» Current | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | Subscribe

Linley Newsletter

Alibaba Designs Fastest RISC-V CPU

September 1, 2020

Author: Aakash Jani

The Xuantie-910 is Alibaba’s first RISC-V CPU core. It combines the RV64GCV architecture with custom arithmetic and memory operations. Although the immediate focus isn’t to replace Arm, the new CPU aims to advance the RISC-V portfolio and reach parity with the Arm instruction set. Alibaba plans to use it internally for applications ranging from industrial control to edge servers. In the spirit of the open-source architecture, it also plans to post the CPU design on GitHub, enabling other companies to freely access the core. The new design outperforms all RISC-V competitors and matches up well against midrange Arm cores.

The CPU employs many advanced features that appear in high-end x86 and Arm cores, including data-prefetch units, branch prediction, and 128-bit vectors. Its first implementation was in 2019 using an FPGA. T-Head, the semiconductor-design subsidiary of Alibaba, earlier this year received samples of its Wujian SoC with 16 Xuantie-910 cores running at 2.5GHz in 12nm technology, presumably from TSMC. This pace should lead to initial production of the processor early next year.

Alibaba’s Xuantie-910 is a big step forward for the RISC-V architecture. It appears to deliver more performance per gigahertz than any other RISC-V core on the market, and its ROB is among the largest of any RISC-V competitor. The Esperanto Maxion CPU, for example, has a ROB that is nearly 40% smaller, and it supports only one floating-point unit compared with two in the Xuantie-910. The additional FP unit and the large (for a RISC-V core) ROB allow the 910 to boost floating-point and vector performance, greatly benefiting AI and HPC workloads.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

Subscribe to the Microprocessor Report and always get the full story!

Purchase the full article

Free Newsletter

Linley Newsletter
Analysis of new developments in microprocessors and other semiconductor products
Subscribe to our Newsletter »


Linley Fall Processor Conference 2020
October 20-22 and 27-29, 2020 (All Times Pacific)
Register Now!
More Events »