Micro Magic RISC-V core delivers 110,000 CoreMarks/Watt - Embedded.com

Micro Magic RISC-V core delivers 110,000 CoreMarks/Watt

Having previously announced it had the world’s fastest RISC-V core, California-based EDA vendor Micro Magic has gone one step further setting its own new performance benchmark achieving 8,000 CoreMarks at 3GHz with its core.

The company’s co-founder, Mark Santoro, said, “After achieving the world’s fastest RISC-V at 5GHz and 13,000 CoreMarks, we achieved another milestone by producing over 8,000 CoreMarks at 3GHz while consuming less than 70mW. Utilizing our world-class EDA tools, Micro Magic was able to demonstrate silicon closely matching its simulations with a small team in record time.” This equates to a performance/power of around 110,000 CoreMarks/Watt.


Micro Magic’s demo based on its RISC-V core running on an Odroid board (Image: Micro Magic)

Previously Micro Magic had told EE Times its device outperforms the Apple M1 chip and Arm Cortex-A9, and showed a demo of the core running on an Odroid board, achieving 4.327GHz at 0.8V and 5.19GHz at 1.1 V. It said a single Micro Magic core running at 0.8V nominal delivers 11,000 CoreMarks at 4.25GHz, consuming only 200mW.

Andy Huang, an advisor to Micro Magic and behind the creation of the FineSim circuit simulator, said, “Using the EEMBC benchmark, we get 55,000 CoreMarks per Watt. The M1 chip is roughly the equivalent of 10,000 CoreMarks in EEMBC terms; divide this by eight cores and 15W total, and that is less than 100 CoreMarks per Watt.” Going on to make a comparison with Arm, he added, “The fastest Arm processor under EEMBC benchmarks is the Cortex-A9 (quad-core), with a figure of 22,343 CoreMarks. Divide this by four cores and 5W per core, and you get 1,112 CoreMarks per Watt.”.

In its latest announcement, the company said 110,000 CoreMarks/Watt is significantly better than existing parts. Micro Magic said a quick survey of existing processors in the 3GHz to 5GHz range shows that its RISC-V CPU is more than 10X better than any CISC/RISC/MIPS implementation. “For applications like cell phones, it makes a big difference whether one can use their phone for a whole day, or several, on a single charge,” said Lee Tavrow, the other co-founder of Micro Magic. “Typically low power devices are also much lower performance, but with our IP, we allow our customer to have both the world’s fastest speed at 5Ghz and lowest power at 70mW and 3GHz in the same device.”

Micro Magic RISC-V Chip
Micro Magic, Inc. RISC-V chip running at 3.08GHz consuming 0.69mW with a CoreMark score of 8,200 (Image: Micro Magic).

Huang explained the significance of the 200mW power consumption figure. “In today’s battery-operated devices, CoreMarks per Watt is much more important than CoreMarks per Megahertz. For a typical 5W device, we can implement 25 cores. Who can do 25 cores in the mobile phone industry? Most people limit themselves to four cores or eight cores. So, for companies that need to reduce batter usage, such as Tesla, we can achieve the performance needed.”

Huang said that although the company has successfully operated as an EDA services company, it intends to offer the RISC-V core to customers using an IP licensing model. “The architecture is fully scalable for the mobile industry, for PCs, automotive and data centers. We are completely self-funded, so are not seeking funding.”

Micro Magic is a privately-held EDA vendor based in California, specializing in three-dimensional TSV (through silicon via) layout tools. It claims to be able to load, view and edit design of over one trillion transistors in real time. The company was founded in 1995, sold to Juniper Networks for $260 million, and in 2004 reborn with the same name by the original founders. The founders, Mark Santoro and Lee Tavrow originally worked together at Sun Microsystems and led a team that developed a 300MHz SPARC microprocessor.

The company feels it has elegantly implemented David Patterson’s original vision for the reduced instruction set computer (RISC) architecture, working comfortably within the power budgets of today’s battery-powered devices. While more details are yet to emerge, Huang said that Micro Magic has truly enabled the real capabilities of David Patterson’s vision for the RISC architecture. “We really enjoy his architecture. We’re just expanding the boundaries of his vision. We implemented Dr. Patterson’s vision that RISC-V is so elegant that it has the capability to deliver this power.”


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