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Felicia Jia
on 18 June 2024

Empowering RISC-V with open source through Ubuntu

Canonical collaborates with partners to deliver optimised Ubuntu on RISC-V platforms, empowering innovation on RISC-V 

Open source and global standards have a long history of success because they have a license framework that ensures anyone, anywhere can have ongoing access to them. RISC-V,  an open standard Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) that enables a new era of processor innovation through open collaboration, has been developed rapidly in the past years. As an open source pioneer, Canonical started its collaboration with RISC-V hardware partners a few years ago and has established impact on the ecosystem.

Ubuntu on RISC-V platforms

Emerging technologies always bring opportunities and challenges. Though RISC-V has evolved quickly, running stable software on new boards can still be challenging on RISC-V. Therefore, a reliable and stable OS is necessary and crucial, becoming the foundation of building software on top of it and also enabling developers to take their products to market faster by letting them focus on their core application without worrying about the stability of the underlying frameworks. As the first choice for many developers, enabling Ubuntu on RISC-V platforms turns to a natural choice for Canonical, which offers first-class experience and accelerates time-to-market.

Canonical has worked with silicon partners in the RISC-V ecosystem, to bring Ubuntu to multiple RISC-V development boards, including SiFive’s Unmatched and Unleashed, Allwinner’s Nezha D1, StarFive’s VisionFive 2, Sipeed’s LicheeRV, Microchip’s PolarFire ® SoC FPGA Icicle Kit and Milk-V Mars. Moreover, Canonical just announced last week that the pre-installed Ubuntu on the DC-ROMA RISC-V Laptop II is available for pre-order from June 18, showcasing the incredible potential of RISC-V technology and its growing influence in the tech industry.

Driving commercial readiness of open source software for RISC-V

With the rapid development of tools and platforms, the demand for always-up-to-date development tools has been increasing, driven by the need for enhanced productivity, seamless integration, and cutting-edge features. Developers require tools that can keep pace with evolving programming languages, frameworks, and methodologies, ensuring compatibility and leveraging the latest advancements. Up-to-date tools also provide improved security features, safeguarding projects from emerging threats and vulnerabilities. RISC-V provides unique acceleration capabilities that can only be exposed with a deliberately built toolkit of common open source packages, addressing the specific needs of developers who seek to fully leverage its potential. By curating a repository of essential open-source packages, Ubuntu ensures that developers have immediate access to the latest and most compatible tools, libraries, and software required for RISC-V development. Additionally, Ubuntu’s distro roadmap outlines a strategic plan for integrating these packages into a cohesive ecosystem, providing regular updates and support to maintain compatibility and performance.

Powering innovation on HPC and AI with Ubuntu on RISC-V

Along with the AI breakthrough in many industries, we saw huge demand for running high-performance applications in the cloud, at the datacenter or even at the edge. Tech giants like Meta, also looking to RISC-V because of a need for an acceleration of all the business critical things they couldn’t do on CPUs, power efficiency, performance, and absolute low latency on the server, and  flexibility to support different workloads and resiliency in the architecture were also paramount.

In the meantime, AI chips became popular overnight, as did the RISC-V platform since it offers a unique potential to design purpose built solutions as well as general purpose cores that are perfect for niche workloads. 

As the reference OS for innovators and developers and the vehicle to enable enterprises to take products to market faster, Ubuntu became a perfect match with RISC-V on empowering innovation on AI and HPC.  Canonical and Ventana collaborated to improve the upstream software availability of RISC-V in projects such as u-boot, EDKII and the Linux kernel. Through the continuous efforts of this partnership Ubuntu is available on the Ventana Veyron product family and as a part of Ventana’s Veyron Software Development Kit (SDK).

Meet us at RISC-V Summit Europe 2024

The RISC-V Summit is a premier annual event that brings together the global RISC-V community – including technical, industry, domain, ecosystem and special interest groups who define the architecture’s specifications. All the experts will meet in Munich, Germany, to share technology breakthroughs, industry milestones, and case studies, to network and build relationships, and to experience much more. 

Canonical is proud to sponsor the RISC-V Summit Europe and meet the community there. Come meet us at table 13! We will be standing next to our partner DeepComputing and showcase the latest RISC-V laptop with Ubuntu running on top of it.

Schedule a meeting with Gordan Markuš, Director Silicon Alliances and discuss with us the future of computing on RISC-V and Ubuntu. 

Book a meeting with us

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