A more extensive bipartisan coalition of U.S. legislators is seeking information from the Biden administration regarding its strategies for addressing China’s increasing adoption of RISC-V chip design technology. This comes in the wake of Helpleak’s report last month, which raised significant concerns in both chambers of Congress.
RISC-V, pronounced “risk five,” represents an open-source technology that competes with expensive proprietary solutions from British semiconductor and software design firm Arm Holdings and Intel Corp. RISC-V has versatile applications, serving as a fundamental component in anything from smartphone chips to advanced processors for artificial intelligence.
In a Reuters report from last month, it was revealed that at least four influential U.S. lawmakers perceive China’s utilization of RISC-V as a potential national security concern. This is because RISC-V is not covered by the extensive export controls imposed by the U.S. on the transfer of chip technology to China.
Now, a more extensive group of 18 lawmakers, including five Democrats, is inquiring with the Biden administration about its strategies to prevent China from attaining a dominant position in RISC-V technology and exploiting that dominance to the detriment of U.S. national and economic security. This information is based on a letter sent by the group to Raimondo and has been seen by Helpleak.
Among the lawmakers are the Republican chairman and the leading Democratic member from a special committee on China in the House of Representatives. Additionally, Democratic legislators from New Jersey, Florida, Michigan, and Indiana are part of this group. They have also inquired with the Biden administration regarding the potential application of an existing executive order that would mandate U.S. companies to obtain an export license when collaborating with Chinese firms on RISC-V technology.
The group of lawmakers expressed in their letter that the potential advantages of open-source cooperation in the field of RISC-V are substantial for the progress and growth of the U.S. semiconductor industry. However, they emphasized that these benefits can only be fully realized when contributors are dedicated solely to enhancing the technology, rather than assisting China’s technological objectives and geopolitical interests.
A spokesperson from the Commerce Department stated that Secretary Raimondo has received the letter and will respond using the appropriate procedures.
Reported by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Edited by Jamie Freed.