SiFive, a leading provider of IP and silicon solutions for commercial RISC-V processors, announced that it has completed a new round of $65.4 million in investments. In addition to the continued follow-up of the old investors, Qualcomm's participation makes the whole financing more interesting.
Quinn L, senior vice president of Qualcomm and global leader of Qualcomm Ventures (Qualcomm's investment division), Qualcomm Ventures focuses on investing in innovative technology companies with the potential to change the industry, and SiFive has become a leader in RISC-V. They have made significant contributions to the broader semiconductor industry through their unique design methodology. “We are very happy to invest in SiFive to bring the potential of RISC-V to the wireless and mobile arena,” he stressed.
In addition to Qualcomm, Intel, another chip maker, also invested in SiFive in the last round. For the world's largest IP licensor Arm, the situation will be even more severe. Because Qualcomm and Intel, one is the closest partner and the other is the competitor. They have invested in their biggest challengers, which is enough to attract their attention.
With regard to the introduction of RISC-V and their competition with Arm, there have been many introductions on the Internet, and we will not go into details here. Let's explore the possible impact of these two major chip companies, especially Qualcomm's investment in RISC-V, on Arm. Before saying this, we must first understand why Qualcomm and Intel want to invest in SiFive?
It is understood that SiFive was founded in 2015 by RISC-V invention team Krste Asanovic, Yunsup Lee and Andrew Waterman. According to previous reports from the semiconductor industry, SiFive not only provides RISC-V-based solutions, but also provides a SaaS-based cloud-based solution that allows customers to directly select and configure CPUs online without purchasing servers, EDA software, FPGAs, etc. And online simulation verification. Recently, they acquired IP designer Innovative Logic and acquired the latter's USB technology product portfolio. This allows Sifive to integrate highly competitive USB support into its RISC-V-enabled chips.
In the last two news we can see that SiFive is leading in the RISC V field, and you can also see the possible reasons for Qualcomm investment in this market:
The first news is that SiFive has announced that the company has won more than 100 Design Wins so far. As device manufacturers gradually adopt field-specific application processor designs for powerful, secure, and efficient computing in Edge devices, SiFive is becoming more attractive in the embedded market.
The other news was last month when Imagination Technologies announced that they had joined SiFive's DesignShare ecosystem, which means system designers have easy access to their industry-leading PowerVR GPUs and Neural Network Accelerators (NNAs). IP core.
It can be seen that for Qualcomm, the Internet of Things market with unlimited potential, and even the existing mobile phone SoC, are the reasons why they are optimistic about RISC-V. And this is the wireless and mobile market mentioned in the previous Qualcomm.
First of all, look at the mobile market. In many articles comparing RISC-V, the chip industry is so valued by this open source chip. Besides the recognition of their performance and mode, the more important thing is that they are on Arm. The charges are quite objectionable, and Qualcomm, as one of Arm's biggest partners, must also give a lot of money to Arm every year. If you can discuss replacing RM with RISC-V in mobile SoC, it will be for them. A big savings.
However, as many industry experts have said, under the premise that "Arm+Android" is so mature, Mips and Intel have witnessed the unsuccessful history. If RISC-V wants to enter the AP market, it is basically impossible. However, it does not rule out that Qualcomm has more considerations in this regard. But experts say that areas such as automotive electronics and driverless driving may be the place where Qualcomm hopes RISC-V can provide support.
Come to the Internet of Things market, not to mention that this is what many RISC-V vendors are focusing on now, and Qualcomm definitely sees the potential behind this. If they cut into the market with RISC-V, this can help them reduce chip costs, and on the other hand help them expand the market beyond mobile SoC. Increasing the company's ability to expand risk, and working with SiFive in this area is easier to do.
As for Intel, Raja Koduri, general manager and chief architect of Intel's edge computing solutions, announced that after investing in Sifive, RISC-V provides a new way to integrate low-power controllers with agile development tools. Will help reduce the development cost and time of SoC. SiFive's cloud-based SaaS service also provides design teams with greater flexibility and convenience, and Intel is looking forward to discovering other SiFive benefits. It can be seen that they are investing in SiFIVE, and it is believed that they are also looking at the IoT market that they have been working hard but cannot get tickets.
For Arm, the commercial operation of RISC-V in a few years did have a more or less impact on them.
According to the latest IP market analysis report released by analyst firm IP Nest, most of the top 10 IP vendors have seen their revenue decline. Among them, Arm market share has declined for two consecutive years. In 2017, their revenues fell by 6.8% from the previous year. Eric Esteve of IP nest said there may be multiple reasons for such a structure. One is that the accounting policy has changed since the acquisition of SoftBank. The second possibility is that the RISC-V processor core is becoming a reliable replacement for the ARM processor core. IPnest continues to point out in the report that RISC-V is posing a threat to Arm's products, and as for the specific impact results, it will see a little this year.
This investment from Qualcomm is enough to make Arm ring the alarm!