The RISC-V (pronounced “Risk Five”) is a fully open source, open silicon microcontroller architecture that anyone can use to design, manufacture, and sell RISC-V chips and software. Originally created by The Computer Research Group at Berkeley, OnChip, a research group in Bucaramanga, Colombia has taken to Crowd Supply to help fund mass production of a RISC-V chip, called the Open-V, and to expand the growing RISC-V development and user communities.
In the Wikipedia entry for the RISC-V, they explain the significance of open source silicon:
Developing a CPU requires design expertise in several specialties: electronic logic, compilers, and operating systems. It’s rare to find this outside of a professional engineering team. The result is that modern, high-quality general-purpose computer instruction sets have not recently been widely available anywhere, or even explained, except in academic settings. Because of this, many RISC-V contributors see it as a unified community effort. This need for a large base of contributors is part of the reason why RISC-V was engineered to fit so many uses.
Also, unlike OpenRISC, which requires that all designs remain open, RISC-V derivative designs can be either open or closed.
The OnChip Open-V microcontroller is a completely free (as in freedom) and open source 32-bit microcontroller based on the RISC-V architecture. The Open-V has a host of built-in peripherals you’d expect of any modern microcontroller and was designed to compete with the capabilities of ARM M0-based microcontrollers. This crowdfunding campaign will bring the Open-V into mass production and make it widely available to anyone. If you love hacking on embedded controllers, breaking down closed-source barriers, having the freedom to learn how things work even down to the transistor level, or have dreamed of spinning your own silicon, then this campaign is for you and we need your help!
The Crowd Supply page has lots of useful info on the Open-V, including the basic spec, a comparison chart of how it stacks up to ARM and similar processors, and a manufacturing timetable for the Open-V. To get in on the Dev Board level is US$99.