RISC-V Business: Testing StarFive's VisionFive 2 SBC

It's risky business fighting Intel, AMD, and Arm, and that's exactly what Star Five is trying to do with this:

StarFive VisionFive 2 Black Background

The chip on this new single board computer could be the start of a computing revolution—at least that's what some people think!

The VisionFive 2 has a JH7110 SoC on it, sporting a new Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) called RISC-V.

Testing Raspberry Pi's new Debug Probe

Raspberry Pi Debug Probe Pi 4 model B and Pico W

Yesterday, in tandem with Raspberry Pi's announcement of their new $12 Debug Probe, I received one in the mail (pictured above).

The Debug Probe is powered by an RP2040, and lets you connect from USB to UART (serial) or SWD (Serial Wire Debug), perfect for debugging most embedded devices.

UART is useful to connect to a device's console when you don't have a display or other means of controlling it, and you can find UART/serial/console ports on almost any device with a processor or microcontroller.

Pi Cluster vs Ampere Altra Max 128-core ARM CPU

Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 and Ampere Altra Max M128-30

Sometimes life has a funny way of lining up opportunities, and one presented itself when Patrick from ServeTheHome reached out and said, "Jeff, I have an Ampere Altra Max server. You wanna come see it?"

Of course I did.

But seeing as Patrick is more than 800 miles away, I had to come up with a reason to go see it, so I pulled out my 6-node Raspberry Pi cluster—with it's 24 ARM Cortex A72 CPU cores—and decided to have a little competition.

And of course that competition is documented in a YouTube video:

Microsoft is still far behind: Windows on ARM

In spite of Microsoft's cryptic announcement of Project Volterra, and Qualcomm's continuous lineup of 'flagship' ARM SoCs for Windows, Microsoft is still behind the 8-ball when it comes to ARM.

Apparently, in 2016, Microsoft entered into an exclusivity deal with Qualcomm. That's why all official 'Windows on ARM' devices use Qualcomm SoCs. At the time, Apple hadn't yet pulled off its third major architecture shift for macOS, from Intel X86 to ARM.

Looking back, products like the Surface Pro X and the myriad ARM for Windows laptops, were basically built to a budget and for portability above all else. They were never competitive with Intel/AMD-based computers. Microsoft seemed to think ARM would always remain in a niche, only used for light, mobility-first devices.