Western Digital to Use RISC-V for Controllers, Processors, Purpose-Built Platforms

From AnandTech: Western Digital recently announced plans to use the RISC-V ISA across its existing product stack as well as for future products that will combine processing and storage. The company plans to develop RISC-V cores internally and license them from third parties to use in its own controllers and SoCs, along with using third-party RISC-V based controllers. To develop the RISC-V ecosystem, Western Digital has already engaged in partnerships and investments in various companies working on RISC-V projects. For example, recently Western Digital invested in Esperanto Technologies, a company led by experienced CPU designers.

Given the diverse portfolio of products that Western Digital has today as well as its longer-term intention to move compute closer to data (by embracing in-storage computing, for example), it is evident that Western Digital is going to need a diverse portfolio of compute cores with significantly different performance and feature set. In fact, Western Digital will need two groups of cores, one for storage devices, and another for processing data. Western Digital says that it does not want to develop all the silicon it needs in house, but it will likely have to increase its chip investments in the future.

“We intend to develop some processor cores internally, we also expect to use many other companies’ processor cores to complement our own and are currently evaluating several technologies,” a statement by Western Digital reads.

Since the RISC-V ecosystem is early stages of development, the transition to new cores is not going to happen overnight, but will likely be slow, gradual and will span for many years, if not decades. The first products from Western Digital with RISC-V cores will ship in late 2019, or early 2020, says Western Digital without going into details.

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