The growing impetus behind the free and open source silicon (FOSSi) RISC-V project appears to have industry incumbents rattled, with Arm launching an aggressive marketing campaign which attempts to sow the seeds of doubt in engineers’ minds about the ISA’s benefits versus Arm’s own proprietary intellectual property (IP).
Following the launch of affordable RISC-V ASICs from companies including SiFive and the news that Nvidia, Rambus, and Western Digital are all shipping or planning to ship products featuring RISC-V cores, it’s fair to say the the FOSSi project is enjoying considerable success. Cambridge-based Arm, though, is watching with something other than pleasure: seeing a threat to its majority share of the embedded and low-power microprocessor markets, the company has responded with an aggressive and arguably misleading marketing campaign.
In its riscv-basics.com website, Arm lays out five claims – cost, ecosystem, fragmentation, security, and design assurance – in which it claims its proprietary IP wins out against the open RISC-V ISA. Its claims, though, are not backed by any publicly-available data, and in many cases appear to be based on little more than marketing puffery.
In true hacker style, Arm’s site has competition: arm-basics.com, a domain it’s hard to believe Arm didn’t think to register before launching its campaign, offers counterpoints to Arm’s marketing spiel and – in-keeping with the RISC-V ethos – is open-source with contributions welcome on its GitHub repository.
Update 10/07/18 @ 21:26: Appears riscv-basics.com has been taken down.