More than 80 tech companies including Google, Qualcomm and Samsung have joined together to develop a new open-source chip design that offers a much cheaper way to build chips for new technologies like autonomous vehicles. If the effort succeeds, it could seriously undercut SoftBank-owned Arm Holdings, which has been trying to extend its dominance in smartphone chips into new areas.
The push to develop the technology, called RISC-V, comes at a time when the chip industry is going through considerable upheaval. Higher design costs and intense competition have fueled consolidation among chip designers, including, most recently, Broadcom’s attempt to acquire Qualcomm before the deal was blocked by the Trump administration. Meanwhile, slower advances in manufacturing capability have shifted the focus of the tech sector toward greater chip specialization.