For those complaining about price, you might want to look into costs that go into ASIC’s. Adapteva has a nice write-up on that with their strategies for getting cost down. Note that it was critical to have a few million with a strategy that their own write-up said couldn’t work if priced for consumer market. They’d have to charge more or have ridiculous volume.
The HiFive product uses a CPU they developed on 28nm. That’s one of most expensive nodes you can use. Depending on if and how they split cost, fabbing those chips could’ve cost over a million dollars in masks. Simple division will show you it would take massive amount of units to get the per-unit price down to ARM SoC’s hobbyists are used to. Those sell or sold in high-volume. Low-volume, RISC workstations from the past like Sun’s and SGI’s sometimes cost five digits each on older nodes. Getting a low-volume CPU on cutting-edge node for a grand is a great improvement. Although, the Sun idea of keeping x86 as a PCI card to run legacy apps in a contained way is probably worth another go at with modern knowledge. ;)
So, those knowing the economics will be happy with $999 so long as they ship products that work as claimed. There’s been a lot of vaporware in FOSS-type hardware… As early adopters start building and porting, the ecosystem will grow to have more value for those that will buy high volume. When they do, prices will come down way further with a wider range of boards and devices. That’s probably their plan at least.
What are the eight gold-colored round things on the left side of the board?