Support for Microchip’s RISC-V platforms in Antmicro’s open source Renode framework and beyond


Topics: Open source tools, Open hardware, Open FPGA

Originally issued by Microchip.

Antmicro has been cooperating with Microchip for many years now, enabling Microchip’s Mi-V ecosystem with its simulation solutions. Both companies are Founding Members of RISC-V International and have been driving the RISC-V free and open ISA ecosystem since the early days.

Since the beginning of this ongoing collaboration, Antmicro and Microchip have been working hand in hand, providing a complete Renode-based simulation platform for the Mi-V ecosystem, including both softcore CPUs and the highly advanced multi-core PolarFire SoC, capable of co-simulation enabling rapid co-development of software and FPGA code.

Board with Polarfire SoC in Renode diagram

Renode - Antmicro’s advanced simulation framework

Renode is Antmicro’s open source simulator capable of accelerating any development stage of IoT and embedded systems. It allows you to build virtual SoCs using a wide range of peripherals and CPUs of various architectures, like ARM or RISC-V. Renode offers a wide range of features, including co-simulation between fast models of your core system - such as the hard blocks of Microchip PolarFire SoC - and a specific peripheral or subsystem - e.g., developed in your PFSoC FPGA fabric - directly from HDL. This significantly speeds up your system development in complex scenarios, as functional simulations are noticeably faster than HDL simulations.

Thanks to Renode’s advanced debugging and testing capabilities, you can catch bugs earlier in the development cycle and get greater control over your target platform and its environment. Renode can also be used during the pre-silicon stage of a project, as has been done by Microchip in order to enable software development for their PolarFire SoC before it was physically built and distributed.

PolarFire SoC and Icicle in Renode

The cooperation of Antmicro and Microchip helped us reach a significant milestone in Renode’s history: the development of a 64-bit, multicore PolarFire SoC, an FPGA SoC equipped with a 5-core Linux-capable processor subsystem based on the RISC-V ISA. Its simulation in Renode supports a wide range of peripherals, starting with low-speed communication interfaces like I2C/SPI, through USB and PCIe support, to hardware-accelerated cryptography. Additionally, as mentioned before, users can benefit from Renode’s co-simulation capabilities, allowing them to use their Verilog code as simulation models within the Renode environment.

Microchip also provides a low-cost development platform - the Icicle Kit, which is supported in Renode as well. You can easily run it using only one command in the Renode CLI:

start @scripts/single-node/icicle-kit.resc

This simulation runs Yocto-based Linux with a full bootloader flow to be as close to the physical hardware experience as possible.

Integration with Microchip SoftConsole

Microchip provides an Eclipse-based Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for developing bare metal- and RTOS-based C/C++ software, named Microchip SoftConsole, which has been integrated with Renode as part of our cooperation. This integration is based on GDB support in Renode, and as a result, Renode now ships as an integrated part of SoftConsole. This lets you start debugging your system with just a single click, both on Mi-V softcores and the PolarFire SoC. This pairing is especially effective, considering Renode lets you run the same unmodified binaries you would use on the target hardware.

Renode in Microchip SoftConsole screenshot

Renode for Microchip’s microcontrollers

The list of Microchip’s hardware supported in Renode extends far beyond the Polarfire SoC, the Icicle board, and Mi-V softcores. Many of Microchip’s Cortex-M-class microcontrollers, like the SAM E70, can also be simulated along with their peripheral interfaces, including, e.g., network connectivity. Specifically, as part of Antmicro’s work with SAM E70, we have implemented Time Sensitive Networking (TSN) and Precision Time Protocol (PTP) for building time-critical control systems in Zephyr and Renode. TSN is being widely deployed in robotics, industrial, railway, and other systems, and thanks to Antmicro’s previous open source work, you can build TSN-enabled products with end-to-end simulation testing using Renode and Zephyr RTOS.

To see the complete list of Microchip platforms supported in Renode, visit Renodepedia and Microchip’s vendor page or see the status of Zephyr-supported Microchip platforms in the Renode Zephyr dashboard.

Antmicro’s hardware and FPGA engineering services

Aside from providing first-class support for Microchip’s products in Renode, Antmicro is building real-world FPGA and hardware systems, developing open source FPGA IP, software, and boards (such as a dedicated HDMI breakout board that connects to Icicle’s RPi expansion header and aims to enable a Linux-driven UI or other graphical content) to help customers use the PolarFire SoC platform in their products.

Build your next project in the Mi-V ecosystem with Antmicro

Antmicro’s long-lasting cooperation with Microchip enables us to provide deep experience in developing hardware, software, and testing solutions around the Mi-V ecosystem. Antmicro offers advanced co-simulation features and support for the RISC-V architecture in Renode, both of which were presented during this year’s RISC-V Summit, where Microchip was a Platinum sponsor, while Antmicro gave a talk on ML co-development with RISC-V and Renode together with Google.

Antmicro offers commercial support and engineering services around Renode, Verilator, and other tools, as well as FPGA and ASIC design, hardware, software, and cloud services. If you want to discover how Antmicro can help your state-of-the-art product hit the market, do not hesitate to contact us at

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