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posted by chromas on Tuesday September 15 2020, @10:23PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the send-me-a-sample dept.

SiFive to Debut RISC-V PC for Developers based on Freedom U740 next-gen SoC

In recent years, people have discussed the need to have Arm-based PCs or workstations for developers to work directly on the target hardware, and there are now several options including SynQuacer E-Series 24-Core Arm PC, Ampere eMAG 64bit Arm Workstation, and HoneyComb LX2K 16-core Arm Workstation.

Now it appears we'll soon get something similar for RISC-V architecture with SiFive to debut the first RISC-V PC for developers at the Linley Fall Processor Conference 2020 taking place on October 20-22 and October 27-29. The PC will be powered by Freedom U740 next-generation RISC-V processor that will also be introduced at the event.

We have very few details about this point in time, but the company points the SiFive Freedom U740 (FU740) SoC will enable professional developers to create RISC-V applications from bare-metal to Linux-based. The processor is said to combines[sic] a heterogeneous mix+match core complex with modern PC expansion capabilities, which probably means PCIe, SATA etc.., and the company will provide tools to ease professional software development.

Freedom U740 details are unknown, but Freedom U540 is a quad-core CPU that was used in the HiFive Unleashed single-board computer.

Related: SiFive Introduces RISC-V Linux-Capable Multicore Processor
SiFive HiFive Unleashed Not as Open as Previously Thought
SiFive Announces a RISC-V Core With an Out-of-Order Microarchitecture
GlobalFoundries and SiFive Partner on High Bandwidth Memory (HBM2E)


Original Submission

Related Stories

SiFive Introduces RISC-V Linux-Capable Multicore Processor 29 comments

Submitted via IRC for TheMightyBuzzard

Slowly but surely, RISC-V, the Open Source architecture for everything from microcontrollers to server CPUs is making inroads in the community. Now SiFive, the major company behind putting RISC-V c...

That's damned nifty but at a grand for a 1.5GHz system, I don't see them selling that many to consumers.

Source: https://hackaday.com/2018/02/03/sifive-introduces-risc-v-linux-capable-multicore-processor/


Original Submission

SiFive HiFive Unleashed Not as Open as Previously Thought 17 comments

Spotted over on Phoronix:

While free software/hardware advocates have been ecstatic about the RISC-V open-source, royalty-free processor architecture, hardware so far hasn't been as open as desired.

While this processor ISA is entirely open and living up to its merits, it turns out the RISC-V implementations so far haven't been quite as open as one would have thought. A Phoronix reader pointed out to us some remarks by developers on the main RISC-V development board out so far, the SiFive HiFive Unleashed

Ron Minnich who has run the Coreboot project for more than the past decade and spearheads the effort of getting Coreboot on new Chrome OS devices at Google, commented on the Unleashed development board this weekend:

All this said, note that the HiFive is no more open, today, than your average ARM SOC; and it is much less open than, e.g., Power. I realize there was a lot of hope in the early days that RISC-V implied "openness" but as we can see that is not so. There's blobs in HiFive.

Open instruction sets do not necessarily result in open implementations. An open implementation of RISC-V will require a commitment on the part of a company to opening it up at all levels, not just the instruction set.

The issue stems from the use of third party IP used to complete the SoC as Risc-V is an instruction set, not a physical hardware design. The actual silicon of the CPU must be designed in order to implement the instruction set as actual hardware and glue logic to tie the CPU to other hardware like memory and bus controllers. In the case, the HiFive Unleashed features a DRAM controller from Cadence which uses a proprietary binary blob to initialize the DRAM controller. This makes open firmware implementations legally difficult.


Original Submission

SiFive Announces a RISC-V Core With an Out-of-Order Microarchitecture 13 comments

SiFive Announces First RISC-V OoO CPU Core: The U8-Series Processor IP

In the last few year's we've seen an increasing amount of talk about RISC-V and it becoming real competitor to the Arm in the embedded market. Indeed, we've seen a lot of vendors make the switch from licensing Arm's architecture and IP designs to the open-source RISC-V architecture and either licensed or custom-made IP based on the ISA. While many vendors do choose to design their own microarchitectures to replace Arm-based microcontroller designs in their products, things get a little bit more complicated once you scale up in performance. It's here where SiFive comes into play as a RISC-V IP vendor offering more complex designs for companies to license – essentially a similar business model to Arm's – just that it's based on the new open ISA.

Today's announcement marks a milestone in SiFive's IP offering as the company is revealing its first ever out-of-order CPU microarchitecture, promising a significant performance jump over existing RISC-V cores, and offering competitive PPA metrics compared to Arm's products. [...] SiFive's design goals for the U8-Series are quite straightforward: Compared to an Arm Cortex-A72, the U8-Series aims to be comparable in performance, while offering 1.5x better power efficiency at the same time as using half the area. The A72 is quite an old comparison point by now, however SiFive's PPA targets are comparatively quite high, meaning the U8 should be quite competitive to Arm's latest generation cores.

