NVIDIA Is Building Its Next-Gen Falcon Controller Using RISC-V

Written by Michael Larabel in NVIDIA on 26 July 2016 at 12:34 PM EDT. 6 Comments
For the past decade NVIDIA GPUs have shipped with a proprietary micro-controller they've called Falcon (also for Nouveau users you may recall it through "FUC" for the Falcon micro-controller), but a next-gen controller is being built now for future NVIDIA GPUs and it's going to utilize the RISC-V ISA.

This "Fast Logic Controller" is responsible for a variety of tasks on modern NVIDIA GPUs but a next-gen "Falcon" is being designed to offer better performance, provide rich OS support, and other capabilities. For this next-gen controller they concluded to base the instruction set architecture on RISC-V rather than ARM, MIPS, or other existing architectures.

Over Falcon, their "NV-RISCV" project derived from RISCV-RV64 is slated to offer a lot more capabilities from a configurable cache to greater address width and more. Initial figures show NV-RISCV performing much better than Falcon. For those unfamiliar, RISC-V is a free ISA (BSD licensed) and was designed by UC Berkeley researchers to be much more suitable for today's modern computing standards than other open ISAs with a focus on performance and power efficiency.

The software toolchains, security support, and additional instructions are also cited as additional wins for RISC-V. They are still building this new core from the RISC-V ISA but concluded with "we evaluated different options in the market, results showed that RISC-V is overall best choice as next generation of Falcon."

Those wanting to learn more can watch the NVIDIA RISC-V talk embedded below by engineer Joe Xie.

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