The openness of the Kendryte K210

Posted on September 26, 2019
Tags: electronics

In my previous post, I mentioned that the documentation for the Kendryte K210 wasn’t that great. Specifically, the datasheet doesn’t contain any register definitions, the way a datasheet from Microchip or Maxim would.

I’d assumed that maybe this was just because of the language barrier or something. However, this thread suggests that it’s by design. Apparently, Kendryte has a “Technical Reference Manual” that includes register definitions, but they’re not releasing it to the general public.

I’m not sure this affects me all that much, since I’m most likely going to be using one of the SDKs anyway. However, it does go to show that RISC-V isn’t necessarily more open than an architecture like ARM, at least from the point of view of a software developer. The datasheets for Microchip’s ARM-based SAM microcontrollers contain definitions for all of the registers (with the notable exception of the Peripheral Touch Controller). From a developer’s point of view, that makes the SAM more open than the K210.

Perhaps the RISC-V microcontroller I should really be looking at is the GigaDevice GD32VF103. Its User Manual contains all the register definitions. The GD32VF103 is much less powerful than the K210, but the GD32VF103 has more peripherals: ADC, DAC, CAN, and USB. This puts it more in line with the SAM microcontrollers, and is closer to what I need for most of my projects, anyway. Sipeed is making a board for the GD32VF103, the Longan Nano, but it won’t be released until October 31.