SiFive wants to democratize the custom chip business, and so today it is launching the industry’s first open-source RISC-V system-on-chip processor.

The Freedom Everywhere 310 SoC and HiFive1 development board will enable a wide variety of system architects, embedded designers, and Internet of Things providers — people who normally have to rely on chip engineers for the detailed engineering work — to create their own products.

San Francisco-based SiFive is announcing commercial availability of the FE310 system-on-chip and the HiFive1 software development board that goes with it. It is based on the RISC-V instruction set architecture, and it is available as open source.

SiFive founders (left to right): Yunsup Lee, cofounder and CTO; Krste(cq) Asanovic, cofounder and chief architect; Andrew Waterman, cofounder and chief architect.

Above: SiFive founders (left to right): Yunsup Lee, cofounder and CTO; Krste Asanovic, cofounder and chief architect; Andrew Waterman, cofounder and chief engineer.

Image Credit: SiFive

The company revealed the product today at the fifth RISC-V Workshop in Mountain View, California.

“We started with this revolutionary concept — that instruction sets should be free and open — and were amazed by the incredible rippling effect this has had on the semiconductor industry because it provided a viable alternative to what was previously closed and proprietary,” said Krste Asanovic, cofounder and chief architect at SiFive, in a statement. “In the few short months since we’ve announced the Freedom Platforms, we’ve seen a tremendous response to our vision of customizable SoCs. The FE310 is a major step forward in the movement toward open-source and mass customization, and SiFive [is] excited to bring the opportunity for innovation back into the hands of the system architects.”

HiFive1 development board.

Above: HiFive1 development board.

Image Credit: SiFive

The FE310 is the first member of the Freedom Everywhere family of customizable SoCs designed for microcontroller, embedded, Internet of Things, and wearable applications. By contributing the FE310 RTL code to the open source community, SiFive aims to encourage open source development of both software support for RISC-V as well as hardware development.

The RTL code also empowers chip designers with the ability to customize their own SoC on top of the base FE310. For system architects, developers, or companies without chip design capabilities, SiFive’s “chips-as-a-service” offering can customize the FE310 to meet their unique needs, the company said.

“SiFive has achieved a significant milestone for the RISC-V ecosystem,” said Rick O’Connor, executive director of the nonprofit RISC-V Foundation, in a statement. “We are thrilled to see the first commercial silicon based on RISC-V standards come to market and look forward to continued technology leadership from the SiFive team.”

SiFive is the first fabless semiconductor provider of customized silicon based on the free and open RISC-V instruction set architecture. Founded by RISC-V inventors Asanovic, Yunsup Lee, and Andrew Waterman, SiFive wants to democratize access to custom silicon by helping system designers reduce time-to-market and realize cost savings with customized RISC-V based semiconductors.

SiFive has venture backing from Sutter Hill Ventures.