back to article Intel to put SiFive's latest CPU cores into 7nm dev system to woo customers to RISC-V

SiFive says it has designed its most powerful RISC-V CPU core yet, and Intel is going to put it under the noses of customers to gauge their interest. The 64-bit P550 core will be aimed at application processors in data center infrastructure and networking equipment, and higher-end consumer kit. Intel says it will put one or …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, no details, "maybe 2022", and they're planning to make this on a process that Intel don't currently have working. If and when Intel do get a 7nm process working, Horse Creek will have to compete with Intel's bread and butter processors for access to it. Sure, where do I sign up?!

    Horse Creek isn't being built to evaluate interest in RISC-V; they're doing that by making this announcement of total vapour. Only if there's a lot of interest will they later come up with a real plan to develop and manufacture it. Nothing to see here.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Why there should be no interest? There are already fully working toolchains for RISC-V and you can get Linux up and running. Just recompile whatever you need and then who cares what chip it runs, as long as it delivers on performance and value.

      1. Bruce Hoult

        I've been running Linux on a quad core 64 bit 1.5 GHz RISC-V board with 8 GB DDR4 RAM for more than three years already. That board only had an SD card to boot off and no video or USB so access was via ssh over gig ethernet.

        I now have a board with roughly late Pentium 3 performance CPU but quad core with 16 GB DDR4 RAM, a 500 GB M.2 SSD for storage, and a PCIe video card so in general use it's considerably better than Pentium 3 machines.

        This new P550 core will bring RISC-V to approximately the late Core 2 era in CPU performance. That's a very usable level, especially with more modern peripherals than Core 2 systems had.

        Next year Nehalem or Sandy Bridge performance? I wouldn't rule it out -- or even better -- especially if a company with deep pockets such as Intel decides to go for it.

        SiFive has gotten to this point on $190 million of funding.

        Intel, AMD, and Apple are spending probably several billion dollars on each new CPU generation now.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "SiFive has gotten to this point on $190 million of funding.

          Intel, AMD, and Apple are spending probably several billion dollars on each new CPU generation now."

          A few points on this comparison:

          1. I've read that a set of masks for a design on a bleeding edge fab costs over $100m

          2. Intel, AMD, and Apple are designing SoCs, not just CPUs. Go and look at a block diagram of what is on an Apple Silicon SoC: there are performance and power efficient CPU cores, GPU, Neural Accelerator, memory interfaces, video encode and decode, image processing pipeline for the cameras, secure enclave, etc. etc. etc. It is a lot more than a CPU.

          3. I find the "several billion dollars" figure hard to believe. Intel is spending a huge amount developing fabrication plants, but I don't believe any of the companies listed is spending multiple billions on SoC designs.

      2. Justthefacts Silver badge

        Ummm, Intel is having a little joke, people....


        The name is *Horse Creek*

        Say again *Horse Creek*

        Can you, just possibly, think of another word (four letters), that goes with those two words?

        Jeez, no sense of humour you guys.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I find it utterly laughable that Intel is shipping these with 7nm tech when they can't ship their OWN products with that tech... *LOL*

  3. amacater

    7nm - yes, why not for SiFive new chips.

    These may be significantly simpler than an Intel Xeon or whatever and so a good proving ground for a 7nm process.

  4. Nathan 6
    IT Angle

    Can they run Solaris?

    I wonder can these chips run Solaris? Would be an interesting way to position them for the tinkerer market. Imagine a SBC that boots Solaris instead of the usual Linux flavor. Now if Oracle would allow that,I am not sure. They did have open Solaris so.

  5. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    It is proven that to do anything you only need a MOV instruction. Why don't they make a CPU that only does one family of operations and does it well?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just waiting for that awesome Intel vaporware cpu announced with the code name from the wonderful tv show "Schitt's Creek"

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    you can see why word emerged of Intel offering at least $2bn to take over SiFive

    It seems more likely that SiFive leaked the $2BN takeover offer.

    That's a common tactic in SV when the acquisition target wants more money, and they're hoping for a bidding war.

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: you can see why word emerged of Intel offering at least $2bn to take over SiFive

      I wondered why Intel would be interested in an open source design, but as SiFive has already made the performance series closed source, Intel wouldn't have to take any flack for bolting the stable door.

  8. BinoX

    I've been playing with SiFive's latest dev board over the last week (HiFive Unmatched), and given the relatively short amount of time that SiFive have been working on CPUs (in comparison to the likes of Intel and AMD) it's actually an impressive bit of kit that runs well with exceptionally low power usage.

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