SiFive raises $175m to accelerate ‘weapons interception’ strategy

Article by: Nitin Dahad

SiFive said it’s getting huge traction and its latest funding puts it in a position to target Arm sockets directly.

SiFive raised $175m in a Series F funding round aimed at accelerating its processor roadmap and strengthening its market position against Arm. The investment puts the company’s valuation at over $2.5 billion and is poised to prepare for an initial public offering (IPO) next year.

In an interview with EE time, Patrick Little, president and CEO of SiFive, told us that the adoption of the company’s Performance and Intelligence line processors had “far exceeded” their expectations. He said, “Almost every customer we spoke to said their board had a mandate to diversify their processor base. Where we may have previously focused on simple integrated designs, we are now seeing a shift in which we are targeting the center of customer requirements for smart designs. And the automotive community is also looking at our processors.

“As a result, this funding will allow us to double the pace of new processor core launches. We had the P550 and the P650, and we’ll have a P750 and more to come. Thus, we can accelerate our roadmap. We will also be able to bring the company to a position where it is ready for an IPO within 12-18 months. We should then be ready for an IPO.

Patrick Little CEO of SiFive
Patrick Small

Little, who joined SiFive as CEO in 2020 of Qualcomm’s automotive business, said SiFive is very deliberate and very focused on its mission. Explaining how the P550 was demonstrably up to 30% better than other CPU cores in terms of performance per watt and having customer validation of those numbers, he said, “Our goal is to be significantly better than Arm, and now we’re able to move even faster on our Arm interception strategy.

He highlighted SiFive’s focus on the razor, saying the funding round along with its sale of OpenFive to Alphawave IP, also announced this week, was proof of the company’s determination to succeed in this aspect. He said: “We’re into a billion chips, including some success in handset SoCs. Our goal over the next 3-4 years is to reach 10 billion.

Keen to highlight SiFive’s rapid shift from embedded products to the focus of a customer’s design, Little commented, “While the year before, maybe 98% of our revenue came from embedded products, since we started launched the P550 and the X280, we have seen a reorientation towards these powerful products whose turnover now represents half of our activity. Last year our revenue grew 3.5x, and now half of our pipeline comes from Intelligence products. »

SiFive claims to have won design contracts with more than 100 customers, including 8 of the top 10 semiconductor companies, in applications ranging from automotive, AR/VR, client computing, data centers data and intelligent edge. Little commented, “The market has spoken and made it clear that RISC-V computing will compete for the core of all future computing platforms. As the founder and market leader of RISC-V computing, our role is to advance this ecosystem and provide customers with an advanced computing alternative to Arm and others.

The latest funding round brings the total investment in SiFive to date to $350 million. Little says the company’s assessment is a validation of its strategy, team and focus on building a portfolio of RISC-V compute products.

He also said Intel was a valuable partner. Bob Brennan, Intel Foundry Services vice president and general manager for customer solutions engineering, said, “Intel believes in the possibility of a multi-ISA strategy, including RISC-V as the open computing foundation for future platforms. Our IFS investment in RISC-V includes partnering with RISC-V leader SiFive to build the Horse Creek development platform that will be widely available in late 2022, based on Intel 4 process technology.”

Steve Leibson, Principal Analyst at Tirias Research, commented, “It will take a determined company like SiFive to make significant inroads into the myriad of processing needs currently served by various microprocessor architectures. SiFive continues to innovate on multiple levels of performance, bringing the RISC-V architecture to where it needs to go if it is to gain the kind of industry traction that its global network of advocates seeks.

He added, “With this latest round of funding coupled with its share of the recently announced $1 billion Intel Foundry Services investment fund, SiFive appears determined to build up a stockpile of cash that will enable the company to accelerate. its already torrid pace of development. new RISC-V processor cores go up and down in price, performance, and power spectrum.

The funding round was led by Coatue Management, which joined existing investors Sutter Hill Ventures, Ibex Investors, Intel Capital, Prosperity7 ventures, SK hynix, Western Digital Capital, Qualcomm Ventures, Osage University Partners and Spark Capital.

During our interview, Little continually pointed out how, in just under two years since he took over as head of SiFive, how the company has focused on RISC-V computing products. He said we’re in the middle of an IT super-cycle where opportunity is “unlimited”. Concluding our call, he said, “It means the future of RISC-V is also unlimited, and I believe RISC-V will be ubiquitous across all platforms.”

This article was originally published on EE time.

Nitin Dahad is correspondent for EE Times, EE Times Europe and also editor of embedded.com. With 35 years in the electronics industry, he has held many different roles: from engineer to journalist, and entrepreneur to startup mentor and government adviser. He was part of the startup team that launched the 32-bit microprocessor company ARC International in the United States in the late 1990s and took it public, and co-founder of The Chilli, which influenced a large part of the tech startup scene in the early 2000s. He has also worked with many big names, including National Semiconductor, GEC Plessey Semiconductors, Dialog Semiconductor, and Marconi Instruments.

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