StarFive VisionFive 2 quad-core RISC-V SBC _crowdfund_ launched

CNX Software – Embedded Systems News link

SoC – StarFive JH7110 quad-core 64-bit RISC-V (SiFive U74 – RV64GC) processor @ up to 1.5 GHz
System Memory – 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB LPDDR4
Networking – 2x Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 ports

More details at the link.

I have no idea if the cpu is powerful enough to traffic shape at full GigE speeds and/or run a firewall, but if it is, it could be an interesting device.

Given this is the start of a crowdfunding campaign, I don't know if it'll ever become a reality, but if it does, it might be a worthwhile target.

The link to the Kickstarter page is: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/starfive/visionfive-2

For any SBC I've found the most important question is distro availability. Will there be enough public information available to make porting easy, or will it only work with a bespoke custom kernel that's too difficult for anyone to keep updated so everyone gets stuck on an ancient version forever?

After having some bad experiences with SBCs that I've paid money for: I now value this software support side of things much more than other factors like raw computing performance, because if it doesn't work then I can't even enjoy those features anyway :slight_smile:

It looks like on the released predecessor VisionFive 1 things are not too crazily bad. They publish their patchset with a checkbox list of what hardware features work and the Debian wiki guide doesn't seem as complicated as some that I have seen, but I can't be certain without trying (and seeing how portable these patches are to newer kernels). Otherwise if you want pre-built images then I think you're stuck with their bespoke Fedora builds, I can't see anything else.

I can't find any model numbers for the gigabit chipsets. I tried going through their related links, but nothing more detailed than "2xRJ45" or "2xgigbit ethernet" seems to appear. Maybe I'm missing something. I'll presume they're Realtek parts, that's likely a safe bet.

I presume the M.2 slot is SATA-only (not PCIE) given that it's only labelled for SSDs, but I could be wrong. They probably have some PCIE on this board for the gigabit ethernet chipsets. Alas if they exposed PCIE on the M.2 connector then they'd probably sing proudly about it, because people can get extension cables to turn those into full mechanical size PCIE slots. Maybe.

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Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience of SBCs.

My search for a cost-effective OpenWrt device* that can handle traffic shaping and firewall duties on a Gigabit connection continues.

*Power-hungry x86-64 devices are not in the running. For something drawing power 'permanently', every watt saved is worth it, especially at current electricity prices where I live. It also means less fan noise, preferably zero. It could well be that there is a minimum power draw needed for handling Gigabit connections so my wish for a silent low power-consumption device is impossible, but the search is interesting.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience of SBCs.

I've only bought a few, other people may have had better experiences :slight_smile:

every watt saved is worth it,

Agreed. In many places its only looking to get worse. I think I'm currently around $2 per wattyear, so a 40W idling x86 box would still cost most of $100 per year.

Some x86_64 devices can actually be really power efficient, eg laptops. Sadly they have other problems (like only having one ethernet port) or are just plain expensive.

I spent the $$$ on an APU2 from pcengines a while back. It was more expensive than I'd normally be comfortable paying, but compared to running a old Core 2 Duo box it was more economical (and quieter). Nowadays sadly they're completely out of stock (and have been for a while), but some people here occasionally report finding rebadged versions on eBay.

My search for a cost-effective OpenWrt device* that can handle traffic shaping and firewall duties on a Gigabit connection continues.

I would recommend steering clear of any "new" devices then (especially unreleased ones). Don't buy anything that has not been out on the market for at least a year OR somehow otherwise is known to have really good software support and reliability. Many new SBCs are more experimental than you expect (broken features, unstable, etc) and even some old ones have weird problems (but at least they are known before you buy).

Don't worry about missing out by choosing "older" technology, the age of the silicon manufacture processes and the chip current/voltage configurations vary wildly. eg I vaguely recall some OrangePi boards being stuck at their highest Vcore voltage on a lot of distros, running them hotter and limiting their performance.

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where's here ?

You can easily find the sw302da (or sw301da, if you don't mind the USB2 ports) on US eBay, but the prices are ridiculous.

Here = the forum.

I saw some that were not ridiculously priced, but their shipping to me (in restoftheworldistan) was. EDIT: Which is weird, as sometimes shipping from the US to Australia is cheaper than shipping from within Australia to Australia.

I'm up at roughly 4 USD per wattyear, and that is likely to rise. It's why I'm willing to pay extra for power efficiency.

Eek. My $2 was 2AUD, not USD. That's nasty. I need to find our last power bill and double check (but it's probably too old to see the newest fluctuations).