Microchip's RISC-V-Powered PolarFire SoC Family Leaves Sampling, Hits Production-Qualified Status

Previously available only as engineering samples, the PolarFire SoC — combining FPGA and RISC-V resources — has hit a milestone.

Gareth Halfacree
5 months agoFPGAs / HW101

Microchip has announced a milestone in its efforts to meld the free and open RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA) with its field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology: mass production of its PolarFire SoC family, following its limited launch nearly three years ago.

"We now have a large funnel of customers who have designed in the PolarFire SoC family with our suite of Mi-V tools and solutions," claims Shakeel Peera, referring to both the parts themselves and the ecosystem of IP, hardware, software, and services it has built up with its partners in support of PolarFire and RISC-V.

"These customers have developed innovative products that bring best-in-class solutions to market with superior thermal and power efficiency, as well as unprecedented compute capability in small form factors," Peera continues. "We are now writing a new chapter in the history of RISC-V with the availability of production-qualified SoC PolarFire devices."

The PolarFire SoC itself, a system-on-chip design which includes processing cores built around the free and open source RISC-V ISA along with low-power high-performance FPGA technology from Microchip, was opened for early access in December 2019 with the promise of being "the industry's first RISC-V based SoC FPGA." The limited program was followed by the launch of the PolarFire SoC Icicle Kit — which is the device at the heart of our ongoing FPGAdventures series — in September 2020, but since then the part has still been officially "sampling."

Microchip's announcement promises a new era: The PolarFire SoC range is now production-qualified and in mass-production, and sampling no longer. "Microchip’s PolarFire SoC FPGA and Mi-V ecosystem provide an excellent platform to evaluate a Linux-capable multi-core RISC-V-based SoC," Calista Redmond, chief executive of RISC-V International, says in support of the milestone. "The market now has a production-qualified RISC-V solution to procure and adopt in their designs. The FPGA fabric is an innovative platform that enables hardware acceleration for system design."

More information on the PolarFire SoC is available on the Microchip website; models are available with 23k to 461k logic elements (LEs), 68 to 1,420 18×18 MACC math blocks, and 1.8Mb to 31.6Mb total RAM; more details on the Icicle Kit development board can be found on the Avnet product page.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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