German AI RISC-V joint venture poses challenge to ARM

German AI RISC-V joint venture poses challenge to ARM

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

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Major semiconductor companies in Europe are setting up a German-based company to drive the adoption of RISC-V hardware and AI architectures.

The venture brings together Robert Bosch, Infineon Technologies, Nordic Semiconductor and NXP Semiconductors to support RISC-V as well as US chip giant Qualcomm Technologies. All of these are major users of ARM cores.

The venture, as yet unnamed, will aim to accelerate the commercialization of compatible RISC-V hardware from a single source with reference architectures, including AI. The initial application focus will be automotive, but with an eventual expansion to include mobile and IoT, areas where ARM dominates. As ARM licensees, NXP and Infineon have previously not been associated publicly with RISC-V despite having internal projects.

Their argument is that RISC-V encourages innovation, allowing any company to develop cutting-edge, customized hardware based on an open instruction set. Further adoption of the RISC-V technology will promote even more diversity in the electronics industry, citing the reduction of the barriers to entry for smaller and emergent companies and enabling increased scalability for established companies.

This will also provide a sovereign European supply chain for automotive devices as cars become more software defined, as well as chips and software for mobile applications and the Internet of Things (IoT).

“NXP is proud to be part of a new EU-based joint endeavour to pioneer fully certified RISC-V-based IP and architectures, initially for the automotive industry. The creation of a one-stop-shop ecosystem where customers can select turnkey assets will strengthen the adoption of RISC-V across many European industries,” said Lars Reger, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at NXP Semiconductors. “We thank the Artificial Intelligence Centre Hamburg (ARIC) for their support of this collaboration.”

“Bosch is convinced that initiatives promoting the RISC-V open specifications will bring the global mobility market a significant step further. The initiative now planned will greatly help to establish a reliable and efficient EU-based semiconductor ecosystem,” said Jens Fabrowsky, Executive Vice President at Bosch and responsible for the semiconductor business.

“As vehicles become software-defined and dependability requirements increase due to electrification and connectivity, for example, as well as through trends like autonomous driving, there is a general need for standardization and ecosystem compatibility across the industry, with CPUs being a key IP. We are proud to support the establishment of trusted RISC-V based automotive products with this initiative. The knowledge and expertise of leading market players will unleash the full potential of RISC-V in the automotive sector,” said Peter Schiefer, Division President of Infineon’s Automotive Division.

“Nordic Semiconductor is a committed and enthusiastic supporter of the RISC-V initiative and stands ready to drive the project forward. Nordic’s IoT solutions represent the leading edge of low power wireless technology and to retain that position it’s critical we maintain continuous access to efficient and powerful embedded microprocessors. An open collaboration with like-minded companies to continually enhance innovative RISC-V microprocessor IP and ensure a robust and reliable supply of the technology is the ideal answer to this challenge,” said Svein-Egil Nielsen, CTO/EVP R&D and Strategy, Nordic Semiconductor.

“We are excited to come together with other industry players to drive the expansion of the RISC-V ecosystem through development of next-generation hardware. Qualcomm Technologies has been investing in RISC-V for more than five years and we’ve integrated RISC-V micro-controllers into many of our commercial platforms. We believe RISC-V’s open-source instruction set will increase innovation and has the potential to transform the industry,” said Ziad Asghar, Senior Vice President of Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies.

The company formation will be subject to regulatory approvals in various jurisdictions.


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