Banana Pi Unveils an Eight-Core Edge AI Development Board Built around a RISC-V Chip: the BPI-F3

Eight cores plus a two TOPS neural coprocessor should mean this RISC-V board delivers promising performance for on-device AI and ML.

Gareth Halfacree
26 days ago β€’ Machine Learning & AI / HW101

Shenzhen-based embedded computing specialist Banana Pi has announced a new single-board computer with a difference: it's built around an eight-core RISC-V processor, rather than the company's usual Arm-based cores.

"The Banana Pi Development Board BPI-F3 is equipped with the world's first application processor, RISC-V K1 chip, by SpacemiT Technologies Ltd., which conforms to the RISC-V Foundation RVA22 standard," the Banana Pi team explains in an announcement brought to our attention by Linux Gizmos. "This open-source computing power reshapes the efficiency boundaries of industrial control and industry applications, injecting new energy into the global developer ecosystem. RISC-V gathers global consensus, and the K1 chip makes open-source computing power boundless."

Banana Pi, as its name suggests, is one of a number of companies that sprang up following the success of the Raspberry Pi single-board computer's launch. Its initial designs were close copies of the Raspberry Pi Model B, though it later branched out into more original systems β€” and the BPI-F3 may be its most interesting yet.

The heart of the board is SpacemiT's K1, a 64-bit application-class processor built around the free and open-source RISC-V instruction set architecture. SpacemiT's in-house demonstration board for the chip have its eight processor cores running at 1.6GHz, with a performance Banana Pi pegs at "equivalent to 1.3 times [the speed of Arm] Cortex-A55 [cores]." The chip also includes a neural network coprocessor delivering a claimed two tera-operations per second (TOPS) of compute at INT8 precision, on top of support for the officially-ratified RISC-V vector instruction extension set.

Banana Pi's board will host a single K1 chip along with up to 16GB of LPDDR4/4X memory, the company has confirmed, four USB 3.0 ports β€” though, with the K1 itself having only one USB 3.0 and two USB 2.0 lanes, this is likely to involve a hub chip β€” two Ethernet ports, an HDMI port, a five-lane PCI Express 2.1 bus, and an impressive 12 hardware UART serial ports.

More information on the new board is available on the Banana Pi website; the company has not yet confirmed pricing and availability.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
Latest articles
Sponsored articles
Related articles
Latest articles
Read more
Related articles