Imagination’s RISC-V gambit reaches its next level

Imagination Technologies, a supplier of GPUs, artificial intelligence (AI) accelerators and CPU cores, has consolidated its commitment to the rapidly expanding open-standard RISC-V ecosystem by upgrading its membership to the premier level. As a result, Shreyas Derashri, VP of Compute at Imagination, will join the RISC-V International Board of Directors.

Earlier, in summer 2022, Imagination unveiled its first commercially available RISC-V core for system-on-chips (SoCs) designs serving networking solutions, packet management, storage controllers, and sensor management for AI cameras and smart metering. IMG RTXM-2200 is a licensable 32-bit embedded real-time processor that features up to 128 KB of tightly coupled memories for both instruction and data. That ensures deterministic response and Level 1 cache sizes of up to 128 KB for robust performance.

Figure 1 IMG RTXM-2200 is one of the first commercially available processor cores in the Catapult CPU family. Source: Imagination Technologies

These real-time embedded cores come with a software SDK and tools package, and they are targeted at SoC design teams working in the Internet of Things (IoT) and other embedded markets. They are part of Imagination’s Catapult CPU family announced earlier in December 2021. The Catapult CPU family aims to expand the RISC-V ecosystem for implementation across a variety of market applications.

Figure 2 Catapult is a RISC-V CPU product line designed from the ground up for next-generation heterogeneous compute needs. Source: Imagination Technologies

In the summer, Imagination also announced that its IMG B-Series GPU and PowerVR Series3NX NNA cores have been licensed for the RISC-V-based SoCs of Alibaba Group’s T-Head Semiconductor for Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT) applications. At around the same time, T-Head launched a RISC-V SoC, TH1520, which has incorporated Imagination’s BXM-4-64 GPU IP. All Imagination GPUs are compatible with SoCs based on RISC-V.

RISC-V, the open-source CPU architecture, is transforming processor design, and Imagination joining the RISC-V bandwagon with its GPU and CPU cores bolsters the design appeal of the RISC-V market. While RISC-V continues to shake up the embedded CPU industry, Imagination’s initial emphasis on real-time embedded applications bucks the trend.

According to Mike Demler, senior analyst at The Linley Group, Imagination is adopting the popular instruction set architecture (ISA) for its renewed focus on CPUs. And here, it can apply its extensive experience with other CPU architectures. That, along with GPUs and AI accelerators, makes Imagination a RISC-V market contender to watch.

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