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Chip technologies from Arm and x86 are getting the most attention amid semiconductor shortages and trade wars. But in the background, the open-source RISC-V chip architecture is stealthily emerging as a viable third architecture that is cheaper, flexible, and free of political intrigue.

RISC-V is often referred to as the Linux of chips with engineers collaborating to design, set, and improve the architecture. RISC-V International sets the spec, which is free to license, and chip designers are free to implement it as they see fit in their processors and system-on-chips.

China and Europe are moving to RISC-V for homegrown silicon to achieve chip sovereignty. Companies are also looking at RISC-V to cut licensing and royalty costs associated with the Arm and x86 architectures.

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