Richard Quinnell, EDN
January 06, 2017
Whether for budgetary, philosophical, or other reasons, an increasing number of embedded systems are being designed using open source elements. For the most part, these elements are software based, although there are some open source board designs in use as well. Now, the microcontroller that empowers a PCB design is available as an open source design.
A little over a month ago, startup SiFive announced a milestone product in the development of the RISC-V (pronounced risk-five) open source microprocessor instruction set architecture (ISA). Originally developed for research and education, the architecture began moving toward industry implementation with the creation of the RISC-V Foundation in 2015. SiFive advanced that movement by developing a microcontroller design implementing the RISC-V ISA. The company has now proven that design in silicon and donated the RTL code for the design to the open source community.