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Arm targets RISC-V in aggressive marketing push

Jul. 11, 2018 – SoftBank-owned and Cambridge-based low-power processor intellectual property (IP) specialist Arm appears to be getting rattled by industry interest in rival open-source instruction set architecture (ISA) RISC-V and its growing number of implementations, and has launched a marketing campaign to convince customers to stick with what they know.

Developed in 2010 at the University of California, Berkeley, RISC-V is a reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architecture with a difference: It's entirely open for anyone to implement, modified or otherwise, under permissive licensing. With traditional architectures like Arm and x86 being locked away from view and costing a considerable amount of money to license, RISC-V - along with rival open ISAs like the SPARC-based OpenRISC - represents a bold new option for everything from low-power embedded to high-performance computing projects.

Despite being only eight years old, the project is also enjoying considerable success: Nvidia has confirmed that it is switching to RISC-V from an in-house proprietary RISC architecture in its logic controllers, storage giant Western Digital has pledged to ship a billion RISC-V cores in the next two years, Rambus is using it in a new cryptographic security product, and even Intel has admitted it has potential.

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