back to article Psst, you want us to design you an Arm chip? 'Cause we can do that, says RISC-V processor darling SiFive

RISC-V processor specialist SiFive will double down on improving its CPU cores after pushing its system-on-chip design efforts into a new unit. Dubbed OpenFive, the operation will design whatever system-on-chips customers need, supporting whichever CPU cores fit the individual applications. Crucially, that means OpenFive will …

  1. fizznit

    SiFive willingness to design with ARM hasn't changed, org has

    SiFive's SOC design capability came from an acquisition of a company called Open-Silicon.

    Open-Silicon was designing ARM cores before the acquisition, and as part of SiFive, continued to do so after the acquisition. So this announcement isn't really introducing a new capability, but might be an attempt to clear up confusion in the marketplace, so that prospective customers who want a custom ARM core don't assume that SiFive's custom SOC arm is a RISC-V-only shop.

    It may also bring better focus inside the company to draw a clearer line between the SOC business and the RISC-V IP business, and give the two units distinct missions and goals.

    A more intriguing possibility is that SiFive is making OpenFive more independent as preparation to spin it off. But I'd guess it's more about bringing more clarity to their offerings.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Open Silicon

      Fair point, though the examination of SiFive's motivations and goals was sparked by its rather public announcement of silicon design work involving non-RISC-V cores.

      It could have migrated Open Silicon toward exclusively using its own CPUs but has instead kept that link with Arm going -- which is telling in of itself.


  2. StrangerHereMyself Bronze badge

    What 150 million?

    Where have these 150 million SiFive cores been heading then?

    I never heard of a SiFive CPU in any consumer item or any other item for that matter. I know they sold some Arduino boards with a SiFive CPU but that's it.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: What 150 million?

      For one thing, Samsung uses SiFive's RISC-V tech in its 5G smartphones, eg in the mmwave RF stage.

      Also, SiFive says its SoC IP - keyword IP - has appeared in 150 million shipped parts, which given the scales of chips in embedded electronics, isn't unbelievable. That's basically where it's going: IoT and embedded kit. This was largely inherited from Open Silicon, from what I can tell.


      1. Justthefacts Silver badge

        Re: What 150 million?

        Well, if we’re doing *that* sort of market then RISC-V isn’t even a fragment of a fingernail.

        There’s 4 billion Bluetooth chips shipped per year, and a third of them were CSR with a XAP CPU in them. So a CPU you’ve never even heard of, ships more every month then RISC-V has shipped in its whole history. Oh, and you can license a XAP IP if you like, and customise it however you like.

        Why are we talking about RISC-V again?

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: What 150 million?

          > Why are we talking about RISC-V again?

          Because there's only one thing that's worse than being talked about: not being talked about.

    2. Scene it all

      Re: What 150 million?

      I believe Western Digital is using RISC-V in some of its storage controllers. And Alibaba has something in the works, as mentioned in The Reg last July. China is very interested in RISC-V because it is open source and can be used regardless of US embargoes.

      I have played with those Arduino-like boards and they are very easy to program even in assembly.

  3. Tom 7 Silver badge

    A bit more AI friendly stuff

    which appears to be in the pipeline, if its low enough power I can see these being handy in extendible compute engine type jobies.

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