How can China Chip, abandoned by the ARM v9 camp, return to the top player track?

Sourc:The SiteAddtime:2023/5/30 Click:0
The cutting-edge chip circuit has always been dominated by top players. Since the launch of ARM v9, Google, NVIDIA, Fujitsu, MediaTek, and others have all entered a "carnival moment", while Chinese chip manufacturers excluded from ARM's v9 authorization are not so lucky.

ARM v9 continues the use of AArch64 as the benchmark instruction set in ARM v8 and will completely abandon AArch32, while adding some very important extensions in functionality. As an important upgrade carrying ARM's ambition for the next decade, ARM v9 is completely different from ARM v8, which has been in service for ten years

While ARM v9 is fully compatible with ARM v8, it also has three new pillars: security, AI, and improved vector and DSP capabilities. It also promises to improve CPU performance by more than 30% in the next two iterations, claiming to be the foundation of the chip computing platform that will affect the next decade. It is also ARM's biggest challenge to Intel and AMD in the high-end chip field, and its importance can be imagined.

However, due to the escalation of the US ban, it has been rumored since 2019 that the well-known domestic chip manufacturer HW cannot obtain authorization for ARM v9. Although it has not been publicly recognized, HW has been abandoned by the ARM v9 camp. Without authorization for ARM v9, it is impossible to catch up with the competitiveness of the first tier in terms of technology. In such difficult circumstances, how to return to the track of chip top players is a huge challenge.

As is well known, HW has previously received instruction set authorization from ARM v8. Some people may think, in that case, is it enough to increase research and development based on v8 and iterate to v9 on their own?

The answer is undoubtedly negative. ARM absolutely refuses to give the transferee such iterative power.

Unlike Intel and AMD, ARM does not manufacture or sell any physical chips, but designs its own IPs, including instruction set architecture, microprocessors, graphics cores, and interconnection architectures, and then obtains revenue by authorizing these IPs, which can be simply understood as living by selling intellectual property rights. ARM company will collaborate with customers through three different levels of authorization models. However, regardless of the mode, within version paid authorization is adopted, which means that users only have access to specific ARM version numbers. If a new version upgrade occurs, separate paid authorization is required.

Equivalent to a building, you can purchase the permanent use rights of one floor and enjoy all the facilities and services on that floor, but you cannot go to other floors, let alone use the advanced facilities on other floors. Otherwise, the owner will call the police and arrest you and demand huge compensation. The only way to enjoy the high-end facilities of the new floor is to buy a new one.

So, even if HW has the ability to iterate from v8 to v9, it does not have such iterative power. If ARM architecture and standards are forcibly used, their products can only be self used and enclosed. Because chips such as processors themselves must have the lowest level architecture and instruction set, manufacturers must disclose user code to farmers. As long as the product is publicly available, it is clear at a glance whether you have used ARM architecture and standards. What's more serious is that ARM's legal team always uses a property protection baton to smash people who are trying to break their game rules. At that time, not only will they not be able to use their own chips developed in real gold and silver, but they will also have to compensate ARM for high infringement costs. This is absolutely unacceptable for HW who have passed the cold winter.

So, if HW wants to return to the track of chip top players, there is another way, which is to change the architecture. However, changing lanes for development is not an easy task. Because using other open source or self-developed new architectures requires a long window period and an unimaginable amount of manpower and material resources. In addition, compared to the existing large domestic and international ecological markets, the new path means starting from scratch, and all previous research and development will also be in vain.

Under the increasingly strict technical blockade in the United States, the possibility of HW obtaining ARM v9 authorization has become increasingly slim. If we want to break our strength, how heroic it is. Faced with the experience of HW being kicked off the ARM v9 train naked, we should think more about how to gradually grasp autonomy and explore multiple development paths, so that the eggs are no longer in the same basket. What are everyone's opinions? Welcome to communicate.