RISC-V moving to Switzerland. Will Europe notice?
About the most important “Made in EU” product that does not exist yet.
As I have been saying since at least 2013 it is microelectronics that make the modern world work. One of the most promising projects in this space is the so-called RISC-V chip architecture, which can be used to make microprocessors for almost every type of electronic device, thus “making it a crucial building block of a modern economy”.
RISC-V is managed by a non-profit U.S.-based foundation that, in November 2019, announced its relocation to Switzerland, to address concerns from members that potential U.S. trade curbs could bring “geopolitical disruption”.
Moving to Switzerland, instead, will ensure that universities, governments and companies outside the United States can help develop the open-source RISC-V technology.
It’s not the american century anymore
In the long run, the RISC-V move may also herald the end of a “long-held trend where U.S.-based groups set de facto standards for the rest of the world”.
Right now, some US lawmakers are worried that this will help the efforts of the Chinese Communist Party to “circumvent USA export control system to support national security threats like Huawei”.
The announcement, in July 2019, that a subsidiary of chinese corporation Alibaba has developed the “fastest [RISC-V-based] open source CPU yet” surely does not help to reassure them.
The foundation rebuted that “the notion that China can be barred from participating in standards alongside the U.S. and the EU is simply not viable, [because] China is too important as a manufacturer and an end-market to ignore.”
What about Europe?
I have been saying since 2012 that it’s time for fully Open Source european microprocessors and FPGAs. These news confirm that the best moment to do it was [before!] 2012, and the next best moment is now.