RISC-V adoption will be accelerated by AI, according to new research

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RISC-V processors will account for almost a quarter of the global market by 2030, according to new research by Omdia.

Credit: Omdia

The open-standard instruction set architecture (ISA) is predicted to experience the strongest growth in the automotive sector, although the industrial space will remain the largest application for the technology. Additionally, the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is instrumental in the continued rise of RISC-V.

RISC-V is license-free, allowing anyone to develop hardware using the architecture and even to customise the instruction set according to the needs of the design. As the earliest RISC-V processors tended to be simple microcontrollers, the architecture has long been associated with deeply embedded technologies, especially in the IoT, and RISC-V will continue to have a notable presence in that space over the forecast period through 2030.

However, the most significant development in recent years is the spread of the technology to other applications, including in those requiring advanced compute and intelligence.

"RISC-V makes the most sense in novel applications, where a developer doesn't already have an existing Arm product in place. The rise of AI, the increase in use cases and capabilities, means a lot of new territory is being revealed and all of it has potential for RISC-V," said Edward Wilford, Senior Principal Analyst for IoT at Omdia. "The growth of RISC-V is concurrent with the rise of AI and especially edge AI, and that will provide a massive opportunity for ISA."

Between 2024 and 2030, Omdia forecasts RISC-V-based processor shipments to increase by nearly 50% per year, culminating in 17 billion processors shipped in 2030. 46% of those processors are expected to be found in industrial applications, although the biggest growth over the forecast period will come in the automotive segment.

Omdia also predicts RISC-V processors in automotive applications will increase in volume by 66% annually.

"The automotive industry is undergoing a rapid transformation, and semiconductors are crucial to every element of that transformation," explained Wilford. "RISC-V has unique, desirable aspects for the automotive industry - you can own your design in RISC-V in a way that you simply can't with a licensed ISA, and in conversations in the industry, that's really highlighted as an important element."

Concurrently, Omdia is also predicting a major increase in the use of AI in automotive applications, with autonomous driving, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) all making use of AI to make each system more capable.

"There is no doubt AI will be one of the largest drivers of RISC-V adoption in many segments; the efficiency and scalability of RISC-V is uniquely suited to developing processors for performing AI operations," Wilford said.