Raspberry Pi has long been the most famous in the world of single-board computers. But there are plenty of alternatives, such as LattePanda and Khadas, and of course, BeagleBoard, which has announced the availability of its RISC-V powered BeagleV-Ahead.
Coming in at $149, the BeagleV-Ahead is powered by a 2 GHz, quad-core RISC-V 64GCV Xuantile C910 CPU and has 4GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC flash storage on which you can install either Ubuntu or Yocto Linux. The OS is flashed to the board, and we then remotely interface with the board via a terminal or web interface.
The big draw for this board is the RISC-V CPU. In the maker community, RISC-V is gaining popularity, mainly due to its open-source nature and availability in several different price points and packages. This includes Milk-V, which offers three RISC-V machines starting from $9. You can even get RISC-V-powered soldering irons now!
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Beagle boards have used Arm-based CPUs in the past, but the switch to an open-source RISC-V CPU is the only significant change between the boards. The distinct BeagleBoard form factor remains, meaning "capes", BeagleBoard's name for add-on boards (think Raspberry Pi HATs or Arduino Shields). Capes connect to the board using the P8 and P9 header, essentially the same as the Raspberry Pi's GPIO. But with the BeagleV-Ahead, we get six analog inputs and a plethora of PWM, I2C, UART, SPI, I2S and good old digital IO.
The BeagleBoard team has a documentation page up; from there, we can delve deeper into the BeagleV-Ahead. There are a few gaps, but this board is just a few days old, so documentation will eventually catch up.
We first reported on this board in 2021, and in the two years since, there has been a pandemic and a global chip shortage which has impacted the delivery time of the BeagleV. That said, it is good to see another RISC-V board being offered to an enthusiastic maker community.
The BeagleV-Ahead is available from several distributors, with an average price of $149.