Can the RISC-V core designed for IoT outperform the ARM Cortex-M?

French fabless IC design company GreenWaves Technologies is about to launch its GAP8 multi-core processor, which the company claims is the industry's first processor designed specifically for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Joel Cambonie, co-founder and vice president of engineering at GreenWaves, said GAP8 can achieve twice the energy efficiency of cores such as the ARM Cortex-M0 to Cortex-M7.

The GAP8 processor is derived from the RISC-V open source hardware PULP core technology transfer developed by the University of Bologna (UniversiTIes of Bologna) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETF Zurich). The GAP8 uses eight PULP cores and one TensorFlow processor element (TPU) to accelerate the convolutional neural network for hardware-based pattern matching applications.

According to Cambonie, the processor can be programmed via C/C++/OpenMP and compiled using a standard GCC compiler with extended functionality.

The chip is planned to use TSMC's 55nm 55LP manufacturing process and is expected to be released in December this year. Cambonie said at the 2016 European Semiconductor Show (Semicon Europa) that the chip is expected to be released in February 2017. According to the simulation test results, the chip can achieve the original performance of 12GOPS. For sensor-type applications, the test bench shows 40MOPS performance at 400MOPS or 300mW at 1mW.

The GAP8 processor is expected to be used in applications such as image analysis, motion and vibration analysis, and speech recognition. It also acts as a soft modem platform and supports multiple IoT wireless communication solutions.

It supports standards such as 802.15.4g, LTE Cat-M and Cat-N1, and 802.11ah (WiFi HaLow). In addition to the GreenOFDM software implemented in GAP8, it is said that the power consumption of OFDM transmission can be reduced by an order of magnitude.

Ultra low power IoT processor GAP8 built-in 8 RISC-V cores and 1 Tensorflow accelerator

Compile: Susan Hong

(Reference: RISC-V core for IoT beats Cortex-M, claims startup, by Peter Clarke)

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