Qualcomm joins Intel and Samsung as investors in Sifive, an open source alternative to ARM. The companies are aiming to bring the potential of RISC-V to wireless and mobile.
US-based chip designing company SiFive has managed to raise US$65.4 million in a Series D round, bringing its total funding to more than $125 million.
The latest funding round was led by existing investors Sutter Hill Ventures, Chengwei Capital, Spark Capital, Osage University Partners and Huami. Surprisingly, this time the company saw a cash injection from Qualcomm Ventures LLC, which has joined fellow heavyweights Samsung and Intel as investors in Sifive.
SiFive is the leading provider of market-ready processor core IP and silicon solutions based on the free and open RISC-V instruction set architecture. It is considered as an open source alternative to ARM Holdings, which was originally co-founded by Apple.
Qualcomm and Samsung are among the biggest customers for ARM. Both Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips and Samsung’s Exynos chips are built using ARM architectures. So, it is interesting to see them financially backing its direct competitor, SiFive. But this could be a worrying sign for ARM.
The reason why companies are getting attracted to SiFive is because it allows customers to rapidly design custom RISC-V chips in weeks, while ARM-based designs can take six months or more to compile.
“SiFive has established itself as a leader in the RISC-V space making significant contributions to the broader semiconductor industry through its unique design methodology. We are excited to invest in SiFive to bring the potential of RISC-V to wireless and mobile,” said Quinn Li, senior vice president, Qualcomm Technologies Inc. and global head of Qualcomm Ventures.
SiFive to continue its expansion plan
This latest round of investment will further enable and accelerate SiFive’s global expansion and technology development, the company said in a press release.
In the past 18 months, SiFive has grown from fewer than 40 employees in a single office to more than 400 employees across 15 locations globally. SiFive now has offices in Beaverton, Ore.; San Mateo and Milpitas, Calif.; Austin, Texas; Boston; Bangalore and Pune, India; Shanghai; Seoul, Korea and Hsinchu, Taiwan.
SiFive helps SoC designers reduce time-to-market and realize cost savings with customized, open-architecture processor cores, and democratizes access to optimized silicon by enabling system designers in all market verticals to build customized RISC-V based semiconductors.