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 …

SiFive S2 RISC-V Core may be the World’s Smallest 64-bit Embedded Core

SiFive S2 S21 Core

Last year, SiFive introduced their first RISC-V cores competing with Arm Cortex-R family of processors thanks to their S7 Series 64-bit RISC-V Core IP providing an answer to Arm Cortex-R7/R8 32-bit real-time processors. The company has now announced the SiFive S2 RISC-V core that it claims to be the world’s smallest 64-bit embedded core, and also the first SiFive IP core without any direct competitive equivalent in the market. For now, there’s only one core in the family with SiFive S21 offering the following key features: RISC-V ISA – RV64IMAC 64-bit AXI Ports Machine and User Mode with 4 Region Physical Memory Protection 3-stage pipeline with Simultaneous Instruction and Data Access 2 Banks of Tightly Integrated Memory (TIM) CLIC (Core Local Interrupt Controller) with 127 interrupts Advanced debug with 4 hardware breakpoints/watchpoints Performance – 1.6 DMIPS/MHz; 3.2 Coremarks/MHz The company compares its to the SiFive S5 cores, which I had not heard about previously, and are competing with Arm Cortex-R4/R5 …

HiFive1 Rev B Board Gets FE310-G002 RISC-V Processor, WiFi & Bluetooth Module

HiFive1 Rev B

SiFive launched what may have been the very first RISC-V development board in 2016 thanks to their HiFive1 Arduino compatible board powered by Freedom E310 (FE310) open source RISC-V processor. The company has now launched an upgrade version of the processor and board. Meet FE310-G002 processor and HiFive1 Rev B development board. HiFive1 Rev B development board specifications with new features highlighted in bold or stricken-through: MCU – SiFive Freedom E310-G0002 32-bit RV32IMAC processor @ up to 320+ MHz (1.61 DMIPS/MHz) Storage – 32 Mbit SPI flash (was 128 Mbit in the first version) Connectivity – ESP32-SOLO-1 WiFi & Bluetooth module I/Os 19x Digital I/O Pins 19x external interrupt pins 1x external wakeup pin 9x PWM pins 1/3 SPI Controllers/HW CS Pins I/O Voltages –  3.3V or 5V supported; note: bidirectional level shifters removed so FE310-G002 can drive the I/O pins directly at 3.3V only. USB – 1x micro USB port for power, programming and debugging (via Segger J-Link) Power …

MicroSemi Introduces PolarFire FPGA & RISC-V SoC

Polaris FPGA + RISC-V SoC

In the past we’ve covered SoCs comprised of Arm cores and FPGA fabric via Xilinx Zynq-7000 series SoCs and Zynq UltraScale+ series MPSoCs, respectively featuring up to two Arm Cortex A9 cores, and up to four Cortex A53 cores. MicroSemi has now announced an alternative, not based on Arm cores, but instead based on SiFive U54-MC RISC-V cores combined with PolarFire FPGA fabric. PolarFire FPGA RISC-V SoC key features & specifications: FPGA – Microsemi PolarFire FPGA Processor Cores – Up to 4x SiFive U54-MC RISC-V cores clocked at up to 1.5GHz (performance similar to Cortex-A35 cores); 28nm process Deterministic Coherent Multi-core CPU Cluster Deterministic L2 Memory Subsystem System Memory I/F –  Integrated DDR4/LPDDR4 Controller and PHY Storage – Secure Boot, 128K Boot Flash Debug capability Rich I/Os Low Power – Low static power; power optimized transceivers, up to 50% lower power compared to SRAM based FPGAs So we don’t have the full picture just yet, and we’ll have to wait …

