Europe completes the first phase of its independence project in the manufacture of chips

The so-called European Processor Initiative, or EPI, he has closed the first phase of his efforts to create chips in Europe, as reflected in the entity’s year-end report. With this step, EPI hopes to reduce dependence on imports, improve the region’s sovereignty capabilities, and contribute to the creation of the continent’s first ex-scale supercomputer.

Several objectives achieved are detailed in the report. These include the Rhea specification, the first generation of EPI’s General Purpose Processor implementation, as well as its future derivatives. Rhea has been developed using ARM’s Neoverse V2 processor architecture, but it also has 29 RISC-V cores deployed as controllers. The chip’s design company is France’s SiPearl, which partnered with Atos for the design.

As he told The Register last October the SiPearl CEO Philippe NottonFor supercomputers, Intel’s upcoming Ponte Vecchio GPU accelerator will be coupled to Rhea chips. Additionally, Rhea will employ a RISC-V power controller developed by the University of Bologna and ETH Zurich. Use «advanced control and Artificial Intelligence algorithms for power management in large-scale SoCs«.

Another achievement of this phase has been the work on IP security, which offers sovereign IP security for HPC and processors at the advanced edge and with certified common criteria. One result of this effort is a kind of “cipher piece” that can be integrated into other open chips.

The development of European Process Accelerator (EPAC) test chip prototype It was another achievement of this first phase. The Barcelona Supercomputing Center and the University of Zagreb (Croatia) have developed vector processing units for high-performance, low-power computing. It is based on the RISC-V Nibbled kernel from Semidynamics. Another prototype for an integrated high-performance computing platform and associated software development kit for the automotive market has also been achieved.

Most of EPI’s work is based on the RISC-V architecture, often referred to as the Linux of chips, as there are numerous engineers collaborating on the design, establishment, and improvement of its architecture. It was created in 2010 by a group of researchers and its license is free. It offers a modular design that allows developers to choose extensions that add specialized vector processing, security, and virtualization capabilities.

EPI currently has 28 partners from 10 European countries, all collaborating on chip design. The first phase of this initiative had a budget of 79 million euros, with funds for startups, companies and researchers based in Europe.

The project is expected to strengthen local supply chains by building more factories across the continent, with the aim of achieving the capacity to achieve sovereignty in Europe in their manufacture, in addition to addressing the crisis due to the shortage of chips that has slowed down to the production of all kinds of devices. The second phase of the EPI initiative will begin next year 2022, and will focus on bringing the chips that have been developed during the first phase to the production phase.

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