RISC-V is getting more popular and mature as development progress, but if you want a system with RISC-V and a GPU so far you had to use a PCIe graphics card which is not cost-effective nor practical for most applications based on RISC-V processor. What is needed is some GPU IP that will glue with RISC-V core.
Developing a new GPU is not an easy task (understatement of the month) so it would make sense to go with solutions available on the market. However, Arm Mali is tied to Arm Cortex cores and Arm is unlikely to want to help RISC-V take away their market share, and Adreno and VideoCore are owned by respectively Qualcomm and Broadcom which are unwilling to provide their GPU IP to third parties. This basically leaves us with Vivante and Imagination.
Vivante may have made the most sense since open-source graphics drivers do exist (Etnaviv), but instead, I’ve just learned that SiFive added Imagination Technologies PowerVR GPU and NNA (Neural Network Accelerator) IP cores to its DesignShare ecosystem.
DesignShare is said to reduce the upfront costs of acquiring IP for System-on-Chip (SoC) prototyping, and at first Imagination’s PowerVR Series8XE GPU and PowerVR Series3NX NNA IP will be available for customers to use. The PowerVR GPU will be the first fully-featured GPU supporting the Vulkan API via the DesignShare ecosystem, and other API such as OpenCL, Android NNAPI, and SYCL should eventually be supported.
Both the PowerVR GPU and NNA IP cores are available now, which means the first RISC-V processors with an embedded GPU are likely to feature of PowerVR GPU.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
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