People to Watch 2022

Calista Redmond

Congratulations on being named a 2022 HPCwire Person to Watch! Please speak to the momentum around RISC-V and what is driving that?
RISC-V is at a pivotal point in the history of compute. First, it has ushered in a much more modular approach to core design through a very compact base ISA (only 47 instructions!) and numerous extensions to craft exactly what you’re looking for in technical design flexibility. This is important as the variables of any design must be considered. Second, this design flexibility comes without constraint of negotiating licenses or risk of lock-in to any other party due to the open license of RISC-V. This not only enables design freedom, but reduces uncertainty that comes with changes in proprietary approaches. Third, the world of custom microprocessors is growing and RISC-V is well positioned from embedded to enterprise, from wearables to HPC.

There have been a number of significant milestones for RISC-V during the past 12-18 months; would you please highlight some of them?
RISC-V has seen tremendous growth in our community with more than 130% growth in memberships in 2021 to include the full range of start-ups to multi-nationals. We’ve also accelerated many of our extensions including the ratification of 15 new specifications – representing more than 40 extensions – in 2021. We have seen strong adoption of RISC-V with an estimated shipment of billions of RISC-V-based cores from members such as Andes with 3 billion shipped in 2021 and predictions of doubling these cores in 2022 and doubling again in 2023. We continue to see rapid adoption and strong investment across compute workloads as well as building in industry applications such as automotive, AI, and HPC. In AI alone, we’re seeing predictions of 25 billion RISC-V AI cores by 2027.

What will the next 12-months have in store for RISC-V?

This year is already off to a great start with Intel becoming an official RISC-V Premier member along with their $1B investment in the ecosystem. We will continue to see more announcements from multi-nationals that will put RISC-V into a strategic position within their portfolios. In the RISC-V community, we’ll continue to make technical progress on extensions and specifications as well as strengthening and expanding our incredible ecosystem.

What is the opportunity for RISC-V in HPC/supercomputing? Will there be an exascale RISC-V supercomputer in the next five years?
RISC-V is already very active in HPC including the E4 Monte Cimone Cluster, TUM post-quantum cryptography, and SiFive’s HPC cluster. We have a vibrant and active HPC Special Interest Group led out of Barcelona and we continue to see great support here from the European Processor Initiative. I believe a RISC-V supercomputer in 5 years is within reach.

Where do you see HPC headed? What trends – and in particular emerging trends – do you find most notable? Any areas you are concerned about, or identify as in need of more attention/investment?
I’m interested to see the portability of HPC features into enterprise and cloud data centers, perhaps building hybrid solutions. These may include acceleration, AI/ML, GPU, and other HPC features shared across domains.

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM and what advice would you give to young people wishing to follow in your footsteps?
I landed in tech because I believe it has the power to truly change society. There are many angles of STEM that may be woven into any career path. Rather than choose tech as a career, I recommend choosing the facet of life you’re most passionate about and then understand where tech can play a role. I would encourage young people to keep an open and creative mind toward the challenges we face, the passions that drive you, and see if tech might make a difference. That becomes your calling, aka your career.

Outside of the professional sphere, what can you tell us about yourself – unique hobbies, favorite places, etc.? Is there anything about you your colleagues might be surprised to learn?
I was once a mediocre snowboarder… I am now both a mediocre snowboarder and surfer!

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