Chip chip startup SiFive speeds up computing core designs

Chip chip startup SiFive speeds up computing core designs

Dec 2 Reuters -- Chip technology firm SiFive Inc said it has sped up its computing core designs by 40% and now has a headcount of 700 employees, with plans to double its staff next year.

The Silicon Valley startup is aiming to challenge Arm Ltd' dominance in providing key parts of computing chip designs that are used throughout the semiconductor industry.

Arm licenses its technology to major firms like Apple Inc and Qualcomm Inc., but it is being purchased by Nvidia Corp in a deal worth more than $54 billion, despite regulatory hurdles because firms like Qualcomm have objected to it.

SiFive said that its new P 650 computing core designs will be available to some of its customers early next year, at which point it will likely take more than a year to find its way into physical chips. SiFive claims the P 650 computing core should be competitive with Arm's A 77 computing cores, which are found in many smartphone chips released in 2019 and 2020.

The estimate of 40% speed boost from SiFiv's previous design, called the P 550, has come in only five months, while Arm has announced new computing cores about once a year. Patrick Little, SiFive Chief Executive, believes he can close the gap with his firm's much larger competitor.

We should be at the top of Arm's line within the next couple of years - that's what customers are driving us towards, Little said.

Little said the company plans to double its headcount by next year to 1,400. This year, SiFive has made a number of notable hires, such as Chris Lattner, a former software executive at Apple Inc. and Tesla Inc., and Rohit Kumar, who helped design multiple generations of custom processors for Apple's iPhones and iPads.