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RISC-V SoftCPU Contest Highlights

By December 13, 2018October 1st, 2020No Comments

As announced at the first annual RISC-V Summit, the RISC-V Foundation honored the winners of the RISC-V SoftCPU Contest for creating innovative FPGA based CPU implementations targeting the RISC-V ISA. Thanks to everyone who participated in the RISC-V SoftCPU Contest! We were excited to see the innovative entries and appreciate your feedback on how we can continue to improve contests in the future.
Congratulations to the winners:

And a special thanks to the contest sponsors Google, Antmicro, Lattice Semiconductor and Microchip.
A Closer Look at the Winning Entries
The first place entry, VexRiscv, was the highest-performance Microsemi implementation and Lattice implementation. Charles’ VexRiscv impressively scaled down, ranking as the third smallest Lattice implementation, while also scaling up to be a Linux capable core. Additionally, the core was selected to be used in Western Digital’s RISC-V Linux Hackathon at the RISC-V Summit!
Antti’s Engine-V design was the smallest Microsemi implementation and Lattice implementation, and earned second place in the contest overall. The Engine-V entry used miniscule 306 x 4 input LUTs on the iCE40 UltraPlus MDP, an impressively small number to implement a fully RV32I-compliant implementation. Antii also gets a special shout-out for his excellent support of other participants.
PulseRain Reindeer took third place overall. Changyi’s PulseRain Reindeer design ranked second for the highest-performance Microsemi implementation, and third for the smallest Microsemi implementation and highest-performance Lattice implementation.
Olof took home the Creativity prize with his bit serial implementation of a RISC-V core. This open source demonstration of doing bit serial with a fully open ISA is a great addition to the ecosystem. Check out his post about the project here.
Honorable Mentions
We would also like to recognize the following projects for their innovations: Jörg Mische with Danzig, Matthew Ballance with Featherweight and Frederic Requin with JiVeCheck out Matthew’s write-up about his Featherweight core here
About the Contest
The aim of the contest was to promote innovative vendor-independent, modular and reusable FPGA applications. The participants were challenged to build extremely small, extremely powerful, softcore RISC-V implementations, with additional points awarded for novel approaches to the implementation itself.
Designs needed to be a complete FPGA implementation targeting at least one of the two platforms from Microsemi or Lattice, and run the provided Linux Foundation Zephyr RTOS application. The Linux Foundation and RISC-V Foundation recently announced a joint collaboration to accelerate open source development and adoption of the RISC-V ISA. This partnership with the Linux Foundation will enable the RISC-V Foundation to grow the RISC-V ecosystem with improved support for the development of new applications and architectures across all computing platforms.
The contest was judged by representatives from Antmicro, Google, Lattice, Microsemi and the RISC-V Foundation.
The Winners’ Scores

Winner Points Prize
Charles Papon with VexRiscv 1st place
131 points
USD $6,000
Antti Lukats with Engine-V 2nd place
130 points
USD $3,000 + Splash Kit + iCE40 UltraPlus MDP
Changyi Gu with PulseRain Reindeer 3rd place
70 points
USD $1,000 + PolarFire Evaluation Kit +
iCE40 UltraPlus Breakout Board
Olof Kindgren with SERV Creativity prize USD $3,000


Scoring Breakdown

Highest-Performance Microsemi Implementation Points
Charles Papon with VexRiscv 1st place, 50 points
Changyi Gu with PulseRain Reindeer 2nd place, 30 points
Antti Lukats with Engine-V 3rd place, 10 points


Smallest Microsemi Implementation Points
Antti Lukats with Engine-V 1st place, 50 points
Matthew Ballance with Featherweight 2nd place, 30 points
Changyi Gu with PulseRain Reindeer 3rd place, 10 points


Highest-Performance Lattice Implementation Points
Charles Papon with VexRiscv 1st place, 50 points
Jörg Mische with Danzig 2nd place, 30 points
Changyi Gu with PulseRain Reindeer 3rd place, 10 points


Smallest Lattice Implementation Points
Antti Lukats with Engine-V 1st place, 50 points
Frederic Requin with JiVe 2nd place, 30 points
Charles Papon with VexRiscv 3rd place, 10 points


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