DeepComputing Unveils the RISC-V-Powered DC-ROMA II Laptop, Partners with Canonical on Ubuntu Port

Second-generation RISC-V laptop brings twice the cores, a dedicated AI accelerator, and an official Ubuntu Desktop build.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month agoHW101

UPDATE (6/18/2024): DeepComputing has now opened pre-orders for the DC-ROMA II, with prices starting at $399 — a discount from a planned $453 retail price. All models include the same processor, with eight 64-bit RISC-V cores running at up to 2GHz, a neural coprocessor delivering up to 2 tera-operations per second (TOPS) of compute at minimum precision, and vector acceleration, differing only in memory and accessories.

The base model, at $399, comes with 8GB of LPDDR4X memory and a 32GB SD card for the operating system. An optional 1TB internal SSD increases the price to $499. Upping the memory to 16GB also bumps the price to $499, or an unsurprising $599 with the 1TB SSD as well.

Finally, the "Standard Dev Kit" accessory bundle adds $71 to the price of any model and includes a pair of 32GB SD cards pre-loaded with Debian Linux and Ubuntu Linux operating system images, a USB Type-C cable, and a "Special Dev Cable" for the laptop's hardware development interface; a "Power Dev Kit" includes all of the aforementioned and an 86W 10Ah USB battery pack for an additional $49 on top, bringing the top-end model with all accessories to $699.

All models are available to pre-order now through the Deep Computing store; the original DC-ROMA is still available to order too, starting at $299.

Original article continues below.

DeepComputing, which launched one of the first commercial notebook computers to feature a RISC-V processor, has announced its latest machine — a notebook built around the SpacemiT SoC K1 running an official port of Ubuntu Linux, courtesy of a partnership with Canonical.

"The launch of the DC-ROMA II represents a major leap forward for the open source community," claims Canonical's Gordan Markuš. "RISC-V laptops will empower everyone, from seasoned developers to novice users, to develop, experiment and innovate for the RISC-V architecture."

"Additionally," Markuš continues, "this development showcases the adaptability and robustness of Ubuntu and showcases Canonical's commitment to the RISC-V ecosystem. Our vision with DeepComputing is that we are not just collaborating on a product, we are igniting a movement towards an environment where open standards and collaboration can thrive."

As the name implies, the DC-ROMA II stands as a successor to the DC-ROMA — billed at its unveiling, not entirely accurately, as the world's first laptop to feature the free and open source RISC-V architecture, albeit in the form of a proprietary implementation.

The DC-ROMA II continues this RISC-V focus, moving to the more powerful SpacemiT SoC K1 chip — featuring eight 64-bit RISC-V cores running at up to 2GHz, to which DeepComputing has added 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and a dedicated two tera-operations per second (TOPS) accelerator for on-device machine learning and artificial intelligence workloads.

The second-generation DC-ROMA has also received an external upgrade, dropping the plastic chassis of its predecessor for a metal build that the company says will improve heat dissipation. There's a 14" 1080p60 display, Wi-Fi-6 and Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity, and a claimed eight-hour battery life — plus a "development interface," which provides general-purpose input/output (GPIO), I2C, and UART access.

On the software side, the DC-ROMA II will feature an official port of Canonical's Ubuntu Linux — becoming the latest in a string of RISC-V devices to gain Ubuntu Linux images, and the first to get an Ubuntu Desktop image rather than Ubuntu Server.

As with other Ubuntu-capable RISC-V devices, the port will also include access to Canonical's repository of RISC-V-compatible open source software packages including popular web browsers, productivity suites, programming environments, and even games.

DeepComputing is opening pre-orders for the DC-ROMA II on its website on June 18th, at an as-yet unannounced price point; those attending the RISC-V Summit Europe on June 24th-28th will be able to see the device in action, the company has confirmed.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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