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ARM MICROPROCESSORS HiSilicon by Huawei develops first RISC-V design to overcome ARM constraints

Editor: Florian Richert

In a bid to overcome U.S. restrictions on its Arm designs, Huawei's HiSilicon has turned to the open-source RISC-V architecture and has released its first RISC-V board for Harmony OS developers.

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HiSilicon a subsidiary of Huawei develops first RISC-V design to overcome ARM restrictions.
HiSilicon a subsidiary of Huawei develops first RISC-V design to overcome ARM restrictions.
(Source: Panasonic)

Due to being blacklisted by the U.S. government, Huawei and its chip division HiSilicon do not have access to development and production technologies designed in America. The restrictions include many Arm processor architectures, including those used in various microcontrollers that Huawei uses widely.

HiSilicon In-house development

The HiSilicon Hi3861 development board is based on the company's own Hi3861 controller. Huawei's documentation doesn't disclose exactly what the chip does, but it describes it as a main controller chip. The Hi3861 chip is accompanied by a serial port controller as well as a USB-C port. Among the more important aspects, the Hi3861 seems to have all the logic that enables USB-C functionality (e.g., synchronization and port alignment) and GPIO (general-purpose) pins.
Overall, the HiSilicon Hi3861 development board has rather vast (at least Raspberry ****-like) capabilities, but not for a world that Huawei's HiSilicon is used to, at least in terms of public opinion.

The HiSilicon Hi3861 development board has rather vast capabilities.
The HiSilicon Hi3861 development board has rather vast capabilities.
(Source: HiSilicon)

Best practice in IoT applications

The Hi3861 is aimed mostly at the IoT market, whereas HiSilicon's development efforts were historically aimed at high-margin smartphones, tablets, P.C.s, and embedded systems. But Huawei needs computing platforms to use for its other devices, so the HiSilicon Hi3861 is just what the doctor ordered at this time.

The Hi3861 is aimed mostly at the IoT market.
The Hi3861 is aimed mostly at the IoT market.
(Source: HiSilicon)

When it comes to high-volume products made by Huawei, a non-Arm-based chip makes exceptional sense and gives the company experience working with an open-source architecture. Only time will tell if the company uses its RISC-V experience to develop other, more powerful devices.

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