SiFive accelerates computing chip design while increasing manpower

Appliance and Electronics World Expo (AWE) in Shanghai
FILE PHOTO: A woman tours a display of semiconductor devices at the World Expo in Electronics and Equipment (AWE) in Shanghai, China March 23, 2021. REUTERS / Aly Song

December 2, 2021

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – Chip technology company SiFive Inc said on Thursday it has accelerated the design of computer cores by 40% and now has 700 employees, with plans to double staff by 2020. next.

The Silicon Valley startup is aiming to challenge Arm Ltd’s dominance in supplying key parts of the design of computing chips used in the semiconductor industry.

Arm licenses its technology to major companies such as Apple Inc and Qualcomm Inc and is being purchased by Nvidia Corp in a deal worth more than $54 billion, although the deal faces regulatory hurdles because of Companies like Qualcomm have protested.

SiFive says its new P650 compute core designs will be made available to some customers early next year, at which point it will likely take more than a year to find their way into the physical chip. SiFive claims the P650 compute core has to compete with Arm’s A77 computer core, which is found in many smartphone chips released in 2019 and 2020.

The estimated 40% speedup over SiFiv’s previous design, known as the P550, has come in just five months, while Arm has previously announced new compute cores about once a year. SiFive CEO Patrick Little said he believes he can close the gap with his company’s much larger competitor.

“We should be at the top of the Arm product line for the next few years – that’s what customers are driving us to,” Little said.

Little said the company plans to double its headcount next year to 1,400. SiFive has already made significant hires this year, such as Chris Lattner, a former software director at Apple Inc and Tesla Inc, and Rohit Kumar, who has helped design generations of custom processors for the iPhone and Apple iPads.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Stephen Coates) SiFive accelerates computing chip design while increasing manpower

Caroline Bleakley

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