Starting at the end of 2019, RISC-V-based products will continue to market one after another. So, how will RISC-V seize the AIoT market? can RISC-V really be the representative of the new era of ISA?
RISC-V free is a misunderstanding, flexibility is the biggest advantage
Perhaps it is because the industry has some opinions on the authorization fee of Arm, or simply because free products are more attractive, the architecture is simple, and the completely open source RISC-V instruction set has attracted great attention as soon as it was launched. Globally, includingWestern dataNvida, Google, Qualcomm,Huawei In 2005, Lianfa and other giants joined the RISC-V Foundation one after another. India, even with the strong support of the government, RISC-V became India's national instruction set.
At this point, some people equate open source instruction set with free, and regard free as the advantage of RISC-V. RISC-V instruction set is free, but it does not mean that RISC-V processor is free.Lin Zhiming, general manager of Jingxin Technology, also pointed out in an interview that following BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) can indeed use RISC-V instruction set for free to design products, but RISC-V 's CPU is not free, which is a misunderstanding.
Lin Zhiming, general manager of Jingxin science and technology
Interestingly, although this is a misunderstanding, it is also a good opportunity to promote RISC-V.For example, Jingxin Technology has RISC-V FreeStart project, which allows developers to use Jingxin's RISC-V N22 core and integrated development environment free of charge. However, products designed based on RISC-V FreeStart project need to pay a certain royalty in mass production. Xinlai Technologies also has a "one-penny plan", which is basically the same as Jingxin. Its purpose is to promote RISC-V.
Arm has adopted a similar approach in the face of the hundreds of billions of dollars of the Internet of things market and powerful competitors. In 2015, Arm announced that developers can use Cortex-M0 's intellectual property rights for free use of Cortex-M0 's intellectual property rights for product design and sample development.
Dr. Fang Zhixi, chairman of China Advisory Committee of RISC-V Foundation, said in an interview earlier that RISC-V will completely open source low-end design for free, and Arm can also open source simple design for free use. Companies wishing to use RISC-V should still pay attention to the differences that RISC-V can achieve according to application scenarios.
Differentiation, or flexibility, is indeed the advantage of RISC-V. Lin Zhiming said that when RISC-V appeared, it was also 11 years after Jingxin was founded, one is out of professional intuition, the other is because the concept of RISC-V is very close to the direction promoted by Jingxin, such as allowing developers to increase instruction sets, so we were very optimistic about RISC-V. from the beginning.
"in addition, the burden of RISC-V is relatively small, many applications do not need a very complex processor, but need to do some moderate subtraction. I think RISC-V 's biggest advantage over the next 30 years is that it can optimize all kinds of solutions in the computer world. " Lin Zhiming also said.
Fragmentation and ecological immaturity are purely attacking words
Even with flexibility, PPA (Power Perform Area) indicators cannot be bypassed for chips in order to gain access to the market.Lin Zhiming said that compared with the same level of Arm products, the PPA of our RISC-V IP's CPU can be increased by an average of 20%, and if we make a shallow addition, we can get a 60% to 80% increase.
Is this significant improvement due to the characteristics of the RISC-V instruction set or is it due to the accumulation of experience? Lin Zhiming believes that each accounts for half. On the one hand, RISC-V itself is relatively concise, the burden is smaller, and our compiler is doing better. In addition, Jingxin has been established for nearly 15 years, and our experience in assisting customers in mass production can also play a role.
However, for chips, success can only be achieved if they are recognized by customers. Among them, ecology is very important. Last year Arm set up a website to attack RISC-V, attacking RISC-V in terms of cost, ecosystem, fragmentation risk, security and design assurance.Speaking of Arm's attack, Lin Zhiming believed that it only served to embolden the attacker himself, and did not really suppress RISC-V. Moreover, attacking open source ecosystem now would not benefit itself, but would have a counterforce.
What is the development of RISC-V ecosystem and related tool chains? Lin Zhiming said that for those areas using RTOS, RISC-V has matured.More specifically, there are no problems with applying RISC-V to embedded systems such as money detectors, shared bikes, electric vehicles, and drone flight controls. But development is needed if it is to be used in more areas, such as aerospace.
The crystal core contributes to the construction of RISC-V tool chain and ecology, such as whether the crystal center is the leader of the DSP working group or the joint leader of the fast insertion working group, and the working group on instruction set and software is also actively involved. It is especially worth mentioning that the main body of the 32-bit Linux of RISC-V is contributed by the crystal center.
As for fragmentation, Lin Zhiming said it was purely an attack. Specifically, RISC-V instruction set is divided into basic instruction set and modular extended instruction set.As long as the RISC-V Foundation continues to maintain its team and strictly requires all vendors to claim that the CPU of RISC-V must ensure that the basic instruction sets are compatible with each other, there can be no so-called fragmentation.As for the extension instruction, different manufacturers can choose whether or not to increase according to their own situation, which is also the reason why RISC-V has the characteristic of flexibility.
