Milk-V Pioneer is an innovative mainboard/workstation designed for developers, built on the powerful SOPHON SG2042 processor and packaged in a standard microATX form factor. With its PC-like interface and industrial compatibility, Milk-V Pioneer is the high-performance RISC-V personal computer the world has been waiting for. Milk-V Pioneer doesn’t skimp on hardware (e.g., 64-core CPU @ 2 GHz, 128 GB DDR4 RAM @ 3200 MHz, 1 TB PCIe 3.0 SSD, and more), comes in both mainboard and full PC versions, and is competitively priced with comparable x86 machines. Milk-V Pioneer allows developers to run RISC-V web servers, network switches, desktop workstations, colocated servers, and more. With Milk-V’s great performance and open toolchains as a foundation, native RISC-V development has never been easier or more accessible.
The Milk-V Pioneer Board has the following advantages over previous RISC-V mainboards:
Powerful Processor Performance
The Milk-V Pioneer features the SOPHON SG2042 processor, which boasts 64 cores with a clock frequency of 2 GHz. Compared to the processors used in previous RISC-V boards, the Milk-V Pioneer offers a higher core count, enabling stronger multi-threaded computing capability and processing performance.
The Milk-V Pioneer supports 4 DIMM slots, expandable up to 128 GB of DDR4 memory with ECC support, operating at a speed of 3200 MT/s. This provides a performance advantage in terms of memory specifications.
Abundant Storage Interfaces
The Milk-V Pioneer offers a wide range of storage interface options, including a 64 MB SPI Flash, 2 M.2 slots, a microSD card connector, an eMMC module connector, and 5 SATA 3.0 interfaces. This allows developers to choose and expand storage devices more flexibly to meet various application requirements.
Network Connectivity Performance
The Milk-V Pioneer comes with 2 2.5 G Ethernet interfaces and 1 M.2 E Key interface, providing high-speed network connectivity options.
Expansion Slots and Interfaces
The Milk-V Pioneer features 3 PCIe x16 slots (PCIe Gen3 x8 signaling), 8 USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, PCIe x8 slots, and more. This provides developers with more expansion and connection options, allowing them to connect additional devices and components to meet various expansion needs.
Lower Entry Cost
Compared to the HiFive Unmatched, the Milk-V Pioneer offers significantly higher performance at the same price point.
In summary, the Milk-V Pioneer has advantages over the other two devices in terms of processing power, memory expansion, storage interfaces, network connectivity, scalability, and price. This makes the Milk-V Pioneer a favorable choice for developers, offering higher performance and more expansion options to meet various RISC-V development needs.
When we consider the current application domains of RISC-V chips is predominantly focused on low-computing power MCU markets and IoT domains with minimal ecosystem dependencies. This approach is understandable, yet RISC-V still has untapped potential in the x86 and ARM ecosystem markets. For RISC-V, the high-performance domain represents a highly valuable market segment, pivotal to its commercial development, and an essential indicator of its integration into the mainstream chip architecture.
RISC-V is continuously evolving, embracing advanced manufacturing processes, enhanced performance, and higher-end applications. In the realm of high-end servers, RISC-V demonstrates a promising trajectory. The annual ARK Big Ideas 2021 report, regarded as a tech investment "bible", predicts that the combined market share of ARM and RISC-V in the server market will rise from zero in 2020 to 71% by 2030. Furthermore, ARM and RISC-V have the potential to replace Intel x86 in the cloud computing sector. By 2030, CPU revenues are projected to reach $19 billion, while server revenues are estimated to reach $100 billion, resulting in a compound annual growth rate of 45%. These projections illustrate the vast market prospects for RISC-V.
However, enabling RISC-V chips to be employed in diverse fields extends beyond the mere stacking of advanced manufacturing processes and high-performance capabilities. Equally important is the need for a richer and more robust software and hardware ecosystem. Presently, the efficiency of compilation and the availability of verification environments pose as barriers, hindering widespread developer and community involvement in the construction of the RISC-V ecosystem.
