David Lee, Product ManagerMarch 19, 2019

Freedom Everywhere — Back for Everyone!

HiFive1 Rev B: The Second Generation HiFive1 Dev Board and the Freedom Everywhere SoC, FE310

When SiFive launched the FE310 and HiFive1 in 2016, the product received a very warm and enthusiastic reception. The project received much more attention and traction than we could have ever hoped for. We were nominated for two ACE awards and the HiFive1 team won “Design Team of the Year”.

In the short period of time since we launched the HiFive1, we have seen new RTOSes, software stacks, toolchains, debuggers, mechanical cases, and dev kits in different form factors. SiFive is proud to see the growth of the RISC-V Revolution alongside fellow RISC-V Foundation platinum members such as Western Digital, Microchip, Google, Samsung, and NVIDIA. We want to thank the community for openly embracing the FE310 and HiFive1 and helping us to drive the adoption of the free and open RISC-V ISA.

Last week, we launched an upgraded Freedom Everywhere SoC and corresponding development kit, the HiFive1 Rev B, powered by SiFive’s E31 CPU, the FE310-G002. A small yet mighty 68 mm x 51 mm, the HiFive1 Rev B can connect to Arduino-compatible accessories and is a great platform for real-time embedded applications.

Here’s what’s new . . .

In the chip, the FE310-G002, we have added:

  • One hardware I2C
  • An additional UART for a total of 2 UARTs
  • An upgrade to RISC-V Debug Specification 0.13
  • Always-on domain at 3.3V
  • The ability to power-off the core power (1.8V) during sleep mode.

On the board, the HiFive1 Rev B, we:

  • Added a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module to enable more connected applications for FE310
  • Upgraded the USB debug to a Segger J-Link
  • Enabled USB drag-and-drop flash programming
  • Removed the bidirectional level shifters, enabling the FE310 to drive the I/O pins (3.3V only) directly
  • Changed to a 4 MB QSPI NOR from ISSI

Optimization and power savings at the edge for IoT devices also necessitate that developers not be unnecessarily frustrated by walled-off gardens. Critically, The FE310 is the first open source, commercially available RISC-V SoC.

Since 2016, the most frequently requested feature for our next embedded dev board has been wireless networking connectivity. On the HiFive1 Rev B, we have added a Wi-Fi / Bluetooth module from Espressif to enable the community to use the FE310 as a truly connected IoT device.

Another new feature that we have enabled in partnership with Segger is the drag-and-drop flash programming. When the HiFive1 Rev B is plugged into a PC, it appears as a mass storage device and you can copy your compiled binary (hex) directly to the board. This dramatically simplifies the re-programming of the HiFive1 Rev B.

We also have enabled Zephyr RTOS to run on the FE310 and HiFive1 Rev B. All HiFive1 Zephyr apps are forward-compatible. With Zephyr RTOS, you get a complete execution environment with portable peripheral drivers for all hardware on the board. Zephyr’s SDK removes the pain points of toolchain management, as all the tools needed for porting are provided. Everything that Zephyr has to offer is available on our platform thereby allowing us to ship silicon and boards that run a full-featured, well-supported, community-driven real time operating system.

We are proud of our robust little MCU and we hope that you will like it, too. The support of the open-source community has helped us build the most open commercial hardware available. Our dream has always been to democratize access to custom silicon and hardware. We absolutely cannot wait to see what new applications the HiFive1 Rev B and FE310 will be used for. We are especially excited to see how people might make the best use of the ability to power-off the core power during sleep mode. Optimizing power usage is a key feature for any IoT or connected device. We are thrilled to be able to put upgraded hardware and capabilities into the hands of all the innovators and RISC-V revolutionaries out there.

You can preorder your HiFive1 Rev B today here.

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