Are Risc CPUs supported?

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ProDigit

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Message 94245 - Posted: 13 Dec 2019, 22:35:07 UTC

Seeing they're basically a derivative of ARM processors, I wondered if boinc and possibly any projects supporting Risc CPUs?
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Les Bayliss
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Message 94247 - Posted: 13 Dec 2019, 23:50:38 UTC - in response to Message 94245.  

Risc is Reduced Instruction Set Computer.

ARM computers, (and soon, Apple computers: Apple planning to replace Intel CPUs in Macs with custom ARM processors by 2020), use this type of instruction set, not the other way around.
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MarkJ
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Message 94248 - Posted: 14 Dec 2019, 5:40:16 UTC - in response to Message 94245.  

Seeing they're basically a derivative of ARM processors, I wondered if boinc and possibly any projects supporting Risc CPUs?

Actually RISC CPUs were around well before ARM came along. There are a number of different ones and they are not compatible with other brands.

The Raspberry Pi uses an ARM chip along with many other low-power devices, particularly mobile phones and tablets. There are a few projects supporting the Pi (Asteroids, Einstein and Seti that I can think of off-hand). A few projects also support Android tablets. Because of their low-power design they tend to be slow, like 10 hours a workunit or more.
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ProDigit

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Message 94251 - Posted: 14 Dec 2019, 8:03:10 UTC - in response to Message 94248.  

Seeing they're basically a derivative of ARM processors, I wondered if boinc and possibly any projects supporting Risc CPUs?

Actually RISC CPUs were around well before ARM came along. There are a number of different ones and they are not compatible with other brands.

The Raspberry Pi uses an ARM chip along with many other low-power devices, particularly mobile phones and tablets. There are a few projects supporting the Pi (Asteroids, Einstein and Seti that I can think of off-hand). A few projects also support Android tablets. Because of their low-power design they tend to be slow, like 10 hours a workunit or more.

Yes, I know ARM is supported, but is the RISC architecture supported?
There exist RISC V based servers, would they be compatible with the ARM software?
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Les Bayliss
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Message 94252 - Posted: 14 Dec 2019, 8:43:19 UTC - in response to Message 94251.  

That's like saying, "I know a car is supported, but is an automobile supported?"
They're the same thing.

(Although ARM is a company name.)
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robsmith
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Message 94253 - Posted: 14 Dec 2019, 9:09:43 UTC

The answer to your question is "yes", but currently projects only appear to have developed applications that run on the ARM processor family (and even then, not all of them).
Over teh years, as others have said, there have been several RISC CPUs, most have fallen by the wayside doue to high price and low take-up, but ARM saw a gap in ht market and aimed straight at it, so nw they dominated the mobile device market, along with other places where you don't need monster power (like routers, switches etc).
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Richard Haselgrove
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Message 94254 - Posted: 14 Dec 2019, 9:29:54 UTC

Apart from Android/ARM, you will probably have to compile (and possibly tweak) BOINC for your specific CPU / OS combination.

A few of the projects provide the source code for their science applications, so you would be able to do the same there: but for most projects, you would need to persuade the developers to compile a special app for you. That's unlikely to be welcomed unless you're bringing a huge farm of identical CPUs online for them.

If your RISC machine can run a VM, some of those problems go away, but a simple CPU emulating a complex one doesn't sound like a recipe for efficiency.
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Message 94257 - Posted: 14 Dec 2019, 12:21:31 UTC

As Richard implies - getting the best from a RISC processor isn't just a matter of re-compiling the source for an existing "Intel" based program onto the new hardware. It is a bit of a "black art" - you need a programmer who is very familiar with the way the target hardware actually behaves. People are already "on top" of doing this with ARM processors, but for the other families (ARC, i869, i960, SPARC etc) I'm not so sure as each of these families has different instruction sets and different characteristics....
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Message 94258 - Posted: 14 Dec 2019, 12:24:00 UTC - in response to Message 94251.  
Last modified: 14 Dec 2019, 12:24:56 UTC

Yes, I know ARM is supported, but is the RISC architecture supported?
There exist RISC V based servers, would they be compatible with the ARM software?

There are many RISC architectures. They are not compatible with each other. Apps compiled for ARM CPUs won’t work on the Alpha, Power9, RISC V or Sparc, etc.

The projects will support the popular ones, like the x86_64 and ARM. Then there are different OS’s to consider. They don’t have the staff, time or budget to support less common architectures or OS’s. As Richard has said you could possibly get the source code and compile it on your target architecture if it’s not specifically supported.
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Message 94306 - Posted: 17 Dec 2019, 11:26:17 UTC - in response to Message 94258.  

Yes, I know ARM is supported, but is the RISC architecture supported?
There exist RISC V based servers, would they be compatible with the ARM software?

There are many RISC architectures. They are not compatible with each other. Apps compiled for ARM CPUs won’t work on the Alpha, Power9, RISC V or Sparc, etc.

The projects will support the popular ones, like the x86_64 and ARM. Then there are different OS’s to consider. They don’t have the staff, time or budget to support less common architectures or OS’s. As Richard has said you could possibly get the source code and compile it on your target architecture if it’s not specifically supported.


That's what I feared.
If not, then it could still run a variety of Android tasks, but is probably not worth the investment.
Seeing that a 32 core Risc processor powered server costs nearly $2k, $3k for a 48-52 core, and 8x quadcore media players cost below $160, the choice is simple.
It would take an eternity to utilize the remaining $1840-2840 on electricity.
Yet in theory both offer similar performance (plus, 8x media players utilize below 40 Watts on the wall, vs the RISC CPU utilizes between 65 to 85W on the wall.
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Message boards : Questions and problems : Are Risc CPUs supported?

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