Previously, software or systems based on the RISC-V architecture could only be compiled and developed within virtual machines. This reliance on cross-compilation toolchains, which convert source code from the development host into executable files compatible with the RISC-V instruction set, introduced various problems and limitations, including compatibility issues, performance losses, and debugging difficulties.
However, the introduction of the high-performance RISC-V workstation, Milk-V Pioneer, revolutionizes the accessibility of native RISC-V development and compilation environments at a lower cost. This breakthrough offers numerous significant advantages:
Enhanced Performance and Efficiency Local compilation enables code to be directly compiled and executed on the RISC-V workstation, leveraging the hardware resources and features of the workstation to their fullest extent. This eliminates performance losses associated with cross-compilation, accelerates the compilation and execution processes, and ultimately speeds up the development cycle.
Improved Compatibility and Reliability Local compilation eliminates compatibility issues that may arise during cross-compilation across different platforms. Developers can directly compile and test software on the target platform, ensuring stability and reliability on that particular platform.
Simplified Debugging and Optimization A local compilation environment provides a more direct and effective approach to debugging and optimization. Developers can debug in a real hardware environment, enabling more accurate analysis and issue resolution. Additionally, local compilation allows for the utilization of performance analysis tools and debuggers specific to the target platform, facilitating better optimization and fine-tuning of software performance.
Driving RISC-V Ecosystem Development By providing high-performance RISC-V workstations and local compilation environments, the development and maturity of the RISC-V ecosystem are significantly promoted. Developers can more conveniently develop and test RISC-V software and systems, thereby driving the adoption and application of RISC-V in various fields.
The introduction of the Milk-V Pioneer product series marks a milestone in the RISC-V software ecosystem. It addresses a longstanding challenge in the process of operating system distribution construction, which relied on virtual machines and lengthy compilation times. As a result, it significantly reduces the entry barriers for RISC-V ecosystem development and propels the entire RISC-V software ecosystem to new heights.
The Pioneer comes with a 64-core high-performance RISC-V chip on board, SOPHON SG2042, providing users with powerful processing performance.
The SG2042 server chip is based on the RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA) and features a 64-core server-grade chip designed to meet high-performance computing needs. It offers scalability, flexibility, and customization, with integrated circuits including high-speed cache (L3Cache 64 MB), memory controller (4 DDR4-3200), network interface, and PCI Express® controller (x32 PCI Express Gen4.0), supporting general-purpose operating systems such as Linux. The SG2042 has a clock speed of 2 GHz and a design consisting of 16 clusters, each containing 4 RISC-V cores, with each core featuring L1-D 64 KB and L1-I 64 KB. Each cluster shares a design of L2 1 MB. The L3 System cache has a capacity of 64 MB. The SG2042 supports interconnect between two chips via CCIX and has 4 DDR4-3200 controllers, supporting RDIMM, ECC, and UDIMM. The chip also has 32x PCI E Gen 4.0 interfaces, integrated eMMC5.1, SDIO 3.0, SPI x2, I2C x4, UART x4, and gigabit Ethernet MAC.
These features make Milk-V Pioneer ideal for use as a RISC-V compiled workstation or as a high-performance server.
The Pioneer Board is designed with a diverse range of powerful and versatile interfaces, making it an ideal choice for various applications and use cases. The onboard interfaces include 2x RJ45 2.5 G for fast network connectivity, 5x SATA 3.0 6 Gbps for high-speed storage devices, 2x M.2 M Key (PCIe 3.0 x4) and 1x M.2 E Key (PCIe 3.0 x1 + USB 2.0) for flexible SSD and expansion card options, 8x USB 3.2 10 Gbps for ultra-fast data transfers. These comprehensive connectivity options provide users with the flexibility to create tailored solutions and maximize the potential of the Pioneer Board for various computing needs.
On the firmware, thanks to the efforts of the R&D team of Sophgo, the latest OpenSBI mainline code has been successfully booted on the system. Yixun Lan, the developer of Gentoo, completed the basic porting of U-Boot, and now we can use U-Boot to boot the OS instead of Linuxboot.
