The popularity of PCs has made x86, and the wave of smartphones is well known to Arm. Will the current AI boom achieve other instruction sets? Currently, the RISC-V instruction set has attracted a lot of attention and is still growing rapidly. However, Arm set up a website last year to point out five major problems with RISC-V. Also, MIPS, born in 1984, is also optimistic about the opportunities in the AI market. It was announced by Wave Computing and announced open source. Wave believes that MIPS has many advantages over AI.
So, who are the three major instruction sets of the RISC family that are most likely to be the label of the AI era?
AI battle of RISC-V family
First of all, it is clear that x86, Arm, RISC-V, and MIPS refer to the instruction set, or instruction set architecture (ISA). The instruction set is not the same concept as the processor. Some people may ask, what is the instruction set? It is part of the computer architecture that is related to programming. The instruction set architecture contains a set of opcodes (machine language) and basic commands that the feature processor executes. The instruction set is also divided into Complex Instruction Set (CISC) and Reduced Instruction Set (RISC). x86 is a typical CISC, and Arm, RISC-V, and MIPS are all RISC.
Different types of instruction sets have their own advantages. For example, CISC has a strong software ecosystem and compatibility is very good. RISC's software ecosystem is relatively weak, but RISC can execute multiple instructions at the same time, which is fast and stable, so the chip manufacturing process based on RISC instruction set is simpler and cheaper.
Of course, there are differences between RISCs. Let's talk about Arm and MIPS. Acorn Computer Corporation planned to develop Arm in 1983 and Arm in 1990 to sell IP. MIPS was born in a research project led by John LeRoy Hennessy of Stanford University. In 1984, Hennessy left Stanford University to create MIPS.The birth time is a few years apart, but the Arm that emerged later became the label of the smartphone era.
Wave Computing CEO Art Swift
In response, Wave Computing CEO Art Swift said in an interview with Lei Feng. “This is the result of a market strategy choice rather than a technical difference. When MIPS chose consumer electronics, Arm chose the mobile phone market. ”He Weiling, chairman of Core Link (CIP), also said that the architecture of MIPS is from the beginning (In Order). The advantage lies in the machine interface. Arm has done a lot of work on the human-machine interface, which is more suitable for mobile phones and other human-machines. Interaction. In addition, the Arm processor starts from 8bit and it is easier to perform man-machine interface optimization. Supporting 32bit and 64bit, MIPS has advantages in IoT and AI machine interface applications.
He Weiling, Chairman of Core Link (CIP)
The difference between MIPS and Arm strategy choices is one of the keys to today's results. In the face of the upcoming AI and IoT era, Arm is also actively deploying, but facing the huge competition in the open source instruction set. It is reported that the architecture of both MIPS and RISC-V has not changed much. If you compare the books of these two technologies, the difference in architecture is about a dozen pages.Therefore, after MIPS announced its open source, policy, ecology, software and other factors became an important consideration for the two instruction sets in the AI era.
In terms of policy and attention, RISC-V seems to be better in China. Lei Feng.com reported that in August last year, the maritime economic information commission recently released the second batch of Shanghai Software and the 2018 Notice of Project Funding for Integrated Circuit Industry Development (Integrated Circuits and Electronic Information Manufacturing), in which the project guide includes processor chip orientation based on the RISC-V instruction set architecture. This is considered to be the first domestic policy to support RISC-V.
Also in 2018, the China Open Command Ecological Alliance was established, hoping to promote the open source chip ecosystem with RISC-V as the starting point. According to the statistics of 2018, there are about 100 companies related to RISC-V in China.
MIPS is more suitable for AI?
The same members of the RISC family are also open source, so it seems that RISC-V and MIPS will compete more directly in the AI era. but,Art, who is very familiar with RISC-V, said in interviews that RISC-V and MIPS are very good from a technical point of view. Wave Computing's choice of open source MIPS is to give the industry one more choice. MIPS and RISC-V are not This is the relationship between the future and the market is large enough to look at the two technologies in a more inclusive manner.
Since MIPS gives the industry a more choice, what are its technical advantages in combination with AI?He Weiling pointed out that MIPS has obvious architectural advantages, including lower power consumption, higher energy efficiency, smaller chip size, and multi-threaded and virtualized features, which is the perfect RISC.
Art added that the MIPS instruction set-based chip has 10 billion shipments, which means that the MIPS processor is very mature in the market for set-top boxes, voice recorders, smart watches, etc., so for devices that need to save power in AI, MIPS will also be very experienced. In addition, MIPS has nearly 400 patents (including sub-patents) that provide strong patent protection. Also, for AI, in addition to data throughput, how much data can be processed per watt is also critical, and MIPS has a very good performance in this regard.
therefore,Both Art and He Weiling believe that in the era of new AI and IoT, MIPS has ushered in a new opportunity. In the face of this new opportunity, everyone has the same starting line. And, the technical advantages of MIPS are very suitable for AI integration. Autopilot is also a leader in the important landing areas of AI. A typical example is Mobileye, whose ADAS chip uses MIPS.
