US Considers RISC-V Tech to Challenge China: Tech War Update

US Considers RISC-V Tech to Challenge China: Tech War Update

The ongoing technology competition between the United States and China has entered a new phase with the advent of RISC-V, an open-source chip technology. China's increasing focus on RISC-V as an alternative to lessen dependence on foreign technologies has prompted the US Department of Commerce to scrutinize this development and consider countermeasures against China's utilization of RISC-V chips.

Chinese Embrace of RISC-V

RISC-V, renowned for its adaptability and suitability for specialized chips in areas like AI and mobile devices, has gained significant traction in recent years. China's swift adoption of RISC-V is evident, with over 300 Chinese companies embracing the technology, and major tech players such as Alibaba, Huawei, and Tencent investing in RISC-V-based chips. This concerted push by Chinese entities underscores the strategic importance of RISC-V in the ongoing tech race between the two global superpowers.

US Concerns and Responses

The increased scrutiny from the US is driven by worries over the implications of China's growing dominance in RISC-V. Lawmakers have called on the Biden administration to act to prevent China from leveraging RISC-V for its benefit, citing potential risks to US national security and economic concerns. The Commerce Department's review seeks to evaluate these concerns and explore potential actions to address them.

Implications of Google's Move

Google's recent choice to eliminate RISC-V support from the Android kernel has further fueled tensions surrounding the technology. While this decision might hinder RISC-V chip vendors targeting Android systems, analysts suggest that developers could potentially reinstate RISC-V support with additional effort. Nonetheless, the fallout from Google's move underscores the broader impacts of the US-China tech rivalry on global innovation and supply chains.

However, curbing China's access to RISC-V technology poses a significant challenge for US policymakers. The relocation of RISC-V International to Switzerland in 2020 was a strategic maneuver aimed at shielding the organization from geopolitical pressures and constraining US regulatory options. Imposing restrictions on RISC-V could disrupt the global supply chain and impede US firms' involvement in international RISC-V initiatives.

As the Commerce Department grapples with these complexities, it must delicately balance protecting national security interests with maintaining the competitiveness of US companies in the global market. The outcome of this review will not only shape the future trajectory of RISC-V technology but also impact the broader dynamics of the US-China tech rivalry.

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