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Canonical Gives RISC-V a HiFive

SiFive
(Image credit: SiFive)

Canonical have announced that its Ubuntu operating system now supports two RISC-V boards from SiFive, the HiFive Unleashed and HiFive Unmatched.

SiFive might sound familiar. That’s because Intel has reportedly offered to acquire the company for $2 billion, said it will make SiFive’s chips, and revealed plans to incorporate the new SiFive P550 processors into its 7nm Horse Creek platforms.

The HiFive Unleashed and HiFive Unmatched preceded those announcements. The HiFive Unleashed has actually been discontinued, so curious enthusiasts who haven’t already purchased one will have to opt for the HiFive Unmatched instead.

“The availability of Ubuntu running on the HiFive boards comes as the result of the joint work between Canonical and SiFive engineering teams,” Canonical said in yesterday’s announcement. “Canonical’s team is engaged in an ongoing process of porting Ubuntu to HiFive boards, backed by the SiFive engineering team, as part of a long-term collaboration between the two companies.”

Why bother? Canonical said it was because “RISC-V has a lot of potential and is becoming a competitive ISA in multiple markets” and that meant “porting Ubuntu to RISC-V to become the reference OS for early adopters was a no-brainer.”

The deal should make SiFive’s products (and therefore RISC-V) more accessible to many people. Ubuntu might not be everyone’s favorite Linux distro, but it’s stable, and it’s easier to develop for an established operating system than a blank canvas.

There are currently three Ubuntu images available to SiFive customers. The HiFive Unleashed supports the current Ubuntu 21.04 release as well as the Ubuntu 20.04 long term support (LTS) release. The HiFive Unmatched can run Ubuntu 21.04 .