According tomedia reports, ARM in recent negotiations proposed to increase the licensing fees of some customers. In recent talks, ARM’s sales representatives asked for a price increase, which would increase the overall licensing cost of some customers by as much as four times, according to people familiar with the matter. If the final news is true, then where does ARM come from? Does this mean that downstream chip designers will be left to slaughter it?
The price increase is understandable, but it can’t be over-the-counter.
For a long time, in the chip space, if the X86 architecture dominated almost the entire PC era and the server market, ARM architecture was almost dominant in the embedded and mobile terminal stakes.
Since the end of the 90’s, with the growing maturity of the semiconductor industry chain in various countries and the popularity of mobile phone blowout, ARM company’s IP-based business model in the wave of mobile Internet promotion, especially in the embedded and mobile terminal field, ARM is almost a de facto monopoly of the river and lake status, downstream chip design companies almost need to design chips based on ARM instruction set, not too much selectivity.
As a chip underlying architecture provider, ARM itself is not directly engaged in chip production, mainly by the transfer of design license by downstream chip design enterprises to finally design a unique chip, ARM authorized to provide core instruction set and the corresponding architecture, other chip manufacturers or directly use, or based on the existing architecture for secondary customization modification, Apple, Qualcomm, Samsung and other foreign chip manufacturers have chosen ARM instruction set; UNISOC and others are also participating in the global chip market competition through ARM directive sets.
According to industry insiders, ARM has long required customers to choose a specific chip design (instruction set) and pay a licensing fee of about millions of dollars, after the chip is put into production to charge a license fee per quantity. Not only in the field of mobile chips, but even the inescapable Apple Mac computer recently announced that it would break up Intel and launch ARM-architecture self-research chips.
Therefore, based on ARM’s position and the current global supply chain situation, the licensing fee increase is understandable, but needs a reasonable premium, rather than a diffuse asking price. If the increase of four times, obviously not reasonable, this will inevitably significantly increase the cost of the entire industrial chain, so that all downstream chip design enterprise alexander.
RISC-V has another way, and emerging areas have advantages.
When you have only one choice, then there is only one result, and that is to be subject to people.
The underlying structure should be in full bloom, at least optional, of course, there can be too many structures, which will lead to the industrial ecology is too scattered, not conducive to industrial development. Against this background, RISC-V, which advertises as an open source architecture, has become the focus of the industry’s attention.
RISC-V is an open source instruction set architecture based on the principle of thin instruction set (RISC), and compared to most instruction sets, RISC-V instruction sets are free to be used for any purpose, allowing anyone to design, manufacture and sell RISC-V chips and software.
Especially for China’s chip industry chain, RISC-V means a lot. As Yan Guangnan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and chairman of the China Open Directive Ecology (RISC-V) Alliance, has previously said: Many companies, including Huawei Heath, have ARM architecture mandates that are used for life, but there is also a variable. Since the trade friction between China and the United States, the United States has proposed that more than 25 percent of U.S. technology could be subject to U.S. export controls. From this perspective, ARM’s technology component in the U.S. exceeds 25 percent and may be affected.
At present, many of the world’s leading manufacturers, including Chinese companies, are developing RISC-V-based chips. For example, Alibaba’s Pintou Semiconductor has developed a RISC-V-based Xenon 910 processor, and Huawei recently joined the RISC-V Foundation, where Hess is also said to be developing rISC-V chips.
Among them, Alibaba’s Pingtou Semiconductor launched the Xeon 910 using 3 launch 8 execution of the complex disorder execution architecture, single-core performance of 7.1 Coremark / MHz, the main frequency reached 2.5GHz, more than 40% higher than the current industry’s best RISC-V processor performance, is currently the strongest RISC-V open source processor, can be used to design and manufacture high-performance end chip, used in 5G, artificial intelligence and other fields. In addition, Pingtou also announced the “Universal Chip” program, the future will be fully open to the metal 910 IP Core, developers around the world can download the processor’s FPGA code for free, rapid chip prototype design and architecture innovation.
Regarding the prospect of RISC-V, Mr. Kwong believes that many traditional areas have been monopolized by X86 and ARM, and RISC-V is difficult to access. With 5G in China, the Internet of Things, big data, edge computing, blockchain are all booming, and these are very good applications for open source chips. In the new field, everyone is new to enter, RISC-V should have a great advantage.
Visible, RISC-V architecture is also a good choice, with the industry chain gradually mature, there will be more and more large factories to join. At the same time, however, the new architecture may not be too technically problematic, but the strength of the industrial ecology is far from significant, so it is necessary to quickly cultivate a new type of open ecology based on RISC-V.