Ubuntu 20.04/21.04 64-bit RISC-V released for QEMU, HiFive boards

Ubuntu RISC-V HiFive QEMU

Let’s a lot of excitement around RISC-V open architecture, but a lot of work still needs to be done to bring the ecosystem to level with Arm or x86 architecture from the silicon to the software. Progress is made step-by-step and one of these steps is Canonical released Ubuntu 64-bit RISC-V (RISCV64) images for some of SiFive HiFive boards, as well as QEMU open-source emulator. Specifically, Canonical released an Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS image for HiFive Unleashed & QEMU, and an Ubuntu 21.04 image for HiFive Unleashed, HiFive Unmatched, and QEMU. Note those are only server images, and there’s no desktop image yet like for Ubuntu 21.04 on Raspberry Pi 2/3/4. It’s been possible to run RISC-V Linux in QEMU for at least three years, but when I tried it was a minimal system based on Busybox, so let’s try again with Ubuntu 21.04 following the instructions provided on Discourse. I […]

SiFive Performance P550 is the fastest 64-bit RISC-V processor so far

SiFive Performance P550 fastest RISC-V processor

SiFive has announced two RISC-V “Performance” cores with Performance P550 that should be the fastest 64-bit RISC-V processor so far with a SPECInt 2006 score of 8.65/GHz, as well as a Performance P270 Linux capable processor with full support for the RISC-V vector extension v1.0 rc. SiFive Performance P550 P550 highlights: RISC-V RV64GBC ISA 13 stage, 3-issue high-performance out-of-order pipeline Supports multicore coherence with up to 4 cores in a core complex Private 32KB+32KB L1 cache and a private 256KB L2 cache per core Up to 4MB L3 cache in a four-core cluster SPECint 2006 – 8.65/GHz 2.4 GHz in 7nm with a footprint of less than 0.25 mm SiFive compares the Performance P550 core to Arm’s Cortex-A75 with higher performance in SPECint2006 and SPECfp2006 integer/floating-point benchmark, all a much smaller area which would enable a quad-core P550 cluster on about the same footprint as a single Cortex-A75 core. There […]

RISC-V International to give away 1,000 RISC-V development boards

RISC-V development board giveaway

The best way for a new platform to get good software support is to bring hardware into the hands of developers. That’s exactly what RISC-V International is doing by inviting developers to sign up for a RISC-V developer board sponsored by RISC-V and contributing members. There are 1,000 boards on offer with 1GB to 16GB RAM depending on the target project from five companies and organizations namely Allwinner, Beagleboard.org, SiFive, Microchip Technology (previously Microsemi), and RIOS. Here are the stated goals of the giveaway: Spur innovation Enable new opportunities for the next generation of developers to work with the RISC-V ISA Provide a platform For testing To write programs that run on RISC-V Develop software Integrate existing software stacks Optimize ecosystem software Share feedback on the product such as ease to integrate software stacks, develop and test extensions, etc. The company did not provide an exact list of development board […]

SiFive Intelligence X280 64-bit RISC-V processor integrates AI extensions

Sifive intelligence X280

The last RISC-V core announced by SiFive was the U8-Series out-of-order RISC-V Core IP that aims to compete against Arm Cortex-A72 Core. But in their latest announcement, the company built upon the 64-bit RISC-V U7-series with the SiFive Intelligence X280 multi-core, Linux capable RISC-V processor adding vector extensions and SiFive Intelligence Extensions, and optimized for AI/ML compute at the edge. SiFive Intelligence X280 key features: 64-bit RISC-V ISA with 8-stage dual-issue in-order pipeline,  coherent multi-core, Linux capable based on U7 series core. SiFive Intelligence Extensions for ML workloads – BF16/FP16/FP32/FP64, int8 to 64 fixed-point data types 512-bit vector register length – Variable-length operations, up to 512-bits of data per cycle High-performance vector memory subsystem Memory parallelism provides cache miss tolerance Virtual memory support with precise exceptions Up to 48-bit addressing SiFive Intelligence includes software solutions to leverage the X280’s features and provide “great AI inference performance” using TensorFlow Lite. No […]

