RISC-V processors have been gaining traction and software support (opens in new tab) for some time, so it’s good to see the open-source architecture making its way into actual products. The Alibaba Roma RISC-V laptop, announced back in the summer (opens in new tab) and spotted by CNX Software (opens in new tab), is finally available, and contains a quad-core processor plus plenty of the features we’ve become used to from Intel and AMD computers.
The Roma is based on a computing platform known as Wujian 600 aimed at cost-effective edge computing. The CPU in the laptop is an Alibaba T-Head (opens in new tab) TH1520 quad-core Xuantie C910 processor that’s clocked at up to 2.5GHz with a 4 TOPS NPU and an Imagination Technologies GPU on the side. It can support up to 16GB LPDDR4 or 4X RAM at up to 4266 MT/s, and has 256GB of SSD storage.
The display is a 14.1-inch 1080p panel, a resolution matched by the webcam. Should that not be enough screen real e state, there's an HDMI port for hooking up an external monitor. For networking, there's Wi-Fi 5 (yes, 5) and an Ethernet port. There's also Bluetooth 5, for headphones and other peripherals.
You can charge over USB Type-C port, and there are a couple of Type-A ports, too. Battery life is rated at 10 hours. There's a dedicated security chip onboard, an Arm SC300 Cortex-M3 security enclave processor with Trusted Execution Environment security certification, and the laptop runs Alibaba’s own Linux-based OS OpenAnolis (opens in new tab).
The keyboard is backlit, and at only 20 mm (0.7 inches) thick and weighing 1.7 kg (3.7 pounds), it’s definitely at the thinner and lighter end of the market, even if it can’t take on the featherlike HP Pavilion Aero (opens in new tab).
The Roma is available from Alibaba (opens in new tab) as a basic package for $1,499, which comes with a warranty of ‘more than’ five years and free spare parts. There’s also a $4,999 ‘premium’ package that sees extras like headphones and a smartwatch added to the deal, along with the chance to have your name engraved on the laptop’s casing.
The Roma is available for pre-order from Alibaba (opens in new tab), in black or gray, and the first 100 orders aim to deliver in Q4 2022, while a further 1,000 will arrive in Q1 2023.