According to Reuters, after several foreign members of the non-profit organization RISC-V Foundation expressed concerns about potential trade restrictions in the United States, this semiconductor technology organization, which was once supported and supervised by the US Pentagon, is about to move its headquarters to a neutral country. Switzerland.
“The RISC-V Foundation’s move is to ensure that universities, governments, and companies outside the United States can continue to help them develop open source chip architecture technology.” Its CEO Calista Redmond (Calista Redmond) is accepting Reuters said in an interview.
She said that the foundation’s global cooperation has not encountered any restrictions so far, but members are “worried about possible geopolitical damage.”
She said: “Across the world, we have heard a saying-‘If the company is not in the United States, we will be more comfortable.’” Redmond said that the foundation’s board of directors unanimously approved the move, but refused to say it was Which members contributed to this action.
The RISC-V Foundation was established in 2015 to set standards for the core chip architecture and authorize who can use the RISC-V trademark on products, just like other technology organizations authorize Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips. But they do not own or control the technology.
More than 325 companies or other entities have become members of the foundation through payment, including chip suppliers in the United States and Europe, such as Qualcomm, NXP Semiconductors, and China’s Alibaba Group Holdings Co., Ltd. and Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.
Disagreements in the U.S.
William Reinche, the Deputy Secretary of Commerce who was in charge of export management in the Clinton administration, said that the foundation’s move from Delaware to Switzerland may herald further technology migration due to restrictions on dealings with some Chinese technology companies in the United States.
“Here is a message to the US government. That is, if you are too tight, this kind of thing will happen. In the global supply chain, companies have options, one of which is to go overseas.” He Speaking of.
The U.S. Department of Commerce said in a statement to Reuters that its control measures are aimed at maintaining U.S. national security and “ensure that bad actors cannot obtain technology that harms U.S. citizens or interests, and at the same time promote innovation to promote the continued maintenance of U.S. technology. Leading position.” The Ministry of Commerce also stated that it will hold regular meetings with private companies to assess market conditions and the effects of implementing regulations.
Some Republican lawmakers in the United States expressed that they are worried that the United States will lose its influence on the RISC-V chip architecture, which can be used to make microprocessors for almost every type of Electronic device, making it an important part of the modern economy. The technology came from a laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, and was later funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the Pentagon.
The lawmakers warned that the Chinese members of the foundation may influence the development of the technology to help China’s semiconductor industry.
Mike Gallagher, a representative of the Wisconsin Republican Party, told Reuters: “China is trying to bypass our export control system to support national security threats like Huawei, and we cannot let it succeed.”
Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton (Tom Cotton) said that it is short-sighted to ensure that the foundation can retain Chinese members through migration. He added, “If a technology foundation established with public funds in the United States is used, Being used by other countries to develop technology is also outrageous.”
Redmond said in a follow-up email after an interview with Reuters that since the technology is open source and available for anyone to use, she does not believe that this move may be against the national interest of the United States.
A DARPA spokesperson told Reuters that the agency intends to make the RISC-V technical content it funded publicly available to companies and scholars around the world.
Morgan Reed, Chairman of The App Association, as a representative of major US technology companies such as Apple and Microsoft, he used the RISC-V Foundation to jointly develop Wi-Fi chip standards for Chinese and American companies. Compare it to the cooperation between China and the United States. .
“The idea of banning China from participating in standard setting with the United States and the EU is not feasible.” Reid said, “China is very important as a manufacturer and terminal market and cannot be ignored.”
U.S. policy confuses all standards organizations
The RISC-V Foundation announced at a meeting in December last year that it would seek a “neutral” country and then make a formal decision to go to Switzerland early this year. This decision has attracted widespread public attention. Redmond said that the move is expected to receive final approval from Switzerland.
Redmond said that since its creation, Chinese companies have been able to use the RISC-V architecture, which is publicly available.
Alibaba claimed in July that it had developed the fastest RISC-V processor to date, but the company declined to comment on this matter.
Two lawyers representing such organizations stated that the actions of the RISC-V Foundation show that the Sino-US trade tensions have made the United States no longer the best place to accommodate technical standards organizations.
Lawyers said that it is unclear whether the United States allows standards organizations to cooperate with Huawei. “But these groups worry that the U.S. authorities may establish a list of classified technologies during closed-door discussions. The technologies on the list will be banned from being transferred to China or other people on the banned list.” One of the lawyers, Brad Biddle, said.
In June of this year, more than 20 standards organizations, including SD memory card standards organization, Ethernet and HDMI, sent a letter to US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (Wilbur Ross) requesting clarification of the rules for cooperation with Huawei.
These organizations warned Ross that the restrictions on Huawei pose a “serious risk” for standards-making organizations that may move out of the United States, which may end the consistent trend of “US-headquartered organizations establishing industry standards for the rest of the world,” they wrote road.
The US Department of Commerce issued an advisory opinion in August to try to clarify this issue, but lawyers from the standards organization said the rules are still confusing.
Redmond of the RISC-V Foundation has yet to see a “credible threat” to international cooperation. She told Reuters: “However, we are changing the form of the company to provide insurance for such actions.”
Huawei supports RISC-V’s move to move the capital
The current seven members of the board of directors of the RISC-V Foundation are located in North America. Redmond said that after this move, the foundation’s board of directors will expand, and its members in Europe and Asia will also increase. Reuters could not confirm whether any Chinese companies plan to join the board of directors.
Andrew Updegrove, an attorney who works for the standards organization, said that no matter where the RISC-V Foundation is headquartered, the US restrictions on the transfer of American-origin technology to Chinese companies still apply.
The foundation’s chief technology officer Lars Reger (Lars Reger) said that at NXP Semiconductors, a member of the foundation, customers asked the company to specify the source of chip technology. He said that customers do not want to be cut off in future trade disputes.
US officials and some lawmakers have claimed that Huawei’s telecommunications equipment may prompt China to monitor other countries. The resulting strong resistance prevented it from entering the US market. Huawei denied this statement.
In response to Reuters’ question, a Huawei spokesperson said: “We support the RISC-V Foundation and identify Switzerland as the neutral position for open source development. It is important for the industry to make open source as open as possible.”
He said that RISC-V “is very suitable for Huawei’s vision of this heterogeneous open world.”