Framework Announces a Partnership with DeepComputing for Its First RISC-V Mainboard

The only third-party Mainboard yet announced, DeepComputing's creation is based on a quad-core 64-bit RISC-V chip.

Gareth Halfacree
1 month agoHW101

Modular laptop specialist Framework has announced a partnership with DeepComputing, which is developing a third-party Mainboard for the company's devices — powered by a RISC-V system-on-chip.

"The team at DeepComputing has built the first ever partner-developed Mainboard, and it uses a RISC-V processor," Framework's Nirav Patel announced of the team-up. "This is a huge milestone both for expanding the breadth of the Framework ecosystem and for making RISC-V more accessible than ever. We designed the Framework Laptop to enable deep flexibility and personalization, and now that extends all the way to processor architecture selection."

Framework shot to fame with the release of a modular laptop design, in which ports could be chopped and changed at-will using expansion cards and the central single-board computer — dubbed the Framework Mainboard — could be replaced to upgrade the laptop in the future. In the years since the company has released several new Mainboard designs, branching out from Intel chips to include those from rival AMD in its most recent releases.

Its partnership with DeepComputing, though, will mark the first time a non-x86 Mainboard has been available — and the first from a partner rather than Framework itself. The DeepComputing Mainboard, the companies have revealed, is based around the StarFive JH6110 quad-core RISC-V system-on-chip — a downgrade, sadly, from the eight-core part that powers DeepComputing's own DC-ROMA II laptop, which opened for pre-order this week, and the same chip powering the PINE64 Star64, Milk-V Mars, and StarFive's own VisionFive 2.

"This Mainboard is extremely compelling," Patel claims, "but we want to be clear that in this generation, it is focused primarily on enabling developers, tinkerers, and hobbyists to start testing and creating on RISC-V. The peripheral set and performance aren’t yet competitive with our Intel and AMD-powered Framework Laptop Mainboards.

"This board also has soldered memory and uses microSD Cards and eMMC for storage, both of which are limitations of the processor. It is a great way to start playing with RISC-V though inside of a thin, light, refined laptop."

The DeepComputing Mainboard is to be shown off at the RISC-V Summit Europe next week, the companies have confirmed, and at launch will be a drop-in replacement for the x86 Mainboard in any model of Framework 13 laptop — or usable on its own as a single-board computer. Pricing has yet to be confirmed, but interested parties are invited to sign up on the Framework website to be notified when orders open.

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