U.S. lawmakers ask the Biden administration to impose export restrictions on RISC-V architecture technology
According to a report from Reuters, U.S. legislators, citing national security concerns, are urging the Biden administration to regulate the burgeoning applications of RISC-V architecture to safeguard the standing of the American semiconductor industry.
Prominent figures, including Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Mark Warner, assert that an increasing number of Chinese entities are utilizing the open-source RISC-V architecture to craft processor products. This move emerges as an alternative developmental opportunity amid the U.S. government’s export restrictions on instruction sets and architectural technologies like Arm, which could inevitably compromise America’s semiconductor leadership.
Chairman of the House China Task Force, Mike Gallagher, further contends that the U.S. Department of Commerce should mandate that any individual or corporation in America obtain technical export licenses prior to engaging in RISC-V-related trade with Chinese entities. Gallagher posits that Chinese firms are sidestepping U.S. restrictions on chip design technologies via the RISC-V architecture, which could jeopardize America’s long-established dominance in the semiconductor realm. Thus, he advises the Department of Commerce to intervene or, alternatively, legislative action will be pursued to reinforce export restrictions on RISC-V technology.
Much like the Arm architecture, RISC-V operates on a reduced instruction set computing principle but is inherently open-source, diverging from Arm’s licensing model. Its adoption is evident among industry giants such as IBM, NXP, Western Digital, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Samsung, Google, Huawei, and Tesla. Many of these companies, apprehensive of potential increases in Arm’s licensing fees or shifts in its licensing paradigm, have integrated RISC-V technology, ensuring flexibility to adapt to future developmental shifts.
However, some market perspectives suggest that if the Biden administration imposes export restrictions on RISC-V technology, it might hinder Chinese firms from designing indigenous chips using this architecture. Still, it could also stymie American enterprises’ involvement in RISC-V development, potentially impeding the production of more cost-efficient and feature-rich chipsets in the U.S. and Europe.