RISC-V just debuted on its first laptop with a CPU from Alibaba
RISC-V processors are gaining in popularity, though many are in industrial applications, rather than in consumer products. Alibaba has changed that, by making available a laptop where the processor is based on the open-source RISC-V ISA.
The Alibaba Roma RISC-V laptop, announced back in the summer of 2022, is finally available. It contains a quad-core processor and full features that many will agree we are used to seeing in an Intel or AMD computer.
The Roma is based on a computing platform known as Wujian 600 and is aimed directly at cost-effective, and consumer-facing, edge computing. Edge computing is best known for running machine learning AI applications, for example, high-volume data collection, like temperature measurement throughout an entire year, by the minute.
The CPU in the laptop is an Alibaba T-Head TH1520 quad-core Xuantie. C910 processor which runs at a clock speed of up to 2.5GHz. It has a 4TOPS Neural Processing Unit (NPU) and an Imagination Technologies Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) as well.
The Neural Processing Unit is what analyses inferences, as close to a human’s neurons and synapsis that computers can be right now. It processes thousands of algorithm functions per second, called inference. The basic premise is – If this, then that. Decision-making from huge volumes of data.
The laptop can support 16 GB LPDDR4 or 4X RAM, at up to 4266 MT/s, and comes with 256 of SSD storage.
The display is a 14.1-inch 1080p panel, with a webcam that matches that resolution. There is an HDMI port if a larger screen is desired, and very handy on a computer designed for collecting heaps of data and running AI.
In networking, there is WI-FI 5 and an Ethernet port as well as Bluetooth 5 for pairing headphones and headsets and speakers. If a thought was sparked that the laptop could process wireless data from sensors in an IoT array, it would be correct.
The laptop can charge over a USB-C port and there are a couple of USB-A ports. The battery lasts about ten hours, and there is a dedicated security chip onboard. It happens to be an Arm SC300 Cortex-M3 security enclave processor with a Trusted Execution Environment security certification. The OS runs Alibaba’s own Linux-based OpenAnolis.
The keyboard with nicely lit, from behind, and the chassis is only 20 mm (0.7 inches) thick. It weighs 1.7 kg (3.7 lbs.) and it's much thinner and lighter than most laptops on the market right now, with the exception of the feather weight HP Pavilion Aero.
The Roma is available from Alibaba for $1,499.00 for the basic version, with a warranty that lasts over five years and some spare parts for free. There is also a $4,999.00 premium package, that has extras like headphones and a smartwatch added to the deal, along with a chance to have your name engraved on the casing.
The first 100 will be available in Q4 2022 and the next 1000 in Q1 2023. You can preorder from Alibaba right now.
With many scientists still unhappy with the IAU's definition of "planet," it's possible the debate will never be resolved!