Intel has killed off its open-source RISC-V dev environment

Intel Logo
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Alexander Tolstykh)

Intel appears to have quietly killed off its open source RISC-V developer environment, Pathfinder. 

The news may come as a shock to many SoC architects, software developers, and product research teams, primarily because Pathfinder was only announced in August 2022, however to others, it may have been an expected move.

The company reported a catastrophic end to 2022, with its Q4 alone reportedly accounting for $661 million in losses, and has pulled the plug on a number of its other operations. Besides this, 544 of its California-based workers are at risk of redundancy, with the potential for more layoffs globally as the company gears up to what it calls a “meaningful number” of job cuts.

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Intel Pathfinder

The 2022 press release unveiling Pathfinder details the number of RISC-V-focused initiatives that have rolled out over the years, indicating Intel’s commitment, however just months later, users began to report that it had been cut.

Intel has since updated its website with a statement that reads:

“We regret to inform you that Intel is discontinuing the Intel Pathfinder for RISC-V program effective immediately.”

The web page directs users to “promptly transition” to alternative RISC-V software tools, highlighting that bug fixes have also been stopped.

The program was designed to help its users develop RISC-V chips using industry-standard toolchains and as such had been supported by a number of RISC-V companies. It was split into a Professional Edition, and a more stripped back Starter Edition for hobbyists looking to give it a go.

Vijay Krishnan remained general manager for RISC-V ventures at the company for over a year and a half until it shut its doors this month, pushing him into a new role as general manager for new initiatives, indicating that Intel could be turning its back on its RISC-V operations for now as it seeks to limit its spending.

TechRadar Pro reached out to Intel to hear whether it plans to continue investing in RISC-V in the future. We were told that the HiFive Pro P550 chip, also known as Horse Creek, which was announced back in 2021, is still on schedule for summer 2023 availability. It's set to be what the company calls the "highest performance RISC-V” development system.

Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!