Alibaba announces 16-core RISC-V chip and promises to make it Open Source
Chinese Alibaba started their Pingtouge 平头哥 chip subsidiary late 2018 due to concerns after the US announced a boycott of ZTE. The Xuan Tie 910 is their first chip. It is a 16 core RISC-V chip with a max boost frequency of 2.5 GHz. Pingtouge claims their RISC-V chip is 40% faster than the best currently available RISC-V chips.
As good as all current embedded SOCs as well as mobile phone SOCs use the ARM instruction set. ARM designs require a license which, as ARM recently demonstrated, could be revoked at any time for any or no reason. RISC-V is a completely free alternative which has the potential to replace ARM as the dominant standard for low-powered processors.
Pingtouge announced their first chip, the The Xuan Tie 910, on July 25th, 2019. Their story is that this 2.5 GHz 16-core RISC-V chip has a Coremark/MHz score of 7.1. That would be a horrible Coremark/MHz if it's all-core and a decent store if it's single-core. They do not clarify what the case may be.
The Xuan Tie 910 has "complex" out-of-order execution and it can access memory twice per clock cycle. Pingtouge claims it is suitable for a range of applications including artificial intelligence, network communications - including 5G and self-driving cards.
Pingtouge promised to "fully" open source the Xuan Tie 910. The FPGA code will be available for free and third parties are allowed to make their own SOCs based on it's design. Pingtouge will make reference SOC designs suitable for a range of "Internet of Things" devices available for free.
The Linux kernel has had RISC-V support for quite some time. It is quite possible that there will be simple Linux-capable thinker-boards similar to the Raspberry Pi based on the Xuan Tie 910 in the not too distant future.
published 2019-07-26 - last edited 2019-07-26
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