The world's first RISC-V GPU could be on the horizon

(Image credit: RISC-V International)

As RISC-V has emerged as a potential competitor to both x86 and Arm, discussions are now being had about creating GPUs for chip designs based on the new architecture.

According to RISC-V CTO Mark Himelstein who spoke with The Register, special interest groups will expand their focus on extensions for shaders and advanced matrix operations which are key for both AI and machine learning next year.

RISC-V International, the non-profit organization that developed and supports the free and open RISC instruction set architecture, has a number of interest groups which develop extensions that can be added to chip designs.

In this year alone, 16 RISC-V extensions were ratified according to Himelstein and that number is set to grow even more next year as many new extensions were announced at the 2021 RISC-V Summit.


By creating GPUs specifically for RISC-V, it will be easier to conduct AI and machine learning work using chips featuring the architecture. However, by focusing on shaders, a GPU extension for gaming and graphics design could be possible as well.

Himelstein provided further insight on extensions and how they're implemented in RISC-V to The Register, saying:

"If somebody needs something more quickly, they can implement it as a non-standard extension and implement it themselves with their proprietary bits, and then bring it back to RISC-V, try to get it in as a standard, if that's what they want, or they could keep it proprietary."

Although RISC-V GPUs could be a reality one day it will likely take some time before they are available to purchase off the shelf. However, as the idea is now being discussed and gaining steam, it could happen sooner than expected.

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Via The Register

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.