Many leading analysts agree - Nvidia's recently-announced ARM acquisition will result in broader industry uptake of the open-source RISC-V CPU architecture, and SiFive, one of the major driving forces behind the RISC-V CPU architecture, made a timely announcement today.
SiFive disclosed plans to provide interested software designers with desktop PCs running a RISC-V chip to assist of software development or porting to the open-source CPU architecture. The announcement comes as the open-source RISC-V CPu architecture enjoys more interest in the wake of Nvidia's acquisition of ARM.
SiFive also said it would announce RISC-V processing cores that support the latest RISC-V vector (RVV) extensions and can run high-level operating systems in October. RVV will enable RISC-V CPUs to address performance-demanding applications.
High-level OS-Capable RISC-V CPUs with Vector Extensions
SiFive introduced its first RISC-V CPU cores back in 2016 targeting microcontrollers and simplistic SoCs for low-power devices. Last year, the company added U8-series out-of-order processor cores into its IP portfolio to address performance-demanding applications. At this year’s Linley Group Fall Processor Conference, SiFive plans to disclose additional details regarding its upcoming Linux-capable superscalar multi-core processor design that will feature the latest RISC-V Vector extensions.
Vector extensions, such as Intel’s AVX, are used to more efficiently process vectorized data sets and are commonly used by high-performance computing and multimedia applications. Introducing vector extensions to RISC-V will bring the architecture closer to Arm, PowerPC as well as x86 and will allow it to compete for modern performance-demanding applications, such as AI and ML.
SiFive Development PC Incoming: U7-Based Desktop
Having secured over 100 design wins to date, SiFive is interested in making the RISC-V architecture more widespread. To make this happen, it plans to provide RISC-V-based PCs to developers to enable them to create applications compatible with the instruction set.
The PCs will be based on the yet-to-be announced SiFive Freedom U740 SoC that features a heterogeneous core complex combined with modern PC interfaces and expansion capabilities. The desktop computer will come with a set of tools to develop bare-metal or Linux-based applications as well as to port existing programs to the new hardware platform.