Open-source semiconductor tech startup and Arm rival SiFive secures $61 million in Series E funding from Saudi Aramco, others
The last time we covered SiFive was back in April 2018 when the California startup working to commercialize an open-source semiconductor technology raised $50.6 million to advance its Open RISC-V architecture based semiconductors.
As demand for domain-specific architecture drives continued investment in processor innovation, SiFive announced today it has raised additional $60 million in Series E round led by SK hynix, joined by new investor Prosperity7 Ventures, with additional funding from existing investors, Sutter Hill Ventures, Western Digital Capital, Qualcomm Ventures LLC, Intel Capital, Osage University Partners, and Spark Capital.
The RISC-V ecosystem being developed by SiFive aims to challenge SoftBank Group Corp’s Arm Ltd, which licenses out its proprietary chip architecture to firms such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O), as well as several of SiFive’s investors.
SiFive was founded in 2015 by Andrew Waterman, Krste Asanovic and Yunsup Lee, the creators of the free and open RISC-V architecture, as a reaction to the end of conventional transistor scaling and escalating chip design costs. By leveraging the power of open-source and agile hardware design, SiFive reduces the cost and time to harness the performance and energy-efficiency of customized silicon, enabling a wide range of applications from IoT to hyper-scale computing – all unified by the common RISC-V platform.
“Global demand for storage and memory in the data center is increasing as AI-powered business intelligence and data processing growth continues”, said Youjong Kang, VP of Growth Strategy, SK hynix. “SiFive is well-positioned to grow with opportunities created from data center, enterprise, storage and networking requirements for workload-focused processor IP.”
The startup develops a range of processor cores, accelerators, and SoC IP to create domain-specific architecture that will enable efficient, high-performance computing solutions. SiFive innovates by developing processor microarchitecture, SoC IP, and accelerator IP for use in workload-specific silicon. With this new investment, SiFive will help leading semiconductor companies bring to market new products for aerospace, automotive, artificial intelligence, data center, mobile, networking, and storage applications.
SiFive’s product portfolio of RISC-V-based microarchitectures are the perfect choice to replace and augment legacy, general-purpose proprietary architectures in workload-focused designs. Recently, SiFive announced the SiFive 20G1 update for SiFive Core IP, enabling significant enhancements for performance, power, area, and features, with pre-integrated SiFive Shield, for whole SoC security, and SiFive Insight advanced trace and debug capabilities.
“SiFive is well-positioned to capture the opportunity enabled by workload focused products,” said Aysar Tayeb, Executive Managing Director at Prosperity7 Ventures. “We’re pleased to be part of the global shift to workload-focused designs, and believe SiFive’s domain-specific architecture IP will fuel innovation and solutions for computing challenges we see today.”
Domain-specific architecture designs are further enabled by SiFive Custom Instruction Extensions (SCIE), permitting the inclusion of workload-focused IP through hardware and software optimization. SiFive heterogeneous architecture allows the integration of mixed processor core designs in a coherent cluster for scale-out problems, leveraging SCIE to accelerate workload processing efficiently.
“We are very pleased by the new and renewed investment in the SiFive vision and mission,” said Dr. Naveed Sherwani, Chairman, President, and CEO of SiFive. “SiFive’s winning product portfolio will continue to expand and be adopted for solutions that require domain-specific architectures.”