As an open-standard architecture, RISC-V is defined by member companies of RISC-V International, the global nonprofit organization behind the ISA. The intent is that through collaboration, the member companies can contribute new avenues of processor innovation while promoting new degrees of design freedom.
The royalty-free RISC-V ISA features a small core set of instructions upon which all the design’s software runs. Its optional extensions allow designers to tailor the architecture for a variety of different end markets. Essentially, the RISC-V architecture allows designers to customize and build their processor in a way that’s tailored to their target end applications, so they can optimize the power, performance, and area (PPA) for those applications. The RISC-V ISA also provides the flexibility to pick and choose from available features, rather than having to use the full feature set.
While the initial market adoption of RISC-V has been with embedded applications and microcontrollers, the open-source architecture also holds promise for high-performance computing and data centers.