Published in PC Hardware

Big tech signs up for new open source rival to ARM

by on02 April 2018


RISC-V business

More than 80 tech companies including Google, Qualcomm and Samsung have joined together to develop a new open source chip design that offers a much cheaper way to build chips for new technologies like autonomous vehicles.

The move could be a headache for SoftBank-owned Arm Holdings, which has been trying to extend its dominance in smartphone chips into new areas.

The details are pretty thin and come from a paywalled site called The Information. "Western Digital and Nvidia also plan to use the new chip design for some of their products", while Tesla "has joined the RISC-V Foundation and is considering using the tech in its new chip efforts."

MIT Technology Review adds that while Arm had hoped to bring its low-power/ high-performance processors to AI and self-driving cars, "the company that masterminded the processor inside your smartphone may find that a set of free-to-use alternative designs erode some of its future success."

The RISC-V comes at a time when the chip industry is going through considerable upheaval. Higher design costs and intense competition have fueled consolidation among chip designers, including, most recently, Broadcom’s attempt to acquire Qualcomm before the Trump administration blocked the deal. Meanwhile, slower advances in manufacturing capability have shifted the focus of the tech sector toward greater chip specialisation.

 

Last modified on 02 April 2018
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