On March 23, Shanghai-based RISC-V chip technology startup StarFive announced that it had received an investment from Chinese search giant Baidu of an undisclosed amount. The company also reported that it has raised one billion yuan ($146.46 million) in financing, which is a first for the domestic RISC-V sector.
According to a statement by StarFive CEO Xu Tao, the company plans to collaborate with Baidu to implement RISC-V products in its data centers.
Founded in 2018, StarFive has launched several RISC-V products, including the RISC-V CPU Core IP “Dubhe,” the world’s first high-performance RISC-V vision processing platform “JingHong,” and the first-generation RISC-V single-board computer “VisionFive.” These products cover various fields, including cloud computers, tablets, laptops, gateway routing, edge computing, industrial display, smart home, smart retail, and smart energy. StarFive’s products can greatly support Baidu‘s business, particularly in the area of cloud computing.
StarFive was originally established as an offshoot of SiFive, a RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISA) chip design company based in California. StarFive started as an exclusive distributor of SiFive RISC-V core IP products in the greater China region. Now, these two companies are completely independent. SiFive was established in 2015 and assists enterprises in customizing chips and promoting the commercialization of RISC-V chips. The company created the open-source RISC-V instruction set, which has emerged as a strong competitor of ARM and has received investments from chip companies such as AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm.
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Baidu‘s investment in StarFive comes at a time when the Chinese chip sector is increasingly showing enthusiasm for RISC-V technology. However, the RISC-V technology and ecosystem face competition from industry giants Arm and Intel, which continue to dominate ISA usage for mobile devices, personal computers, and server chips.
China’s internet giants, including Baidu, Xiaomi, Huawei, Meituan, Alibaba, Tencent, ByteDance, and others, are increasingly investing in the chip industry to stay ahead of fierce competition.
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