In the present day’s announcement from SiFive is available in two components; this half is important because it acknowledges that Intel will probably be enabling SiFive’s IP portfolio on its 7nm manufacturing course of for upcoming foundry prospects. We expect Intel to supply all kinds of its personal IP, equivalent to among the x86 cores, reminiscence controllers, PCIe controllers, and accelerators, nevertheless the depth of its third get together IP help has not been totally established at this level. SiFive’s IP is the primary (we consider) official affirmation of particular IP that will probably be supported.
Intel Foundry Companies
Introduced earlier this 12 months by Pat Gelsinger, Intel Foundry Companies (or IFS) is one prong of Intel’s technique to realign itself with the present and future semiconductor market. Regardless of having tried to grow to be a foundry participant prior to now, whereby they construct chips underneath contract for his or her prospects, it hasn’t actually labored out that effectively – nevertheless IFS is a brand new reinvigoration of that concept, this time with extra emphasis on getting it proper and increasing the scope.
To that finish, Intel has been reorganizing its manufacturing and operations hierarchy into its personal vertical group underneath Keyvan Esfarjani, with IFS led by Randhir Thakur as President reporting to this group. As reported by CRN prior to now week, Intel has lately employed quite a lot of key abilities from its foundry competitors to help this transition, together with Hong Hao, the previous head of Samsung’s North American foundry enterprise, to ‘formulate enterprise methods and execute buyer engagement plans’. Intel has additionally employed Bob Brennan, a former 22 12 months Intel worker most lately at Micron, as Vice President of Buyer Design Enablement at IFS, helping with end-to-end contract-to-product options for IFS prospects. This contains engagement with Intel’s Design Engineering Group, placing prospects heading in the right direction with Intel roadmaps.
Past Intel IP
Merely providing Intel’s portfolio of applied sciences alone to prospects isn’t going to entice many shoppers, and in an effort to compete with different foundry competitors, Intel wants to interact with different IP holders to offer design kits and instruments for different applied sciences. For instance, if an Intel Foundry Companies buyer desires to make use of an Intel core paired with a 3rd get together reminiscence controller on Intel’s 14nm course of, that third get together reminiscence controller design needs to be validated at Intel. Equally, if a buyer desires to mix Arm cores or different accelerators, that IP needs to be validated. Intel has to create a construction of supported IP apart from their very own, and right this moment’s announcement is among the preliminary steps to that.
In the present day’s announcement from SiFive is the launch of a brand new household of ‘Efficiency’ cores, debuting with the P270 and the P550. Each cores are Linux succesful, with full help for the RISC-V vector extension v1.0rc, and the P550 is SiFive’s highest efficiency core ever with a reported SPEC2006 int rating of 8.65 per GHz. As a part of that announcement, Intel is the lead growth associate of the P550 core on Intel’s personal 7nm course of. That’s what the press launch says.
In our emails with PR nevertheless, the wording was a bit of unfastened, and acknowledged that
Intel lately chosen SiFive to work with the Intel Foundry Companies (IFS) enterprise to supply IP to Foundry prospects. As a part of the expansion and growth of the IFS enterprise, IFS is creating … the P550 on the Intel 7nm.
The primary sentence is crucial right here; it broadens the scope of the preliminary press launch past easy co-operation of a singular IP core (the P550) into one thing extra encompassing. Step one on such an endeavor would clearly be a proof level, equivalent to enabling the P550, however then going past to different components of SiFive’s portfolio. How large the scope is past the P550 has not been commented on right now, nevertheless if all goes effectively, we may simply think about a large remit for SiFive options at any foundry. It ought to be famous that some musings have been made that Intel is likely to be making an attempt to accumulate SiFive, nevertheless nothing that AnandTech may verify or get touch upon – the truth that the 2 firms are placing this announcement out right this moment would possibly dampen these rumors a bit of.
The truth that the press launch additionally mentions 7nm is an attention-grabbing angle. We’re masking what Intel is making with SiFive P550 in a separate information article, as it’s large enough information to get its personal title.