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Alibaba's 16-core RISC-V is the fastest open source CPU yet

by Mark Tyson on 31 July 2019, 12:11

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Over in China, where trade tariffs, restrictions and political moves by the USA are kindling the need for more home-grown or open source computer components, an Alibaba subsidiary called Pingtouge Semiconductor has announced the Xuantie 91 processor. The new Xuantie 91 targets infrastructure for artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, and internet of things (IoT) as well as autonomous vehicles, and is based upon the RISC-V open source CPU architecture.

According to a report published by New Electronics, the 16-core Xuantie 91 processor is built on the 12nm process. Running at 2.5GHz, it is claimed to be 40 per cent more powerful than any other RISC-V processor produced to date. The specific metric quoted to demonstrate its superiority is a 7.1 Coremark/MHz. The previous RISC-V champ (with a score of 5.1 Coremark/MHz) was the SiFive U74.

The Xuantie 910's performance leap has been achieved thanks to two innovations. First of all Pingtouge has implemented a 12-stage out-of-order operation pipeline core, enabling up to eight instructions to be loaded in each cycle. "These can form clusters of four, and up to four clusters are possible per chip as it currently stands, which enables a 16-core chip," explains New Electonics. Secondly the Xuantie 910 includes 50 extended instructions to enhance various arithmetic operations, memory access, and multi-core capabilities. As this is an open source project it is working on, Pingtouge plans to release its tweaked code via GitHub in September.

The above move by Alibaba may well help China get up to speed with its stated intention of 40 per cent of processor demand being met by local suppliers by 2021 (last year it achieved just 15 per cent).



HEXUS Forums :: 22 Comments

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But can it run Crysis?

OK, OK, I know. I couldn't help myself.

On the more serious note, what kind off desktop tasks this CPU can handle?
darcotech
But can it run Crysis?

OK, OK, I know. I couldn't help myself.

On the more serious note, what kind off desktop tasks this CPU can handle?

Yes, it can. Duh. The Chinese care about nothing other than being able to run Crysis at 60FPS as real, unequivocal proof of world domination. Nuclear testing is sooooo 1960s.

A side by side with Inhel and AMD could be interesting.


P.S. Did anyone hear the story that the US wanted to nuke the moon in order to prove technological superiority to the Soviet Union?
darcotech
On the more serious note, what kind off desktop tasks this CPU can handle?

In terms of performance you can't really tell from basic specs like this, but it sounds like a step up from the Pentium 4 for example. Also the software support for RISC-V seems to be hitting a tipping point but it isn't there yet, and you had better like running Linux.

It should be faster than a Raspberry Pi 4 though, and they already feel decently usable. Lack of open source integrated graphics holds things like this back from being in a raspberry pi clone, but if they could slap a 4 or 8 core cpu onto a mini-ITX board for a sane price then I would buy one in a heartbeat. I'm sure the open source AMD graphics drivers would get tweaked to work on RISC-V pretty fast.
DanceswithUnix
In terms of performance you can't really tell from basic specs like this, but it sounds like a step up from the Pentium 4 for example. Also the software support for RISC-V seems to be hitting a tipping point but it isn't there yet, and you had better like running Linux.

It should be faster than a Raspberry Pi 4 though, and they already feel decently usable. Lack of open source integrated graphics holds things like this back from being in a raspberry pi clone, but if they could slap a 4 or 8 core cpu onto a mini-ITX board for a sane price then I would buy one in a heartbeat. I'm sure the open source AMD graphics drivers would get tweaked to work on RISC-V pretty fast.

Oooh, a P4.

I remember those.

Not very fondly.

Handy if you wanted a fried egg with your gaming.
philehidiot
Oooh, a P4.

I remember those.

Not very fondly.

Handy if you wanted a fried egg with your gaming.

Yeah, they were very bad. But they were an everyday desktop workhorse not *that* long ago, so a 16 core P4 that doesn't burn your leg off with heat seemed something people can guess at the feel of.