Monday, May 24th 2021

HiSilicon Develops RISC-V Processor to Move Away from Arm Restrictions

Huawei's HiSilicon subsidiary, which specialized in the design and development of semiconductor devices like processors, has made a big announcement today. A while back, the US government has blacklisted Huawei from using any US-made technology. This has rendered HiSilicon's efforts of building processors based on Arm architecture (ISA) practically useless, as the US sanctions applied to that as well. So, the company had to turn to alternative technologies. Today, HiSilicon has announced the new HiSilicon Hi3861 development board, based on RISC-V architecture. This represents an important step to Huawei's silicon independence, as RISC-V is a free and open-source ISA designed for all kinds of workloads.

While the HiSilicon Hi3861 development board features a low-power Hi3861 chip, it is the company's first attempt at building a RISC-V design. It features a "high-performance 32-bit microprocessor with a maximum operating frequency of 160 MHz". While this may sound very pale in comparison to the traditional HiSilicon products, this chip is used for IoT applications, which don't require much processing power. For tasks that need better processing, HiSilicon will surely develop more powerful designs. This just represents an important starting point, where Huawei's HiSilicon moves away from Arm ISA, and steps into another ISA design and development. This time, with RISC-V, the US government has no control over the ISA, as it is free to use by anyone who pleases, with added benefits of no licensing costs. It is interesting to see where this will lead HiSilicon and what products the company plans to release on the new ISA.
Sources: Huawei HarmonyOS Devices, via Tom's Hardware
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39 Comments on HiSilicon Develops RISC-V Processor to Move Away from Arm Restrictions

#1
TheLostSwede
Processor? Might be exaggerating things a bit, this is an MCU, which obviously has a processor in it, but it's for embedded applications and isn't likely to turn up in anything outside of the PRC.
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#2
Valantar
Hm. I kind of doubt much will come of it, but it would be really interesting to see HiSilicon drive RISC-V designs towards high performance.
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#4
AleksandarK
TheLostSwedeProcessor? Might be exaggerating things a bit, this is an MCU, which obviously has a processor in it, but it's for embedded applications and isn't likely to turn up in anything outside of the PRC.
You are right, it is a basic MCU but technically speaking it still represents some kind of processor. That is why i have used the word. :)
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#5
DeathtoGnomes
The time frame from the blacklisted to this is impressive, about 2 years?
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#6
Vya Domus
DeathtoGnomesThe time frame from the blacklisted to this is impressive, about 2 years?
Not that impressive for something this basic.
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#7
DeathtoGnomes
Vya DomusNot that impressive for something this basic.
but, but, its "High Performance ..." :p
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#8
TheLostSwede
DeathtoGnomesbut, but, its "High Performance ..." :p
For its segment, maybe.
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#9
Ferrum Master
TheLostSwedeFor its segment, maybe.
I doubt it will be faster than few dollar ESP32...
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#10
zlobby
DeathtoGnomesbut, but, its "High Performance ..." :p
You don't seem to understand. Uncle Sam tried to stop a huge tech giant, backed from the most powerful govt on the world - the Chinese one. And now it's backfiring badly.

Granted, the U.S. of A. caused some disconcern among the Far East tech companies, but the balck suits were relying on some half-a$$ed data. If anything, Huawei will emerge even stronger whether we like it or not.

Interesting times are coming, my friends.
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#11
voltage
have they learned their lesson not to add back doors? OR, will we eventually see the same scenario, researchers from all over the world find back doors in their procs?
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#12
TheLostSwede
Ferrum MasterI doubt it will be faster than few dollar ESP32...
Depends on which SKU and what it has to do.
I guess we'll find out at some point. The Tensilica Xtensa CPU core(s) in the ESP32 are quite and old CPU design, seems like the LX used is from 2004, although most likely with some tweaks since then.
In case you're interested you can read up about the architecture below.
mirrobo.ru/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Cadence_Tensillica_Xtensa_LX6_ds.pdf
zlobbyYou don't seem to understand. Uncle Sam tried to stop a huge tech giant, backed from the most powerful govt on the world - the Chinese one. And now it's backfiring badly.

