It’s not in the news every day, but the importance of ISA RISC-V in future hardware is growing more and more. The reasons are various, but what is clear is that it has all the numbers to replace ARM as the world’s most widely used ISAA.
Why is RISC-V becoming a hardware revolution?
Its open character and modularity, allow to create processors with ISA RISC-V which do not have the complete set and which are entirely specialized for certain tasks. Allowing easily create domain-specific processors and accelerators for different developers.
NVIDIA Buying ARM With China-U.S. Cold War Over Semiconductors, Forced Many Companies To Stop Using ISA ARM to switch to RISC-V in case the boycott is applied to them later. This has made RISC-V by nature the go-to ISA for creating new designs.
But it wasn’t just the big companies outside of U.S. influence that gave RISC-V a boost. In training centers around the world are already training future engineers with RISC-V, allowing them to build processors from scratch. Companies are increasingly developing hardware-based solutions by creating their own processors, either for general purpose or for the development of specific systems.
Both ARM and x86 are weighed down by their instructions
Apple’s adoption of ARM created a collective myth that ISA is much better than x86. Reality? It’s the decoder in the x86 processor control unit that is a downside. But ARM has been around as an ISA since the 1980s, is almost as old as x86, and its instruction set has reached critical mass as well.
The adoption of ARM in various markets was due to the fact that it is very easy to license your cores and use it for the creation of an SoC, microcontroller or any kind of hardware that one wanted to achieve. With this, the design inherits parts not necessary for its usefulness. The fact that RISC-V is a newer, fully modular ISA is what makes it attractive. Engineers don’t have to waste transistors on functions the system they designed will never use.
A set of instructions reduced to what is necessary also means placing a less complex decoder, which is the biggest problem with x86 and to a lesser extent with ARM-based CPUs. Additionally, ISA has even been proposed for creating shader units for potential GPUs with RISC-V.