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RISC-V group says restrictions on open technology would slow innovation


The chief executive of RISC-V International said on Monday that possible government restrictions on the open-source technology will slow down the development of new and better chips, holding back the global technology industry.

The comments come after Reuters last week reported that a growing group of U.S. lawmakers are calling on the Biden administration to impose export control restrictions around RISC-V, the open-source technology overseen by the RISC-V International nonprofit foundation. RISC-V technology can be used as an ingredient to create chips for smartphones or artificial intelligence.

Major U.S. firms such as Qualcomm and Alphabet’s Google have embraced RISC-V, but so too have Chinese firms such as Huawei Technologies Co, which the U.S. lawmakers argue constitutes a national security concern.

In a blog post, Calista Redmond, chief of RISC-V International, which coordinates work among companies on the technology, said RISC-V is no different than other open technology standards like Ethernet, which helps computers on the internet talk with each other.

“Contemplated actions by governments for an unprecedented restriction in open standards will have the consequence of diminished access to the global marketplace of products, solutions, and talent,” Redmond wrote. “Bifurcating on the standards level would lead to a world of incompatible solutions that duplicate effort and close off markets.”

Redmond wrote that RISC-V has drawn contributions in equal measure from North America, Europe and Asia. The standards published by the foundation are not a full blueprint for a chip and do not give any party more information about how to make a chip than what is available from proprietary chip technology firms such as Arm Holdings.

“The only difference is that the marketplace is allowed to use these standards without proprietary licenses from a controlling company,” Redmond wrote. “Having access to open standards allows companies to innovate faster and spend their time creating differentiated products, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.”



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