RISC-V's SiFive sells connectivity IP to Alphawave

We want to concentrate on legging it after Arm, says biz


Up-and-coming SiFive is selling its OpenFive business, including its portfolio of blueprints for chip connectivity, to fellow silicon designer Alphawave.

SiFive will hand over OpenFive to publicly traded Alphawave for $210m in cash, the pair announced on Monday. SiFive said this will allow it to focus on its core business, which is designing RISC-V CPU cores and related tech for people to license and put into system-on-chips. In this respect, SiFive is a rival of Arm, which also licenses CPU core designs among other tech.

Silicon Valley-based SiFive's profile has risen over the few years, in part because Intel reportedly tried to acquire it last year for $2bn before discussions ended. The upstart's CPU cores are compatible with the open-source RISC-V instruction set architecture, which is royalty-free to use. Implementations of the ISA can be offered as paid-for products or made freely available; SiFive provides a mix of free and non-free RISC-V CPU cores, for instance.

With this latest transaction, SiFive is giving Alphawave IP on more than 75 system-on-chip connectivity designs — including ones that can be used to create chiplets — as well as OpenFive's team of more than 300 people, who are mostly based in India. SiFive, which has raised $185m from investors, is also licensing RISC-V processor IP to Alphawave as part of the deal.

Alphwave, which is based in Toronto, Canada, said the deal will accelerate its "connectivity leadership" in the datacenter and edge computing markets by more than tripling its customer base from 20 to over 75, many of which are in North America, including a new hyperscaler customer. It will also double Alphawave's number of connectivity-focused IP components to more than 155.

The connectivity-focused chip designer said this transfer of technology will allow it to become a "one-stop-shop" that can bundle connectivity IP solutions on advanced manufacturing nodes, including 5nm, 4nm, and beyond. The biz said the acquisition will also boost its ability to provide custom silicon solutions, including ones that make use of chiplets.

The purchase announcement comes after Alphawave debuted on the London Stock Exchange last May. The company's stock price is roughly 59 percent down from when it IPO'd, though today's news brought shares up a smidgen, by approximately 2.3 percent.

SiFive's deal with Alphawave is expected to close in the second half of the year – as long as regulators are happy, because we know their opinions matter on issues like this. ®

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