Intel and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) announced an investment of 400 million euros in a new laboratory dedicated to the development of RISC-V processors.

The facility will focus on building RISC-V-based processors to power high-performance computing (HPC) systems, as well as specialty chips for artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles.

The goal is to enable zettascale-class systems about 1000 times more powerful than today's fastest supercomputers, a milestone Intel aims to achieve within the next five years.

“High-performance computing is the key to solving the world's toughest problems, and at Intel, we have an ambitious goal to quickly enter the zetta-scale era for HPC. [sic]said Jeff McVeigh, vice president and general manager of Intel's Super Compute Group.

“The Barcelona Supercomputing Center shares our vision of this goal, with an equal focus on sustainability and an open approach. We are delighted to partner with them to embark on this adventure.

Intel and RISC-V

RISC-V is a free and open source Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) built around the same design principles as Arm's proprietary cores. At the moment, RISC-V-based CPUs are much less common than Arm or x86-based chips, but the movement appears to be gaining momentum.

The idea of ​​x86 custodian Intel to adopt RISC-V-based processors may surprise some, but there are many methods to the madness.

The power-to-performance ratio achieved by Amazon's Graviton series and other Arm-based server chips is proof enough that RISC-V could have a future at the higher end of the performance spectrum, not just in low-power devices. .

If Intel wants to maintain its strong position in the HPC and data center market, it makes sense for the company to explore options beyond x86, although the rise of RISC-V could ultimately lead to lower licensing revenue.

The latest investment follows a $XNUMX billion pledge made in February, in which Intel will offer support to various companies in the RISC-V ecosystem. The focus will be on building the foundation for modular products that use multiple ISAs.

As part of the same announcement, Intel revealed that it would become a member of RISC-V International, the nonprofit organization that chairs the RISC-V ISA and its extensions.

Intel's new RISC-V releases don't indicate a drop in spending on x86-based designs, far from it. But they do show that the company is preparing for a potential future where x86 is no longer top dog.

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