Skip to main content

Oral History of Mark Himelstein | CTO of RISC-V International

By August 17, 2023August 24th, 2023No Comments

Mark grew up in Pennsylvania and took a somewhat circuitous path to earning a BS in Math and Computer Science at Wilkes University in 1981. He was fortunate to work summers at the Institute of Defense Analysis at Princeton, which later led to a job at Lawrence Livermore Lab near Silicon Valley. While there, he earned an MS in Computer Science at UC Davis.

He soon moved onto Silicon Valley where he went to work for Megatest. A year or two later, he followed a colleague to MIPS, where he spent about 6 years taking on a wide range of responsibilities and developing a broad understanding of computing systems, mainly on the architecture and software sides.

On leaving MIPS, he took the first step into consulting, which suited him quite well. The first job was with DEC, where he worked on floating-point completion routines and other projects. Mark remained a consultant on and off throughout his career, working for such companies as Apple, SUN, Infoblox, Quantum Graphite Systems, and others. The distinguishing characteristic of all these jobs was a large number of innovative contributions and flexibility in roles and responsibilities. His comments about SUN were insightful, “You didn’t have to worry about somebody stabbing you in the back because they’re going to come right at your chest, and that I can handle. It’s honest, at least, right?”

In June 2020, he took on a totally different challenge, serving as the CTO of RISC-V International. While at MIPS, he became a strong believer in RISC architectures, so this is a natural fit with his philosophies. The job also taps into the wide range of experiences he has had with multiple computing architectures, multiple organizations, etc. RISC-V International has less than 20 employees, but the organization boasts 3,000 technical members working in 55 groups, half doing specs, half doing strategy, gap analysis and prioritization. When Mark started, there were only 15 groups. So he has taken on a massive job which requires all the experience and organizational expertise he has accumulated throughout his career.

Watch the full interview.

Stay Connected With RISC-V

We send occasional news about RISC-V technical progress, news, and events.