The popular free operating system Ubuntu will now be officially available (opens in new tab) on a second line of RISC-V single-board computers, this time the VisionFive (opens in new tab) board from Chinese manufacturer StarFive.
The Raspberry Pi (opens in new tab)-like board, which matches a dual-core 64-bit U74 processor running at 1GHz with 8GB of RAM, a 4K video decoder (though no proper GPU) and some interesting co-processors for neural networks and deep learning. There are also all the ports you’d expect including GPIO, on a board that measures just 4 x 2.8 inches (100 x 72 mm) and has previously only been able to run an official Fedora Linux distribution.
The VisionFive's viability as a desktop board is hampered by that lack of GPU, meaning it is reliant on software rendering, while sites such as Hackster (opens in new tab) have noted hardware bugs in their reviews. The co-processors, however, make it interesting for computer vision developers, noted Cindy Goldberg, vice president of silicon alliance at Canonical in a blog post: “Canonical and StarFive are partnering to create an enterprise-grade Ubuntu image for the new VisionFive board, bringing open source software and open source hardware together for developers to build a broad range of computer vision applications at the edge. I can’t wait to see what developers are going to build with this VisionFive board and Ubuntu.“
As we reported in May (opens in new tab), China’s Ubuntu Kylin distro has been targeting a StarFire board, and this development may be tied to that initiative. The highly populated country is digging deep into RISC-V and other open source technologies in order to rid itself of X86 and other western tech. The Linux kernel itself gained mainstream RISC-V compatibility (opens in new tab) back in version 5.17.
“VisionFive is designed to meet the huge demand and high expectation for RISC-V development boards from the industry,” said Thomas Xu, StarFive Founder and CEO. “We are excited to have Ubuntu successfully running on VisionFive, thanks to Canonical. The operating system is key to RISC-V high performance applications. Dedicated to promoting RISC-V ecosystem development, StarFive will make further contributions to the open-source world with Canonical.”
Should you have a VisionFive, the latest compatible images for Ubuntu can be downloaded here (opens in new tab).