Apsara Conference 2022 News | RISC-V Technology

Date: Oct 1, 2022

Introduction: On October 19th, at the Apsara Conference 2022, Zhang Jianfeng, President of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, announced that Pingtou Ge open sourced the Xuantie RISC-V series processors, and opened up a series of tools and system software. This is the world's first full-stack open source for a series of processors and basic software, which will promote the maturity of the RISC-V architecture, help RISC-V software and hardware technologies accelerate the integration and development, and promote innovation.

On October 19th, at the Apsara Conference 2022, Zhang Jianfeng, President of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence, announced that Pingtou Ge open sourced the Xuantie RISC-V series processors, and opened up a series of tools and system software. This is the world's first full-stack open source for a series of processors and basic software, which will promote the maturity of the RISC-V architecture, help RISC-V software and hardware technologies accelerate the integration and development, and promote innovation.
In the AIoT era, the RISC-V architecture is expected to become the next generation of widely used CPU architecture after Intel X86 and ARM due to its openness and flexibility. However, the current RISC-V architecture faces problems such as application fragmentation, low development efficiency, and difficult software and hardware adaptation, and the software and hardware ecosystem is not yet mature.
Xuantie RISC-V series processors adopt self-developed technology, covering various scenarios from low power consumption to high performance, supporting AliOS, FreeRTOS, RT-Thread, Linux, Android and other operating systems, and have been successfully applied to microcontrollers , industrial control, smart home appliances, smart grid, image processing, artificial intelligence, multimedia and automotive electronics. Not long ago, the Xuantie 910 was compatible with Android for the first time in the world, which greatly expanded the imagination of the RISC-V architecture for an open ecosystem.
At present, Xuantie series processors have shipped more than 2.5 billion units, with more than 150 customers and more than 500 licenses, and have become the domestic CPU with the largest application scale in China Apsara Conference 2022.
The open source Xuantie series of RISC-V processors includes four mass-produced processor IPs, including Xuantie E902, E906, C906, and C910, as well as full-stack software and tools based on Xuantie's multi-operating systems. Developers can download the source code of Xuantie through Github and the Open Chip Community. On this basis, they can realize open source EDA collaboration, innovate hardware architecture, and enrich software application ecology.

