Pine64 Teases RISC-V Based Raspberry Pi Alternative

Pine64, maker of many fine SBCs including the Rock64 and Quartz64 (opens in new tab), is preparing to dip its toe into the choppy waters of RISC-V, including news of an upcoming “powerful, yet affordable” board based on the versatile open-source architecture in its most recent product update (opens in new tab).

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The nascent board, which doesn’t currently have a named SoC attached (though we do know it contains the  Imagination Technologies BXE-2-32 GPU, which is licensed to RISC-V manufacturers including RIOS Lab, SiFive, and Yadro) but which is targeting the same sort of performance as the Arm-based Quartz64, will follow the form factor of the Quartz64 Model A.  The as yet unnamed board will feature both USB 3.0 and PCIe, as well as a choice of 4GB or 8GB of RAM. The price-tag is also expected to fall in the same area as that of the Quartz64, which is for sale from the Pine64 store (opens in new tab) for $60 in its 4GB incarnation.

The name of the board is currently the subject of a competition to win the first production model off the line, with a riddle posted on the website to be solved to reveal the name, and guesses to be posted in the comments section below. Guesses currently range from Rainbow64 through various chemical elements to Blue Jellyfish and references to Harry Potter, with an update promised next month. Whatever the name turns out to be, we’re fairly certain it’ll have 64 on the end.

Pine64’s Lukasz Erecinski, community manager and the author of the product update, took pains to point out that this leap to RISC-V won’t affect the company’s popular range of Arm boards. “The RISC-V platform is something we wish to pursue in parallel to our well established ARM-based hardware,” he wrote. “We have some candidate devices for a RISC-V conversion and ideas for future iterations of hardware based on the architecture, which is something I believe many of you will find exciting. In short: we have made a decision to commit to the RISC-V platform.”

Other news in the update included the July availability of the Pinebook Pro, an EU launch for the company’s products, improvements in the PineNote’s implementation of Linux, and that the Pinephone Pro can play Doom just using its modem.