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China's Alibaba is making a 16-core, 2.5 GHz RISC-V processor

By mongeese · 23 replies
Jul 28, 2019
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  1. The Xuantie, or XT for short, is said to be the most powerful RISC-V processor yet. Based on a 12nm process, it features 16 cores operating at 2.5 GHz, supports 64-bit processing, compact 16-bit instructions, and in-development vector operations. More importantly, however, it is very good at out-of-order operations, which is something RISC-V processors have struggled with. Intriguingly, the processor also supports 50 extra instructions on top of the standard 32.

    At Alibaba’s Cloud Summit presentation, they revealed the processor achieves a CoreMark score of 7.1/MHz, while the nearest competitor, SiFive’s U74, reaches just 5.1/MHz. If a manufacturer’s testing is to be believed, that’s a 40% performance increase.

    Alibaba is unlikely to manufacture their own processors for some time. While they’re apparently still deliberating the business model for the XT 910, some elements will appear on GitHub, and a full design might be purchasable. A physical slot-in CPU might be available, or it might be part of an add-in accelerator card or a system-on-chip. As for who might want to buy it, Jianyi Meng, senior director at Alibaba Group, has plenty of generic buzzwords to get you excited over.

    “The breakthrough is more than a mere performance enhancement of RISC-V processors. It means more IoT areas that require high-performance computing such as 5G, AI, networking, gateway, self-driving automobile, and edge server can now be powered by this latest RISC-V processor, which was previously used for simple embedded devices like smart-home appliances,” he said in a press release that’s mysteriously disappeared.

    Beijing has stated it wants 40% of processor demand to be met by local supplies next year, though last year, that rate was just 15%. If the trade war continues on its current course Beijing might need 100% of demand to be met by Chinese suppliers, and if that eventuality occurs, designs like the XT 910 will be absolutely pivotal.

    Image Credit: PCB circuit board by Umberto

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,716   +4,049

    Of course, this will need intense study and testing to insure it's 100% on the level. This also includes future processor upgrades that might have planted bugs in them to turn them into surveillance tools for the Chinese.
  3. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,139   +1,218

    I do wonder, however, if this isn't a big 'trade war' backfire. Given impetus, the Chinese can in a short time match whatever the western economies can do - just with a lot more direction from above. Some of our biggest companies are will now have to adapt to more competition from entities with 'strong support' of their government.
    TempleOrion and Vulcanproject like this.
  4. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,612   +3,222

    Enough of 8 and 16-core CPU-s, time to think out of the box and make an odd one, 17-core CPU.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2019
  5. mosu

    mosu TS Evangelist Posts: 508   +122

    People in China believe 8 is a lucky number, so expect 88 or even 888 cores in the future.
    TempleOrion and JaredTheDragon like this.
  6. Hardware Geek

    Hardware Geek TS Booster Posts: 113   +91

    Intel is planning to make a 5 core x86 chip with one "big" core and 4 "small" cores.
  7. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,612   +3,222

    That's my kind of progress :)

    Better still, make a 13-core one, and call it Jinx-Core.
    TempleOrion, Ravey and Cell Intercept like this.
  8. Vulcanproject

    Vulcanproject TS Evangelist Posts: 783   +1,144

    Mmmm I have thought about this as well. 30 years ago the Chinese needed the west. They needed the technology and they needed the investment and most of all, they needed the education.

    Now I'm not so sure. After decades of sending their best and brightest to foreign universities and organisations many have been lured back home. Largely by the opportunities to make big money and further their career in senior positions. Advancing their nation is a strong secondary effect to this.

    You can observe the technological explosion in China in the past 10 years alone. Now they are rattling cages of long established electronic giants. The more the west tries to tie them down the more determined they will be to find home grown solutions they simply couldn't have done even 15 years ago.
  9. Cell Intercept

    Cell Intercept TS Rookie

    Correction: those are not ‘bugs’ because they are ‘features’ with very special instruction sets! XD
  10. Cell Intercept

    Cell Intercept TS Rookie

    I concur that China is magnitudes more disciplined than the West if they decide to do so. In essence, China has the ability to surpass the West in many technology fronts. It seems history is repeating itself again - Mongols from the West Versus Great Wall of China?
    Charles Olson likes this.
  11. Mr Majestyk

    Mr Majestyk TS Addict Posts: 180   +136

    I guess that we've given China enough IP, or they've stolen enough to start slowly severing ties. Trump will soon have to put tariff's on everything anyone else makes to keep America stupid err great.
    Charles Olson and TempleOrion like this.
  12. BacksideBoris

    BacksideBoris TS Rookie

    Haha yes one must appreciate the irony that it was once CHINA that was the Xenophobic country with an inbred ruling class so terrified of the outside world that they resorted to building walls in a futile attempt to maintain their own crumbing power, and now the US oligarchy has transitioned into the role quite nicely, the Emperor in his clothes like King Trump in a tux.

