ARC and Arm are both companies that design and license microprocessor (CPU) architectures. ARC processors are known for their customizability and low power consumption, making ARC an ideal choice for system-on-chip (SoC) designers looking for inexpensive CPU cores. While Arm processors are known for their wide range of implementations and high performance, RISC-V is gaining significant market traction given its performance, extensibility, and open-source business model. Now, Synopsys, second only to Arm in delivering CPU design intellectual property (IP), is adopting RISC-V in their new ARC-V IP to help SoC designers access better performance and a fast-growing software ecosystem.
An ARC processor with RISC-V compatibility
ARC processors are low-power and highly configurable, meaning they can be customized to meet the specific needs of an application. This has made them a favorite alternative to Arm for embedded systems, such as wearable devices, industrial controllers, and the Internet of Things (IoT). But RISC-V is also very flexible, with higher performance and significantly lower power consumption than alternatives. And, since it is open-source, one can modify the design to meet specific application needs, unlike Arm.
The ARC ecosystem is strong, having been built over the last two decades, but the RISC-V based is growing much faster now. Synopsys decided to build the new IP on RISC-V and leverage its openness to add ARC compatibility.
The Synopsys ARC-V Processor IP portfolio incorporates three designs, and all should be ready for SoC designers next year. The 32-bit Synopsys ARC-V RMX embedded processor IP is scheduled for availability in Q2 of 2024, while the 32-bit Synopsys ARC-V RHX real-time processor IP and the 64-bit Synopsys ARC-V RPX host processor IP will follow in the second half of 2024.
The RISC-V movement just got a huge boost, with the industry’s second-largest provider of CPU IP building a combined core IP for ARC and RISC-V. Eliminating performance compromises while maintaining a path forward for ARC designers is a brilliant move for Synopsys.