Since different vendors can choose whether to use extension instructions or not, the extension instructions will not be compatible with each other, and whether to open source or not will be decided by the vendors themselves.
Looking at security,Lin Zhiming pointed out that it must be emphasized that security is comprehensive. However, there are no security instructions in RISC-V's standard instruction set, and the working group is still discussing and developing them.RISC-V also has a number of safeguards to choose from until the security instructions in the standard instruction set are determined. Jingxin already has security microprocessor products more than a decade ago, and now we also cooperate with many security manufacturers.
Physical Unclonable Function (PUF) is a "digital fingerprint" technology, in which each semiconductor device (such as a microprocessor) has a unique identity. You can also build a platform environment for Root of Trust. There are, of course, several other Root of Trust platforms available. The RISC-V processor of flat headed brother uses the trusted execution environment TEE.
"our approach to ensuring the security of RISC-V processors includes, but is not limited to, the above. For processor security, different companies will take different ways to achieve different levels of security, but there must be a higher cost to achieve more security features. " Lin Zhiming said.
RISC-V needs computer transportation to become a representative instruction set in the era of AI and IoT.
So far, the progress of RISC-V technology itself and its ecological construction has been very clear. Next, we need to pay attention to the future development of RISC-V. In terms of product progress, Lin Zhiming said: "As the leading manufacturer of RISC-V CPU IP, our first RISC-V CPU IP was proposed in the fourth quarter of 2017, and began to be adopted by customers in 2018. Customers need to design and film after obtaining authorization, and it's almost a year and a half since the sample came out. Spend another half a year promoting mass production, listing and integration of hardware and software.RISC-V products will be put on the market in the second half of this year and early next year. "
Lin Zhiming revealed that about 50% of products using RISC-V IP are related to AI and IoT, some of which are pure AI. In addition, there are many products of edge computing, which are also used in data centers and data centers.[计] serveProducts.
Although the advantages of RISC-V technology itself are obvious, there are already Pingtou, Huami, Glanz and other companies have launched the processor of RISC-V instruction set one after another, but can RISC-V become an iconic instruction set of the times in the future? Lin Zhiming thinks it takes some luck.
Looking back on X86 and Arm, which have achieved tremendous success, the following areIntel andMicrosoft 公司总部所在地：美国 主要业务：软件 Arm and Mr Yu are deeply cooperative or even bundled to create standardized platforms with the help of PC and intelligence.cellphoneBillions of single-unit shipments have become the most successful processor instruction set architecture in both eras.
"RISC-V has been recognized in the market, and to be as successful as x86 and Arm, you need to work with Huawei oAppleIn this way, the volume company carries on the combination, can make the RISC-V CPU very big. In addition, an obvious feature of the IoT market is that there are a large variety of products but a small number of products, but RISC-V needs to have a large product category like mobile phones and PC, which is not a technical problem, but needs to be shipped. " Said Lin Zhiming.
At present, neither Internet of Things nor AI can achieve standardized platforms. Then, before the arrival of the airline, RISC-V can enter the stock market, that is, to design handset processors based on RISC-V. Lin Zhiming thinks Huawei is the most qualified one. Besides, cultivating emerging markets such as AI and IoT, the competition is who can provide better solutions.
As mentioned above, the flexibility of the RISC-V instruction set architecture allows developers to implement a lot of ideas in both AI and IoT. In addition, the power consumption of performance is also the key to win. Take mining (digital encrypted currency) as an example. At first, the miner used CPU to mine, then turned to GPU, and later even used mobile phone to mine, but in the end, ASIC won, because both CPU and GPU, would have many instruction sets that could not be used in this scenario, which could not be optimized. ASIC is efficient enough and consumes less power. RISC-V also has this advantage, which can provide appropriate computing power and has the advantage of low power consumption.
It is also noteworthy that although they are all RISC-V IP providers, there are also cooperation among Jingxin, Xinlai Technology and SiFive.'We are not pure competitors, but competitors, 'says Lin. Technically, we are cooperative and hope to strengthen the ecology of RISC-V through cooperation, but at the commercial level, if customers want to choose RISC-V IP, we are competitive.
RISC-V is the most concerned instruction set at present, especially under the background of developing self-research chip in our country, the simple and completely open source RISC-V instruction set architecture is a good choice, and it is understandable to receive more attention. And this craze makes Arm nervous and attacks RISC-V.. However, the tool chain of RISC-V in the embedded world is ready. Moreover, as long as the RISC-V Foundation remains operational and ensures that the basic instruction sets of RISC-V processors are compatible with each other, fragmentation is more of an attack. In terms of security, there are no security instructions in RISC-V standard instruction set, but the security of RISC-V processor can be guaranteed in many ways.
As to whether RISC-V can become a representative instruction set architecture in the era of AI and IoT, there is no obstacle to technology itself, but Lin Zhiming believes that there is a need for some movement, deep bundling with giant companies, or finding products of PC and mobile phones.
Undoubtedly, with the mass marketing of RISC-V products, the competition among x86, Arm and RISC-V is becoming fierce in the AIoT chip market.