Granted, the U.S. of A. caused some disconcern among the Far East tech companies, but the balck suits were relying on some half-a$$ed data. If anything, Huawei will emerge even stronger whether we like it or not.

Interesting times are coming, my friends.
Sorry, what is backfiring?

This chip is nothing interesting and will as I pointed out, most likely not appear in anything sold outside of the PRC.
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#13
Uroshi
It would be interesting to know where are these chips produced and with which process. For sure it isn't trivial that it is RISC-V even if it is a very basic chip.

I wouldn't be surprised if there will be "14nm" 2GHz+ 64 bit RISC-V chips made in China with Chinese materials and tools in the not to distant future. And from there ...
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#14
zlobby
TheLostSwedeSorry, what is backfiring?

This chip is nothing interesting and will as I pointed out, most likely not appear in anything sold outside of the PRC.
The U.S. (seemingly) aimed to decapitate Huawei. What the U.S. managed to do achieve however was to (temporary) cripple them.

As with every animal that is cornered, it can only claw its way out or it dies.

What the U.S. (seemingly) didn't take into account is the size of Huawei's claws, i.e. the enrmous resources of the Chinese govt.

What Huawei had set to achieve in the next 5 to 10 years, they achieved now. The U.S. (seemingly) forced Huawei's hand, in a way.
Now, Huawei (and the Chinese govt.) will soon have a completely closed cycle of production, i.e. they will be completely independent, hence the backfire.
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#15
TheLostSwede
zlobbyThe U.S. (seemingly) aimed to decapitate Huawei. What the U.S. managed to do achieve however was to (temporary) cripple them.

As with every animal that is cornered, it can only claw its way out or it dies.

What the U.S. (seemingly) didn't take into account is the size of Huawei's claws, i.e. the enrmous resources of the Chinese govt.

What Huawei had set to achieve in the next 5 to 10 years, they achieved now. The U.S. (seemingly) forced Huawei's hand, in a way.
Now, Huawei (and the Chinese govt.) will soon have a completely closed cycle of production, i.e. they will be completely independent, hence the backfire.
Uhm, Huawei is still suffering greatly. They're going to die a long slow death in some markets outside of the PRC without a doubt, despite what their PR machine is spinning.

That's also why they shouldn't be part of infrastructure projects.

Independent in a single market. So what?
No-one sensible is going to buy their Android clone phones, as there are far superior options if that's what you want.
More and more companies globally are banning the use of chips from the PRC in any kind of critical systems.
Let them operate in their home market, I couldn't care less.
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#16
Hemmingstamp
TheLostSwedeNo-one sensible is going to by their Android clone phones, as there are far superior options if that's what you want.
Millions of 'sensible' people in the West would disagree with your statement me included. It's a frigging phone and does what I need it to do, also has a decent camera.
Name a superior Android phone, have you tested them all against one another?, do you have data to support your therory?
The tripe you post is bordeline condescending, at times offensive.
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#17
zlobby
TheLostSwedeUhm, Huawei is still suffering greatly. They're going to die a long slow death in some markets outside of the PRC without a doubt, despite what their PR machine is spinning.

That's also why they shouldn't be part of infrastructure projects.

Independent in a single market. So what?
No-one sensible is going to by their Android clone phones, as there are far superior options if that's what you want.
More and more companies globally are banning the use of chips from the PRC in any kind of critical systems.
Let them operate in their home market, I couldn't care less.
Well, we can argue wide and long. I guess we'll see how it all turns out.

I'm willing to bet you a pack of Chinese beer. What do you say?
HemmingstampThe tripe you post is bordeline condescending, at times offensive.
I couldn't agree more.
voltagehave they learned their lesson not to add back doors? OR, will we eventually see the same scenario, researchers from all over the world find back doors in their procs?
So, intel, AMD, Microsoft, you name it, don't have any kind of backdoors? Let's be sensible here. Everyone is doing it.

