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Imagination and Ventana to Build a RISC-V CPU-GPU Platform

Imagination and Ventana to Build a RISC-V CPU-GPU Platform

A recent collaboration shows that Imagination Technologies and Ventana Micro Systems have joined forces to develop a cutting-edge CPU-GPU platform based on the RISC-V architecture. This partnership marks a significant stride forward in the evolution of RISC-V, a versatile instruction set architecture that has been gaining rapid popularity.

While RISC-V is commonly associated with microcontrollers and specialized devices, its potential is far broader. The architecture is undergoing dynamic development, poised to make inroads across a wide range of applications. Recognizing this potential, Ventana Micro Systems, a key player in the semiconductor industry, has teamed up with Imagination Technologies, renowned for its graphics processing unit (GPU) technology.

Ventana Micro Systems had already made waves with the introduction of the Veyron V1 CPU IP in December 2022. This datacenter-grade CPU boasts an impressive eight-wide execution capability and can reach frequencies of up to 3.60 GHz. Designed with performance-demanding applications in mind, it is engineered to accommodate up to 16 cores per cluster, with the ability to scale up to a remarkable 192 cores.

However, as industry expert Jon Peddie astutely pointed out, a CPU alone is incomplete without graphics capabilities to visually represent its output. To address this, Ventana Micro Systems found a fitting collaborator in Imagination Technologies, a company with a proven track record in GPU development. Together, they embarked on the journey to create a cohesive CPU-GPU platform based on the RISC-V architecture.

The forthcoming RISC-V Summit promises an exciting revelation: an emulation model showcasing the seamless interaction between Ventana’s RISC-V-based CPU and Imagination Technologies’ GPU. This unveiling aligns perfectly with the launch of Ventana’s Veyron V2, a development anticipated to be a game-changer in the industry. The V2 is set to introduce substantial enhancements to the RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA), positioning it in direct competition with established architectures like x86 and Arm.

Among the notable improvements are a hypervisor extension, enabling robust virtualization, and an advanced interrupt architecture, enhancing overall system responsiveness. Additionally, sophisticated debugging and tracing functionalities promise to streamline development processes. The Veyron V2 will also incorporate the RVA23 feature set, delivering a presumed 40% performance boost over its predecessor, the V1. This includes a 512-bit vector unit with AI matrix extensions, a server-grade IOMMU, and domain-specific acceleration. Furthermore, the platform will offer compatibility with the RISC-V Software Ecosystem (RISE), ensuring seamless integration with existing software environments.

According to Ventana’s projections, the Veyron V2’s 192-core CPU is poised to outperform AMD’s 96-core EPYC ‘Genoa’ and 128-core EPYC ‘Bergamo’ processors in integer computations at equivalent power levels. While these projections are compelling, it’s important to note that real-world performance will ultimately validate these claims.

Although the collaboration between Imagination and Ventana is currently in a virtual state, the availability of RISC-V CPU and GPU intellectual property sets the stage for the development of a versatile RISC-V platform tailored to a wide array of client applications. This partnership signifies a significant step forward in the realm of semiconductor technology, and the industry eagerly anticipates the fruits of this joint endeavor.

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Usman Haider


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