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
NVIDIA --
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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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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