Google is bolstering its support for the RISC-V open instruction set architecture (ISA) in Android.
RISC-V – developed a decade ago at the University of California, Berkeley – has rapidly gained popularity in various spaces, from embedded systems to servers and mobile computing. Google’s move towards integrating RISC-V into Android signals a new era of collaboration and innovation in the hardware ecosystem.
At the RISC-V Summit in 2022, Google revealed that it had begun accepting patches for RISC-V. A year later, the company is maturing its support for RISC-V in Android.
RISC-V is a modular ISA that allows for optional extensions. Google has identified a critical set of extensions – including the rva22 profile and vector/crypto extensions – to ensure high-performance capabilities for CPUs running RISC-V. Developers can now build, test, and run Android support for RISC-V on their machines.
While a basic Android Open Source Project experience is now available, the patches are not yet fully optimised. Work on a fully optimised backend for the Android Runtime (ART) is still underway. Despite this, Google believes the platform is ready for experimentation and collaboration.
Looking ahead, Google has ambitious plans for RISC-V integration. By the end of this year, the company aims to finalise the NDK ABI and make canary builds available on Android’s public CI.
Google plans to provide emulators publicly, allowing developers to test applications for various device form factors. Wearables are expected to be the first form factor available for testing, in collaboration with Qualcomm.
Google’s commitment to RISC-V extends beyond Android. The company is actively working with the RISE Project, a collaborative effort involving key industry players such as Andes, Intel, Nvidia, Qualcomm, and Samsung. This initiative aims to accelerate the availability of software for high-performance and power-efficient RISC-V processor cores running various operating systems, including Android and Linux.
Developers interested in contributing to RISC-V support in Android can find detailed information on building and testing on GitHub. Google encourages participation from the developer community to enhance the platform further.
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