IoT & Embedded Technology Blog

RISC-V is Here to Stay

by Dan Mandell | 03/19/2020

The commercial market for RISC-V has established a firm foothold in embedded processing. The open-source RISC-V instruction set architecture has been a hot topic for the past couple of years and continued to be a couple of weeks ago in Embedded World as highlighted in our VDC View covering the event. The ecosystem continues to expand led by the RISC-V Foundation and add leading hardware, software and cloud technology providers to its ranks further accelerating its momentum. At the same time, RISC-V is revolutionizing in-house IC/SoC design at large technology providers and OEMs leading to new requirements for tools and engineering expertise or third-party services.

For processors and IP, the RISC-V ecosystem features a variety of organizations ranging from relatively new startups to established leaders in the IoT and embedded processing market. While much of the use of RISC-V to this point has been for in-house/captive development, a number of processing solutions are going to market from Codasip, GreenWaves Technologies, Microsemi, SiFive, and others. RISC-V is making its way into a variety of different semiconductor types mostly focusing on ASICs, FPGAs, and SoCs.

Exhibit 1: RISC-V Software Status (March 2020)


On the software side, support for RISC-V continues to mount for operating systems (both RTOS and Linux), development tools, emulation/simulation, and other critical components to embedded developers. RISC-V has attracted support from leading RTOSs such as FreeRTOS, VxWorks, and Zephyr as well as Linux distributions ranging Debian, Fedora, openSUSE, and others. We expect further support to build soon for emulators, code analysis, and prototyping solutions.

While the development of an open-source hardware ecosystem faces more challenges to its evolution than Linux and the proliferation of open-source software, RISC-V has proven that the demand exists and it’s here to stay to challenge legacy and incumbent ISAs. The commercial market for RISC-V embedded processors is still relatively young today but is quickly accelerating in various countries and vertical markets as OEMs look to recapture more influence and control over embedded processing components. RISC-V is a major disruptor in the embedded processing market with a wide window for innovation from companies large and small.

To learn more about VDC Research’s recently published report, “RISC-V in the Edge & IoT”, click here.