Intel expands RISC-V support with Pathfinder development kits for hobbyists and commercial chipmakers
In the past few years, the renewed interest in the RISC-V open source instruction set architecture brought on by ARM’s uncertain fate has attracted the attention of quite a few industry giants, including Intel and AMD. 2021 saw AMD expressing interest in diversifying its portfolio with RISC-V chips, while Intel partnered with processor maker SiFive in order to boost RISC-V adoption. In the meantime, Intel managed to enable RISC-V processor support on FPGA platforms from select partners via the new Pathfinder initiative and Team Blue is now offering RISC-V development kits with full software support for hobbyists, as well as commercial chipmakers.
Intel’s press release notes that Pathfinder is launching to allow “for a variety of RISC-V cores and other IP to be instantiated on FPGA and simulator platforms, with the ability to run industry leading operating systems and tool chains within a unified IDE (integrated development environment).” Vijay Krishnan, General Manager, RISC-V Ventures from Intel stated that “Intel Pathfinder for RISC-V represents our ongoing commitment to accelerate the adoption of RISC-V and catalyze the ecosystem around an open-source and standards-based vision.” The expanded RISC-V compatibility also ties in with Intel’s Foundry Services that aim to produce other processor IPs on Intel-owned nodes.
Hobbyists, academia and researchers can download the Pathfinder Starter Edition for free right now. This version includes the Eclipse IDE, QEMU virtual simulator, GNU / LLVM toolchain support, Chips Alliance Rocket and NeoRV RISC-V CPU support for Linux and other OSs, and compatibility with a dev kit FPGA board produced by Terasic.
On the other hand, commercial developers can access the Professional Edition that expands the RISC-V processor support with models from Andes, Codasip, Fraunhofer, MIPS, OpenHW Group and SiFive, plus adds compatibility with the Stratix 10 GX FPGA board, and also offers advanced capabilities like access to Amazon Web Services.
DigiTimes reports that the Pathfinder initiative is meant to solidify Intel’s partnership with SiFive. As such, Phil Dworsky, SiFive global head of strategic alliances points out that the use of the Performance P550 cores from SiFive in the latest FPGA boards “gives software developers a head start in preparation for the highly anticipated Horse Creek boards, which are on track for delivery this year. SiFive is excited to work with Intel on this project, to engage with mutual customers, and together to fuel innovation in the fast-growing RISC-V ecosystem.”