SiFive Launches HiFive Unmatched RISC-V Development Board for Desktops

(Image credit: SiFive)

SiFive has introduced its first desktop-class motherboard powered by a RISC-V system-on-chip (SoC) that's designed for Linux software developers, just as it promised last month. The HiFive Unmatched announced this week is a Mini-ITX platform for desktops and has all the industry-standard PC interfaces that software makers might need now -- and at least a couple of years to come.  

SiFive's first RISC-V CPU cores from 2016 were primarily aimed at microcontrollers and simplistic SoCs for low-power devices. Eventually, the company became much more ambitious and launched U-series, Linux-capable 64-bit application processor cores, as well as S-series 64-bit cores designed for mission critical or deterministic processing. T

hese cores allow SiFive to play on the same field with Arm's A-series and R-series cores, but since RISC-V doesn't have an ecosystem comparable to Arm's, for now U-series and S-series IP cores are reserved for select projects and developers who do not need advantages offered by Arm. 

In a bid to build software and hardware ecosystems around RISC-V cores, SiFive has developed its HiFive Unmatched motherboard that allows engineers to run programs (both applications and drives) on RISC-V. 

The HiFive Unmatched platform is based on the SiFive FU740 heterogeneous multicore SoC that packs four U74 cores and one S7 core using the company's proprietary Mix+Match technology. The combination of cores enables the chip to address developers of both performance-demanding and real-time applications.

(Image credit: SiFive)

The Mini-ITX motherboard features a standard ATX power connector, 8GB of DDR4 RAM and 32MB of QSPI flash memory. It also has a GbE port and USB 3.2 Gen 1 connectors. Meanwhile, developers can also use a PCIe 3.0 x8 slot for graphics cards or FPGAs, a microSD slot, an M.2-2230 slot for Wi-Fi/Bluetooth adapters and an M.2-2280 slot for high-end SSDs with a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface. 

With a motherboard like the HiFive Unmatched, developers could build low-power desktops akin to those based on x86 processors and then test whatever they need to test. Of course, popularity of the board will depend on the interest for RISC-V in general, but considering the number of RISC-V backers, SiFive should sell quite a lot of these. 

SiFive's HiFive Unmatched is $665 and will be available directly from the company shortly . The board will ship with a bootable SD card that includes Linux and system developer packages.

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.