The RISC-V Foundation could move from the U.S. to Switzerland over concerns about potential trade restrictions, according to Reuters, which reported yesterday that the non-profit organization might decide to relocate as early as the end of this month.
This move hasn't been kept a secret: the foundation said on its website that it voted to move to Switzerland at its December 2018 summit. It also said that it's making this move because it's "heard concerns from around the world that investment in RISC-V must come with IP access continuity to ensure a long-term strategic investment."
It also claimed that it's "not incorporating in Switzerland based on any one country, company, government, or event." RISC-V Foundation chief executive Calista Redmond told Reuters, however, that "from around the world, we’ve heard that ‘If the incorporation was not in the U.S., we would be a lot more comfortable.”
That doesn't come as much of a surprise either. In addition to its ongoing trade war with China, the U.S. has reportedly pressured chipmakers in other countries to shift production to America so it can monitor the security of their products, and it's also restricted its businesses from offering their services to companies like Huawei.
The RISC-V Foundation was founded specifically to help guide the open source RISC-V architecture from which it takes its name. That architecture has become increasingly important. Nvidia recently posted jobs related to RISC-V, for example, and companies like Alibaba are making their first chips with the architecture.
RISC-V and other open source projects haven't yet been subject to U.S. export restrictions. (A fact the RISC-V Foundation confirmed on its website.) But, as Redmond told Reuters, its members are still "concerned about possible geopolitical disruption." Moving to a neutral country like Switzerland could help avoid that.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.
I see this as good news, because if China didn't use RISC-V & instead went with a complete home-grown ISA, the rest of the world would be at a disadvantage (i.e. once devices & computers built around it took over, in most markets). I have to wonder whether other organizations, such as the Linux Foundation, might follow.Reply
It really was short-sighted to try and tie ARM & others' hands from working with Huawei.