The ex-chief executive of Arm China, Allen Wu, has reportedly founded a RISC-V chip company to potentially challenge his former employer.

Wu is best known for refusing to leave his role at Arm China despite being fired twice, first in 2020 and then again in 2022. The company only managed to successfully oust him in 2023.

Ex-Arm China CEO Allen Wu is reportedly founding a new chip startup – Sebastian Moss

The news was first published by market tracker TrendForce, which cited a report from a WeChat account dubbed “Chip_Inside.” The company, called Zhongzhi Chip, is actively recruiting RISC-V professionals, with a number of former Arm employees having reportedly jumped ship.

At the time of Wu’s second firing, 430 employees purportedly signed a post saying they would remain loyal to Wu and that there were "major legal flaws" with the attempted firing.

According to information seen by TrendForce, Zhongzhi Chip is a company focused on the development of RISC-V processor IP and computing platform solutions. RISC-V is an open standard instruction set architecture (ISA) based on established RISC principles, which is provided under open-source licenses that do not require fees.

It is also rumored that the company could be acting as a representative for AI and RISC-V startup Tenstorrent in China, although TrendForce noted that this has not been substantiated by industry media. Founded in 2016, Tenstorrent builds scalable artificial intelligence accelerators, including a high-performance RISC-V CPU, for both the cloud and Edge. In January 2023, the company appointed former AMD and Intel executive Jim Keller as CEO.

Zhongzhi Chip also reportedly has backing from what TrendForce described as “abundant resources and shareholders with strong competence,” adding that the company has also partnered with several “stellar global RISC-V chip companies” and is working closely with numerous domestic industry leaders. No further information about those companies has been provided, however.

The report further notes that Zhongzhi Chip is purportedly maintaining a neutral stance on processor IP to help support the growth of domestic technology applications in China.