SciFive on Monday declared its flagship Freedom family of system on a chip platforms.
The platforms are supported the free and open supply RISC-V instruction set design that many of the company’s founders created at the University of California at Berkeley.
SiFive’s Freedom U500 and E300 platforms take a brand new approach to SoCs, redefining ancient semiconductor business models and reversing the industry’s progressively high licensing, style and implementation prices.
“The package value may be a immense a part of taking any chip to production,” noted Jack Kang, SiFive’s VP of product and business development.
“The prices vary wildly, however the technologist to hardware engineer magnitude relation at semiconductor firms tends to be matched, if not higher, these days,” he told LinuxInsider.
The Freedom Unleashed family consists of Linux-capable embedded application processors that includes multicore RISC-V CPUs running at 1.6 Gc or higher. They support accelerators and cache coherency.
The Freedom U500, from the Unleashed family, uses 28nm processors and targets machine learning, storage and networking. It supports commonplace high-speed peripherals together with PCI3 3.0, USB 3.0, Gigabit local area network and DDR3/DDR4.
The Freedom everyplace family is meant for the embedded microcontroller, IoT and wearables markets. It uses 180nm processors architected for nominal space and power consumption. the liberty E300 platform supports RISC-V compressed directions, that cut back code see to 30 p.c.
“SiFive’s Freedom family of SoC platforms is that the 1st commercially out there open supply enabled semiconductors on the market,” Kang aforementioned. “SiFive conjointly licenses Coreplex IP.”
The company is in talks with many companies fascinated by the liberty Unleashed and Freedom everyplace platforms, however is not saying customers at now, he added.
Offerings for Devs
Full field-programmable gate array models of every SoC are obtainable through SiFive currently.
Devs will paradigm customizations as custom RISC-V directions, accelerators and coprocessors. They can also purchase development boards with the Microsemi SmartFusion two SoC FPGA.
The RISC-V instruction set design specification is open sourced below the BSD license, Kang said, thus anyone is unengaged to use and implement it.
The noncommercial RISC-V Foundation, that appointed its inaugural board of administrators last month, holds the brand and is hired to manage the specification, Kang said, however membership is not needed to use or implement RISC-V.
Foundation platinum members embrace NVidia, Qualcomm, Microsoft and Google, however “I would not scan an excessive amount of into this,” cautioned Jim McGregor, a principal analyst at Tirias analysis.
“Many of the businesses, like Google, support each new design that comes on as the way of hedging their bets,” he told LinuxInsider.
That said, “everyone is wanting to customise semiconducting material for his or her specific applications owing to style constraints comparable to power, size, thermals and performance,” McGregor discerned. “This is why there is such a lot interest in gazing all the various architectures, particularly once the vendors are willing to license the scientific discipline or style custom SoCs.”
Possible RISC-V problems
Open supply solutions do cut back a number of the license fees, and will open the system to a bigger community, McGregor urged.
“However, coming up with Associate in Nursing SoC needs many alternative styles of belongings, and it’s virtually not possible to make a chip nowadays while not paying royalties to somebody,” he determined.
Another detail is that the ultimate evaluation of the product hasn’t been disclosed.
Developing associate degree design by committee “may additionally result in fragmentation, additional frequent updates — or, worse, longer development times thanks to changes,” McGregor aforesaid.
RISC-V has “not been evidenced to be able to survive challenges to implementation style patents from potential competitors,” aforesaid Tirias Principal Analyst Kevin Krewell.
“The best chance for RISC-V may be in new markets — similar to China and India, wherever there area unit additional greenfield opportunities,” he told LinuxInsider.
SiFive’s goal is to style custom SoCs supported the RISC-V design, that the product it’s introduced “are very simply development and proof-of-concept solutions,” McGregor aforesaid. “But it is a smart begin.”