The RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA) is an open-source, reduced instruction set computing (RISC) ISA that has gained significant attention in recent years. One of the key contributors to the development and promotion of the RISC-V ISA is a company called SiFive, which was founded by a group of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley who developed the original RISC-V ISA. One of the key members of this team is Dr. Krste Asanovic, who currently serves as SiFive’s Chief Architect and is also a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Berkeley.
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In this article, we will interview Dr. Krste Asanovic to gain a better understanding of the RISC-V ISA and the role that SiFive is playing in its development and adoption.
- Can you give us a brief overview of the RISC-V ISA and why it is important?
Dr. Asanovic: RISC-V is an open-source, reduced instruction set computing (RISC) ISA that is designed to be simple, modular, and extensible. It is important because it provides a free and open alternative to the proprietary ISAs that have traditionally been used in embedded and other devices. This means that companies and individuals can use RISC-V without incurring licensing fees or being tied to a single vendor. Additionally, the open nature of RISC-V allows for greater innovation and collaboration among developers, which can lead to faster progress in the field.
- How did SiFive come to be involved in the development and promotion of RISC-V?
Dr. Asanovic: SiFive was founded by the team of researchers at Berkeley who developed the original RISC-V ISA. We saw the potential for RISC-V to be a disruptive force in the industry and decided to spin off a company to commercialize the ISA. We believed that a company like SiFive could bring the benefits of RISC-V to a wider audience by creating processors and other products based on the ISA and providing support and services to customers.
- Can you tell us about some of the products and services that SiFive offers based on the RISC-V ISA?
Dr. Asanovic: SiFive offers a wide range of products and services based on RISC-V. Our core products are processors based on the ISA, which include both application processors and microcontrollers. We also offer system-on-a-chip (SoC) development platforms, software development kits (SDKs), and other tools to help customers develop and test their products. In addition to these products, we also offer professional services such as custom SoC design, software development, and technical support.
- What are some of the most exciting or innovative use cases you have seen for RISC-V?
Dr. Asanovic: RISC-V is being used in a wide variety of applications and industries, so there are many exciting use cases. Some of the most interesting ones include:
- Edge AI: RISC-V is well-suited for edge AI applications because it is energy-efficient and can handle low-power, real-time processing tasks.
- Embedded systems: RISC-V’s small size and low power consumption make it well-suited for use in embedded systems such as IoT devices, industrial control systems, and medical devices.
- High-performance computing: RISC-V’s extensibility and flexibility have led to its use in high-performance computing applications such as networking, storage, and datacenters
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