Performance gains over previous designs are substantial:

The performance increases compared to previous generation SiFive cores are extremely impressive: Against a U54 at ISO-process, the new U84 features a 5.3x performance increase in SPECint2006. When taking into account the process node improvements that allow the U84 to clock higher, the generational increases that we'd be seeing in products will be more akin to a factor of 7.2x.

In terms of PPA, compared to a U7-series CPU, IPC increases come in at 2.3x resulting in 3.1x higher performance (ISO-process). A lot of the performance increases of the U8-series come thanks to the increased frequencies capabilities which are 1.4x higher this generation, with the core scaling up to 2.6GHz on 7nm.

On the same 7nm process, the U84 lands in at 0.28mm² per core and a cluster comprising four cores and a 2MB L2 cache measure in at 2.63mm². For comparison, an Arm Cortex-A55 as measured on the Kirin 980, also on 7nm, a core with its 128KB private L2 cache comes in at 0.36mm². Given that SiFive promises of similar performance to a Cortex-A72, which in turn would be more than double the performance of an A55, it looks like SiFive's U84 core would be extremely competitive in terms of its PPA.

Related: Qualcomm Invests in RISC-V Startup SiFive


Original Submission

GlobalFoundries and SiFive Partner on High Bandwidth Memory (HBM2E)

GlobalFoundries and SiFive to Design HBM2E Implementation on 12LP/12LP+

GlobalFoundries and SiFive announced on Tuesday that they will be co-developing an implementation of HBM2E memory for GloFo's 12LP and 12LP+ FinFET process technologies. The IP package will enable SoC designers to quickly integrate HBM2E support into designs for chips that need significant amounts of bandwidth.

The HBM2E implementation by GlobalFoundries and SiFive includes the 2.5D packaging (interposer) designed by GF, with the HBM2E interface developed by SiFive. In addition to HBM2E technology, licensees of SiFive also gain access to the company's RISC-V portfolio and DesignShare IP ecosystem for GlobalFoundries' 12LP/12LP+, which will enable SoC developers to build RISC-V-based devices [using] GloFo's advanced fab technology.

GlobalFoundries and SiFive suggest that the 12LP+ manufacturing process and the HBM2E implementation will be primarily used for artificial intelligence training and inference applications for edge computing, with vendors looking to optimize for TOPS-per-milliwatt performance.

2.5D/3D packaging.

Related: Samsung Announces "Flashbolt" HBM2E (High Bandwidth Memory) DRAM packages
SK Hynix Announces HBM2E Memory for 2020 Release
GlobalFoundries Develops "12LP+" Fabrication Process
Qualcomm Invests in RISC-V Startup SiFive
SiFive Announces a RISC-V Core With an Out-of-Order Microarchitecture


Original Submission

RISC-V International Giving Away 1,000 Boards to Developers 12 comments

RISC-V International to give away 1,000 RISC-V development boards

The best way for a new platform to get good software support is to bring hardware into the hands of developers. That's exactly what RISC-V International is doing by inviting developers to sign up for a RISC-V developer board sponsored by RISC-V and contributing members.

There are 1,000 boards on offer with 1GB to 16GB RAM depending on the target project from five companies and organizations namely Allwinner, Beagleboard.org, SiFive, Microsemi, and RIOS.

[...] If you want to apply, you can fill out your contact details and project information on a Google form. Membership status is asked, but the initiative is also open to non-members, although it's not impossible members will get priority, as well as those part of an academic project.

The RISC-V Foundation relocated to Switzerland and was renamed to RISC-V International in 2020.

Previously:
SiFive to Debut a RISC-V PC for Developers in October
SiFive Announces HiFive Unmatched Mini-ITX Motherboard for RISC-V PCs
$119+ BeagleV "Powerful", Open-Hardware RISC-V Linux SBC Targets AI Applications


Original Submission

SiFive Announces HiFive Unmatched Mini-ITX Motherboard for RISC-V PCs 12 comments

SiFive has announced a mini-ITX motherboard with its SiFive Freedom U740:

At the heart of the SiFive board is a SiFive FU740 processor coupled with 8 GB DDR4 memory and 32 MB SPI Flash. It comes with a 4x USB 3.2 ports and a 16x PCIe expansion slot. The mini-ITX standard form factor makes it easy to build a RISC-V PC.

[...] SiFive Unmatched board will be available by Q4'20 for USD 665, and you can already register your interest. You will get a mini-ITX board, 32 GB MicroSD, and 3-meter CAT5e ethernet cable. SiFive did not speak on the commercial aspect of the product but are very confident about future development. Android and Chrome support is something we can see in the future. The product looks promising and we are excited to see future development in the RISC-V PC ecosystem.

Performance will probably be comparable to a Raspberry Pi 3. Alternatively:

PolarBerry is a Compact, Linux-capable RISC-V FPGA SBC and module (Crowdfunding)

Powered by Microchip PolarFire RISC-V SoC FPGA, PolarBerry is both a single board computer with Gigabit Ethernet and 40-pin GPIO header, as well as a system-on-module thanks to three Samtec board-to-board connectors.

