Risc-V is an open-source instruction set architecture (ISA) for CPUs and was first made public in 2014. The standard is maintained by RISC-V International, but anyone can use the ISA to design their own chips without any licensing or other costs. In recent years, Risc-V has experienced significant growth in small chips for low-energy applications.
In recent years, major players in the semiconductor market have also taken up architecture. For example, Qualcomm has already announced that it wants to use Risc-V for its Snapdragon Wear platform, together with Google. Alibaba has recently taken a big step with a complete server with 3,072 cores based on Risc-V processors. Google has announced that Risc-V will become a ‘tier-1’ architecture for Android, which means full support and significant optimization. Imagination Technologies and Ventana Micro Systems are also working together on a Risc-V server processor that has 192 cores and should be able to compete with even the top server processors from AMD and Intel.
Now five major semiconductor companies have announced their intention to collaborate by establishing the Quintauris company. This company should focus on developing the next generation of chips based on Risc-V. The five companies are Qualcomm, Bosch, Infineon, Nordic Semiconductor, and NXP Semiconductors. Bosch, Infineon, and NXP are also working with TSMC to start the European Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. Qualcomm tried to acquire NXP in 2016, but ultimately failed. Only Nordic Semiconductor is a new name in this collection of companies. It is by far the smallest company participating, but it makes important chips for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Some chips from Nordic Semiconductor for mobile IoT applications.
The Quintauris website states that the focus will mainly be on the automotive industry in the beginning. But mobile and Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications will also soon follow. These are all logical steps, given that low energy consumption is desired and that licensing agreements for an ISA can account for a large part of the costs in these types of small chips. By the way, Quintauris is not the only major collaborative project to advance Risc-V development and introduce some standards, a collaboration between Google, Intel, Nvidia, and again Qualcomm also wants to do this with the Risc-V Software Ecosystem or RISE. This collaboration does focus on software, while Quintauris must mainly focus on hardware.
Source: Tom’s Hardware