Android could soon run on RISC-V chips thanks to advances made by Alibaba Cloud in porting the operating system to the new instruction set architecture (ISA).
Last year, the Chinese shadow giant was successfully able to transfer basic features, including Chrome browsing in Android 10, to a RISC-V chip made by its subsidiary T-Head Semiconductor.
Now, however, Alibaba Cloud has taken things a step further by working on transferring Android 12 to RISC-V. The company has also found ways to enable third-party vendor modules to facilitate a range of new features, including audio and video playback, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and camera operation.
To help facilitate these new features, Alibaba Cloud has enabled several system enhancement features such as core toolkits, third-party libraries, and the SoC card support package on RISC-V. In addition, the company has successfully tested TensorFlow Lite models on the RISC-V to support AI features such as image and sound classification as well as Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
Senior Director at Alibaba, Jianyi Meng provided further insight into the company’s progress with RISC-V in a press release saying:
“The support for Android12, vendor modules, and the AI framework on RISC-V-based devices is another major milestone we have achieved. We look forward to further contributing to the RISC-V community with our advanced technology and resources, and encourage more innovation in the community together with global developers. “
MLPerf Tiny benchmark
If porting Android to RISC-V was not enough, Alibaba Cloud’s RISC-V-based Xuantie C906 processor has recently achieved top marks in the MLPerf Tiny v0.7 AI benchmark focused on IoT devices.
The Xuantie C906 excelled in all four of the benchmark’s core categories: visual wake-up words, image ratings, keyword spotting, and anomaly detection. The performance of Alibaba’s custom-built processor demonstrates the potential of the RISC-V framework to achieve bespoke AI capabilities using extremely low computing power.
At the same time, Alibaba’s RISC-V based processors have already been implemented across a wide range of applications and use cases, including smart household appliances, car environments and edge computing.
The CEO of RISC-V International praised Alibaba’s work to further develop the RISC-V ecosystem, especially when it comes to AI for IoT, and said:
AI for IoT is a highly competitive arena where alignment at all levels is crucial to achieving new breakthrough results with very low impact. Alibaba continues to build RISC-V industry leadership in parallel with their dedication and contribution to the global RISC-V community . “