European chip independence is getting closer and closer: the first RISC-V samples arrive

European chip independence is getting closer and closer: the first RISC-V samples arrive

European chip independence is getting closer and closer

The European Processor Initiative (EPI) has worked to provide independence to the European Union in the field of high performance computing (HPC) by developing customized RISC-V-based accelerators. Called the European Processor Accelerator (EPAC), the chip was designed for high-efficiency, high-throughput computing and is currently being tested at EPI's laboratories.

Credit: European Processor Initiative Project The European Processor Initiative started as a project of 28 partners from 10 European countries to equip the European Union with custom processors and technologies that will allow it to become an independent force focused on science and innovation. To achieve this, the project aims to build a fully customized HPC system: "A key segment of EPI activities is the IP development and demonstration of processors entirely developed in Europe based on the Instruction Set Architecture RISC-V, providing efficient core accelerators. from an energy and high efficiency point of view called EPAC (European Processor Accelerators). ”

Apparently, the project has kept its promises as the first batch of chips is currently being tested in EPI's labs. RISC-V processors have been designed to contain multiple multi-purpose accelerators, all centered around the RISC-V ISA and its design principles. The processor contains four Vector Processing Unit (VPU) tiles consisting of Avispado RISC-V core designed by SemiDynamics and vector processing elements designed by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and the University of Zagreb. In each tile, there are home and L2 cache nodes, which are the contributions of Chalmers and FORTH.

For a further boost, there are the Stencil and Tensor (STX) accelerators designed by Fraunhofer IIS, ITWM and ETH Zürich and the Variable Precision Processor (VRP) designed by CEA LIST. To keep all these components connected, there is a high-speed Network-on-Chip (NoC) router and SERDES developed by EXTOLL. Other off-chip connections are unknown so far, but, nevertheless, we assume there will be DDR5 and PCIe Gen4 or Gen5 I / O options to use.

The chip was built on a low-power FDX semiconductor node at 22nm from GlobalFoundries which managed to package the chip in an area of ​​26.97mm² for the die. The test package is FCBGA type with 22 × 22 solder balls in a grid array and the chip has a target frequency of 1GHz so far. In the image below, you can see the classic “Hello World” running on the new platform.

Credit: European Processor Initiative Project Once everything is ready, EPI plans to combine the chips into a powerful HPC system used for all types of workloads.

Intel to invest up to 80 billion euros in boosting EU chip capacity-CEO

By Stephen Nellis and Victoria Waldersee

(Reuters) -Intel Corp on Tuesday said it could invest as much as 80 billion euros in Europe over the next decade to boost the region's chip capacity and will open up its semiconductor plant in Ireland for automakers.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, speaking at Munich's IAA auto show, also said the company would announce the locations of two major new European chip fabrication plants by the end of the year.

There is speculation about possible production sites, with Germany and France seen as leading contenders while Poland, where Intel also has a presence, also in the picture.

The CEO said the aim was for a 'total project of 80 billion euros ($94.77 billion) over the next decade that would be a catalyst for the semiconductor industry... a catalyst for the entire technology industry.'

Intel, the biggest maker of processor chips for PCs and data centres, in March said it planned to open up its chip factories for outsiders to use.

Gelsinger told Reuters in April that the company wanted to start producing chips for automakers within six to nine months to help alleviate a shortage that has disrupted vehicle production around the world.

It is unclear whether the latest announcement means Intel will meet that goal.

'Cars are becoming computers with tires. You need us and we need you... The aim is to create a centre of innovation in Europe, for Europe,' Gelsinger said.

The 'Intel Foundry Services Accelerator' is aimed at helping automakers learn to make chips using what Intel calls its 'Intel 16' chip manufacturing technology and later move to its 'Intel 3' and 'Intel 18A' technologies.

Those manufacturing processes would be far more advanced than most of the processes currently used in the automotive industry. Intel said that nearly 100 automakers and key suppliers - including BMW AG, Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG and Bosch - had expressed support for its programmes. An Intel spokesman declined to confirm whether any had committed to becoming customers.

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Gelsinger has been quoted saying Intel wants the EU to commit state aid to Intel's proposed European investment drive.

Intel views automakers as a key strategic priority. Gelsinger said Tuesday that the company believes chips will make up 20% of the cost of vehicles by 2030, a five-fold increase from 4% of the cost in 2019.

($1 = 0.8442 euros)

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Victoria Waldersee in Munich; editing by Richard Pullin, Douglas Busvine and Jane Merriman)