Codasip’s New RISC-V Processor Family Dials In on Custom Compute
The latest RISC-V IP makes processing power customizable for a wide span of embedded applications.
Codasip has announced a new highly configurable family of RISC-V processors for custom computing applications. This new series, called the 700 family, allows engineers to find a balance among performance, power consumption, and area for specific designs.
Codasip’s IP ecosystem addresses a range of design needs, from fully custom silicon to an off-the-shelf CPU. Image used courtesy of Codasip
Designers have long sought after custom computing solutions to optimize performance, and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) provide one way of accelerating processing speed with hardware instead of software. This performance, however, typically requires a considerable design effort to tapeout custom silicon, slowing development speed and time to market.
As such, Codasip's new IP may be an option worth consideration when designers need quick hardware-level performance. This article takes a closer look at the 700 family's specs and discusses how custom computing can increase performance as the sun sets on Moore’s Law.
Codasip Rethinks Scalable Embedded Computing
The first core in the 700 family, the A730, highlights some of the key features of the entire series. Namely, the extensibility of the processor will allow designers from various industries to adapt the core IP to their own needs.
The A730 is a 64-bit RISC-V processor, available in both single- and multi-core configurations. The processor can run Linux and RTOS, and is twice as fast as previous generations. In addition, the A730 can be used with other Codasip processors for more flexibility depending on the application; for example, designers might pair one high-performance core and one low-power core.
The A730 block diagram highlights the primary features and customizability of the core. Image used courtesy of Codasip
The A730 supports up to four cores with memory protection, branch prediction, instruction cache sizes, and many more features that make it highly customizable. The A730 and an FPGA evaluation kit are now available to early-access customers to allow developers to simulate the chip’s performance on a programmable logic device.
The Need for Custom Compute Performance
While a powerful processor can oftentimes speed up a device’s performance, processing power is only one part of the equation for an embedded device. Several other characteristics, such as area and power consumption, thermal management, and BOM costs, can make a commercial processor impractical.
ASICs and custom computing solutions are favorable options for high-performance, high-volume applications. Image used courtesy of Numato Lab
For this reason, designers often turn to custom computing hardware to accomplish their specific goals. Using blockchain as an example, dedicated ASICs can reduce the size and power consumption of a mining farm while simultaneously improving performance. For many designers, leveraging custom hardware to accelerate processing is not only beneficial but necessary to create a practical product.
The downside to custom hardware, however, is its longer development cycle compared to software. Groups such as Codasip now provide reusable IP to accelerate custom designs. Codasip claims that the new 700 family increases performance and versatility, making the designer’s task flow that much easier.
As we reach the end of Moore’s Law and designers scramble to find ways to increase performance, the A730 and the entire 700 family could be the first move toward a broad custom computing ecosystem.