World's First Laptop with RISC-V Processor Now Available

ROMA RISC-V Laptop
(Image credit: Xcalibyte)

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.

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.

  • helper800
    I don't understand this products viability at 1500 dollars...
    Reply
  • OriginFree
    helper800 said:
    I don't understand this products viability at 1500 dollars...

    Agreed. $500 definitely. $750 maybe for Linux and computer science enthusiasts. $1500 good luck with that.

    Unless there is some serious performance that we don't know about I can't see this selling well. And I'm just not sure if "warranty by Alibaba" is a selling point or not, regardless of how good it is.
    Reply
  • Jagwired
    Shouldn’t Intel and AMD be backing RISC-V and making at least a few RISC-V CPUs? The market for RISC-V is small, but if they don’t try to promote the architecture, it seems like both Intel and AMD are going pay ARM a lot in the future as everything seems to be trending toward ARM.
    Reply
  • neojack
    Chinese laptop with a chinese CPU on a unusual arch.
    My guess is calls-back to CCP are included.
    Reply
  • ex_bubblehead
    neojack said:
    Chinese laptop with a chinese CPU on a unusual arch.
    My guess is calls-back to CCP are included.
    At no extra charge! ;)
    Reply
  • Inthrutheoutdoor
    neojack said:
    Chinese laptop with a chinese CPU on a unusual arch.
    My guess is calls-back to CCP are included.

    As are the 4,218.97 free snooper-pooper tools that are hard-coded into the firmware :bounce:
    Reply
  • samopa
    "There’s also a $4,999 ‘premium’ package that sees extras like headphones and a smartwatch added to the deal, ... "
    With $5K, I able to get very capable gaming laptop, with real gaming GPU (RTX3080M) and real gaming CPU (Ryzen 7/ Core i7) and ample SSD (2TB), sometimes more ...
    Reply
  • nerodv
    This is not a gaming laptop. It's a laptop that runs on a RISC-V processor that uses an open source instruction set architecture that was developed at UC Berkeley. This laptop will be used by scientists and other data driven folks who want a lower power edge computing device that isn't running on closed source instruction set architecture.

    The kind of people that will be helping to engineer the technologies of tomorrow, like a self driving car. It's not exactly bleeding edge technology, but getting this type of hardware into more people's hands will absolutely help drive the processor's maturity, which could lead to some breakthroughs down the road.

    The target consumer for this product will absolutely shell out $1500 for one of these. source: me. it's me. I'll be buying one.
    Reply
  • Support_Lemon
    nerodv said:
    source: me. it's me. I'll be buying one.
    Aight
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    nerodv said:
    This is not a gaming laptop. It's a laptop that runs on a RISC-V processor that uses an open source instruction set architecture that was developed at UC Berkeley. This laptop will be used by scientists and other data driven folks who want a lower power edge computing device that isn't running on closed source instruction set architecture.

    The kind of people that will be helping to engineer the technologies of tomorrow, like a self driving car. It's not exactly bleeding edge technology, but getting this type of hardware into more people's hands will absolutely help drive the processor's maturity, which could lead to some breakthroughs down the road.

    The target consumer for this product will absolutely shell out $1500 for one of these. source: me. it's me. I'll be buying one.
    I understand that some people will want a RISC-V processor for research/tinkering, want an open ISA on principle, etc. But is there really that much benefit to get it in a laptop rather than, for example, a RISC-V SBC with comparable specs that costs as little as 1/5 to 1/10 the amount?
    Reply