SiFive Introduces 7 Series RISC-V Cores with E7, S7 and U7 series

SiFIve U74 Core

SiFive has recently announced their Core IP 7 Series of RISC-V cores offering better performance, and designed to enable “embedded intelligence” in applications such as 5G, networking, storage, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, SLAM, and sensor fusion. Three families of the new 7 Series been launched with namely SiFive E7, S7 and U7 Core IP Series, so let’s have a look at each of them. E7 Core IP Series – E76 and E76-MC Cores The E7 Core IP Series comprises the 32-bit E76 and E76-MC (Multi-core),  provides hard real-time capabilities, and compares to Arm’s Cortex M7, Cortex-R7/R8 cores. E76-MC Key Features Fully compliant with the RISC-V ISA specification 4x RV32IMAFC E76 Cores Machine and User Mode Support In-order, 8-stage pipeline Advanced Memory Subsystem 32KB Instruction Cache 32KB Instruction Tightly Integrated Memory (ITIM) 32KB Data Cache 32KB FIO RAM 256KB L2 Cache High-performance TileLink Interface Benchmark Scores- 2.3 DMIPS/MHz, 4.9 CoreMark/MHz E76 is basically the same but with one core, no L2 …

SiFive Announces E20 and E21 RISC-V Cores for IoT and Wearables

SiFive has just announced the availability of their new E2 Core IP Series  low-area, low-power microcontroller cores designed for use in embedded devices. Two standards cores are currently part of the new family: E21 providing mainstream performance for MCUs, sensor fusion, minion cores and smart IoT markets E20, the most power-efficient SiFive standard core designed for microcontrollers, IoT, analog mixed signal and finite state machine applications SiFive E20 MCU Core SiFive E20 Standard Core IP Key Features: RISC-V ISA – RV32IMC Machine Mode only 2-stage pipeline System Port for external memory accesses Core Local Interrupt Controller (CLIC) with 32 interrupts Advanced debug with 4 hardware breakpoints/watchpoints Performance – 1.1 DMIPS/MHz;  2.4 CoreMark/MHz Power / Clock / Area 28nm HPC – 0.58 mW; 725 MHz and up; 0.023 mm2 55nm LP – 1.3 mW; 250 MHz and up; 0.064 mm2 The company compares E20 core to Arm Cortex-M0+ core in the table below. Everything is favorable to E20 core in that …

HiFive Unleashed RISC-V Linux Development Board Gets a $2000 FPGA Expansion Board

If you’re a RISC-V architecture’s enthusiast or represent a company working on products with the new ISA, you may have spent $999 or more on Hifive Unleashed RISC-V Linux development board a few months ago. You now have the opportunity to spend an extra $1,999 for HiFive Unleashed Expansion Board powered by a MicroSemi PolarFire FPGA programmed with a PCIe root port bridge, and allowing you to test all sorts of peripherals such as HDD’s & SSD’s,  HDMI output, and audio cards, network adapters, graphics cards, and so on. Expansion board specifications: FPGA – Microsemi Low Power PolarFire FPGA with 300K Logic Element 4 Gbit DDR4 x16 SPI Flash for remote FPGA updates, QSPI Flash connected to GPIO 24 lane PCIe Switch x1 PCI Express card connector x16 PCI Express card connector with 4 lanes of PCIe gen2 connected SSD M.2 connector SATA connector HDMI connector eMMC Nand Flash uSD Card Slot USB to UART bridges 2 CAN transceivers FMC …

SiFive Partners with Western Digital to Produce 1 Billion RISC-V Cores

Architecture like Arm and x86 are well established, and initiatives like RISC-V opens source ISA have potential, but market acceptance and commercial success are not guaranteed. But RISC-V just got a big boost, as SiFive announced it raised $50.6 million in a Series C round from existing and new investors, as well as strategic partners such as Huami, SK Telecom and Western Digital. Even more importantly, Sifive and Western Digital signed a multi-year license for the Freedom Platform, with Western Digital pledging to produce 1 billion RISC-V cores. The announcement does not explicitly mention which Freedom platform, but Western Digital statement makes it quite clear they’ll use one of the more powerful (and Linux capable) core: RISC-V delivers a platform for innovation unshackled from the proprietary interface of the past. This freedom allows us to bring compute closer to data to optimize special purpose compute capabilities targeted at Big Data and Fast Data applications. The next generation of applications like Machine …