$8 RISC-V Linux computer

The Ox64 is a small form-factor single board computer powered by the BL808 RISC-V SoC—a new chipset by Bouffalo Labs. Some of you already know of this vendor, since one of their microcontrollers is used in the Pinecil V2 and PineCone. Surely you also immediately noticed that the board is named Ox64 (side note: Ox … Bouffalo … you get it right?) as opposed to PineOx which is used in the PineCone and based on the older BL602 microcontroller. This is because BL808 is not a usual microcontroller. It features three cores – a high performance 64-bit RISC-V core, a high performance 32-bit RISC-V core and low power RISC-V core. These cores are paired with 64 MiB of PSRAM, a SD card interface and MMU (Memory Management Unit), and make the SoC capable of running Linux as well as bare-metal firmware. We hence treat Ox64 as a Single Board Computer rather than a microcontroller, despite that it can be used as either.

Here are some of Ox64’s key hardware details. The BL808 contains a wide variety of really neat onboard features, such as WiFi 4 and Bluetooth 5.0, Zigbee connectivity and MIPI-CSI/DSI interfaces. It also sports a H.264 encoder, MJPEG encoder, JPEG decoder, an audio subsystem, Ethernet, USB 2.0 OTG and Neural Network unit. The Ox64 PCB with two USB ports, at the far ends of the PCB. The USB-C port features OTG and MIPI CSI for the camera module as well as an audio out/in interface. The secondary USB port is for power only. The WiFi chip antenna is soldered onboard and features a u.FL connector. The castellated header pin holes break out GPIO, SPI, I2C, I2S and UART. In the future, we plan to have adapter boards for Ethernet (using GMII interface), audio (I2C interface) and a camera module (USB).

That is nuts. It seems like just a couple of years ago RISC-V was still only on paper.

It looks like a cross between a teensy and raspberry pi, but open and very inexpensive.

Yes, it does seem like the future is arriving. Apparently there’s a problem at the moment with RISC-V stuff being too expensive compared to the competition so this is the opposite end of the spectrum.

I’m going to get a couple to noodle around with, maybe wait a wee bit for the toolchains and ports.

I’d have to break a ten to buy it, think I’ll wait for the price to come down a bit.

“Aww, can’t they make these things go any faster?!” - Homer Simpson about microwave ovens

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He he. What’s funny is the amount of truth in that for products outside of the fashion/lifestyle category. £2k a year on Starbucks though… no problemo!

Hopefully something along the line of this RISC-V SOC ends up with Raspberry Pi popularity with lots of resources for hobbyists.