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Monday, February 12, 2018

First RISC-V processor to run Linux

By Nick Flaherty

SiFive has launched the industry's first processor board that uses the open source RISC-V instruction set to run the Linux operating system. The HiFive Unleashed board, featuring the Freedom U540 SoC, based on its U54-MC Core IP, was shown at the FOSDEM open source developer conference, and provides the first industry alternative to MIPS boards and devices.
This is the first multicore RISC-V chip designed for commercialization. "This is truly a historic moment and a major milestone for RISC-V," said Yunsup Lee, co-founder and CTO, SiFive. "From the first days of inventing RISC-V, Andrew, Krste, and I have been anticipating this moment. As the leading champions of the RISC-V ISA, we're proud to debut the HiFive Unleashed board to inspire new innovations and experience this record achievement for the RISC-V community." 

The underlying CPU with the U54-MC Core IP is aimed at applications that need full operating system support such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, networking, gateways and smart IoT devices.

The 28nm Freedom U540 processor includes a 4+1 Multi-Core Coherent Configuration, up to 1.5 GHz with 4x U54 RV64GC Application Cores with Sv39 Virtual Memory Support and one E51 RV64IMAC Management Core. This is supported by a coherent 2MB L2 Cache with a 64bit interface to DDR4 memory with ECC, as well as a Gigabit Ethernet interface.

The HiFive Unleased development board adds 8GB DDR4 with ECC and the Gigabit Ethernet Port along with 32MB Quad SPI Flash memory and a MicroSD card for removable storage and FMC Connector for future expansion with add-in cards.

Developers can purchase the HiFive Unleashed development board here. A limited batch of early access boards will ship in late March 2018, with a wider release in June. 

The company also announced its first hackathon, which will be held during the Embedded Linux Conference, March 12 to 14 in Portland, Ore. The hackathon will enable registered SiFive Developers to be among the first test out SiFive's HiFive Unleashed board featuring the U540 SoC.

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