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Google announces official support for Android RISC-V

Google announces official support for Android RISC-V

#Google #announces #official #support #Android #RISCV Welcome to Alaska Green Light Blog, here is the new story we have for you today:

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Google has officially announced its support for the RISC-V architecture, an alternative ISA with no license fees.

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Android, the operating system developed by Google, currently supports a few different instruction set architectures (ISAs), such as ARM and x86. Most devices that use Android, including smartphones, tablets, TVs, and smartwatches, use ARM-based chipsets. Intel stopped producing CPUs for phones and support for MIPS was removed in NDK Revision 17. However, one ISA that has a lot of chatter is Reduced Instruction Set Computer V, RISC-V, a free and open ISA. Anyone is free to design chips based on it without paying any licensing or licensing fees, and Google announced official support for it at the company’s keynote held during the RISC-V summit.

RISC-V is special because it is a free and open ISA, and vendors looking to make cheap IoT products will be interested in using RISC-V to develop low-cost chips. At the same time, companies looking to reduce their dependency on competitors or foreign companies will also look seriously. Interesting, Google is already making use of it the RISC-V architecture for its Titan M2 security chip in the Google Pixel series, and Intel is now offering to manufacture RISC-V chipsets for commercial customers.

At the company’s keynote, Lars Bergstrom, Android’s director of engineering, said he would like RISC-V to be seen as a “tier 1 platform” in Android. This is in line with what Arm is currently for Android, a pretty bold move given Google’s seemingly total disinterest. In response to ArsTechnica’s Ron Amadeo when he asked the team if RISC-V support was planned at Google I/O 2022, the Android team seemed to indicate that RISC-V wasn’t coming anytime soon. Amadeo’s question about future RISC-V support was answered with “we are watching, but it would be a big change for us”.

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Bergstrom says you can now download and try a very limited version of Android for RISC-V, but it lacks Android Runtime (ART) support for Java workloads. He said he expects official emulator support to come soon, with ART coming sometime in Q1 2023. He shared the slide above, which shows that while there is much work to be done to get AOSP on RISC-V off the ground, the company is committed to the architecture.

Best of all, developers don’t have to do much to get their apps running on RISC-V devices. ART essentially “translates” bytecode into native instructions of the device it’s running on, so it’s translated into RISC-V instead of ARM. Native code is a different story, but Java code makes up the entirety of most Android apps.

There are a few reasons companies want to jump off Arm. First off, the company has been incredibly volatile. SoftBank, its owner, tried to sell the company to Nvidia but failed. Also, Arm has become a target of trade sanctions imposed on companies like Huawei, where it was forced to cut ties for several months. Worse still, Arm has sued Qualcomm over its Nuvia purchase, and suing one of your biggest customers doesn’t look good.

RISC-V is seen as an escape from Western dependency, and much of that is due to the founding of RISC-V International in Switzerland. It can act as a neutral party to both the US and China, making it an attractive option for companies looking to develop chipsets. Alibaba is one of the biggest proponents of RISC-V, and the company’s engineers ported Android 10 to a RISC-V board two years ago.

We’ll be watching and waiting to see how RISC-V evolves over the coming months. While it will likely be some time before we see viable flagship devices with RISC-V chipsets in the market, Google is opening the door for companies to certainly try.

Source: Google

Above: ArsTechnica

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