In the world of processor design, SiFive is making waves with its latest chip designs, the SiFive Performance P870 and SiFive Intelligence X390. As a leader in RISC-V architecture, SiFive is challenging the dominance of Arm and Intel by introducing processors that offer low power consumption, compute density, and vector compute capability. The announcement of these new chip designs took place at an in-person press and analyst event in Santa Clara, California, where SiFive executives emphasized the company’s commitment to driving high-performance RISC-V innovation and bridging the gap with other instruction set architectures.
The SiFive Performance P870 is a game-changer in high-performance consumer applications, as well as in data centers when paired with a vector processor. With a 50% peak single-thread performance upgrade compared to previous SiFive Performance processors, the P870 boasts a six-wide out-of-order core and a shared cluster cache that enables up to a 32-core cluster. Its availability, throughput, parallelism, and memory bandwidth set a new standard for RISC-V performance. This chip design provides an agile and programmable solution for generative AI applications, offering superior compute density, low power consumption, and exceptional flexibility for complex workloads.
Building upon the success of its predecessor, the SiFive Intelligence X280, the SiFive Intelligence X390 combines AI and ML applications with hardware accelerators for mobile, infrastructure, and automotive applications. With a four-fold improvement in vector computation, the X390 delivers a significant boost in sustained data bandwidth, thanks to its single-core configuration, doubled vector length, and dual vector ALUs. Additionally, the SiFive Vector Coprocessor Interface eXtension (VCIX) allows companies to add their own vector instructions and/or acceleration hardware, providing unprecedented flexibility and performance enhancement.
SiFive takes pride in its collaborations across the industry, ensuring that the software, security, and flexibility benefits of the open standard RISC-V ecosystem are readily available for SiFive processors. By partnering with key players in the field, SiFive enables companies to successfully commercialize their SiFive-powered products. With over 350 design wins and a customer base that includes industry giants such as Intel, Amazon, Qualcomm, Samsung, Google, and NASA, SiFive has solidified its position as a leader in RISC-V.
SiFive CEO Patrick Little boldly states that SiFive and Arm are engaged in a two-horse race for processor dominance. While Arm has a long-standing presence in the industry and recently went public at a valuation of $54.5 billion, SiFive is rapidly gaining traction with its high-performance cores. Little points out that every one of Arm’s top customers is also a customer of SiFive, especially in the mobile sector. SiFive chips offer 30% to 40% better power efficiency and compute density than Arm, making them an attractive choice for customers seeking top-notch performance.
RISC-V: The Fastest-Growing Software Ecosystem
SiFive’s founder, Krste Asanovic, highlights the growing importance of RISC-V in AI and general-purpose computing. While competing solutions often require duct-taping different processors together, SiFive provides complete solutions around its core chips, resulting in a more seamless and efficient system. Asanovic notes that AI-based security components, in particular, require a comprehensive solution, which RISC-V can offer. Furthermore, he mentions that RISC-V is increasingly favored by customers exploring new categories of computing, as long as they aren’t locked into a different architecture.
SiFive’s journey in revolutionizing computing began in the embedded market and has now expanded to high-performance cores. With hundreds of millions of dollars raised and a workforce of over 500 employees across multiple locations, SiFive is poised to shape the future of computing. The company’s focus on high-performance and data-intensive applications, coupled with its dedication to the limitless potential of RISC-V, positions SiFive as a key player in the industry.
As SiFive continues to penetrate various U.S. government procurements and expand its customer base, the company’s products, along with the products of its customers, are subject to export controls. While the U.S. government restricts the shipment of the highest-level chips to China, SiFive’s products can still be used by Chinese customers without limitations. This flexibility contributes to SiFive’s success in China, further establishing it as a hotspot for sales.
SiFive’s unveiling of the SiFive Performance P870 and SiFive Intelligence X390 marks a significant milestone in the world of processor design. With their exceptional performance, low power consumption, and scalability, these chip designs offer new possibilities for the fields of consumer electronics, automotive technology, and infrastructure. As SiFive continues to drive innovation and collaborate with industry leaders, the future of computing looks promising, with RISC-V architecture leading the charge towards more efficient and powerful processors.