Linux 5.12 – Main Changes, Arm, MIPS and RISC-V Architectures

Linux 5.12

Linux 5.12 release was expected last Sunday, but Linus Torvalds decided to release one more release candidate, namely Linux 5.12-RC8, to “make sure things are all settled down“, so the latest Linux kernel is now expected this weekend.  Tihs should not yield any significant changes, so we can check what’s new in Linux 5.12, notably with regards to Arm, MIPS, and RISC-V architectures often used in SoC’s found in embedded systems. Around two months ago, the release of Linux 5.11 added support for Intel’s software guard extensions (SGX) and Platform Monitoring Technology (PMT), AMD “Van Gogh” and “Dimgrey cavefish” graphics processors, MIPI I3C host controller interfaces, and much more. Some interesting changes in Linux 5.12 include: Added support for ACRN hypervisor designed for IoT & embedded devices Added support for Playstation DualSense & Nintendo 64 game controllers, as well as Nintendo 64 data cartridges Dynamic thermal power management via a […]

SiFive Core IP 21G1 release improves bit manipulation, floating-point unit, reduces code footprint

SiFive 21G1 Release RISC-V Cores

As SiFive has a portfolio of RISC-V cores ranging from low-power E2-series to high-performance U8-series cores with performance similar to Cortex-A7x cores, the company has not released new cores for a while, and instead focuses on improving their current RISC-V cores. We saw that last year with the SiFive 20G1 release that improved performance & efficiency, and lowered the silicon area for the same features set. SiFive further improved its cores and ecosystem with the latest SiFive 21G1 release. The main new  features brought by SiFive 21G1 release include: SiFive 2-Series and 7-Series processors are now available with the “Bit Manipulation” extension, RV32B, with Zba and Zbb extensions. This can accelerate Cryptographic Hash algorithms by up to 35% Support for FP16 half-precision floating-point computation in order to reduce memory size and power consumption, and for some AI workloads The memory map is now fully programmable SiFive RV64 processors support up […]

Year 2020 in review – Top ten posts and stats

CNX Software Year 2021

It’s this time of the year when we look back at what happened, and what may be next. 2020 did not pan out as planned in more ways than one, but there were still some interesting developments. Based on 2019 announcements, 2020 was promising to be an exciting year for Amlogic and Rockchip with the expected launch of RK3588 and S908X high-end processors for 8K capable devices,  but we’ll have to wait for 2021 for this to happen. Instead, the most interesting processor of the year from the Allwinner, Amlogic, and Rockchip offerings was probably Amlogic S905X4 processing adding AV1 hardware decoding. As pointed out in our “RISC-V 2020 highlights” post, it was a fairly eventful year for RISC-V architecture, although there’s still a long road ahead, especially for application processors. We had seen some general-purpose and Bluetooth RISC-V MCUs in 2019, but 2020 saw the launch of the first […]

BBC Dr Who HiFive Inventor Coding Kit review – Tynker visual programing and MicroPython

HiFive Inventor review

The BBC Doctor Who HiFive Inventor Coding Kit was announced at the end of November 2020 with the goal of teaching IoT to young kids. But one day,  I noticed the postman left a package on the ground right next to my house’s gate for some reason. I had no idea what it could be until I read it was from SiFive on the package. So here I am about to review BBC Doctor Who HiFive Inventor Coding Kit! The package actually included two small packages with one being an “expansion board”… HiFive Inventor Coding Kit Unboxing We’ve already written about the specs in the announcement post, but here they are again for those who forgot it’s based on SiFive FE310 RISC-V microcontroller and ESP32 for WiFi and Bluetooth. Let’s open the thinner “expansion board” package first. It’s actually the HiFive Inventor board – aka the mainboard – that comes […]