The latest from SiFive, called the HiFive Unleashed is a development board built around SiFive’s Freedom U540. The chip is a 64-bit, 4+1 multicore processor that fully supports Linux, as well as other operating systems such as FreeBSD and Unix. Freedom U540 is based on the company’s U54-MC Coreplex.
The development board itself features a 8GB of DDR4 with ECC, a gigabit ethernet port, 32 MB of quad SPI flash memory, a MicroSD card slot, and an FPGA mezzanine card (FMC) connector. This allows peripherals and other expansion devices to be attached to the board.
The underlying CPU, the U54-MC Core IP, is ideal for applications that need full operating system support such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), networking, gateways and smart IoT devices. Thus, the company is looking at proving that open-source hardware can handle any emerging technology task.
HiFive Unleashed meets the requirements of technologies such as smart IoT devices, networking, ML and AI. “Commercially, it opens up the market and the number of places that RISC-V can serve and removes a lot of questions as to whether can scale up,” Jack Kang, VP of Product and Business Development at SiFive shared with media.
He shared that IoT needs lots of customization. “I believe IoT inherently is not a one-size-fits-all type of market. What that means is you’re not going to be able to have one killer chip that does everything. What you’re going to need is to be able to customize or get your partners to customize the silicon to meet the specific problems that will come up. And I will argue that RISC-V is great for customization.”
At the opposite end of the spectrum, SiFive believes RISC-V will soon be ready to stake its claim in the world of emerging technologies that require high-powered processing as well. RISC-V is going to witness a vector extension scheduled for May 2018. It’s a form of customization being developed for RISC-V because it’s going to be exceedingly useful for AI, ML and neural network processing.