Published in Mobiles

Android heading towards RISC-V

by on18 October 2023

Unless the US government, Arm and Intel can stop it

The Android ecosystem is moving toward a RISC-V future with OS support underway, and Qualcomm is stepping up to announce the first-ever mass-market RISC-V Android SoC.

Google announced official RISC-V support in Android and plans to make it a "tier 1 platform" on equal footing with Arm. It doesn't have a name yet, but Qualcomm says it's developing a "RISC-V Snapdragon Wear" chip in collaboration with Google.

Qualcomm said it wants to commercialise the RISC-V-based wearable solution globally, including the US."

For Google and Qualcomm, this chip represents everyone's first swing at a commercial RISC-V Android project, and is the first announced mass-market RISC-V Android chip. Qualcomm says the groundwork and Google layout "will help pave the way for more products within the Android ecosystem to take advantage of custom CPUs that are low power and high performance."

While Intel might be losing some sleep over the move, RISC-V represents a significant threat to the Arm CPU architecture currently dominating all mobile devices. RISC-V architecture is open source, which can make it cheaper and more flexible than Arm. If companies want to design their chips, they can do that without paying a licensing fee to Arm. Since the architecture is open source, creating a fully open-source chip is possible.

If you're a chip-design firm, you can make your proprietary chip designs and license them, making you a competitor to Arm's chip-design business. RISC-V is a way to sidestep all of the various problems with Arm.


Last modified on 18 October 2023
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