It is not often you get to watch the birth of a new computer architecture ecosystem unfold. Announced in 2010, RISC-V has recently seen an increase in momentum as measured in the public development activity of software required to make RISC-V useful. This may seem like an odd way to measure momentum (sorry physicists!), but these are necessary steps for wider adoption of the new open instruction set architecture. As these tools mature they will form the basis for enabling more exotic variants and implementations of the RISC-V architecture. Note that there is already shipping RISC-V hardware in the form of a development kit from SiFive.
Hardware Enablement: Software Makes Hardware Useful
New hardware doesn’t do anything without software. The shortest path to making a new architecture useful is not to write new assemblers, compilers and related software tools but instead extend existing software tools like binutils and gcc so that they support the new architecture. Extending these tools to support a new architecture is called adding a backend port.
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