Firebrand ex-Arm China CEO founds RISC-V processor startup

The RISC-V logo
(Image credit: RISC-V Foundation)

Allen Wu, formerly the chief executive of Arm China, has reportedly founded a new company that will develop chips based on the RISC-V instruction set architecture. The company – Zhongzhi Chip (Shanghai) Technology Co. — will of course challenge both Arm and Arm China in some respect. Meanwhile, rumor has it that the company could be a Tenstorrent 'representative' in China.

Details about the Zhongzhi Chip are scarce, but the word chip in the name implies that we are talking about an entity that designs RISC-V processor IP and computing platform solutions rather than microcontroller units, though this is our assumption not a fact cast in stone. In fact, the information was made public by TrendForce, a respected market tracker, citing a report from Chip_Inside, so the details might be inaccurate and should be taken with a grain of salt.

Under the leadership of the controversial Allen Wu, Zhongzhi Chip is reportedly attracting a notable influx of talent, including numerous former employees of Arm, indicating the new company's serious ambitions in the chip sector. 

Meanwhile, the company's recruitment strategy highlights its commitment to securing top-tier expertise, the company's operational focus remains partially unclear, with speculation around whether it will primarily engage in its own research and development initiatives or represent Tenstorrent in China as its agent. 

Tenstorrent, which develops HPC CPUs and AI processors based on the RISC-V ISA, could be a formidable partner, though the role of Allen Wu is unclear in this case. Given the fact that Tenstorrent's roadmap seems to be flexible enough to add new products, it could well be that Zhongzhi Chip's task is to attract clients, understand their requirements, and then use Tenstorrent's technology to meet their needs. This essentially makes Zhongzhi Chip a contract chip designer, or a custom-chip developer.  

Based on the source report, Zhongzhi Chip is leveraging its connections and forming alliances with several other leading global RISC-V chip developers. Technically, these partnerships are strategic, aiming to enhance the company's technical prowess and accelerate its growth in the industry, which implies that Zhongzhi Chip is aiming at a broader market than Tenstorrent

The report further details that the company is positioning itself as a key player in the processor IP market by maintaining a stance of technological neutrality, which it believes will support the growth of China's domestic applications. 

Anton Shilov
Contributing Writer

Anton Shilov is a contributing writer at Tom’s Hardware. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • hotaru251
    wasn't this the guy who arm fired, he said "lul no" then tried to takeover the entire chinese branch for months?

    Really hope it sn't him if Tenstorrent is invovled as would be such a bad move ;/
  • das_stig
    and anybody daft enough to go in too partnership, better keep their IP, proof of ownership locked up overseas along with the keys to the office front door.