[...] PolarBerry is not available just yet, but LinuxGizmos reports the SBC/SoM will be soon launched on Crowd Supply for $995 and shipments are expected to start in January 2021. Besides the aforementioned crowdfunding page, additional details may be found on the product page.

See also: SiFive Is Launching The Most Compelling RISC-V Development Board Yet

Previously: SiFive to Debut a RISC-V PC for Developers in October


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15 2020, @10:44PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15 2020, @10:44PM (#1051467)

    Computer architecture has basically been boring for the last decade or two. X86 is fast, and ARM is cheap and low power. It has pretty much just been a story of consolidation.

    But if you can remember the 80's and 90's, there was a much wider diversity, and constant excitement with new architectures that were supposedly going to solve all of the world's problems and make you breakfast. MIPS! Intel trying to replace 8086 with iAPX 432! SPARC! Intel trying to replace x86 with i860! Alpha! PowerPC! Intel trying to replace x86 with IA64! Etc.

    Obviously, FU740 isn't going to kill x86. SiFive doesn't have as large a budget as Intel, and they don't have the economies of scale of x86 and ARM to drive down prices. But RISC-V is a really interesting architecture in some ways. I think the design of the vector system is a lot more interesting than Intel's AVX512 -- Look at Linus Torvalds' rant about it. The special purpose fixed width vector units in Intel chips burn a ton of power, but software needs to be explicitly written to take advantage of the exact vector register width. The RISC-V design is a lot more flexible, so software made today should also run great in a few years when new RISC-V HPC chips come out with super wide vector registers analogous to AVX-512 or 1024. Meanwhile, when Intel moves on past AVX-512, all of the current code that has been lovingly optimized for it won't work as well on the new chips.

    Plus if you've ever tried writing an OS from scratch as a learning exercise, modern x86 is a ton of complicated legacy gotchas. I am curious to learn more about the non-processor parts of the RISC-V ecosystem, because it could be a much more convenient target for "modern" hobby OS development projects.

    • (Score: 4, Informative) by bzipitidoo on Wednesday September 16 2020, @04:57AM (1 child)

      by bzipitidoo (4388) on Wednesday September 16 2020, @04:57AM (#1051575) Journal

      Commercially successful though it is, x86 has been a terrible architecture from the beginning. It sucks less now, but it's still lacking. The reason Linux does not support anything older than the 486 is the lack of support for semaphores. (Yes, Linux used to work on the 386, but they dropped that because of that lack.) Support for virtualization is still poor, though they're improving. If the architecture had good support for virtualization, there would be no need for special software to run a virtual machine. Wouldn't need VMware or VirtualBox. A problem that just gets worse and worse over time is legacy support. x86 has a whole bunch of crud that isn't needed, but they have to keep it all to maintain backward compatibility. Really can't reassign opcodes, can only add new ones.

      Also, things have changed an awful lot since the 1980s. For instance, ASCII is giving way to UTF-8. Although UTF-8 is still byte based, it's a variable number of bytes. It may be worthwhile to have some hardware handling for it. Computer architecture is due for a major reboot.

      So, yes, I'm keenly interested in RISC-V.

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16 2020, @08:37AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16 2020, @08:37AM (#1051626)

        The reason Linux does not support anything older than the 486 is the lack of support for semaphores

        Not semaphores directly, but atomic instructions (CMPXCHG), which are a requisite for implementing them efficiently. It is possible to implement semaphores on 386 using critical sections, but that would require a lot of hairy custom code that nobody would use, and could easily bitrot.

        If the architecture had good support for virtualization, there would be no need for special software to run a virtual machine

        You mean process isolation, not virtualization, I guess. Running virtual machines would always require custom software to manage the virtual hardware and the VM consoles.

    • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Wednesday September 16 2020, @10:44PM

      by Wootery (2341) on Wednesday September 16 2020, @10:44PM (#1052000)

      Computer architecture has basically been boring for the last decade or two.

      Including GPUs and APUs?

  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday September 15 2020, @10:50PM (1 child)

    by takyon (881) <{takyon} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Tuesday September 15 2020, @10:50PM (#1051470) Journal
    --
    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15 2020, @11:23PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 15 2020, @11:23PM (#1051476)

      If they can get the price down substantially from their last offering, even with fairly low performance, it will be interesting.

      IIRC it was around $1K for their last board and another $1K for the expansion that got you a pci-e slot.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16 2020, @12:31AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16 2020, @12:31AM (#1051496)

    If the acquisition goes thru, RISC-V may actually be relevant.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16 2020, @12:41AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16 2020, @12:41AM (#1051501)

      In China? [voanews.com] One day! [technode.com]

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16 2020, @12:43PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16 2020, @12:43PM (#1051670)

    love the name

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