In addition to the technical features, MIPS's open source has added momentum to its development in the AI era.In June 2018, Wave Computing acquired MIPS, and in December they announced that they would open source MIPS. In March 2019, the latest core R6 of MIPS was opened. In May, the MIPS Open website was officially launched and announced the free open source MIPS 32-bit microAptiv core in the MIPS Open program.
According to reports, MIPS Open is at the prpl Foundation (prpl Foundation is a non-profit computer industry association founded by Imagination Technologies and other companies that aims to encourage the use of MIPS architecture by promoting standards and open source solutions.) Let members know about the latest developments in MIPS and discuss technology and standards. Simultaneously,As a business company behind MIPS, Wave Computing can ensure that the MIPS community moves toward the integration matrix and avoids fragmentation.Of course, the community will also maintain MIPS chip compatibility verification, which is also critical to avoid fragmentation.
The effect of open source is obvious, Art said: “After we announced MIPS open source, MIPS gained more attention from insiders. In addition, more than 1,000 companies and organizations have downloaded MIPS related materials on the MIPS Open website, and many organizations have become MIPS Open members, including some large companies that we believe will not have an intersection. ”
Art emphasizes that developers and users don't have to worry about ownership.After MIPS is open source, including Waves Computing and CIP, it will support and promote the development of the open source community by participating in the advisory committee, and it is also a good thing to have the support of commercial companies with financial strength and strength behind the community.
He Weiling believes that MIPS open source brings three obvious advantages. First, the cost of developers entering is lower. Secondly, the cycle of product introduction to the market can be shortened. Finally, open source can be free from environmental constraints and is more conducive to The development of China's chip industry.
The future of MIPS+AI
The advantages of technology make MIPS more suitable for AI, and MIPS Open lowers the threshold for developers to choose MIPS, and does not have to worry about the fragmentation caused by open source. but,The success of the instruction set is more important. For MIPS, the first issue ahead is to build the confidence of developers and users in MIPS.After all, MIPS was acquired by Silicon Graphics and Imagination, and now belongs to Wave Computing.
He Weiling said: "Every acquisition has its own background. CPI As the company that obtains the exclusive commercial rights of MIPS China, the first thing to do in promoting the combination of MIPS and AI is to give users and developers confidence. We not only tell you where to go in MIPS, but also hold offline activities every month. Let everyone brainstorm and give us advice. Second isMIPS will focus on three major application development products in the future, including automotive, high performance computing, and low power consumption.The last thing is to try to make a good relationship. ”
For the development of MIPS in China, Art said that Waves Computing and MIPS have attached great importance to the Chinese market from beginning to end and are constantly investing in the business and the market. There is a localized team in Shanghai who knows the needs of Chinese customers and can better serve them.
When it comes to localization, He Weiling added that grounding gas in China is a very important thing. Core-core is a 100% Chinese-funded company, which is all about grounding. Through a bilateral cooperation with Wave Computing, a win-win situation can be achieved after grounding. Moreover, in this way, it can be very smooth and unimpeded in Sino-US trade.
In terms of ecological construction, Art pointed out that on the MIPS Open website, you can download MIPS for more than 30 years. It can be said that the tool chain in the field of MIPS is very complete and mature.He is also confident in the future development of MIPS in terms of AI.
Interestingly, Lei Feng.com understands that even RISC-V developers want to port MIPS development tools to the risc-v platform because they envy MIPS' complete toolchain.
As for when the first AI chip after MIPS open source is listed, Art said that it is only a year since Wave Computing acquired MIPS. The two parties are experiencing integration from IP to product, so the specific time is not convenient to disclose, but these are technically Very regular timeline.
Lei Feng network (public number: Lei Feng network) summary
As Art said in an interview, the acquisition of MIPS does have a sentimental factor, but more importantly, from the perspective of corporate strategy and recognition of MIPS technology, open source MIPS is Art's long-cherished wish for many years. With the launch of MIPS OPEN, Art hopes that in the AI era, Wave's cloud DPU can form a more complete platform with MIPS at the edge, and make the company more competitive through the cloud + edge full stack solution.
From the perspective of the instruction set, each era will have a very representative instruction set. Many people should have never thought that MIPS has not been successful in the era of smartphone popularity, but MIPS smart watches, set-top boxes and Loongson processors have all succeeded. In the era of AI and IoT, Arm faced tremendous pressure from two major open source instruction sets, MIPS and RISC-V. From a technical point of view, MIPS and RISC-V will inevitably compete. As for who can achieve the ultimate victory, in addition to the technology itself, a series of factors such as patents, policies, and business models will work together.