Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Intel Discusses Buying SiFive To Strengthen Chip Technology Against Arm (source)

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(Reuters) – Intel is debating a possible offer to buy SiFive, a person familiar with the matter, a company closely associated with open source technology that is challenging the rise of Intel’s rival Arm, told Reuters.

SiFive, a startup based in San Mateo, California, employs several of the creators of RISC-V, an open source chip technology that is challenging Arm, the British chip technology firm that Nvidia is acquiring for $ 40. billion. Both Arm and SiFive sell intellectual property, such as chip designs, to others who ultimately produce the chips.

Intel and SiFive declined to comment.

Bloomberg on Thursday it reported Intel’s interest, citing a source who said the Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker is considering a $ 2 billion offer. Intel, along with rivals such as Qualcomm, is already an investor in SiFive, which raised $ 61 million in a funding round led by Korea’s SK Hynix.

SiFive is designing compute cores using the RISC-V architecture. While the underlying architecture for those cores is open source, specific core designs can be sold.

Buying SiFive could give Intel a library of intellectual property that it could use both on its own chips and that it could offer to license to future customers as it works to build a business by opening its chip factories to outsiders. Intel has already said that it plans to license compute cores based on its own proprietary x86 architecture to customers as part of its contract manufacturing business.

But Intel would also get a software boost. SiFive is also working to facilitate programming on different types of computer chips and last year hired Chris Lattner, a prominent Silicon Valley computer scientist.

Lattner spearheaded the creation of the Swift programming language for Apple, which has become the primary way developers write iPhone applications. Most recently, Lattner oversaw programming language teams for Alphabet’s Google Brain and TensorFlow artificial intelligence teams.

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