Qualcomm Backs Open-Source Chip Design Company SiFive

Nearly all manner of tech we use today uses some sort of processors as their brains. Smartwatches, speakers, and phones all require processors to work, which are based on Intel’s x86 and ARM’s instruction sets.

However, there is a new instruction set in town, the open source RISC-V. This instruction set has been gaining prominence over time and it looks like California based SiFive, responsible for the instruction set, will soon challenge ARM.

Most of the people doubt that RISC-V will pose a challenge to ARM but the growing investments in the royalty-free open-source instruction set tell another story.

Qualcomm Listed as an Investor

SiFive has been growing steadily over the past few years and its latest fundraising round has been a huge success. The company was able to raise $65.4 million in the D-round, making its total funding $125 million.

The most interesting bit is that Qualcomm was listed as one of the investors. Along with Qualcomm, Intel and Western Digital are also in the list of prominent investors.

The announcement regarding the investments said,

SiFive, Inc., the leading provider of commercial RISC-V processor IP and silicon solutions, today announced it raised $65.4 million in a Series D round led by existing investors Sutter Hill Ventures, Chengwei Capital, Spark Capital, Osage University Partners, and Huami, alongside new investor Qualcomm Ventures LLC. This Series D round brings the total investment to date in SiFive to more than $125 million.

What Makes SiFive Special?

SiFive wants to team up with other companies to create chip designs based on the open source instruction set RISC-V.

Based on a report from the information, SiFive is able to create chip designs in anytime between one month to three months, sometimes shipping out the samples within weeks, contrary to chipsets based on ARM instruction sets that take at least a year to design.

Right now, RISC-V chips are being used in IoT devices, but based on the recent list of investors, we could see the new chips make it to other devices like smartwatches or smartphones soon.

Threat to ARM

Qualcomm has been one of the biggest customers of ARM, seeing the name in the list of investors shows that the emerging company may pose as a serious threat to ARM.

Right now, the company is operating on a very small scale but we know ARM already sees open source as a threat and based on the high speed of development at SiFive, ARM should be on its toes.



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