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Starfive Technology, a chip design startup cofounded by Peter Lee Ka Kit, co-chairman of Henderson Land Development, is planning to establish a research and development center in Hong Kong to boost the city’s semiconductor industry. Headquartered in Shanghai, Starfive specializes in developing semiconductors based on RISC-V, an open-source architecture used in various applications from smartphones to AI computing. RISC-V provides a free alternative to the dominant x86 and Arm architectures, created by Intel and Arm Holdings, respectively.

The startup, led by CEO Thomas Xu, announced a partnership with Xfusion Digital Technologies to establish the R&D facility, with the aim of developing a new data center chip to be used in Xfusion’s servers. This chip is expected to enhance data center operating costs and energy efficiency. The investment amount for this project was not disclosed. Peter Lee highlighted the importance of this partnership in advancing RISC-V technology in the data center sector and promoting the open-source semiconductor ecosystem during a ceremony in Hong Kong.

Starfive, founded in 2018, is part of the growing number of Chinese companies investing in RISC-V to reduce reliance on foreign chip technology. With trade restrictions limiting access to x86 and Arm technologies, RISC-V has emerged as a viable alternative for Chinese chip companies. Starfive claims to have developed high-performing RISC-V central processing units for a variety of applications, including data centers, machine learning, mobile devices, and autonomous driving. Since its inception, the startup has raised over 1 billion yuan from investors such as Baidu, SBVA, Chengwei Capital, and China Internet Investment Fund.

Hong Kong’s semiconductor industry is striving to keep pace with the global boom in chip development fueled by AI advancements. The city government has announced plans to establish an institute dedicated to semiconductor technology research and development. This initiative aligns with Beijing’s efforts to bolster chip development and mitigate export restrictions imposed by Western nations. Atom Semiconductor Technologies, founded by Hong Kong University of Science and Technology professor George Yuan, is among the few semiconductor startups based in the city. Recognized on the Forbes Asia 100 to Watch list in 2022, Atom Semiconductor Technologies is contributing to the region’s semiconductor landscape.

As Hong Kong continues to position itself as a hub for chip innovation, collaborations like that between Starfive and Xfusion will play a crucial role in advancing semiconductor technology in the region. By leveraging the city’s strengths in science research policies, talent, and international connectivity, these partnerships are expected to drive technological innovation and commercial applications. The establishment of the R&D center in Hong Kong signifies a significant step towards enhancing the city’s semiconductor industry and digital infrastructure. With the semiconductor industry undergoing rapid growth worldwide, Hong Kong’s efforts to strengthen its presence in this sector are vital for its technological advancement and economic competitiveness.

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