    And well I'm as patriotic as the next American, but can you really say with a straight face that you're a whole lot more concerned with Chinese surveillance than the homegrown NSA variety? That's one whole point of an entirely open source ecosystem, you can actually look at the specs and schematics all you want until you're satisfied with their security: Surely you can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there are no Intel or AMD or ARM GCHQ NSA backdoors in all these other architectures for which there are no schematics at all, only the promises of a public for profit corporation and we all know what those are worth, pun very intended.....
    Charles Olson and TempleOrion like this.
  13. BacksideBoris

    BacksideBoris TS Rookie

    I just hope RISC-V doesn't go the way of most of the previous RISC architectures: a slow painful death in userland, or an equally slow and painful transition to CISC as in the case of ARM.
  14. bviktor

    bviktor TS Rookie

    No, they can't. Everything they do is either outsourced or stolen from the West. That's not exactly a skill.
  15. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,139   +1,218

    Sadly, 'outsourced' or 'stolen' does not preclude 'match'.
    Charles Olson and TempleOrion like this.
  16. BryanW123

    BryanW123 TS Rookie

    The Chinese are putting multiple cores on a die without taking into consideration heat, rf, and power. This is why you dont see this kind of push with US and Japanese makers. Chip makin' is hard, folks!

    Fix your rf, power and heat issues first... then come back with an announcement. Multicores impress no one if the chip turns red hot! Might I suggest looking at graphene substrates? Push for new tech, quit abusing the old tech.
    mbrowne5061 likes this.
  17. lexster

    lexster TS Guru Posts: 625   +304

    I think this is a good thing. Likely set a trend.
    TempleOrion likes this.
  18. TechCat

    TechCat TS Enthusiast Posts: 29   +19

    No need for racist comments here, we live in a global economy and are co-dependant with other nations. China is a very capable and innovative nation and a huge market.
    Charles Olson and TempleOrion like this.
  19. TempleOrion

    TempleOrion TS Enthusiast Posts: 45   +31

    They'd like you to keep under-estimating them ;-) Just like Japan and South Korea and Singapore and Taiwan were...

    PS Maybe the 'West' should pay for the IP theft of 'Eastern' inventions a few hundred years ago? LOL
    Charles Olson likes this.
  20. Markoni35

    Markoni35 TS Addict Posts: 325   +137

    East Asians are disciplined. Africans, West Asians, South Asians and Central Americans are not. Whites are somewhere in the middle. Machines are even more disciplined than East Asians.

    Hence, East Asians will win, and rule the Earth for a short period of time. After which machines will take over and exterminate the irritating carbon-hydrogen-oxygen based life.

    Bottom line: Don't worry about CO2 emissions or global warming. It's irrelevant. Far before it becomes important we'll be exterminated by the machines. Buy Land-Rover. Because whatever you do, ecological or not, you're gonna be exterminated by the faster-evolving form of life anyway.
  21. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,139   +1,218

    Like the mosquito or Ebola.
    TempleOrion likes this.
  22. Graloc25

    Graloc25 TS Member Posts: 37   +11

    All this IP and theft talk is such rubbish. Look up your history. Celebrating 50 years since the Moon landing? Remember the Nazi V1 & V2? When WW2 ended USA got Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun and the Russians got his deputy. Every nation takes what they want. I'd bet the guy who claimed he invented the spear stole that from a passing Neanderthal.
    TempleOrion likes this.
  23. lexster

    lexster TS Guru Posts: 625   +304

    That was not a "racist" comment. That was a comment about a perceived societal behavior on a national level and not completely inaccurate. However...
    ...that IS a racist comment and is just as equally incorrect.
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2019
    TempleOrion likes this.
  24. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 15,184   +4,130

    You mean like gunpowder?
    TempleOrion likes this.

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