For the past two decades the Internet of Things (IoT), a term coined by MIT Auto-ID Lab Co-founder Kevin Ashton, has become one of the industry’s hottest buzzwords. With an ecosystem of consumer, commercial, industrial and infrastructure IoT applications, it seems that nearly everything around us is connected. The flexibility, extensibility and scalability of the RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA) has ushered in new possibilities for the IoT, making it easier to design IoT hardware and software solutions to take advantage of this growing market.
In observance of IoTDay on April 9, RISC-V Foundation members Alibaba Group, Andes Technology, Codasip, Dover Microsystems, Embecosm, GOWIN Semiconductor, GreenWaves Technologies, Imperas and SecureRF reflected on how the free and open RISC-V ISA enables them to innovate.
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- “The Internet of Things has become Alibaba’s new main track, preceded by e-commerce, finance, logistics and cloud computing. RISC-V offers a number of advantages over other architectures, including its openness, simplicity and scalability for IoT devices. Alibaba would like to contribute to the evolution of the RISC-V Instruction Set Architecture, and build an inclusive Software-Hardware, Edge-to-Cloud integrated IoT infrastructure based on the RISC-V ISA for the era of the Internet of Things.” – Alibaba Group Vice President Xiaoning Qi
- “For AIoT SoC development, RISC-V offers the advantage of a standard ISA that allows designers to create custom instructions for Domain-Specific Acceleration (DSA). This provides a competitive advantage, product differentiation, and cost and power savings over alternative ISAs on the market. Andes is committed to supporting DSA through our powerful toolset, Andes Custom Extension (ACE).” – Andes Technology Chief Technology Officer Charlie Su
- “With so many new IoT applications emerging, the demand for custom silicon keeps rising. It cannot be reasonably expected for the same semiconductor device to run a wireless protocol in one product, to encode video data in a second consumer device, and to perform facial recognition in a third. A chip could be designed in a general-purpose fashion to handle each of these tasks, however it would then be large and power inefficient. That is why the scalability of RISC-V is so attractive, allowing for different performance/power profiles while preserving the software investment across multiple devices. Codasip’s mission is to deliver fully configurable processors (allowing for the selection of standard RISC-V extensions and/ or proprietary extensions) to meet the exact needs of customers (cost, size, performance, power consumption). This combination of the flexible RISC-V standard and the power of the Codasip design automation technology means that creating tailored RISC-V implementations is both easy and compelling for customers. Simple examples of tailoring would be a number of microarchitectural pipeline stages (3, 6 …), supported RISC-V instructions (C, F, D …) as well as specialized extensions for acceleration of Crypto/Security or Sensor DSP software applications.” – Codasip Vice President of Marketing Chris Jones
- “RISC-V can dominate the $470B IoT market if it does security right. Open source means it’s easy to innovate so many companies are already doing more extensive innovation—including for security—than on any other platform. Since there is no expense of tens of millions of dollars annually for architecture licenses, it means companies can afford to modify cores to make security better integrated, more comprehensive, stronger, and easier to use and adopt. The RISC-V community is predisposed to build secure systems that will be lower cost than other platforms so RISC-V will naturally gain market share, and establish dominance, quickly.” – Dover Microsystems Founder and Chief Executive Officer Jothy Rosenberg
- “The extensibility of RISC-V means that it is possible to design processors which can run very compact code, minimizing memory size requirements, and hence a key factor in energy consumption. Embecosm is a leader in implementing open source compiler tool chains (LLVM and GCC) to take advantage of RISC-V with its extension instruction sets.” – Embecosm Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Bennett
- “RISC-V provides the ‘best of both worlds’ for embedded IoT applications; standardization backed by an open source community. Using RISC-V based processor cores allows our FPGA developers to leverage a variety of toolchain support while retaining the flexibility needed for today’s IoT designs. GOWIN has focused on supporting multiple RISC-V cores to balance resources and performance while retaining the cost, power and size profile required for today’s edge applications.” – GOWIN Semiconductor Director of International Marketing Grant Jennings
- “Leveraging the free, open source RISC-V ISA has allowed GreenWaves to create an innovative, ultra-low power AIoT Application Processor. GAP8 enables a range of smart devices at the very edge of the network like sensors interpreting images, sounds and vibrations, smart toys and next-generation wearables.” – GreenWaves Technologies Vice President of Business Development Martin Croome
- “RISC-V offers IoT designers flexibility and architectural freedom, including custom instruction extensions, to support IoT domain functionality. Our customers use Imperas models and tools for the critical hardware/software boundary testing, analysis and profiling for compliance, verification, plus regression with digital twins of deployed devices.” – Imperas Chief Executive Officer Simon Davidmann
- “RISC-V is delivering innovative and open processor architectures to many markets, and SecureRF has partnered with the organization to provide future-proof identification, authentication, and data protection solutions. The company’s award-winning cryptography tools offer secure boot, secure software updates, and device-to-device security for the smallest RISC-V processors now used at the edge of the IoT.” – SecureRF Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Louis Parks