Nezha is the first 64-bit RISC-V Linux SBC and is IoT friendly. Nezha has been designed for the RV64 open-source community and various IoT applications. However, this RV64 based bootstrap Linux platform is not designed for heavy computation applications. As we know, the 64-Bit RISC-V chip is expensive but, the Nezha basic kit costs around $99 making it affordable. Further, one can use Nezha with any of the preferred environments including C/C++, Python, JS, GoLang, WASM, Rust, etc. Nezha has an open-source SDK which allows the developer to port the Debian Desktop system to it.
Nezha Board and Peripherals
The Nezha board is based on an Allwinner D1 single-core XuanTie C906 64-bit RISC-V processor which having a frequency 1Ghz. The processor has HiFi4 DSP and G2D 2D graphics accelerators. Moreover, the board has a 1GB DDR3 memory and 256MB SPI NAND Flash, a MicroSD card slot. These can be used for storage purposes. The Nezha 85 x 56mm board has one USB 2.0 host port and a USB Type-C OTG port that can be used for data transfer. Besides, the USB-C ports can be used to supply a power supply of 5V/2A.
Further, the Nezha board has HDMI 1.4 port, MIPI DSI and a touch panel interface (up to 1080p60) which makes it suitable for IoT applications. Apart from these, the Gigabit Ethernet, 2.4GHz WiFi 4 and Bluetooth module using the XR829 module provide connectivity to the Nezha opensource RV64 Linux SBC. In addition, there are a 40-pin GPIO connector, 4-pin UART header and USB ADB for expansion and debugging. The Power LED, tri-colour user, LED, OK & FEL buttons, 3.5mm audio jack, digital audio output via HDMI and a connector for Microphone Array board are some of the additional features.
SoC – Allwinner D1 single-core XuanTie C906 64-bit RISC-V processor
The SoC consists of a CPU which is a 64bit RISC-V core and has 32KB I and D cache. Further, the DSP is a HiFi4 DSP that helps in storage and faster delivery of data. Additional storage and memory features include 2GB DDR2/DDR3, an SD3.0 for MP3, MP4 memory expansion, eMMC 5.0 and SPI Nor/Nand Flash. The Video Engine Video decoding on the SoC supports input picture scaler up/down and assists H.264, H.265, JPEG/MPEG video encoding.
Moreover, there are three audio ADC’s and DAC’s each, supporting analog as well as digital audio interfaces. Examples of such analog interfaces are MICIN1P/N, MICIN2P/N, MICIN3P/N, FMINL/R, LINEINL/R, LINEOUTLP/N, LINEOUTRP/N, HPOUTL/R. The digital interfaces include I2S/PCM, DMIC, OWA IN/OUT. Other peripherals include USB ports, SPI, UART and TWI. The SoC supports 5 stages of pipelining and its architectural design is given in the picture below.
One can back this Linux friendly Nezha RISC-V SBC on the Indiegogo site where it is been crowdfunded since 20th May 2021. The first 100 boards were planned to deliver in May itself while the next batch is tentative to be shipped in June 2021. The basic Nezha RISC-V SBC comes within $99. The kit consists of USB cables, a power adapter and a pre-burned Debian image micro SD card. The customer can choose between a vision suit, panel suit or full suit depending on the requirement. The source for all images and technical specifications is the official product page.
Sanskriti Sawant is a student of Electronics and Telecommunication engineering. She is passionate about Computer architecture, VLSI and plans to major in them. She is working on HDL languages and FPGA’s.