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posted by chromas on Tuesday September 15 2020, @10:23PM   Printer-friendly
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)


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

    by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge 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.

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  • (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.