Andes Technology Corp., a Taiwanese supplier of CPU IP core and also a founding member of RISC-V International Association, is going to be listed on Luxembourg Stock Exchanges (LuxSE) via Global Depository Receipts (GDR). Scheduled on September 13, a total of 4 million units of GDRs will be issued, representing 8 million common shares. Each unit will be priced at US $31.78.
Founded in 2005, Andes Technology has been the only Taiwanese company having successfully commercialized IP cores, and it has risen to become one of the five largest CPU IP core vendors around the world, alongside Intel and ARM. It is currently backed by the IC design giant MediaTek, which is also the fourth largest customer of Andes Technology. In 2020, more than 2 billion chipsets embedded with Andes CPU cores have been shipped.
Frankwell Lin, CEO of Andes Technology, estimates that there are approximately 200 CPU designs adopting the RISC-V architecture, and Andes accounts for 20 of them. In other words, one-tenth of global CPUs based on RISC-V can be attributed to Taiwan.
The Sino-American tech war and Nvidia’s attempted acquisition of ARM have put RISC-V, an open-source instruction set architecture (ISA) central to chip design, under the spotlight. In a sector characterized by the duopoly of Intel and ARM, RISC-V has become fundamental to China’s quest for chip autonomy, especially as U.S. sanctions have severely hit Chinese semiconductor. Alibaba Group’s venture into the semiconductor industry, for example, was made possible by its acquisition of C-Sky Microsystems, a Chinese RISC-V company. Later it was rebranded as T-Head Semiconductor Company.
Other countries wary of dependence on U.S. technologies, such as Russia, have also looked to RISC-V as a way out. Even Intel, the inventor of the x86 architecture, and Apple, currently using ARM’s architecture for its self-designed chips, have also recognized RISC-V’s potentials and have made moves into the sector.
As of 2021 Q2, 57% of Andes Technology’s revenues come from RISC-V.
Data from 2020 suggest that the top five customer applications of Andes CPU cores were Video & Audio (24%), MCU (17%), IoT (14%), AI (10%), and Sensing (7%). Meanwhile, 43% of Andes revenues came from Taiwan. The United States and China had each accounted for 26% and 25% of it.
According to Wayne Dai, the founder of one of China’s top three chip design companies, VeriSilicon Holdings Co., China currently lags behind in RISC-V, while Andes Technology is ahead, giving it vast opportunities in the world’s largest market.