DevTerm Embraces RISC-V With New Core Module

A DevTerm unit with a RISC-V logo on its screen
(Image credit: Clockwork Pi / RISC-V International)

Clockwork Pi has announced (opens in new tab) the availability of a new CPU module for its DevTerm (opens in new tab)  small-form-factor portable computer powered by the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3, or a 4-6 core Arm CPU. DevTerm resembles the Radio Shack / Tandy TRS80 Model 100 machines from the 1980s for a combination of retro styling and modern computing power. 

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Previously, the options for DevTerm (opens in new tab) core modules have been the Raspberry Pi (opens in new tab) Compute Module 3 (opens in new tab), and a range of Arm SoC from a four-core Arm Cortex A53 with 1GB of DDR3 up to a six-core dual-processor Arm solution with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM and a Mali T864 GPU. These are described as suitable for general computing, writing, coding, e-mails, making indie games, and running most video game emulators.

The new RISC-V core module, however, walks a different path. Not only is the R-01 RISC-V (opens in new tab), with an Allwinner D1 (opens in new tab) 64-bit single-core chip beating at its heart, but it doesn’t come with a GPU. It does, however, have 1GB of DDR3 RAM, and is described as a “highly experimental model [that] requires some experience with Linux system & FOSS”. Beginners are “strongly advised” to choose a different model.

DevTerm core modules use the SODIMM form factor and slot into a carrier board using their edge connector. This means existing DevTerm owners can slot in a new core to try out RISC-V computing instead of having to buy a whole new unit, unless they want to.

As the new core slots into the DevTerm’s carrier board, it can be expected to interface with the rest of the IO ports provided. These include a non-standard PCIe slot, 40pin GPIO, Bluetooth, and a built-in thermal printer that emerges from the top left of the machine. Software is provided by ClockworkOS, which comes in various versions based on Armbian or the 32bit Raspberry Pi OS kernel, depending on which core board you’re using. It will presumably be recompiled for RISC-V, but at the time of writing there's no mention of it on the Wiki page (opens in new tab).

A complete DevTerm kit (opens in new tab) with the R-01 core, but without batteries, which you'll have to source yourself, is available for $239. An R-01 core on its own (opens in new tab) costs $29.

Ian Evenden
Freelance News Writer

Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.