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Alibaba Cloud unveils RISC-V chip development platform

The Wujian 600 chip development platform will help developers build systems-on-chip to support edge applications such as home robots, medical imaging and video conferencing

Alibaba Cloud has unveiled a chip development platform to help global developers design high-performance systems-on-chip (SoCs) based on the open-source RISC-V instruction-set architecture.

Dubbed Wujian 600, the platform, custom built by Alibaba’s chip development business T-head, is tailored for edge applications such as home robots, medical imaging and video conferencing.

Now available for licensing, Wujian 600 has been used by T-head to build the TH1520 prototype, a high performance SoC that packs in the quad-core Xuantie C910 RISC-V-based CPU, a neutral processing unit, DDR memory and standard I/O interfaces.

TH1520, which has also adopted the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) security certification scheme that meets the GlobalPlatform standard, is now being used in Alibaba’s ecosystem.

Jianyi Meng, vice-president of T-Head, said organisations can leverage Wujian 600 to develop high performance SoCs in a fast and efficient way. “By making the platform accessible to global developers, we hope to contribute to the RISC-V community, enabling more customised RISC-V-based SoCs tailored for different applications,” he added.

For example, Wujian 600 can be used by developers to run the Firefox web browser, the open-source LibreOffice productivity suite and OpenAnolis, an open-source Linux-based operating system launched by Alibaba in 2020.

“The Wujian 600 development platform enables powerful edge SoCs with enhanced frequency and increased storage for robust edge AI [artificial intelligence] computing,” said Calista Redmond, CEO of RISC-V International. “The developer ecosystem supporting Xuantie on Linux and Android further strengthens the RISC-V software ecosystem.”

Earlier this year, Alibaba Cloud said it has made further progress in porting basic Android functions onto the RISC-V instruction-set architecture, enabling RISC-V-based Android devices to be used in areas like signal processing, device interconnection and AI.

Besides RISC-V, Alibaba Cloud has also invested in Arm-based technology, notably through the Yitian 710, a custom five-nanometer processor powered by 128 Arm cores with a top clock speed of 3.2GHz.

With 60 billion integrated transistors, Yitian 710 is also the first server processor that is compatible with the latest Armv9 architecture, which includes confidential computing features to shield portions of code and data from access or modification while in use, even from privileged software, by performing computation in a hardware-based secure environment.

With support for eight DDR5 memory channels and 96-lane PCI Express 5.0, Yitian 710 will be used to power Alibaba Cloud’s Panjiu line of proprietary servers.

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