Intel weighs SiFive buyout to boost chip technology

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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The US-based multinational technology corporation Intel is reportedly considering making an offer to buy SiFive Inc, a company intimately connected with open-source technology that is challenging the rise of Intel’s rival, Arm Ltd. 

SiFive, a US-based startup, employs a number of the founders of RISC-V, an open-source semiconductor technology that is challenging Arm, the British chip technology firm that was recently acquired by Nvidia Corp for $40 billion.

Arm and SiFive sell intellectual property, such as chip designs, to third parties who ultimately manufacture the chips. Both Intel and SiFive declined to comment on the matter.

According to reports, the Santa Clara, US-based chipmaker is considering making a $2 billion bid.

Intel, along with competitors like American Qualcomm Inc, is already an investor in SiFive, which raised $61 million in a funding round headed by Korea’s SK Hynix.

The RISC-V architecture is being used by SiFive to design computing cores. The underlying architecture for those cores is open-source, however, the specific core designs themselves can be sold.

Buying SiFive might provide Intel with a library of intellectual property that it could utilize in its chips and license to future customers as it works to build a business by opening up its chip factories to outsiders.

Intel has already stated that as part of its contract manufacturing business, it aims to license computing cores based on its proprietary x86 architecture to customers.

Intel, on the other hand, would also gain a software boost. SiFive is also working on making it easier to program various types of computing chips, and last year hired Mr. Chris Lattner, a well-known Silicon Valley computer scientist.

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