PINE64 Shows Off the First Star64 RISC-V Single-Board Computer Prototypes, Targets a Launch in Weeks

Board will arrive soon in 4GB and 8GB variants, but a functional operating system will rely on community contributions.

PINE64 has published the first pictures of its upcoming Star64 RISC-V single-board computer, a quad-core 64-bit Linux-capable gadget it hopes will offer competition to StarFive's crowdfunded VisionFive 2.

"Just three months after the board’s initial announcement today I get the privilege of unveiling the prototype – and I hope you’ll admit that it looks mighty cool," says PINE64's Lukasz Erecinski in the company's latest community update. "Star64 is the first true RISC-V SBC from us (I mean, unless you really consider the Pinecil a SBC), but as I wrote last month it certainly isn’t the last RISC-V piece of hardware you’ll be seeing from us."

The company showed off the Star64's initial board design late last month, after having teased the board the month before. The company's latest unveiling confirms the finalized specifications — including the use of the StarFive JH7110 system-on-chip with four 1.5GHz 64-bit RISC-V cores, also found on board StarFive's own VisionFive 2 single-board computer, a follow-up to the original VisionFive design and its JH7100 chip.

The release of hardware imagery, though, unveils more about the board's overall capabilities — including the presence of two gigabit Ethernet ports in a stacked layout, a single full-size HDMI port making use of the JH7110's Imagination Technologies BXE-2-32 GPU, three USB 2.0 ports, a USB 3.0 port, and a PCI Express slot for add-on hardware. As expected, there's also a 40-pin Raspberry Pi-style general-purpose input/output (GPIO) header to the top edge of the board, while the radio module includes support for two external antennas — one for Wi-Fi 6 and the other for Bluetooth 5.2.

Elsewhere on the board are connectors for a MIPI Display Serial Interface (DSI) with touch panel support, Camera Serial Interface (CSI), eMMC storage, and a 12V DC power jack. "Similarly to the RockPro64 and Quartz64, the 12V port on the Star64 can be used for powering other hardware directly from the board – a popular example is powering one or multiple SSDs connected to a PCIe SATA adapter," Erecinski notes.

"I'll add that, at least in theory, the Star64 would make a great NAS because of its SoC's low thermals and idle power. I am looking forward to seeing NAS-focused Linux or BSD* OSes available for the board."

On the topic of software, Erecinski has confirmed that Debian and Fedora are both being ported to the StarFive JH7110 — but that while the Star64 will be made available for sale in 4GB and 8GB RAM variants "in a few weeks time," PINE64 will do so targeting early adopters and developers eager to get their hands on hardware for their own porting efforts and without official operating system images.

"Given the interest in the Star64 and the SoC powering [it]," Erecinski says, "I hope to see functional distributions available for the board soon after launch."

More information is available on the PINE64 website.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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