The Indian government intends for RISC-V, the open-source ISA, to be the cornerstone for building the country’s tech economy.
The Indian tech site Analytics India Magazine just published a nice article by Pritam Bordoloi that equates what’s currently happening in India with RISC-V with what happened in the US when Linux came on the scene in the 1990s.
If you don’t know, RISC-V is an open-source instruction set architecture that anyone can use to design and build anything from accelerators to full-blown CPUs. RISC-V chips can be used either to compete with the likes of Intel, AMD, Arm, and others — or to bypass them entirely to use silicon specifically designed to meet the the needs of their intended device. This does away with the trade-offs that are usually necessary when devices are designed around the capabilities and requirements of off-the-shelf chips.
Bordoloi points out that RISC-V is behind something of a boom in homegrown chip development in developing countries with large tech economies, such as India, because it frees them from reliance on technology from large companies located mostly in the US and China. Not only does this save them money, it also helps the local economy by giving rise to a domestic chipmaking industry.
It’s also a move towards economic independence, as technology developed in other countries are generally exported with a long list of regulations that are not only costly, but limit how the technology can be used. This issue had become more important in recent years, as both the US and China have moved to restrict exports of silicon technology, partly because of security concerns, but also to maintain a competitive edge in global markets.
The threat of increasing restrictions, or of losing the availability to import the technology entirely, has led the India government to initiate the Digital RISC-V program, “which aims to foster the development of next-generation microprocessors within India, positioning the nation as a prominent global hub for RISC-V expertise,” according to Bordoloi.
For this purpose, India needs to create a workforce of RISC-V specialist, which the DRV intends to do by creating 10,000 jobs within the next five years.
You can read Bordoloi’s entire article here: RISC-V is Creating a ‘Linux Movement’ in Hardware