SiFive published the news that it is creating a platform for Linux-based personal computers based on RISC-V processors to use them in PCs. This could be the move in the right direction to make to create Linux-based PCs that use royalty-free processors. At the moment, these development PCs are early alternatives targeted at hobbyists and engineers.
The company’s HiFive development boards allow RISC-V developers to create the software they need for their platforms. SiFive uses open-source RISC-V processors that are capable of powering products ranging from the low end to the high end of the computing needs.
SiFive’s main focus is on Linux-based PCs, not Microsoft Windows PCs. Also, the developers can use the boards to test code for real-time operating systems, custom Linux distributions, compilers, libraries, and applications. The HiFive Unmatched board will have a FU740 SoC, a 5-core processor with four SiFive U74 cores, and one SiFive S7 core. The U-series cores are Linux-based 64-bit application processor cores based on RISC-V. These cores can be mixed and matched with other SiFive cores, such as the SiFive FU740.
The HiFive Unmatched board comes in the mini-ITX form factor. SiFive also added the support for standard industry connectors like ATX power supplies, PCI-Express expansion, Gigabit Ethernet, and USB ports with this single-board RISC-V development system.
The board has 8GB of DDR4 memory, 32MB of QSPI flash memory, and a microSD card slot on the motherboard. For debugging and monitoring, developers can access the console output of the board through the built-in micro-USB Type-B connector. Developers can expand it using PCI-Express slots, including both a PCIe general-purpose slot (PCIe Gen 3 x8) for graphics, FPGAs, or other accelerators and M.2 slots for NVME storage (PCIe Gen 3 x4) and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth modules (PCIe Gen 3 x1). There are four USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports on the rear, next to the Gigabit Ethernet port, making it easy to connect peripherals.