BBC Doctor Who “HiFive Inventor” Coding Kit aims to teach IoT to kids

In what should be one of the first RISC-V education platforms, the BBC, Tynker, and SiFive have just announced the BBC Doctor Who “HiFive Inventor” Coding Kit that comes with an MCU board with WiFi & Bluetooth and guided lessons for kids that teach them to code for the IoT. The HiFive Inventor board is based on a SiFive FE310 RISC-V microcontroller ( the same chip as found in the HiFive1 board) and an ESP32 Solo module for WiFi 4 and Bluetooth 4.x/5.x connectivity. Just like the BBC Micro:bit, HiFive Inventor provides a kids-friendly edge connector with I/O, an LED matrix, sensors, and more. The kit includes the HiFive Inventor hardware platform, a battery holder for three AA batteries (not included), the HiFive Speakers, an illuminated USB cable for power and programming, and alligator clips to connect the speaker or other add-ons to the HiFive Inventor board. HiFive Inventor board looks to be based on the earlier SiFive Learn Inventor, […]

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SiFive launches HiFive Unmatched mini-ITX motherboard for RISC-V PC’s

When it comes to RISC-V based SoC, SiFive has always set a benchmark in the RISC-V ecosystem. On 29th October 2020, SiFive confirmed the first-ever RISC-V PC. After an increased demand for AI-focused RISC-V microarchitecture, targeting all applications from artificial intelligence, the internet of things, high-performance computing, and now even desktop PCs. SiFive Freedom U740 powered HiFive Unmatched mini-ITX motherboard comes with a complete development environment which allows developers to create RISC-V based applications from bare-metal to Linux-based systems. “HiFive Unmatched ushers in a new era of RISC-V Linux development with a platform in a PC form factor. Powered by the SiFive Freedom U740, a high-performance multi-core, 64-bit dual-issue, superscalar RISC-V processor.”, SiFive says. It is the world’s fastest native RISC-V development platform. SiFive HiFive Unmatched Board At the heart of the SiFive board is a SiFive FU740 processor coupled with 8 GB DDR4 memory and 32 MB SPI Flash. It comes with a 4x USB 3.2 ports and a 16x […]

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SiFive to Debut RISC-V PC for Developers based on Freedom U740 next-gen SoC

In recent years, people have discussed the need to have Arm-based PCs or workstations for developers to work directly on the target hardware, and there are now several options including SynQuacer E-Series 24-Core Arm PC, Ampere eMAG 64bit Arm Workstation, and HoneyComb LX2K 16-core Arm Workstation. Now it appears we’ll soon get something similar for RISC-V architecture with SiFive to debut the first RISC-V PC for developers at the Linley Fall Processor Conference 2020 taking place on October 20-22 and October 27-29. The PC will be powered by Freedom U740 next-generation RISC-V processor that will also be introduced at the event. We have very few details about this point in time, but the company points the SiFive Freedom U740 (FU740) SoC will enable professional developers to create RISC-V applications from bare-metal to Linux-based. The processor is said to combines a heterogeneous mix+match core complex with modern PC expansion capabilities, which probably means PCIe, SATA etc.., and the company will provide […]

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SiFive RISC-V Processors Get Performance & Efficiency Improvements, Smaller Footprint with 20G1 Release

SiFive RISC-V cores portfolio ranges from low power 32-bit IoT processors to more powerful, Linux-capable 64-bi RISC-V cores like the latest SiFive U84/U87 cores rivaling with Arm Cortex-A7x cores. SiFive Core IP 20G1 release further enhances the company’s existing RISC-V cores with performance improvements, higher efficiency, and a smaller footprint. Specifically, SiFive claims the SiFive U7-Series has increased load bandwidth up to 2.8x for memory-intensive workloads such as AI inference processing, and all of the company’s RISC-V cores can now run at lower power, with the SiFive U74 standard core running at up to 25% lower power while running Dhrystone benchmark. The SiFive E-Series processors which feature real-time capability are now available with the RISC-V Embedded extension (RV32E) which reduces the footprint compared to RV32I ISA with for instance up to 11% smaller area for the SiFive E3-Series. RV32E and RV32I have the same instructions set, but RV32E comes with 15 general-purpose registers instead of 31. SiFive Core IP 20G1 […]

