Intel seeks to buy Arm rival SiFive: Report

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Intel seeks to buy Arm rival SiFive: Report

Intel has reportedly offered US$2 billion to acquire SiFive, an up-and-coming chip designer that competes with Arm using an open-source architecture called RISC-V.

San Mateo, Calif.-based SiFive is weighing the offer from Intel, which is an investor in the startup, and it has received takeover offers from other parties, Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing sources familiar with the matter. The company has also received new investment interest. The report said talks are early and could fall through, which would result in SiFive remaining independent.

Intel and SiFive did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The offer was reportedly made as Intel seeks to regain technology leadership through its IDM 2.0 strategy and as rival Nvidia hopes to close its US$40 billion acquisition of British chip designer Arm, the latter of which has sparked concerns about the future of Arm’s open-licensing model.

Intel’s reported offer and Nvidia’s planned acquisition of Arm represent the shifting landscape in the semiconductor industry as organizations begin to look more closely at alternatives to traditional x86 CPU architecture, where Intel has reigned supreme.

In addition to investing in SiFive, Intel has courted interest from SiFive for the semiconductor giant’s new Intel Foundry Services business, which offers to manufacture chips designed by other companies as part of the company’s IDM 2.0 strategy. Intel has said that it will have the capability to manufacture chips that are based on RISC-V in addition to Arm and x86 architectures.

“We’re pleased to see Intel recognize the utility and opportunity for the RISC-V instruction set architecture in partnering to enable SiFive’s industry-leading Core IP portfolio to enable a new wave of leading-edge technology,” said Patrick Little, a former Qualcomm executive who is now CEO and president of SiFive, in a statement in March.

SiFive’s other corporate investors include Western Digital, Qualcomm and SK Hynix. The company — which has 550 employees — has raised a total of US$185 million, EE Times reported last year.

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