The US Department of Commerce is facing calls to tighten export controls by introducing a requirement for American individuals and companies to obtain an export license before engaging with Chinese entities on RISC-V technology. Some US lawmakers want to limit cooperation between US and Chinese companies regarding RISC-V, but experts and analysts argue that such restrictions will hinder global innovation. Concerns over China’s technological advancements have been growing among US lawmakers, especially after Huawei’s latest 5G-enabled smartphone showcased significant technological progress. The US is now targeting the RISC-V chip technology in an attempt to block China’s technological advancements. The move comes as part of the US government’s efforts to maintain its technological and innovation superiority.
The Biden administration is considering barring American companies from participating in RISC-V, an open-source chip design architecture that China is heavily investing in to reduce its reliance on foreign technology. Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Mark Warner have urged the Biden administration to take immediate action on national security grounds. The Biden administration has already warned Beijing of its plans to update regulations restricting the shipment of AI chips and chip-making tools to China. The Commerce Department is currently working on an update to export restrictions, which aim to limit access to more chip-making tools and close loopholes in export restrictions on AI chips.
RISC-V, known as the “five risks,” is an open standard Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) for computing that competes with expensive proprietary technology. It has become a new hope for China to reduce its dependence on foreign intellectual property (IP) suppliers. RISC-V has gained global acceptance and influence as an open computer standard, with experts and analysts praising its potential in various applications, from smartphone chips to AI processors. The flexibility and scalability of RISC-V have attracted companies from around the world to participate in the semiconductor space.
China has embraced RISC-V and is leading the adoption of the technology. Access to open standards allows companies, including Chinese firms, to innovate faster and focus on creating different products. Chinese companies represent a significant portion of RISC-V’s key members, and they have established a domestic RISC-V alliance. However, US lawmakers see China’s involvement in RISC-V as an exploitation of open cooperation among American companies to advance its semiconductor industry. They argue that expanding export controls to include RISC-V technology is necessary to protect US interests and prevent China from overtaking the US as the global leader in chip design.
If the Biden administration implements restrictions on US companies’ participation in Swiss-based foundations, it will complicate collaboration between American and Chinese companies on open technical standards. Such restrictions could obstruct China’s efforts to become independent in chip manufacturing and hinder global efforts to create more affordable and versatile chips. The RISC-V ban has significant implications for US-China relations, and it remains to be seen how this issue will be resolved.
Q: What is RISC-V?
A: RISC-V is an open standard Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) for computing that competes with proprietary technology. It is considered a new hope for China to reduce its reliance on foreign intellectual property.
Q: Why are US lawmakers calling for restrictions on RISC-V?
A: US lawmakers are concerned about China’s technological advancements and see RISC-V as a way for China to exploit open cooperation among American companies. They believe that restricting US companies’ participation in RISC-V is necessary to protect US interests.
Q: How is China involved in RISC-V?
A: China has embraced RISC-V and is leading its adoption. Chinese companies represent a significant portion of RISC-V’s key members, and they have established a domestic RISC-V alliance.
Q: What are the potential implications of the RISC-V ban?
A: The RISC-V ban could complicate collaboration between American and Chinese companies on open technical standards. It could also hinder China’s efforts to become independent in chip manufacturing and impact global efforts to create more affordable and versatile chips.