Calista Redmond, CEO of the International RISC-V Foundation, said, "Alibaba has become a true leader in the RISC-V community through continuous contributions, leading technologies and in-depth cooperation with the RISC-V ecosystem. Iron Open Source), will stimulate the development of innovative chips in the global RISC-V community, and the RISC-V global ecosystem will benefit from it Apsara Conference 2022.”
Brother Pingtou has been cultivating self-developed chip technology for many years, and insists on open source and openness, and makes continuous efforts to promote inclusive computing power. As early as 2019, Xuantie 910 was opened to the outside world, and the first open source low-power microcontroller chip design platform "Wujian 100 Open". This full-stack open source provides global developers with a new choice of architecture, and will also promote the further maturity of RISC-V technology and ecology.
Zhang Jianfeng said, "Apsara Conference 2022 After three years of hard work, we have released the open source version of the Xuantie RISC-V series today. In the future, we will open source more RISC-V processors, and hope to have more partners to develop and develop on the basis of Xuantie. We will produce more valuable IP cores and basic software to jointly build an open, transparent and inclusive RISC-V ecosystem."
1. Apsara Conference 2022 this time the Xuantie RISC-V series processors are open source, what are the specific contents? What does it mean for the global RISC-V ecosystem?
The open source OpenXuantie series of RISC-V processors includes four mass-produced processor IPs, including Xuantie E902, E906, C906, and C910, as well as OpenXuantie-based multi-operating systems (AliOS, FreeRTOS, RT-Thread, Linux, Android etc.) full stack software and tools.
Developers can download the OpenXuantie source code through Github and the Open Chip Community, and based on this, realize open source EDA collaboration, hardware architecture innovation, and enrich the software application ecosystem Apsara Conference 2022.
Calista Redmond, CEO of the International RISC-V Foundation, said, "Alibaba has become a true leader in the RISC-V community through continuous contributions, leading technologies and in-depth cooperation with the RISC-V ecosystem. Iron Open Source), will stimulate the development of innovative chips in the global RISC-V community, and the RISC-V global ecosystem will benefit from Apsara Conference 2022.”
2. It is understood that some research institutions have open sourced before, such as Bao Yungang's Xiangshan RISC-V processor open source and so on. What is the difference between the Pingtou Ge Xuantie RISC-V series open source this time?
Brother Pingtou is happy to see more academic institutions and commercial organizations open source RISC-V processors. We also cooperate with all relevant computing departments of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to jointly explore the advanced architecture of RISC-V Apsara Conference 2022.
Specifically, the Xiangshan processor focuses more on agile development technology and is based on the Chisel development language, which is of great significance to the field of scientific research.
The open source Xuantie RISC-V series processors of Pingtou use the Verilog development language widely used in the industry, and have excellent productization capabilities and technical maturity. Xuantie RISC-V series processors, after years of market testing and increasingly perfect software and tool development, have the full-stack capability of integrating software and hardware. After open source, developers can realize open source EDA collaboration based on this, innovate hardware architecture, and enrich software application ecology Apsara Conference 2022.
In addition, Pingtou Ge will continue to provide technical and service support to assist the ecosystem to realize the commercialization of RISC-V processors.
3. What is the difference and progress between this open source and Pingtou Ge’s previous open source?
Brother Pingtou has always adhered to the concept of open source and open source. This open source is the latest move to this concept. It has inherited the previous open source achievements, and its scale and strength are unprecedented in the global RISC-V community.
As early as July 2019, the Xuantie 910 was opened to developers, and global developers can download the FPGA code of the processor for free. Xuantie 910 has also become a representative processor of RISC-V advancing to high-end chips. Not long ago, the Xuantie 910 was compatible with Android for the first time in the world, which greatly expanded the imagination of the RISC-V architecture for an open ecosystem.
Apsara Conference 2022 In addition, Pingtou has successively opened up a low-power microcontroller chip design platform - "Wujian 100 Open", a complete set of modules such as processor, basic interface IP, operating system, software driver, and development tools.
4. Redhat has achieved commercial success through open source in the software field. Why is there no such successful case in the chip field and hardware field?
Unlike mature software open source, hardware open source is a new concept.
For developers, the direct use of open source software is relatively inexpensive and attractive. However, the hardware development process is complex, time-consuming, and the trial and error is expensive, which puts forward higher requirements for hardware open source. Therefore, market-proven open-source processors have become popular.
5. As a commercial company, how do you think about the contribution of open source to your own business? How to achieve a positive business cycle?
Brother Pingtou supports open source and open source. For the rising RISC-V architecture technology, only more developers and enterprises can use it to jointly promote ecological progress and make this technology more mature at the hardware and software levels such as chips and operating systems. , so that every partner in the ecosystem can benefit from it.
At the same time, the Xuantie RISC-V processor series is open source, and will continue to provide technology and service updates to help enterprises move from open source to real implementation, and to jointly prosper the "cloud-integrated" AIoT ecosystem with developers.
6. Brother Pingtou also launched the Yitian 710 chip this time, and is working on the RISC-V architecture. What is the relationship between the two?
Pingtou Ge insists on self-developed technology and open source. The launch of the Yitian 710 chip shows that Pingtou Ge has become one of the few companies in the world that can design top-performance CPUs.
At present, the AIoT wave has swept across, and RISC-V may be the key to the Internet of Everything in the AIoT era and the key to broadening the IoT ecosystem. Pingtou’s exploration and layout on RISC-V is of great significance to promoting the AIoT strategy. The open source Xuantie RISC-V series processors will effectively promote the development of the RISC-V ecosystem, help the Internet of Everything, and benefit the global RISC-V Community.
At the same time, the imagination of RISC-V is huge. Xuantie 910 is compatible with Android for the first time in the world, which proves the possibility of RISC-V developing towards high performance. Brother Pingtou will also continue to explore the implementation of the RISC-V architecture in more scenarios and fields, and move towards "cloud integration".
7. What RISC-V advantages does Pingtou have?
More than ten years of instruction set technology accumulation: Pingtou Ge technical team has more than ten years of experience in CPU and chip research and development, and has long been engaged in the research and development of self-developed instruction architecture, CPU micro-architecture and system chip products, and a variety of CPU IP cores have been mass-produced 's verification.
Rich products and largest market share: Pingtou has a rich family of RISC-V processor products ranging from low power consumption, low cost to medium and high performance, which are widely used in MCU, Bluetooth, wireless, voice, vision and other application scenarios.
