SiFive joins Microsemi’s Mi-V ecosystem to push adoption of RISC-V open instruction set architecture


Microsemi Corp. announced that fabless provider of open source-enables semiconductors SiFive has joined Microsemi’s new Mi-V RISC-V ecosystem, further building out the growing ecosystem and expanding the number of RISC-V designs users can consider.

Microsemi will leverage its strategic relationship with SiFive and other ecosystem participants to increase adoption of RISC-V open instruction set architecture (ISA) central processing units (CPUs) and maximize their positions with this expanding design technology.

RISC-V, an ISA which is a standard open architecture under the governance of the RISC-V Foundation, offers numerous benefits, including portability as well as enabling the open source community to test and improve cores at a faster pace than closed ISAs. As the ISA is frozen, software which is written will always run on the RISC-V core, and since the RISC-V IP core is not encrypted, it can be used to ensure trust and certifications not possible with closed architectures.

As part of their collaboration within the Mi-V ecosystem, SiFive and Microsemi are jointly creating the HiFive Unleashed, a hardware and software development platform based on SiFive’s Freedom Unleashed 500 (Freedom U500) system-on-chip (SoC) featuring the U54-MC RISC-V Core IP (intellectual property) as well as Microsemi’s lowest power, cost-optimized mid-range PolarFire field programmable gate array (FPGA).

The collaboration and development platform will enable firmware, kernel and driver development engineers to develop their own RISC-V designs with operating systems such as Linux. The Microsemi/SiFive platform with its open ISA and core architecture will be ideal for a variety of applications within the aerospace and defense, industrial and security markets, including industrial internet of things (IoT), security and trust, space, industrial controls and avionics.

“Microsemi is pleased to welcome SiFive to our Mi-V RISC-V ecosystem as a highly valued collaborator on processor IP,” said Jim Aralis, chief technology officer and vice president of advanced development at Microsemi. “The company’s RISC-V leadership, expertise and development model support our team’s ability to innovate quickly, offer lower power solutions and meet the demands of the marketplace. Working with SiFive also enables us to deliver a stronger RISC-V IP roadmap along with the integration of software integrated development environments (IDEs), debug and design platforms that can be used.”

SiFive’s Freedom U500 SoC consists of a five-core, 64-bit RISC-V CPU with coherent 2MB L2 cache subsystem, plus DDR4, Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) and ChipLink interfaces.

Running at over 1.5 GHz, the Freedom U500 is the first RISC-V-based, Linux-capable SoC on the market. Microsemi’s PolarFire FPGAs are cost-optimized, lowest power, mid-range density devices making them ideal for developing a wide variety of RISC-V-based applications. The PolarFire FPGA will interface to the SiFive Freedom U500 via a ChipLink interconnect and a variety of additional peripherals will be supported.   

“Joining the Mi-V RISC-V ecosystem enhances our important relationship with Microsemi while enabling the strategic alignment of our roadmap to facilitate additional end markets and applications for RISC-V designs,” said Naveed Sherwani, CEO, SiFive. “We look forward to continuing our collaborative successes as we develop this unique hardware and software development platform and empower a growing number of system developers with access to RISC-V technology.”

“Interest in RISC-V is growing rapidly, with most leading semiconductor companies already supporting the RISC-V Foundation,” said Linley Gwennap, principal analyst of The Linley Group. “As these companies start new designs, they create opportunities for ecosystem suppliers to support them.”

The jointly developed HiFive Unleashed hardware and software development platform from Microsemi and SiFive based on SiFive’s Freedom Unleashed 500 SoC featuring the U54-MC RISC-V Core IP and Microsemi’s PolarFire FPGA will be available in the first quarter of next year.

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