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SiFive speeds up RISC-V U74 cores as Canaan unveils a 3-TOPS Kendryte K510

Jul 30, 2021 — by Eric Brown 4,106 views

[Updated: Aug. 3] — SiFive announced a 11 percent faster “21G2” release of its Essential 7-series cores, including the Linux-ready U74. In other RISC-V news, Canaan is launching a dual-core, 3-TOPs Kendryte K510 CPU that is debuting on a quadruped robot.

SiFive has announced a 21G2 update to its RISC-V architecture Essential 7-series. We also take a look at the new RISC-V-based Kendryte K510 CPU, which will debut on a dog-like XGO-Mini Pro robot (see farther below).

The Essential series is the new name for the processors that preceded SiFive’s SiFive Intelligence X280, equipped with the RV64GCV ISA with vector extensions that enable AI. More recently, SiFive announced a Cortex-A75 like U8-series SiFive Performance P550, which will appear on an Intel Horse Creek SoC.


HiFive Unmatched

The Essential 7-series includes the Cortex-A55 like U74-MC, which runs Linux on the HiFive Unmatched SBC. The series also includes MCU-like S7 and E7 models.

With the 21G2 release, the Essential 7-series cores enable up to 11 percent faster performance than the earlier 21G1 release “thanks to the enhanced design updates that reduce latency and improve instruction throughput,” says SiFive. Internal benchmarks show the U7 and S7 processors achieve 5.7 CoreMark/MHz and 3.2 Dhrystone/MHz, up from 5.2 CoreMark/MHz and 2.8 Dhrystone/MHz. The HiFive Unmatched was announced with 1.4GHz to 1.5GHz performance.

SiFive also announced some improvements for the MCU-level members of the Essential 7-series, as well as MCUs available on its earlier Essential 5-series. The S7, E7, S5, E5, S2, and E2 now offer software programmable address remapping to enable data region remapping and ROM code patching, with support for both instruction and data addresses. The Essential 5-series also includes the U5-series/U54 cores found on the FU540 SoC that powers the HiFive Unleashed SBC.

Kendryte K510 debuts, shows up on doggy robot

Earlier this month, Canaan announced the Kendryte K510, as reported on CNXSoft, which added leaked specs, including the block diagram below. The K510 is a faster update to the similarly RISC-V architecture Kendryte K210. While the dual-core, MCU-like K210 has a 0.3-TOPS NPU, the similarly dual-core K510 has upped the AI performance to 2.5-TOPS to 3.0-TOPs.

Kendryte K510 block diagram (left) and Luwu’s XGO-Mini Pro
Source: block diagram from CNXSoft
(click images to enlarge)

There is no MMU evident on the block diagram and no mention of maximum RAM or Linux support. The earlier K210 supports a stripped-down NOMMU Linux distribution but is ideally designed to run baremetal or with FreeRTOS.

The Kendryte K510 is designed for camera-driven applications that are typically associated with Linux. These include UAV high-definition aerial photography, high-definition panoramic video conferences, robotics, STEAM education, driver assistance scenarios, and industrial and professional cameras.

The first product to ship with the Kendryte K510 could be the dog-like XGO-Mini Pro robot from Luwu Intelligence, which was reported on today by CNXSoft.
The XGO-Mini Pro is a 12-DOF omnidirectional quadruped with a camera, display, and audio I/O. Once again, there is no mention of Linux.

[Update: As noted in this CNXSoft update post, the promised crowdfunding campaign for the XGO-Mini Pro is now selling only a Kendryte K210-based XGO-Mini. The link we posted had originally gone to an Ogadget teaser site asking users to sign up for notifications about a crowd-funding page for both the XGO-Mini Pro and a XGO-Mini. The link now goes to a Kickstarter page that lists only the XGO-Mini, starting at $199.]

Further information

The 21G2 update to SiFive’s RISC-V architecture Essential 7-series is available now, with pricing undisclosed. More information may be found in SiFive’s announcement.

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