Imagination Launches Its First RISC-V Core, the Real-Time RTXM-2200 with "Fully Ratified" Extensions

Designed for deterministic real-time operation rather than raw performance, Imagination's first Catapult core is finally here.

Six months on from announcing its plans to get into the RISC-V processor game, Imagination Technologies has launched the first part in its Catapult family: the IMG RTXM-2200, a 32-bit core designed for real-time use.

"We are excited to announce IMG RTXM-2200, our first real-time RISC-V CPU, which underpins our continued commitment to driving growth for the RISC-V ecosystem," says Imagination's chief product officer Chris Porthouse of the launch, announced during Embedded World this week. "Imagination now has a unique and broad portfolio of compute IP, including GPU, AI accelerators, and now CPU, designed for this innovative architecture."

Imagination's Catapult RISC-V family has its first core, in the real-time IMG RTXM-2200. (📹: Imagination Techologies)

The IMG RTXM-2200 core, the first in the planned Catapult family of RISC-V products announced by the company in December last year, is a 32-bit in-order dual-design RISC-V implementation with an 11-stage pipeline — concentrating on real-time workloads rather than raw performance. As a result, it includes features including memory protection designed for real-time determinism — and, in a clear dig at rival designs like the open-source XuanTie C906 found in Allwinner's D1 SoC, the company is at pains to point out it exclusively uses "fully ratified RISC-V extensions" rather than pre-ratification drafts.

As a licensable soft-core, exact specifications are variable: The company promises layer one (L1) cache up to 128kB, instruction/data (I/D) tightly-coupled memory (TCM) up to 128kB, and optional features including single-point floating-point and BFloat16 extensions for machine learning workloads plus the RISC-V Bit Manipulation extension for improved code density. The company has also revealed an optional interrupt module, debug module, breakpoint triggers, and trace system for development and debugging.

On the software side, Imagination says it will provide "comprehensive" software development kit (SDK) support plus compatibility with both Linux-based operating systems and the FreeRTOS real-time operating system. The company also pledges that the core is "designed to work 'out of the box,'" shipping with a full cross-platform tool chain including its Catapult Studio integrated development environment (IDE) for Windows, Ubuntu, CentOS, and macOS.

"RISC-V International is excited to witness Imagination maintaining its momentum by launching its first licensable 32-bit embedded real-time processor since the announcement of its entry into the RISC-V CPU IP market," says Calista Redmond, RISC-V International chief executive, of the launch.

"This underlines the expansion of the RISC-V architecture as developers take advantage of this flexible technology to address multiple market requirements. We are pleased to see Imagination’s commitment to drive ecosystem growth with the delivery of its SDK and the support of open-source operating systems."

More information is available on the official product page, though Imagination had not made its licensing terms and pricing public at the time of writing.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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