Alibaba RISC-V SoC Revealed as Processor for First RISC-V Laptop

October 10, 2022 by Jake Hertz

Alibaba's RISC-V SoC will power the ROMA development laptop, the industry’s first RISC-V offering.

Of all the developments in the computing industry, the RISC-V movement is arguably the most considerable emergence in the past 5 years. As RISC-V has grown with more technology, supporters, and partners, many began to speculate how long it would take until the first RISC-V laptop was brought to market.


The ROMA laptop.

The ROMA laptop. Image used courtesy of Alibaba


This idea would eventually come to fruition, as the ROMA laptop, the industry’s first RISC-V offering, was announced out of a collaboration between DeepComputing and Xcalibyte earlier this summer. Still, despite confirming the use of RISC-V processing in the laptop, the exact hardware was still not shared. 

Last week, details were finally released, as DeepComputing announced that they would be employing Alibaba’s TH1520 RISC-V SoC for the ROMA laptop. In this article, we’ll discuss the TH1520 SoC as well as what is known about the ROMA laptop.


Alibaba’s TH1520 RISC-V SoC

In August of this year, Alibaba made headlines in the RISC-V community with the release of a new RISC-V chip development platform called Wujian 600. Specifically, the platform was meant to help engineers develop edge-computing SoCs based on advanced CPU capabilities and heterogeneous architecture.

Out of this program, Alibaba subsidiary T-Head produced the TH1520 SoC in an effort to show the potential and power of RISC-V and the Wujian platform. 


Overview of the C910 CPU used in the TH1520.

Overview of the C910 CPU used in the TH1520. Image used courtesy of Alibaba. (Click image to enlarge)


While many specifics are unknown, according to Alibaba, the TH1520 proved to be a great success, offering exceptional performance and efficiency metrics. On a hardware level, what has been confirmed is that the TH1520 consists of a quad-core processor based on the Xuantie C910 CPU, with clock speeds reaching up to 2.5 GHz.

The C910 CPU comes from T-Head as well and offers features such as an L2 cache of up to 8 MB, a 12-stage pipeline architecture, and a power consumption of approximately 200 μW/MHz per core.

Alongside the CPU, the TH1520 also features an (unnamed) NPU capable of achieving 4 TOPS of AI performance, as well as 64-bit 4266 MT on DDR. According to reports, the TH1520 is capable of running desktop-level applications such as Firefox browser and LibreOffice office suite on OpenAnolis open-source Linux-based operating system.


RISC-V-based ROMA Laptop

Last week, DeepCompute and Xcalibyte announced that the Alibaba (T-Head) TH1520 would be the SoC used to power the ROMA laptop.

With this information, consumers are able to finally get a solid understanding of ROMA’s performance and specifications. The specs that are currently known include:

ROMA laptop specifications.

ROMA laptop specifications. Table information source: Alibaba

According to the group, the ROMA will be a business-facing laptop and the first premium versions of the ROMA laptop will be delivered in Q4 of 2022.