for ATX 150W power supply (sold separately); PMIC; power monitor; FU740 reset; global reset; on/off switch
  • Dimensions – 170 x 170 mm (Mini-ITX form factor)
  • Operating system – Freedom U-SDK with Linux, Yocto kernel; U-Boot, OpenSBI, GCC and LLVM toolchains, performance tools and utilities; Fedora and Debian support; bare metal support with Freedom E-SDK.

Additional information

HiFive Unmatched is available for pre-order at a price of $665 and will be delivered in the 4th quarter. quarter of 2020. For more information, please visit the SiFive announcements and products page, where there is a pre-order button that tells you to contact the sales department. The freedom of the U-SDK can be found on this GitHub page.

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