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RISC-V Gets a Major Boost from a Joint Investment by Bosch, Infineon, Nordic, NXP, and Qualcomm

RISC-V is an open standard instruction set architecture (ISA) that allows anyone to design and implement their own processors based on reduced instruction set computer (RISC) principles. Unlike proprietary ISAs, RISC-V is free from royalties and licensing fees, enabling more innovation and collaboration in the semiconductor industry. However, despite its advantages, RISC-V still faces some challenges in terms of compatibility, standardization, and ecosystem development.

To address these challenges and accelerate the adoption of RISC-V globally, five leading semiconductor companies have announced their joint investment in a new company that will focus on enabling next-generation hardware development based on RISC-V. The companies are Robert Bosch GmbH, Infineon Technologies AG, Nordic Semiconductor, NXP Semiconductors, and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. The new company will be formed in Germany and will aim to provide compatible RISC-V based products, reference architectures, and solutions for various applications, with an initial focus on the automotive sector.

The joint investment reflects the growing interest and support for RISC-V among the semiconductor industry players, who see the potential of the open-source ISA to foster more diversity, resilience, and scalability in the electronics market. By pooling their resources and expertise, the companies hope to create a reliable and efficient EU-based semiconductor ecosystem that can leverage the benefits of RISC-V and drive innovation at the edge.

The new company will also call on other industry associations, leaders, and governments to join forces in support of this initiative, which will help strengthen the broader semiconductor supply chain and address the increasing demand for high-performance and low-power chips. The company formation is subject to regulatory approvals in various jurisdictions.

The announcement of the joint investment comes at a time when RISC-V is gaining more traction and recognition as a viable alternative to proprietary ISAs. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the global RISC-V market is expected to grow from USD 5.9 billion in 2020 to USD 24.6 billion by 2025, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 44.2%. The report cites the factors driving the growth of the market as the increasing demand for custom hardware platforms, the rising adoption of IoT devices, and the emergence of AI and machine learning applications.

RISC-V International, the non-profit organization that oversees the development and standardization of RISC-V, has also reported a significant increase in its membership and activities over the past year. The organization now has more than 1,000 members from over 50 countries, representing various sectors such as academia, research, government, and industry. RISC-V International also hosts various events and workshops to promote collaboration and education among the RISC-V community.

With the support of major semiconductor players and the growing enthusiasm of the RISC-V community, RISC-V is poised to become a key enabler of processor innovation and diversity in the coming years.

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