Briefing: China sets up domestic chip alliance

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中国开放指令生态(RISC-V)联盟成立 – Xinhua News Agency

What happened: China announced an alliance for Intel chip technology’s major rival RISC-V, a Berkeley-based open source chip fundamental tech, during the 2018 Wuzhen International Internet Conference. Alibaba-backed C-Sky, ZTE’s microelectronics affiliate Sanechips, Tsinghua University, and the Institute of Computing Technology at Chinese Academy of Sciences were in the alliance members’ list. Meanwhile, Jesse Fang Zhixi, former global vice president at Intel, will serve as chair of the China Advisory Committee for the technology’s official global RISC-V Foundation. Fang will help foster cooperation connections and acceleration of RISC-V’s application in sectors such as AI and IoT in China. 

Why it’s important:  An initiative behind the announcement is Chinese tech ecosystem’s anxiety over the ownership of fundamental technology, particularly after the ZTE ban and a recent accusation of chipmaker Fujian Jinhua’s suspected IP theft. Prior to the alliance, Zhang said the open source RISC-V can navigate IP disputes, as developers have their own choice to build tailored projects on the free and open RISC-V “specification” (technical standard), without extra-legal risks. In an interview which has received over 200,000 views, Fang said if China let go of the RISC-V chance, the county should wait for another 10 to 15 years to catch up with the global chipmaking progress.