We are far from a society that will give up the power voluntary, for a greater good. The Spice must flow, and by Spice I mean money.
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#18
TheLostSwede
HemmingstampMillions of 'sensible' people in the West would disagree with your statement me included. It's a frigging phone and does what I need it to do, also has a decent camera.
Name a superior Android phone, have you tested them all against one another?, do you have data to support your therory?
The tripe you post is bordeline condescending, at times offensive.
That was Android, not their new Harmony OS crap.
zlobbyWell, we can argue wide and long. I guess we'll see how it all turns out.

I'm willing to bet you a pack of Chinese beer. What do you say?
I don't gamble.
Posted on Reply
#19
Hemmingstamp
TheLostSwedeThat was Android, not their new Harmony OS crap.
Do you own one with Harmony OS? If not shut the hell up and stop spreading propaganda.
I did, great OS unless you are 'Forced' to use crap apps from certain sectors. The same can be said for Linenage OS and the like.
Great operating systems if you want freedom from the Google shackles.
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#20
zlobby
TheLostSwedeThat was Android, not their new Harmony OS crap.


I don't gamble.
Oh, you do. :) Everybody does. 'Will it rain today? Shall I get an umbrella?' 'Hmm, I wonder if this soup is good?' 'Will there be a traffic jam on my way to the airport?'

See, gambling is everywhere. At least according to our agreement for the meaning of the term, which is laughable in a completely deterministic or a completely random universe.
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#21
Flanker
Yay another political thread
Posted on Reply
#22
XiGMAKiD
Well you know the saying, "sanction is the mother of invention"
Posted on Reply
#23
Caring1
voltagehave they learned their lesson not to add back doors? OR, will we eventually see the same scenario, researchers from all over the world find back doors in their procs?
You mean U.S, sanctioned backdoors, where the NSA has free access?
Posted on Reply
#24
TheLostSwede
HemmingstampDo you own one with Harmony OS? If not shut the hell up and stop spreading propaganda.
I did, great OS unless you are 'Forced' to use crap apps from certain sectors. The same can be said for Linenage OS and the like.
Great operating systems if you want freedom from the Google shackles.
Propaganda? It's a fact that they took the open source Android as a base, yet claimed that they made it all from scratch.
They lied and cheated and created something that barely holds together.
Go read any review of a phone with the OS and you'll see.
It's a steaming hot turd compared to all their competitors.
As for spreading propaganda, you seem to the PRC shill here, so... :rolleyes:
zlobbyOh, you do. :) Everybody does. 'Will it rain today? Shall I get an umbrella?' 'Hmm, I wonder if this soup is good?' 'Will there be a traffic jam on my way to the airport?'

See, gambling is everywhere. At least according to our agreement for the meaning of the term, which is laughable in a completely deterministic or a completely random universe.
No, I live in Taiwan, so I always carry an umbrella, as it can always rain.
I don't generally eat soup, so it's not a choice I ever make, as I assume it won't be good.
I always leave in good time to the airport and enjoy the lounge instead of chancing it.
So no, I don't gamble.
Posted on Reply
#25
watzupken
zlobbyThe U.S. (seemingly) aimed to decapitate Huawei. What the U.S. managed to do achieve however was to (temporary) cripple them.

As with every animal that is cornered, it can only claw its way out or it dies.

What the U.S. (seemingly) didn't take into account is the size of Huawei's claws, i.e. the enrmous resources of the Chinese govt.

What Huawei had set to achieve in the next 5 to 10 years, they achieved now. The U.S. (seemingly) forced Huawei's hand, in a way.
Now, Huawei (and the Chinese govt.) will soon have a completely closed cycle of production, i.e. they will be completely independent, hence the backfire.
Huawei is unlikely to go down. The government won't let their opponents have their way for sure. The concept of face is too strong. But you can't deny that they are struggling since they pretty much lost access to Android and the ability to use cutting edge fabs for their chips.
Posted on Reply
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