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SiFive Learn Inventor is a Wireless RISC-V Development Kit Inspired by BBC Micro:bit

SiFive Learn Inventor is a RISC-V educational board partially inspired by BBC Micro:bit board with the same crocodile clip-friendly edge connector, and an LED matrix. The board is also fully qualified to work with the Amazon FreeRTOS real-time operating system. Shaped in the form of a hand, the board features SiFive FE310 RISC-V processor found in the SiFive HiFive1 board, as well as ESP-WROOM-32 WiFi + Bluetooth module. SiFive Learn Inventor specifications: SoC – SiFive FE310-G003 32-bit RISC-V (RV32IMAFC) processor @ 150 MHz with 64KB of internal SRAM Storage – 512 KB flash “Display” – 6×8 “widescreen” array of RGB LEDs with 262,000 colors each; LEDs can expand off-board onto external arrays via the edge connector Wireless Connectivity – 802.11b/g/n WiFi 4 (2.4GHz) and Bluetooth 4.2 LE via an ESP32 module (ESP-WROOM-32) USB – 1x Micro USB port for power and programming/debugging Expansion A/D Converters (four) accessed via on-board coprocessor BBC Micro:bit compatible edge connector with I2C, SPI, UART, GPIO, […]

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SiFive U8-Series Out-of-Order RISC-V Core IP Takes on Arm Cortex-A72 Core

SiFive U8-Series Processors U84 and U87

Earlier this week, we wrote about SiFive Shield open security platform as the equivalent of Arm TrustZone security technology, but the company had had another important announcement this week with the introduction of SiFive U8-Series Out-of-Order (OoO) RISC-V Core IP with much higher performance than the company’s earlier U7-series core and competing with Arm Cortex A72 core. At first, the company will offer two standard cores with SiFive U84 RISC-V core optimized for power efficiency and area efficiency, and the SiFive U87 RISC-V core with vector processing. SiFive U84 Performance & Efficiency We do not have much information about U87, but SiFive already published some interesting details about U84 cores. SiFive U84 core offers about 3.1 times higher performance compared to their earlier U74 standard core thanks to a 2.3x increase in IPC combined with a 1.4x increase in maximum frequency. Compared to SiFive U54, U84 delivers 5.3x higher performance (isolated process) and when taking into account the improved process […]

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SiFive Shield is an Open Security Platform for RISC-V Processors

Most Arm processors and Armv8-M microcontrollers support Arm TrustZone security with hardware-enforced isolation built into the CPU. But so far, I had not read anything about equivalent solutions for RISC-V processors. It turns out Hex-Five’s MultiZone security is one of the RISC-V hardware-security providing an answer to Arm TrustZone, and besides checking out the presentation slides, you can also watch the video filmed at RISC-V Workshop Taiwan last March. But what brought me to write about RISC-V security is SiFive announcement for their Shield open security platform for RISC-V processors SiFive Shield Overview SiFive Shield is an open, scalable security platform designed for RISC-V processors.  It supports root-of-trust, customizations, and offers per-memory protected memory regions and multi-core privilege modes.  Combined with SiFive WorldGuard, SiFive Shield enables greater isolation. SiFive WorldGuard Isolation SiFive WorldGuard is a fine-grain security model for isolated code execution and data protection. It offers core-driven and process-id driven modes to offer data protection for core, cache, interconnect, […]

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SiFive RISC-V Processors to Support Imagination PowerVR GPU and NNA IP Cores

SiFive RISC-V PowerVR GPU

RISC-V is getting more popular and mature as development progress, but if you want a system with RISC-V and a GPU so far you had to use a PCIe graphics card which is not cost-effective nor practical for most applications based on RISC-V processor. What is needed is some GPU IP that will glue with RISC-V core. Developing a new GPU is not an easy task (understatement of the month) so it would make sense to go with solutions available on the market. However, Arm Mali is tied to Arm Cortex cores and Arm is unlikely to want to help RISC-V take away their market share, and Adreno and VideoCore are owned by respectively Qualcomm and Broadcom which are unwilling to provide their GPU IP to third parties. This basically leaves us with Vivante and Imagination. Vivante may have made the most sense since open-source graphics drivers do exist (Etnaviv), but instead, I’ve just learned that SiFive added Imagination Technologies […]

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