back to article WD to move all its stuff to RISC-V processors, build some kind of super data-wrangling stack

Western Digital has grandly announced its will use the open-source RISC-V processor architecture in all future products and "intends to lead the industry transition toward open, purpose-built compute architectures to meet the increasingly diverse application needs of a data-centric world." Western Digital, aka WDC, CTO Martin …

  1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    All that is old is young again.

    Didn't ICL do a "Content Addressable Memory" disk drive back in the 70's?

    AIUI it worked quite well within the limits of the technology in letting you pull big subsets of records off while ignoring the others on the disk, provided the DBMS could take advantage (which of course only ICL's system could).

    So not a bad idea but very tricky to sell without the customers feeling a very strong sense of proprietary lock in, whatever the processor in the drive is.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All that is old is young again.

      "Didn't ICL do a "Content Addressable Memory" disk drive back in the 70's?"

      CAFS - Content Addressable File Store.

      At the time, data could be streamed off the disks much faster than the processor could filter that stream for the required results so instead the processor compiled a search specification that was then passed to the storage unit. The filtering was done, initially, it seems, by logic in the read heads themselves, but was later moved to the controllers (which is when I was sysmaning them).

      1. Loud Speaker

        Re: All that is old is young again.

        in the 1980's, I worked on the plans for a (post ICL) project based on this work - it was to have had raid-like architecture, with multiple disk drives, each with an "embedded" SQL processor - so instead of a file store, it was a (relational) data store.

        As it was British, and ahead of its time, there was insufficient funding and the concept was abandoned in the usual way.

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    BTW isn't the Intel Management ENgine one of these as well?

    Let's hope it's a different development team that that bunch of code monkeys.

    1. BinaryLimey

      Re: BTW isn't the Intel Management ENgine one of these as well?

      No, the modern ME (from PCH100 onwards) is a modified 486 and older versions were based on ARC processors from Synopsys (ARCTangent-A4 or ARC-600)

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        "modern ME (from PCH100 onwards) is a modified 486"


        I had wondered if the poor security was a result of a less common ISA and limited software pool to cut and paste from.

        But in fact the IME software came from the ISA almost every PC on the planet.

  3. Christian Berger

    Well one advantage is clear...

    ... they save a few cents per CPU core on licensing costs. Since RISC-V is likely to be supported as good as ARM by development tools, it simply is a sensible choice.

  4. LeoP


    Am I really the only one to consider this significant?

    Every project needs what I tend to call a kick-start-moment: When the current state of the project is good enough, that other bits and pieces are comfortable relying on it even for a mission-critical role one a timescale of years or decades.

    Not being knowledgable enough I might have missed that moment already happening to RISC-V or read too much in it, but it certainly does feel like this could be something like that.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Significance

      RISC-V has been building up to its "happening" moment for a while now. This could be the point it hits mainstream as others look up and see one of the big boys taking a serious interest in it.

      Once silicon becomes more widely available, ideally a Raspberry Pi style development board, then it should really kick off.

      1. LeftyX

        Re: Significance

        Already available:

  5. HmmmYes

    I remember when HDDs were just magnetic platters and a stepper motor ....

    As software gets more + more important, the software's target ISA gets less + less important.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mouth Moving - but is really saying anything

    Martin Fink cannot lead his way out of an open field of grass. WDC has bought a lot of companies but there really is not a "steve jobs" in a steering position.

    Accepting what he said as a done deal - All the products at WDC use RISC-<5,6,7,8,9,...> processors...

    What does this do for the customer ?

    There needs to be some changes in Steerage as well as in the C&C room at WDC. Not sure Fink is the tool to get done.

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