As SG2042 is a server-level chip, UEFI/ACPI is usually used as the firmware on servers. The engineers from Sophgo are also working hard to port EDK2 so that it will be possible to boot the platform. The boot flow chart can be seen in the image above.
The Pioneer Board supports a wide variety of Linux distributions, allowing you as a user to choose the operating system that best suits your needs and preferences. This compatibility provides you with the flexibility to take advantage of the diverse range of features, tools, and software packages available in different Linux distributions. By supporting various Linux systems, our product enables you to tailor your computing experience according to your specific use cases and requirements, ultimately enhancing your productivity and satisfaction.
To help streamline working with RISC-V, we have also produced a ready to use RISC-V PC, the Milk-V Pioneer Box, so that users can get started working with the Milk-V Pioneer board as quickly as possible. This RISC-V workstation comes loaded with plenty of RAM, a large SSD hard drive, network card, graphics card, power supply, cooler fan, and of course, the Milk-V Pioneer board.
With a sleek, elegant, and compact design, the Milk V Pioneer Box is perfect for quickly getting started with RISC-V development, as well as everyday computing needs.
The Pioneer Board is no different from PC motherboards. All you need to do is plug in peripherals and start it up like any regular mainboard!
Personal Computer or Workstation
By connecting basic peripherals to the Pioneer Board, you can turn it into your personal computer. Effortlessly handle office tasks, develop RISC-V software, or even use it for gaming. With additional peripherals such as high-performance graphics and additional hard drives, you can easily accomplish tasks like software compilation and video rendering for professional production. Let RISC-V help you boost your productivity.
Web/Storage Server Capable
With the abundant SATA and M.2 M Key interfaces on the Pioneer Board, you can build a server with massive storage capacities. The 64-core RISC-V processor provides exceptional multiprocessing capabilities. You can also connect an Intel X520-2 via the PCIe interface to add dual 10 G network ports to your server!
The Pioneer Board provides the option to enhance network capabilities by installing an Intel X520-2 network card, transforming it into a dual-port 10 G network switch. This optional upgrade allows users to significantly improve their networking performance, enabling faster data transfers and enhanced communication between devices. With the flexibility to add the Intel X520-2 network card, the Pioneer Board offers a powerful and customizable solution for users who require high-speed networking for their projects or applications.
MicroATX is a standard sized mainboard specification that is 25% shorter than the ATX form factor. Milk-V Pioneer, as a microATX compliant RISC-V workstation mainboard, offers developers all the additional benefits that the microATX form factor provides, such as multiple PCIe slots, SATA interfaces, USB ports, and other common microATX cases and expansion interfaces. This compliant form-factor allows developers to assemble the mainboard with commonly available microATX cases and other compatible hardware components. This flexibility enables developers to build high-performance RISC-V development environments according to their needs and budget, and the microATX form factor facilitates easier testing and debugging with well-designed layouts and peripheral compatibility.
Our microATX RISC-V form-factor combines flexible construction and expansion options, higher integration levels, convenient testing and debugging, as well as cost-effectiveness. These advantages empower developers to create and optimize RISC-V applications, systems, and solutions more conveniently, driving the development of the RISC-V ecosystem.
