Chinese search giant Baidu invests in RISC-V chip technology startup StarFive

Sign of Baidu is pictured at the company's headquarters in Beijing
A sign of Baidu is pictured at the company's headquarters in Beijing, China March 16, 2023. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

SHANGHAI, March 23 (Reuters) - Shanghai-based RISC-V chip technology company StarFive said on Thursday that it has received a strategic investment from Chinese search giant Baidu Inc (9888.HK).

The company added that to date it has raised 1 billion yuan ($146.46 million) in financing, calling that a first for the domestic RISC-V sector.

The investment reflects a growing trend among Chinese tech giants to pour resources into RISC-V, an open-source technology that some analysts say is less susceptible to sanctions, as Beijing works to fend off mounting export controls from Washington.

In a statement, StarFive CEO Xu Tao said that StarFive would work with Baidu to implement RISC-V products in data centres.

StarFive did not disclose the size of Baidu's investment. Starfive did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Baidu declined to comment.

StarFive was established in 2018 as a China-facing offshoot of SiFive, a RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA) chip design company based in California.

It has since obtained outside investment and developed its own products.

Baidu's investment comes as enthusiasm for RISC-V rises within China's chip sector.

The technology and ecosystem around RISC-V are less advanced than that of Arm and Intel, experts say, which dominate ISA usage for mobile devices, personal computers and server chips.

Earlier this month Alibaba Group Holding's (9988.HK) chip unit T-Head and Alipay, the payment service under Alibaba's financial affiliate Ant Group, jointly announced they will release computing chips for secure payments based on RISC-V.

($1 = 6.8276 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Josh Horwitz

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