Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley RISE Lab have released FireSim, an open-source cloud instance of RocketChip RISC-V processors running on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform.

“FPGA-accelerated hardware simulation is by no means a new concept. However, previous attempts to use FPGAs for simulation have been fraught with usability, scalability, and cost issues. FireSim takes advantage of EC2 F1 and open-source hardware to address the traditional problems with FPGA-accelerated simulation,” the team explains in an introductory blog post. “FPGA-based simulations have traditionally been expensive, difficult to deploy, and difficult to reproduce; FPGA-based simulations have traditionally been difficult (and expensive) to scale; finding open hardware to simulate has traditionally been difficult, finding open hardware that can run real software stacks is even harder; [and] writing hardware in traditional HDLs is time-consuming.”

The FireSim platform simulates the RocketChip RISC-V core with additional peripherals including a network interface card and disk device. This platform then aims to simplify the process of co-designing hardware and software with a focus on data centre usage – including using Linux-based operating systems and scaling to many-core nodes.

More information on the FireSim project is available on the official website alongside a platform demonstration.