Intel Horse Creek platform showcased with SiFive P550 RISC-V CPU, 8GB DDR5, PCIe Gen5

When SiFive introduced its Performance P550 64-bit RISC-V processor in 2021, we were told that Intel would use it in the Horse Creek platform with “leading-edge interface IP such as DDR and PCIe” and manufactured with Intel’s 7nm process.

We now have more details about the Horse Creek platform, as a development board was showcased for the first time in public at the Intel Innovation 2022 Developer Conference, and according to a report by Wikichip, the Cortex-A75 class quad-core RISC-V processor runs at up to 2.2 GHz, supports DDR5-5600 memory and eight PCIe 5.0 lanes, and was taped out with Intel 4 process.

Horse Creek Features

Horse Creek platform specifications:

  • CPU – SiFive P500 quad-core RISC-V processor @ up to 2.2 GHz with a 13-stage, 3-issue, out-of-order (OoO) pipeline, private L2 cache, and common L3 cache
  • Memory – DDR5-5600 interface
  • PCIe – PCIe Gen5 through Intel’s PCIe PHY with 8 lanes, Synopsys PCIe Root Hub controller
  • Other peripheral interfaces – I3C, Quad and Octal SPI, UART, peripheral DMA
  • Package – 19×19 FBGA
  • Process – Intel 4 technology

Horse Creek Development Board

The Horse Creek platform currently supports Ubuntu 20.04 with Linux 5.17.4, and PCIe driver ported and enabled. Wikichip further says Intel demonstrated a video game (running on the CPUs), a media player, and a web browser on the development board.

The platform is part of Intel’s one billion investments into foundry innovation, and as I understand it, Intel won’t sell the chip, but it can be used as a platform to help their foundry customers design their own chips. So I’m pretty sure the Horse Creek development board shown above will never be available to the public, but it will serve as a base for commercial chips, albeit possibly with different interfaces, since I’m not sure it makes commercial sense to combine a P550 RISC-V processor with DDR5 and PCIe Gen5 beyond technology demonstration.

Via Liliputing

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12 Comments
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Anonymous
Anonymous
3 months ago

16mm^2 for 4 cores. Put 16 cores in an SBC, plz.

Christopher Price
3 months ago

I genuinely think they will. Once the chip shortage ends, I expect Intel will ship 16 small core x86 and RISC boards. Intel seems poised to say “we don’t care if you use x86 or RISC, we’re going to make the best of both, and then eventually spin them together on one chip.”

Anonymous
Anonymous
3 months ago

I have no idea how committed Intel is to RISC-V, other than fabbing any chip a customer will pay them for because why wouldn’t they. We’ve seen Intel cancel Optane, probably discrete graphics, etc. And AMD cancelled K12 and Project Skybridge. We do know that the Intel Core i3-N305 will have 8 small x86 cores which is a big deal for Atom-only products. I think they will stick with 8 to keep the die size small and update it to Crestmont and its successors. They could also do away with Atom-only consumer CPUs and add a couple of big cores.… Read more »

Christopher Price
3 months ago

Intel literally just started shipping discreet graphics. They still own Optane, though it’s not clear what they’ll do with it. NAND became a commodity, and didn’t align with their fabs since they’re focused on CPU/GPU stamping going forward.

When we step down to 5nm, core count can rise dramatically.

Christopher Price
3 months ago

“… since I’m not sure it makes commercial sense to combine a P550 RISC-V processor with DDR5 and PCIe Gen5 beyond technology demonstration.” Depends on how many cores you’re willing to buy and stamp. If you are large enough to make your own CPU, and you don’t want people booting your OS on a desktop PC with an EFI bootloader hack… you might just negotiate having Intel design, support, and fab at scale a chip that is competitive with their own Core CPUs. Intel could create a RISC family that scale alongside x86, and this appears to demonstrate they’re willing… Read more »

uiop
uiop
3 months ago

For $20 in volume, I would buy Horse Creek. I would use it for compute in memory, with ethernet hanging off the PCIe. If I could actually order AMD AM5 platform chipsets, you could even use that as a southbridge and make a decent client system. One day, hopefully, somebody will do this.

sander
sander
3 months ago

So, should customers bring their own RISC-V design, which Intel then produces?
Or can they re-use the design from Intel / Sifive: “Yeah, give me 1 million of those, in a package with my name”?

Cameron
Cameron
3 months ago

Sounds like sifive is one of the ecosystem partners, so you can license their cores in your design. Or maybe build right off of Horse Creek? Just modify to suit your needs.

Tonymac32
Tonymac32
3 months ago

But at that point, why bother with RISC-V at all? Licensing all that Intel IP, licensing the RISC-V core, etc? You could just use x86 even.

Christopher Price
3 months ago

One, total control. You’re master of your own domain.

Two, it’s totally open. Everything is constantly vetted, aside from what you do unique to it.

Three, RISC and CISC each have tradeoffs. Those have narrowed, but they’re still present.

Intel has admitted, literally from the CEO’s own words, that they have to be open to people using non-Intel tech. The era where people committed to one chipmaker is over, even for niche key utilizations.

Christopher Price
3 months ago

It sounds like Intel is showing they can flex RISC by taking SiFive’s design and bootstrapping it with their I/O. Functionally this board would require SiFive’s CPU. SiFive is getting a huge leg up here. Imagine if someone did this with OpenPOWER (don’t hold your breath for it to be Intel – even if Intel would stamp an OpenPOWER chip, they’re clearly betting on RISC to live alongside x86, instead of OpenPOWER competing head-on with x86). But realistically, Intel is showing they can – easily – make their own RISC chips, or stamp yours, and turn it into a full… Read more »

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