SiFive Launches a Line of Open Source Chips

Jul 12, 2016

San Francisco-based chip company announces their first fully open source chip platform.

A San Francisco-based company known as SiFive is trying to bring the open source development model to the chip industry. The company has announced its first Freedom family of system-on-a-chip (SoC) products, including the Freedom U500 and Freedom E300 platforms. SiFive is a fabless semiconductor company, similar to AMD. The company doesn’t fabricate the chip but outsources it to manufacturers.

The SiFive founders developed a free and open RISC-V instruction set architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. This new architecture is the foundation of the two new chip platforms.

According to SiFive, the Freedom family of chips represents a fundamentally new approach to designing and producing SoCs that redefines traditional silicon business models and reverses the industry trend of rising licensing, design, and implementation costs.

“The semiconductor industry is at an important crossroads. Moore’s Law has ended, and the traditional economic model of chip building no longer works,” said 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.”

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