"The semiconductor industry is at an important crossroads. Moore's Law has ended, and the traditional economic model of chip building no longer works", stated Yunsup Lee, co-founder of SiFive and one of the original creators of RISC-V. "Unless you have tens - if not hundreds - of millions of dollars, it is simply impossible for smaller system designers to get a modern, high-performance chip, much less one customized to their unique requirements. The Freedom platforms unleash the flexibility and power of custom silicon to the smallest company, inventor or maker. And companies of all sizes are no longer held hostage to current semiconductor providers software deliveries and outdated business models."
RISC-V was born from the dire need to address the skyrocketing cost of designing and manufacturing increasingly complex new chip architectures, as a result of the economic demise of Moore's Law. SiFive's hardware designs leverage the body of software and tools available from the open-source community under the guidance of the RISC-V Foundation, dramatically reducing the cost of developing custom silicon. System designers can use the SiFive Freedom platforms to focus on their own differentiated processor without having the overhead of developing a modern SoC, fabric or software infrastructure.
RISC-V represents a bold new path for system designers in embedded and industrial markets", stated Ted Speers, head of product architecture and planning for Microsemi Corporation's SoC business unit. "We went to SiFive not only because its co-founders created RISC-V, but also due to its team's agile methodology which enabled the company to deliver a complete RISC-V sub-system and tool-chain targeting our secure, low power SmartFusion2 SoC FPGA platform on a very aggressive schedule."
The Freedom platforms comprise a complete software specification, board OS support packages (BSPs), development boards and base silicon. The platforms provide customers the ability to create their own silicon enhancements and customizations, which SiFive then quickly incorporates and delivers to the customer at a much lower cost and faster time-to-market than traditional custom silicon designs.
The platforms also provide significant performance and power advantages over existing microcontrollers and FPGAs:
To give developers a head start on software development, full FPGA models of each SoC are available through SiFive today. Developers will also be able to prototype their customizations in the form of custom RISC-V instructions, accelerators and co-processors.