RISC-V and the BeagleV

Modern CPUs are very complex with giant instruction sets. They are also closed source and proprietary. Kind of like a black box. We don’t know what all is inside an x86/x64 or ARM CPU. But this is where RISC-V comes in. RISC-V is an open CPU with an instruction set that removes the bloat. And the BeagleV is one of our first chances to play with it.

RISC-V chips are already inside products by Nvidia and Western Digital. But we can’t really play with those.

What is RICS-V?

RICS-V stands for “Reduced instruction set computer”. It was developed by Berkeley under an open-source license that does not require fees to use. Anyone who has the ability to make a CPU can freely make an RICS-V CPU and expand it however they want to.

The reduced instruction set is a good thing if you ask me. A program might have to send 1 instruction to an intel CPU to do some kind of math while a RISC-V CPU could have to send 10 instructions.

You might say but hey that sounds worse? Well not really. The intel CPU might spend 10 clock cycles doing this 1 complex instruction while the RISC-V CPU spends 1 clock cycle per instruction. So in the end it is kind of the same thing. But the RISC-V has fewer overall instructions so it’s simpler. This also makes it easier to manufacture and leaves room on the chips for other goodies. Or they could be physically smaller chips.

I feel like this is a good thing. I like keeping things simple and efficient.

The BeagleV

BeagleV

The BeagleV is kind of like a Raspberry Pi but it is using an open RICS-V CPU. It costs more than a PI at $119 for a 4GB model and $149 for a 8GB model. But I’m excited that RICS-V is gaining some traction.

It would be a dream come true to have an open hardware computer running an open operating system and software. That sounds very cool to me and the BeagleV is a step in that direction.

I’ll like to get my hands on a BeagleV when it comes out but until then I’ll have to dream about it haha.

I hope that one day we can buy laptops and desktops that use all open hardware.


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