Android drops RISC-V support for now…

RISC-V Android

La RISC-V open source ISA was gaining ground as a possible alternative to the chip architectures currently used in mobile devices, such as ARM, as well as in other sectors such as PC, HPC, etc. However, recent changes from Google have put those plans on hold, as support for these processors has stopped for the time being on Android.

Google recently merged code changes that remove RISC-V support from the Android Generic Kernel Image (GKI). This means that future versions of Android that rely on the latest GKI will not work on devices with RISC-V processors.

There are Two reasons Main:

  • The complexity of maintaining multiple versions: Google certifies Android devices that use a specific version of the Android Common Kernel (ACK), a customized version of the Linux kernel. Maintaining separate versions of the GKI for RISC-V and traditional architectures would be complex and resource intensive.
  • The rapid evolution of RISC-V: The RISC-V architecture is still under development, with frequent updates and improvements, changing some instructions of the ISA itself or modules. Google may not feel comfortable providing a single RISC-V compatible GKI due to this rapid change.

This It's not the end of the road for RISC-V on Android devices. Google hasn't completely abandoned RISC-V support, but it's on hold for now. A Google spokesperson stated that the company is not ready to provide a single compatible image for all vendors due to the rapid iteration of RISC-V.

Meanwhile Developers can still work on porting Android to RISC-V by creating their own custom kernels based on the Linux kernel.. Additionally, the RISC-V community has developed a specification that helps operating systems like Android run on RISC-V hardware. This specification can be a valuable resource for future Android RISC-V implementations.

However, this move could affect chip manufacturers such as Qualcomm, who were exploring RISC-V CPUs for next-generation Wear OS devices (wearable platforms). They may need to adjust their plans or look for alternative solutions…

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