|Milk-V Pioneer Board||HiFive Unmatched||ASUS TS300-E10-PS4|
|SoC||SOPHON SG2042||SiFive Freedom U740||Intel Xeon E2234|
|CPU||64-core T-Head C920 @ 2 GHz||Quad SiFive U74 @ 1.2 GHz||Quad-Core @ 3.6 GHz|
|Power||24P ATX Power||24P ATX Power||24P ATX Power|
|Memory Capacity||4x DIMM slots up to 128-GB DDR4 with ECC @ 3200 MT/s||16 GB of 64-bit DDR4 @ 1866 MT/s||4x DIMM up to 128-GB DDR4 with ECC @ 2666 MHz|
|Memory Included||None||16 GB of 64-bit DDR4 @ 1866 MT/s||None|
|M.2 M-Key||2x 2280 / 2260 / 2242 / 2230 (PCIe Gen3 x4)||1x 2280 (PCIe Gen3 x4)||2x 22110 / 2280 / 2260 / 2242 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA)|
|SPI Flash||64 MB||32 MB||None|
|Network||2x 2.5 Gb Ethernet & 1x M.2 E Key (PCIe + USB)||1x 1 Gb Ethernet & 1x M.2 E Key||4x 1 Gb Ethernet LAN (Intel® I210) & 1x Mgmt LAN|
|USB||8x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports (10 Gbps) & 2x USB 3.0 header (front panel)||4x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports||2x USB 3.2 & 2x USB 3.1|
|PCIe x16 slots||3x Gen3 x8 link||1x Gen3 x8 link||1x Gen3 x16 / x8 link|
|PCIe x8 slots||(Can use x16 slots)||None||1x Gen3 x0 / x8 link & 1x Gen3 x4 link|
|Dimensions||22.4 x 22.4 cm (microATX)||17 x 17 cm (mini-ITX)||21.75 x 54.5 cm|
|Price||$1499||$999||$899 (without CPU)|
We have also provided:
We have produced 20 sets of Milk-V Pioneer v 1.1, and are conducting rigorous testing to ensure complete functionality, with improvements implemented in the upcoming v 1.2 version. We anticipate updating the Pioneer to v 1.2 before August 1, 2023 and have planned to initially manufacture 50 sets to meet the demand of the first wave of orders. We’ll keep you up to date on manufacturing developments, and updates will be sent via email to our campaign subscribers.
After our production run is complete, we will box everything up and send it along to Crowd Supply’s fulfillment partner, Mouser Electronics, who will handle distribution to backers worldwide. You can learn more about Crowd Supply’s fulfillment services under Ordering, Paying, and Shipping in their guide.
As with any new product, there are risks & challenges to consider. First, the RISC-V ecosystem is fairly new. As an emerging open source instruction set architecture, we need a concerted community effort to refine and develop it. We will actively participate in the RISC-V Foundation and work with the major Linux communities to advance RISC-V. We will also donate machines to support the continued development of the RISC-V ecosystem. (Donating machines to who??)
One challenge is about the vector instruction set version 0.71 in our product, which is a collection of instructions designed to perform operations on multiple data elements simultaneously, typically organized as vectors, in order to accelerate computational tasks and enhance the efficiency of parallel processing in computer architectures. In general, the latest instruction sets tend to deliver higher efficiency compared to previous versions. However, the compiler from T-Head and the ZCC compiler from Terapines Technology are well solved to ensure the compatibility of vector instruction set. Also, our products are compatible with binary packages compiled with non-vector instruction sets, which provides broader compatibility and flexibility.
Another challenge for all electronics projects is the risk of chip shortages. To help alleviate this problem, Milk-V has partnered with SOPHGO, the manufacturer of the SG2042, to prioritize the supply of SG2042 to Milk-V for the production of the Milk-V Pioneer. While we are actively addressing these risks and challenges, we are fully aware that these issues may have some impact on the progress and delivery time of the project. We will do our best to overcome these obstacles and ensure the quality and reliability of our products, and will communicate with backers to keep everyone informed about our progress, and about any potential delays that may arise.
Thank you for your support and trust in our project. We believe in the potential and future growth of RISC-V and will do our best to provide you with a great product and experience. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.
"With promises to make schematics and design files available soon, the 64-core Milk-V Pioneer is an absolute monster of a board."
"Milk-V...[is] building a new RISC-V powered line of computers... The Milk-V Duo looks like a Raspberry Pi Pico. There's also a Raspberry Pi shaped quad-core board and the current cream of the crop: a micro ATX system called the Milk-V Pioneer."
"Chinese RISC-V developers Milk-V Technology and SOPHGO recently announced their collaborative open source Milk-V Pioneer developer motherboard and workstation based on the SOPHON SG2042 RISC-V server SoC."
Produced by Milk-V in Shenzhen, China.
Sold and shipped by Crowd Supply.
1x motherboard, 1x heatsink, 1x heatsink mount bracket
A ready to use workstation with Milk-V Pioneer board, 128 GB ram, 1 TB SSD, dual 10 GB ethernet cards and graphics cards. Comes with power cable.