Fabless semiconductor company SiFive has announced a new system on a chip platform that takes the SoC platform into the realm of open-source. The RISC-V instruction set architecture was originally developed by SiFive’s founders at the University of California, Berkeley, and has now been packaged into the Freedom U500 and Freedom E300 platforms.
Both are aimed at making the design and manufacturing of new chip architectures easier and cheaper, addressing licensing, design and implementation costs with the open-source design.
“The semiconductor industry is at an important crossroads. Moore’s Law has ended, and the traditional economic model of chip building no longer works,” said Yunsup Lee, co-founder of SiFive and one of the creators of the chip. “Unless you have tens — if not hundreds — of millions of dollars, it is simply impossible for smaller system designers to get a modern, high-performance chip, much less one customized to their unique requirements.”
The Freedom platform includes development boards and base silicon, a complete software specification, and board OS support packages. Custom silicon enhancements can also be added and delivered by SiFive. The company is currently offering FPGA models of both SoCs for developers, with which developers can prototype custom setups.
The Freedom U500, or Freedom Unleashed family, is a Linux-capable embedded application processor suitable for a variety of markets, including machine learning. The Freedom E300, or Freedom Everywhere family, is a smaller form designed specifically for wearables and embedded microcontrollers.
SiFive was spun out of the RISC-V project founded by Yunsup Lee and Andrew Waterman.
Filed Under: Rapid prototyping