In 2018, the Pingtou Ge team switched from the self-developed C-Sky instruction set to RISC-V; in July 2019, Pingtou Ge released the industry's highest-performance RISC-V processor, the Xuantie 910. Since then, the Wujian SOC platform and a variety of Xuantie RISC-V processors have been released to meet the needs of low-power and high-performance computing scenarios.
In August 2019, Pingtou released a one-stop chip design platform "Wujian 100 Open" for the AIoT era, providing an overall solution that integrates chip architecture, basic software, algorithms and development tools.
In May 2021, Pingtou Ge also launched three development boards, RVB-ICE, RVB-D1, and RVB2601, and announced the terminal-cloud integrated software platform, which further provides a bridge for developers and enterprises to experience RISC-V technology.
Since the launch of Xuantie 910 for more than two years, Pingtou has vigorously promoted the development of the RISC-V software and hardware ecosystem, adapted to operating systems such as AliOS, FreeRTOS, RT-Thread, Linux, and Android, and has been recognized in more than 100 chips. Application, the Xuantie series has become the most influential and market share processor product in the domestic RISC-V field, with an annual growth rate of 50%.
Leading technical strength: Xuantie 910 is the forerunner of high-performance RISC-V processors, expanding the boundaries of RISC-V performance and applications. The processor integrates the product-proven instruction technology in the self-developed architecture with the RISCV reduced instruction technology. Compared with the original RISC-V, the processor is stable and reliable in terms of instructions, and has an average performance improvement of more than 20%. In terms of processor design technology, on the basis of the original high-performance processor 2 launch, Xuantie 910 has developed into a 3 launch parallel architecture, the pipeline depth has been developed from 10 levels to 12 levels, and the unit performance has been improved by more than 40%, reaching 7.1 Coremark /MHz, the working frequency reaches 2.5GHz, the overall index is improved by a level on the original technology, and the performance meets the fields of 5G, network communication, artificial intelligence, automatic driving and so on.
On October 13, 2021, Pingtou Ge announced that the Xuantie 910 is successfully compatible with the Android system and can run applications such as the Chrome browser. This is the first time in the chip industry that the RISC-V architecture supports Android, which means that the RISC-V architecture is expected to break the scene barriers and become a new choice for high-performance chip design.
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Supplementary information (integrated from public media reports and online information, for reference only)
1. RISC-V popular science
Chip is the colloquial name for "integrated circuit". To execute a software program on a chip, you must first translate the software/program language into hardware instructions. This set of standard specifications is the chip architecture/instruction set (ISA, Instruction Set Architecture). X86, Arm, and RISC-V are all instruction sets. codename.
The instruction set is usually associated with the software ecosystem behind it. Which instruction set is used requires its patent authorization, and the IP authorization fee can easily cost millions or tens of millions of dollars.
Currently, the global chip architecture pattern is dominated by Intel and Arm. The X86 architecture of the American company Intel dominates the two major markets of personal computers and servers; the Arm architecture of the British company is popular in the smartphone and Internet of Things markets. Over the past few decades, Intel has allied itself with Microsoft, and Arm has allied with Apple and Google, becoming the de facto standard in their respective markets.
RISC-V, which was born in 2010, is an open source instruction set architecture (ISA) based on the principle of reduced instruction set (RISC). It is owned by a non-profit foundation. All enterprises can join the foundation and use RISC- V architecture, and make changes on its basis, is widely expected to become the next generation of widely used CPU architecture.
The RISC-V architecture has the characteristics of openness, flexibility, and low power consumption. It has less than 50 basic instructions, and provides a lot of extended instruction sets in a modular way, which is especially suitable for fragmentation of smart cities, industrial Internet, and smart homes. Provide custom chips for AIoT scenarios.
Calista Redmond, CEO of the RISC-V Foundation, has revealed that by the end of 2020, 93 RISC-V chips (SoC, IP and FPGA) have been launched globally, covering cloud, mobile, high-performance computing, machine learning, Autonomous driving and other industries. According to Caixin, RISC-V has attracted more than 500 companies around the world, including Google, Alibaba, Samsung, NVIDIA, and Western Digital, to participate in research and development.
Ni Guangnan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, once predicted that in the CPU field, Intel (x86), Arm, and RISC-V will form a three-part pattern in the future. According to Semico Research's forecast, by 2025, the number of RISC-V cores in the global market will reach 62.4 billion, of which industrial applications will increase the most, accounting for 16.7 billion.
Counterpoint analyst William Li said: “RISC-V processors will continue to gain adoption across multiple categories. But we believe IoT will remain the most critical application area in the near term. By 2025, its adoption rate may exceed25%, mainly due to its superior flexibility, scalability and power optimization. Other areas where RISC-V might be adopted include: industrial electronics, automotive, and HPC (high performance computing). "
2. RISC-V and China
Computer News reported that more than 70% of RISC-V's main members are from China, and the efforts of these members will strengthen China's IP library and IC design capabilities, reshape the supply chain, and expand the influence of RISC-V.
In July 2018, Shanghai announced for the first time that RISC-V would be included in the government's industrial support target, becoming the first city in China to develop RISC-V. In October and November of the same year, the China RISC-V Industry Alliance and the China Open Command Ecosystem (RISC-V) Alliance were successively established. The former now has 130 member units, while the latter is led by Ni Guangnan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Representative members of industry, academia and research including Baba, SMIC, UNISOC, Peking University and Tsinghua University.
Caixin Securities Research Report pointed out that in addition to the advantages of open source and cost, the acceleration of the localization of semiconductors is an important reason for RISC-V to gain opportunities in China this round. The open source features of RISC-V and its gradual acceptance by mainstream manufacturers around the world make it feasible for Chinese chip manufacturers to achieve technical autonomy in some fields through the RISC-V architecture.
RISC-V ecological construction is actually a good opportunity for ecological construction of China's semiconductor upstream and downstream industry chain. Taking the chip design tool EDA as an example, the global EDA market has been almost eaten up by the three American EDA giants (Synopsys, Cadence, Mentor).
In the IoT scenario that RISC-V is currently facing, the requirements for the chip manufacturing process are not too high, which just brings market opportunities for a number of domestic EDA companies newly established in China in recent years. Based on the open source features of RISC-V, the corresponding EDA tools may also become open source. If domestic EDA manufacturers want to find their own development path, open source is an opportunity.

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