Hardware Embedded World 2023

i have just returned from a most fantastic and productive trade show in London, yesterday. there were something like 120 booths, and it was busy the entire day, the aisles between the booths crowded with enquiring people from businesses and hardware geeks alike.

the booths were manned by people from Analog Devices, ST Microelectronics, Sony, Nordic RF, even Arduino was there (yes, the Arduino, from Italy) showcasing their Industrial Control Systems. Massimo, the CTO, gave a presentation.

the purpose of the conference was to showcase how EDGE IOT and AI are becoming fast-growing hot topics that are becoming much more prevalent in today’s “Technologically Connected” Society (“Security at the Edge”).

at that, it succeeded brilliantly.

this morning on reflection i had a somewhat shocking and alarming realisation: not one single SoC nor any product demonstrated using a SoC from any of the suppliers (mostly NRF, STM, Analog, Atmel) was using anything other than an ARM 32-bit or 64-bit License core.

  • there were no RISC-V SoCs or SBCs
  • there were no MIPS SoCs or SBCs
  • there were no Power ISA SoCs or SBCs
  • there were no Intel x86 SoCs or SBCs

absolutely every single one of the 100+ booths either had a 32-bit ARM Cortex M0-M4 or a 64-bit ARM Cortex A53 or above as the fundamental basis of their product.

i spoke to one attendee who was, like RED Semiconductor Ltd, seeking funding for their company in order to do a custom RISC-V Core, having specifically picked RISC-V “because custom opcodes because no other alternatives not Power not ARM not x86” and of course immediately told them I was on the ISA WG and explained about the Power ISA Opcode 22 Sandbox and how Power ISA was much more mature, full software stack, full Open (Trademarked) ISA just like RISC-V.

but this was the exception to the rule, and they were just an attendee, not a booth-holder or conference presenter.

overall I hope that these insights are something of an eye-opener, that summarise as - not to put it too lightly or starkly - Power ISA is on life-support, and will only be sustained if people start taking direct responsibility for committing to it for all the benefits that we fundamentally know that it has.