Key Priorities for Accelerating the RISC-V Revolution

By Calista Redmond, CEO of the RISC-V Foundation

Throughout my career, I’ve been proud to be part of a number of open source initiatives to drive tech innovation forward and foster industry-wide collaboration. The RISC-V ecosystem is one of the most dynamic communities I’ve seen to date. During the past year, the RISC-V Foundation has seen more than 100 percent membership growth, surpassing 235 organizations, individuals, and universities from 27 countries and six continents around the world. Moving beyond its origins in academia, the RISC-V ISA is already witnessing rising commercial adoption and implementations across a variety of industries. The inaugural RISC-V Summit in December 2018, with more than 1,100 attendees from 20 countries and keynotes from some of the industry’s biggest players, was a testament to how much this community has grown and the palpable excitement about what’s next.

Along with the Board of Directors, I’m focused on driving progression and closure on standards and technical deliverables, growing the overall member community across stakeholder areas, and deepening community engagement. Our goal is accelerating industry adoption with shared benefit to the entire community of stakeholders.

Driving Progression and Closure on Standards and technical deliverables

With the significant uptick in RISC-V adoption over the past few years, the RISC-V Foundation Technical Committee has made it a priority to prepare the RISC-V base ISA and standard extensions for ratification. There are already a wide variety of RISC-V implementations in industry and academia, designed into applications including graphics engines, machine learning and AI, networking, storage, security, embedded and general purpose processors. The RISC-V community has now formally agreed on an ISA standard and frozen the ISA, guaranteeing compatibility. This means that software written for RISC-V will run on all similar RISC-V cores forever giving hardware engineers increased flexibility over processor implementation.

The RISC-V community has also been hard at work developing a RISC-V compliance framework. This framework tests whether a processor under development meets the open RISC-V standards, which is critically important for companies implementing RISC-V cores in their products. You can read more about the current work on the compliance framework at GitHub and Semiconductor Engineering, and you can get involved by joining the Compliance task group.

Continuing to driving closure on standards, for the benefit of everyone, will continue to be a top priority for the Foundation.

Growing the member community and Deepening Engagement

The RISC-V ecosystem has reached a critical mass of companies adopting RISC-V and actively contributing to the ecosystem. The membership of the RISC-V Foundation includes a broad mix of organizations in different industries: application processors and graphics, commercial chips, consulting and research, development tools, foundry services, FPGA, IP and design services, machine learning and AI, networking, semiconductor IP, as well as software and cloud. We are committed to taking this to the next level to facilitate the mainstream adoption of RISC-V. We will continue to build out a robust ecosystem across industries and geographies, in addition to offering more support and educational tools to enable operating systems, hardware implementations and development tools to scale faster.

To deepen engagement, the ecosystem is developing a comprehensive set of tools for developers and the academic community. The Marketing Content task group recently launched a Getting Started Guide which details how to run Linux and Zephyr on popular RISC-V platforms with minimum effort. The ecosystem will continue to expand the guide to cover more platforms and applications. You can learn about how to contribute to the guide here. The Open Source and University Outreach task group is working on a shared set of resources that professors can leverage to teach RISC-V in the classroom. Stay tuned for more details on that in the coming months.

Another key facet to deepening engagement, particularly for corporate members, will be ironing out the compliance program. I’ll be working closely with companies, along with the end user community and adopters, to better understand their priorities and how we can help them get more involved in the RISC-V ecosystem to derive more value from it. We’ve already had some big announcements from companies about their RISC-V roadmaps, and I look forward to seeing many more organizations adopt RISC-V and become active members of the community.

How to Get Involved

I’d like to thank everyone in the RISC-V community for their significant contributions in helping to usher in this new era of processor innovation. If you’re not already an active participant, I strongly encourage you to get involved by joining the RISC-V Foundation and participating in a task group. To stay up-to-date on RISC-V developments, you can subscribe to our mailing lists. For me, I’m active on Twitter and LinkedIn so you can follow me on those channels. I’m always available via email at calista@riscv.org and am happy to schedule time to chat.

Here’s to the next chapter in the RISC-V Revolution.

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