Chinese startup launching RISC-V laptop for devs and engineers priced at around $300

The SpacemiT MuseBook
(Image credit: CNX Software (https://www.cnx-software.com/2024/04/30/muse-book-laptop-spacemit-k1-octa-core-risc-v-ai-processor-16gb-ram/))

Chinese startup SpacemiT has unveiled its next computer, a laptop based on the K1 octa-core RISC-V chip. It is not exactly a standard laptop, but the MuseBook, as it’s called, has features and capabilities aimed at hardware engineers, developers, and DIY enthusiasts. While no official launch date is available, it’s expected to be available soon at a relatively low price of $300.

The MuseBook looks vaguely like an Apple MacBook, primarily from the printed name at the bottom of its display bezel. A 14.1-inch IPS panel with a 1920 x 1080 resolution and 60Hz refresh rate is standard. The keyboard is more akin to Windows machines, but the dedicated Windows button has been replaced by a RISC-V button. There’s no news yet on what function that button might provide since the unit provided to CNX Software would not power on.

The laptop weighs in at 1.3kg and is approximately 18mm thick. It provides a MicroSD card slot, two USB-C ports, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and an 8-pin header with pins for power, multiplexed I2C, UART, PWM, GPIO, and more. The full specifications for the K1 SoC are listed below:

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SpacemiT K1 SoC specifications
CPUOcta-Core X60 64-bit RISC-V core (faster than Cortex-A55 in multi-core configuration)
GPUUnnamed with support for OpenCL 3.0, OpenGL ES3.2, Vulkan 1.2
VPUH.265/H.264/VP9/VP8 4K encoding/encoding
AI accelerator2.0 TOPS AI NPU
MemoryUp to 16GB 32bit LPDDR4-2400MT, 32bit LPDDR4X-2666MT, Up to 10.6GB/S bandwidth
StorageSupports SPI FLASH, eMMC 5.1, SDIO 3.0 SD Card, NVME(PCIe2.1 2x)
DisplayMIPI-DSI and HDMI up to 1920×1440 @ 60Hz
Row 7 - Cell 0 Support for dual display setups
Audio3X Mic-in
Camera8-lane MIPI-CSI in 4+2+2-lane or 4+4-lane configuration
Row 10 - Cell 0 Single camera supports up to 16MP
Row 11 - Cell 0 Supports three camera inputs
Connectivity2x GMAC
Row 13 - Cell 0 1x USB 3.0 (multiplexed with PCIe 2.1 x1)
Row 14 - Cell 0 1x USB OTG
Row 15 - Cell 0 1x USB HOST
Row 16 - Cell 0 5x PCIe 2.1 (x2+x2+x1 combined, 5Gbps/lane)
Row 17 - Cell 0 4x SPI, 7x I2C, 12x UART, 2x CAN-FD, 30x PWM
Power consumption3-5W TDP
PakcageFCCSP 17x17mm, 0.65mm pitch

The laptop's storage includes up to 128GB of onboard eMMC flash memory, M.2 NVMe SSD options up to 1TB, and a MicroSD card slot. The K1 RISC-V System-on-a-Chip (SoC) is configured with up to 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM. Wireless networking connectivity is available via the installed RTL8852BE-based WiFi 6 module.

The MuseBook runs Bianbu OS, an operating system based on Debian and optimized for the K1 RISC-V SoC. Presumably, it will include common office software such as LibreOffice and the Chromium browser. It will also include optimized OpenCV, OpenBLAS, Slam Eigen, libpng, libjpeg, XNNPACK, and other algorithm libraries for development purposes.

If preferred, you can also install the Linux flavor of your choice or RTOS on the laptop. Of course, finding RISC-V packages in standard repositories might prove problematic.

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SpacemiT MuseBook specifications
SoCSpacemiT K1 octa-core X60 RISC-V core compliant with RVA22 (see full SoC specifications details above)
System memoryUp to 16GB 32bit LPDDR4-2400MT, 32bit LPDDR4X-2666MT
Storage32GB eMMC flash (default), option up to 128GB
Row 3 - Cell 0 M.2 (PCIe 2.1 2x) socket for NVMe SSD up to 1TB
Row 4 - Cell 0 MicroSD card slot
Display14.1-inch IPS display with 1920×1080 resolution, 60Hz refresh rate
Row 6 - Cell 0 72% NTSC (≈100%sRGB) Color gamut
Row 7 - Cell 0 250 nits brightness
NetworkingRTL8852BE-based WiFi 6 module
Power supplyUSB PD 3.1 Type-C port (65W power adapter)
Dimensions322.6 x 209.2 x 17.8mm
Weight1.36kg
OSBianbu OS by Debian, Ubuntu, Linux
BrowserChromium

Of course, this isn’t the first RISC-V laptop to come to market. We’ve reviewed the Sipeed Lichee Console 4A in the past, and there’s also the ROMA laptop. However, the K1 is the first RISC-V SoC to comply with the RISC-V Foundation’s RVA22 and 256-bit RVV 1.0 standards. While not exactly blazing fast compared to, for example, the Intel Core Ultra CPU, SpacemiT’s K1 SoC does provide 2 TOPS of AI computing power.

Freelance News Writer
  • Shirou
    Me when the $300 laptop has more I/O than my $3000 laptop.
    Reply
  • jlake3
    but the dedicated Windows button has been replaced by a RISC-V button. There’s no news yet on what function that button might provide
    What it does will depend on the desktop environment and/or application, but I'd expect it to be the "Super" key, which is the same binding the Windows key has under most Linux distros. Use of the Windows logo requires following Microsoft's branding terms, so Linux laptops and some custom keyboards/keycaps choose to replace it with either the word 'Super' or some alternative logo.

    The DIY keyboard I typed this on actually has the letters "Win" written out as a workaround so they don't have to deal with the "Microsoft Windows Logo Key Logo License Agreement for Keyboard Manufacturers".
    Reply
  • subspruce
    it's a good first step
    Reply
  • Shirley Marquez
    Reminds me of the Pinebook Pro, except with RISC-V.
    Reply