Google readies Android for RISC-V

Google readies Android for RISC-V

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Google is preparing developers for a version of Android that runs on processors using the RISC-V instruction set.

Google started accepting patches for RISC-V last November, and has now begun to support the RISC-V in Android.

RISC-V is a modular ISA, meaning that there are a large number of optional extensions. Google is supporting an initial set of extensions that are critical to ensure that any CPU running RISC-V will have all of the features necessary to achieve high performance. This set includes the rva22 profile as well as the vector and vector crypto extensions.

The first version is the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) but the patches are not yet fully optimized. For example, work on a fully optimized backend for the Android Runtime (ART) is still a work in progress. Additionally, AOSP, our external projects, and compilers haven’t generated fully optimized, reduced code that also takes advantage of the latest ratified extensions, such as the one for vectors.

Later this year, Google expects to have the builds available on Android’s public codebase and RISC-V on x86-64 & ARM64 available for easier testing of riscv64 Android applications on a host machine. By 2024, the plan is to have emulators available publicly, with a full feature set to test applications for various device form factors.

The first commercial use is expected to be wearables on the latest RISC-V chips from Qualcomm.

However, just porting the Android operating system itself is not sufficient. Google is also working with the community and RISE (RISC-V Software Ecosystem) to accelerate the availability of software for high-performance and power-efficient processor cores running high-level operating systems.

That includes not only Android, but also Linux and other operating systems across a variety of application areas, including high-performance computing. 


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