SiFive Launches New Chip Design, Forms Alliance With Intel to Challenge Arm’s Dominance 

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With the launch of this faster chip design, the startup aims to challenge British chip technology provider Arm, which is a leader in smartphone chips and other electronic devices

American chip company SiFive Inc has released a new processor chip design called the P550 computing core design and has partnered with chip giant Intel Corp who would provide its manufacturing plants to make the design accessible to hardware makers. 

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With the launch of this faster chip design, the startup aims to challenge British chip technology provider Arm, which is a leader in smartphone chips and other electronic devices. 

SiFive is a provider of commercial RISC-V processor IP and silicon solutions based on the open-source RISC-V instruction set architecture, and is the first company to produce a chip that implements the RISC-V ISA. SiFive is also a top member of an alliance called RISC-V International. 

Major chip designers like Qualcomm Inc and Samsung Electronics currently base many of their chips on cores from Arm.

SiFive’s rise comes amidst several sudden changes in the chip business. Apple is designing its own Arm-based designs instead of buying Intel chips for its Macs, while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. has unseated Intel as the world’s cutting-edge chip builder. 

In a conversation with news agency Reuters, SiFive Chief Executive Officer Patrick Little said that the SiFive’s new P550 core rivals the computing performance of Arm’s Cortex A75 core found in many current smartphones but can be made into a smaller chip. He said chips with it could hit the market within nine months but did not name customers.

Little said in a blog post, “The arrival of the SiFive Performance family of processors is proof that we’ve entered a new phase at SiFive,” Little said. “It represents an initiative within our company to continue to innovate to bring the highest possible performance processors to our partners’ SoCs.

Intel said to Reuters that it is working with SiFive to ensure that the new cores can be manufactured in its newest 7-nanometer chip factories. Intel will offer those manufacturing services to outside chip companies as part of its effort to become a chip contract manufacturer.

It was previously reported that Intel Corp is mulling an offer to acquire SiFive Inc. Intel, along with Qualcomm Inc, is already an investor in SiFive, which raised $61 million in a funding round led by Korea’s SK Hynix.

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