Is RISC-V the future? This is a question that we often get asked, and let’s assume that we mean ‘is the RISC-V going to be the dominant ISA in the processor market?’. This is certainly an unfolding situation and has changed significantly in the last five years.
RISC-V originated at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2010 and took a number of years to get traction with industry. A big step forward was the formation of the RISC-V Foundation in 2015 as a non-profit organisation to drive the adoption of RISC-V. In early 2020, the RISC-V Foundation activity was re-branded and re-incorporated as the Swiss-based RISC-V International .
I remember exhibiting at Embedded World in 2017 and the Codasip stand had the RISC-V logo prominently displayed. Many visitors asked, “what is RISC-V?”, showing that awareness in Europe was low. Since then, the situation has changed dramatically with a high level of interest in all geographies.
For many years, we have tended to classify processors into silos such as MPU, MCU, GPU, APU, DSP, etc. Some devices, such as mobile phones, would combine multiple types of processor cores in their designs. If we think back to, say, 2016, the MPU world was dominated by the X86 architecture while Arm dominated both APUs (application processors and the mobile phone ecosystem generally) and MCUs.
Today there are a few new trends that we can identify in the market.
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