SiFive's HiFive Pro P550, Developed in Partnership with Intel, Aims to Be the Fastest RISC-V SBC Yet

"RISC-V is inevitable," the company claims, as it partners with x86 giant Intel to release its quad-core 64-bit micro-ATX dev board.

Gareth Halfacree
16 days agoHW101

SiFive has revealed additional details about its upcoming HiFive Pro P550 single-board computer (SBC), a desktop-class device built in partnership with Intel, which the companies hope will become the go-to gadget for RISC-V software and hardware development.

"RISC-V is inevitable," SiFive claims, referring to the free and open-source instruction set architecture (ISA) which has been enjoying rapid growth as an alternative to proprietary rivals like Arm and x86, "and the HiFive Pro P550 development system exemplifies that. In partnership, Intel and SiFive are excited to introduce the highest performance RISC-V development board, which is scheduled to be available Summer 2023."

The heart of the HiFive Pro P550 is the Intel Horse Creek system-on-chip (SoC), which offers four 64-bit RISC-V processor cores using a thirteen-stage triple-issue out-of-order execution pipeline tailored for high performance. Elsewhere on the board is 16GB of high-speed DDR5 memory, which is not user-upgradeable, plus two 16-lane PCI Express Gen. 3 expansion slots for additional hardware.

An input/output (IO) block to the rear of the board offers a single gigabit Ethernet port, with word of a 10-gig-Ethernet option, plus five USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI video output port. An E-key M.2 slot offers expansion for Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth connectivity, while an M-key M.2 slot accepts 2280-sized Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) solid-state storage.

A key feature of the HiFive Pro P550 is its performance: Intel and SiFive are positioning the board and its chip as being desktop-class, making it ideal for RISC-V development projects. Its size, too, is desktop-class, using the micro-ATX form factor — though it lacks the recently-ratified RISC-V Vector extension that would have given the board an edge for machine-learning and similar workloads.

What SiFive hasn't yet revealed, however, is the price. The company's previous application-class RISC-V products have sat towards the higher end of the market, and the specifications of the HiFive Pro P550 — plus the "Pro" in the name — suggest the new board will be no different. As a result, it'll be going up against lower-specification but more affordable devices like the StarFive VisionFive 2 and PINE64's Star64 — both of which uses the quad-core StarFive JH7110 system-on-chip.

Those interesting in being kept informed of SiFive's progress as the HiFive Pro P550 works its way to the planned summer release can sign up for news on the company's website.

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