US lawmakers have put pressure on President Joe Biden’s administration to place restrictions on US companies from working on an open-source chip technology regularly used in China. The move marks a major new step in the US-China tech war and another potential blow to cross-border collaboration in the tech industry. 

RISC-V is a freely available technology that can be used as an essential piece in smartphone chips, AI chips and more. Based in Switzerland, the open standard set architecture is provided under royalty-free licenses and acts as a direct competitor to the products produced by UK based semiconductor manufacturer Arm Holdings. 

Several US lawmakers have called for the Biden administration to place sanctions against US companies working with the technology. 

Similar to previous sanctions against semiconductor exports to China, lawmakers said national security could be compromised if US companies collaborate closely with China. 

US lawmakers claimed China has been exploiting open collaboration with US companies to further advance its military and semiconductor industry. 

In a statement provided to Reuters, Michael McCaul, chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, said: “The CCP is abusing RISC-V to get around U.S. dominance of the intellectual property needed to design chips. US persons should not be supporting a PRC tech transfer strategy that serves to degrade US export control laws”.

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By GlobalData

The use of RISC-V has been growing in popularity globally, with many major tech companies embracing the cheap open-source tech.

Google recently confirmed it will make its android mobile phone operating system work with RISC-V chips. While Qualcomm, a US semiconductor and software company, has been working with automakers to create a series of RISC-V chips.

In China, RISC-V has been hailed as an extremely important technology in working towards making the country self-sufficient in domestic semiconductor manufacturing.  

A potential set of restrictions to how US companies work with the open-source technology could have a negative effect on US companies and slow down the overall advancement the tech, experts said.