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China Deploys Massive RISC-V Server in Commercial Cloud

If the U.S. government intends to curb China's adoption of emerging RISC-V architecture to develop homegrown chips, it may be getting late.

www.hpcwire.com/, Nov. 08, 2023 – 

Last month, China's Shandong University deployed a server cluster with RISC-V CPUs. The system has a total of 3,072 cores, with 48 nodes of 64-bit RISC-V CPUs.

This is the first commercial implementation of a RISC-V cluster in the cloud, claimed David Chen, director of ecosystem at Alibaba, during a presentation at the RISC-V Summit in Santa Clara, California.

The system is for Shandong University's teaching and research purposes but is also available for cloud computing instances, Chen said in response to a question from HPCwire for more details on the system. He added that the system was finished and delivered in September and October.

Top U.S. cloud providers, including Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, do not yet offer commercial virtual machines based on RISC-V CPUs in the cloud. The companies largely offer V.M.s based on x86 or ARM architectures.

The U.S. is trying to strangle China's capability to build high-performance systems by denying access to the latest chip technologies. China is now cutting its reliance on proprietary Western chip technologies and advancing domestic chip development around RISC-V.

The RISC-V instruction set architecture is free to license and is an alternative to x86 architecture, which is used by Intel and AMD, and ARM architecture, which is licensed by companies such as Amazon, Apple, Samsung, and Qualcomm.

China's Plan for RISC-V

China has a comprehensive plan to develop domestic chips around RISC-V. This year, China's Ministry of Science and Technology funded RISC-V chip development efforts, and many universities and science labs are also focusing on chip development around RISC-V.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) is developing an advanced RISC-V chip called XiangShan-v3 in collaboration with top Chinese companies, including Alibaba, Tencent, and ZTE. CAS hopes the chip will match the performance of ARM's Neoverse-N2 server CPU design, which was announced in 2021.

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