By Jane Lanhee Lee
– SiFive, Inc., a RISC-V chip technology startup in Silicon Valley, said on Wednesday it raised $175 million in its latest round of funding and is now valued at $2.5 billion.
RISC-V is an instruction set architecture (ISA), a base for building chips that defines what kind of software can run on the chips. Arm Ltd’s ARM and Intel’s x86 are the dominant ISAs used today for general-purpose processors, or the brains of computers, and are proprietary.
By comparison, RISC-V is open standard and free to use. Countries like China seeking to build their chip independence have been pushing to develop RISC-V chips.
SiFive’s founders invented the RISC-V ISA in the labs of University of California, Berkeley. The company’s business model is to build designs using RISC-V and charge money for the designs. Last year it released the P550 – a chip core design that aims to challenge Arm’s dominance in smartphone chips, and said it would pair with Intel Corp’s factories to make the design available to hardware makers.
Last month as part of the launch of its $1 billion fund to support companies with disruptive technologies and build up its foundry business, Intel also laid out its path to support the Risc-V ecosystem.
“For the x86, the compute leader on the planet, to put their arm around SiFive and RISC-V and say, we’re going to be investing hundreds of millions of dollars … I think it’s historically important for RISC-V,” said SiFive President and CEO Patrick Little.
The latest round brings SiFive’s total funding to over $350 million and was led by global investment firm Coatue. Existing investors Intel Capital, Sutter Hill, and some others joined this latest round. SiFive also counts SK Hynix Inc and Qualcomm Ventures as investors.
“We’re starting now to move towards institutional investors that are on Wall Street that will pull us to IPO,” Little said.
(Reporting By Jane Lanhee Lee; Editing by Karishma Singh)