At present, the server market dominant X86 architecture is dominated by Intel and AMD; the Arm architecture occupies more than 95% of the mobile terminal market
However, these two architectures are dominated by overseas manufacturers. Seeking a relatively independent and open source chip architecture will bring great significance to the development of independent ecology. RISC-V is such a new architecture.
Newer technologies have greater opportunities for domestic growth
In the process of domestic semiconductor ecological development, the more upstream the industry chain, the weaker the maturity compared with overseas markets. Tapping relatively new technical routes is one of the growth opportunities.
At present, most of the domestic Internet of Things scenarios are actively promoted, and some high-end RISC-V architecture CPU chips are also being explored one after another, and industrial roles are also being explored and applied in scenarios such as the Automotive Internet of Things.
Based on the advantages of RISC-V functions and no company has a dominant position, it is predicted that it will first develop based on the Internet of Things.
However, with the continuous improvement of supporting software and other ecosystems, RISC-V is expected to gradually enter the fields of PCs and intelligent networked vehicles, and become one of the world’s mainstream CPUs.
Because the RISC-V architecture is simple, easy to transplant, and has the characteristics of low design cost, in addition to low power consumption, small size and other advantages, these meet the needs of the chip in the Internet of Things era.
Especially in the subdivision of the Internet of Things, no real barriers have been formed in China, and any fragmented application scenario may bring new opportunities for RISC-V again.
The RISC-V architecture is a rare opportunity for Chinese companies, because RISC-V started late, and the gap between domestic and foreign countries is not as large as that of the traditional X86 architecture field, and there is a certain room for catching up.
In addition, there is a large influx of start-ups in China, and many companies have chosen the RISC-V architecture. The screening and promotion of the market can accelerate the development of RISC-V.
To build an ecology is to build a platform
RISC-V will continue to evolve towards high performance, and high main frequency and high performance will be the future development trend.
When the two major architectures of X86 and ARM competed for the market, the open source RISC-V architecture broke out.
If there is not enough neutrality and openness to continuously interact with open source communities with advanced experience, including overseas open source engineers, the table will not be set up, and no one will be on the table, and it will be difficult to last.
Kaiyuan Ecology has two important roles, one is the builder of the open source ecology, the other is the user of the open source ecology, and is also a participant and partner of the open source ecology.
2018 is a critical time for the development of domestic RISC-V
On April 16, 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce ordered that U.S. companies be prohibited from selling components and other products to ZTE.
With the sudden outbreak of the chip [stuck neck] incident, the advantages of RISC-V’s open source features are suddenly magnified.
In July 2018, the Shanghai Municipal Economic Information Commission issued a document, one of which was to target companies engaged in RISC-V-related design and development as support objects, which was the first domestic government support.
And some companies with their own chip business also accelerated their transformation to RISC-V in 2018.
On September 17, 2018, Huami Technology released what is known as the world’s first artificial intelligence chip [Huangshan No. 1] in the field of smart wearables.
In September 2018, Alibaba established Ali Pingtouge to enter the chip business by acquiring the chip company Zhongtian Microsystems Co., Ltd., and soon started RISC-V related research.
In October 2021, Alibaba Cloud will open source four Xuantie RISC-V series processors, and open a series of tools and system software.
China RISC-V Alliance grows rapidly
At the same time, the RISC-V International Foundation has established the Datacenter Working Group (Datacenter SIG) and the High Performance Computing Special Interest Group (HPC SIG).
Among them, the data center working group is mainly composed of Ali Pingtouge, Google, Ventana, etc. Pingtouge is leading the formulation of relevant technical standards;
When it comes to ecology, one of the unavoidable problems is the alliance, such as the Wintel alliance formed by the X86 architecture, or the Quandroid alliance formed by the ARM architecture.
The RISC-V International Foundation has more than 3,100 members, an increase of 130% compared to 2021; the China RISC-V Alliance is growing rapidly, with more than 60 corporate members. In terms of ecological alliances, RISC-V is developing rapidly.
From the perspective of RISC-V companies, HiSilicon, GigaDevice, Rockchip, Allwinner, Goodix Technology, Espressif Technology, etc. have entered RISC-V;
Pingtouge, Xinlai, Saifang, etc. can already provide RISC-V-based CPU IP, compilers, tool chains and other products.
The RISC-V instruction set has developed rapidly in just 12 years since its release in 2010.
Not long ago, the number exceeded 10 billion, far exceeding ARM and X86 in the same period.
At present, only a few manufacturers and institutions in the world have launched high-performance RISC-V IP.
Although both the industry alliance and the ecological alliance are optimistic about the future development of RISC-V, they are different in concept and specific path.
If you want to make a high-performance processor based on RISC-V, you must rely on large companies to promote it.
Because only large companies can continue to develop RISC-V high-performance CPUs regardless of costs and bear business losses for many years.
At a time when geopolitics is affecting the global economy, the importance of chip autonomy is self-evident.
In other words, RISC-V does not have the compatibility burden of the X86/ARM instruction set, and can better meet the needs of subdivided scenarios.
However, RISC-V is currently in the development stage, and many interfaces are not compatible with RISC-V, which also hinders its development. There is still a long way to go for RISC-V to develop to the maturity of ARM.