Alibaba designed world’s fastest open-source RISC-V processor

The Chinese strategy is now more than obvious. After China Explores RISC-V, they seem to have gone a step further as Alibaba designed world’s fastest open-source RISC-V processor.

RISC-V is exciting for China because it allows the nation’s eggheads to access, improve, and extend a bunch of the West’s processor technology without having to worry about any future US trade sanctions, thanks to the architecture family’s openly available materials. Everything you need to start experimenting with the tech and improving it – the ISA documentation, CPU cores, and software stacks – is already out there over the internet, and it’s too late to cut that knowledge off.

You can design custom circuitry and accelerators, add some RISC-V cores to execute application and management code, test and fabricate it, and voila: you’ve got your own chip on the cheap without having to worry about trade blockades, and your own homegrown intellectual property. Which is cool for everyone, especially China.

And you can do it better than the westerners: Alibaba also claims the Xuantie 910 is up to 40 per cent faster than rival RISC-V implementations, notably SiFive’s 64-bit U74 that is billed as “the world’s highest performance RISC-V application processor, capable of supporting full-featured operating systems such as Linux.” Alibaba told its Cloud Summit audience the U74 can manage a CoreMark benchmark score of 5.1/MHz, whereas its design can reach 7.1.

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