Intel discusses buyout of SiFive to bolster chip technology against Arm – source


REUTERS: Intel Corp is discussing a possible takeover bid for SiFive Inc, a person familiar with the matter, a company closely associated with open source technology that challenges the rise of rival Intel, told Reuters, Arm Ltd.

SiFive, a startup based in San Mateo, Calif., Employs several of the creators of RISC-V, an open-source chip technology that challenges Arm, the British chip-tech company acquired by Nvidia Corp for $ 40 billion. Arm and SiFive both sell intellectual properties such as chip designs to others who ultimately produce the chips.

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Intel and SiFive both declined to comment.

Bloomberg signaled Intel’s interest on Thursday, citing a source saying the Santa Clara, Calif.-Based chipmaker was considering a $ 2 billion offer. Intel, along with competitors such as Qualcomm Inc, is already an investor in SiFive, which raised $ 61 million in a funding round led by Korea’s SK Hynix.

SiFive designs computing cores using the RISC-V architecture. While the underlying architecture of these cores is open source, the specific core designs themselves can be sold.

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The purchase of SiFive could give Intel a library of intellectual property that it could use both in its own chips and that it could license to future customers as it strives to build a business in opening its chip factories to third parties. Intel has already announced its intention to license compute cores based on its own proprietary x86 architecture to customers as part of its contract manufacturing business.

But Intel would also gain a software boost. SiFive is also working to make programming easier on different types of computer chips, and last year hired Chris Lattner, a leading computer scientist from Silicon Valley.

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Lattner spearheaded the creation of the Swift programming language for Apple Inc, which has become the primary means by which developers write apps for iPhone. Most recently, Lattner oversaw the programming language teams for Alphabet Inc.’s Google Brain and TensorFlow artificial intelligence teams.

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco and Jane Lanhee Lee in Oakland, California; editing by Matthew Lewis)



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