Chinese tech giant Alibaba has claimed that it has built the first commercial server powered by a processor designed based on Chinese technology RISC-V CPU architecturewho astonishingly announced this news in the US at this year’s RISC-V Summit.
As reported by HPCThread, the system, created using an indigenous Sophon SG2042 chip, is a massive 3,072-core, 48-node server deployed at Shandong University in China. It is the first commercial cloud-centric server built with RISC-V processors. Each processor has 64 cores, with a frequency of 2 GHz, 64 MB system cache and connectivity via PCIe 4.0.
It means China has defeated the US in a major milestone in the race to expand the RISC-V ecosystem and adoption of the embryonic chip architecture, especially as the US government shows keen interest in the technology.
Entering the political territory of RISC-V
The RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA) was first touted as a University of California project in 2010 and has gone from strength to strength in recent years. The goal is to compete with the two common ISAs within about ten years: x86 – in which both Intel and AMD specialize – and ARM.
Both ARM and RISC-V are reduced instruction set (RISC) CPU architectures, but the key difference is that ARM is a proprietary technology while RISC-V is an open source alternative. This means that the license is free, which lowers the barrier to entry.
Indeed, x86 architectures are also closed source, making RISC-V one of the best candidates for an open and widely used ISA in the future. Large companies buy with it For example, Qualcomm created a RISC-V Snapdragon Wearable platform that will power future Wear OS devices.
Given that RISC-V is an open standard, with technologists around the world contributing to its development, achieving an important milestone in the race towards the RISC-V ecosystem is particularly politically relevant for China.
U.S. lawmakers are concerned that China could exploit the open nature of cooperation between mostly American companies to boost its own semiconductor industry — which the researchers say could erode the West’s advantage. Reuters. This is especially relevant given trade tensions and recent developments with the US blocking exports of high-end AI chips to China.