SiFive Unveils the High-Performance, AI-Accelerating HiFive Premier P550 RISC-V Development Board

Featuring four high-performance cores with out-of-order execution and a 13.3 TOPS coprocessor, the HiFive Premier P550 aims high.

RISC-V pioneer SiFive has announced a new high-performance development board built around its P550 processor cores — which will launch, the company claims, as the industry's first RISC-V board to feature out-of-order execution capabilities: the HiFive Premier P550.

"The popularity of our development boards underscores the growth and maturity of the RISC-V ecosystem," says Patrick Little, SiFive's chief executive officer and chair. "The HiFive board has always been the 'golden reference' RISC-V development platform. Building on this proven foundation with the new HiFive Premier P550, developers can take advantage of SiFive's high-performance IP in a cost-efficient platform that will be available in volume, opening up unlimited possibilities for RISC-V innovation in AI [Artificial Intelligence] applications and beyond."

The heart of the new board is an Eswin EIC7700 system-on-chip with four SiFive Performance P550 processor cores, a proprietary implementation of the free and open-source 64-bit RV64GBC RISC-V architecture. These, the company says, offer a 13-stage triple-issue pipeline with out-of-order execution support — the first commercially-available RISC-V chip to offer such support, by SiFive's measure. The chip also includes a 2D/3D graphics processor and a neural processing unit (NPU) coprocessor for on-device machine learning and artificial intelligence workloads delivering a claimed 13.3 tera-operations per second (TOPS) of compute.

The HiFive Premier P550 isn't a true single-board computer, though: the system-on-chip and additional hardware, including a choice of 16GB or 32GB of LPDDR5 memory and 128GB of eMMC storage, is found on a system-on-module, which then sits in a carrier board breaking out the part's various features. This board brings out dual gigabit Ethernet ports plus a dedicated debug Ethernet interface, five USB 3.2 Gen. 1 ports, a PCI Express Gen. 3 16x slot, M.2 E-key slot for an optional radio module, and a SATA 3 connector for additional storage — all in a mini-DTX form factor compatible with existing cases and power supplies.

On the software side, SiFive is continuing its partnership with Canonical to offer Ubuntu Linux support. "RISC-V is giving developers a new level of freedom to innovate, and SiFive is one of the top companies leading the charge. The availability of HiFive Premier P550 is a significant milestone for the RISC-V development community," claims Canonical's Gordan Markuš. "Thanks to our collaboration with SiFive, developers using the HiFive Premier P550 board will be able to innovate at speed with Ubuntu. Additionally, Canonical's software and services will accelerate time to market, and ensure long-term support and security maintenance for our enterprise partners."

While SiFive is positioning the HiFive Premier P550 as the first commercially-available RISC-V development board to feature out-of-order execution, though, the catch is that it's not actually commercially available quite yet: the HiFive Premier P550 is expected to launch in July this year, at an as-yet unconfirmed price point.

The announcement of the HiFive Premier P550 may come as a surprise, too, to those who had been watching eagerly for news on the launch of the HiFive Pro P550, a very similar board also based around the P550 cores but developed in partnership with Intel and based on the company's Horse Creek chip. With SiFive's website now redirecting the HiFive Pro P550 landing page to the Premier P550, it would appear the Pro has been cancelled — though neither SiFive nor Intel have made any announcements on the topic.

More information is available on the SiFive website, though at the time of writing the company had not yet published a datasheet nor full technical specifications.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
Latest articles
Sponsored articles
Related articles
Latest articles
Read more
Related articles