Intel Licenses SiFive’s Portfolio for Intel Foundry Companies on 7nm

At the moment’s announcement from SiFive is available in two elements; this half is important because it acknowledges that Intel will likely be enabling SiFive’s IP portfolio on its 7nm manufacturing course of for upcoming foundry prospects. We predict Intel to supply all kinds of its personal IP, reminiscent of a few of the x86 cores, reminiscence controllers, PCIe controllers, and accelerators, nevertheless the depth of its third occasion IP assist has not been absolutely established at this level. SiFive’s IP is the primary (we imagine) official affirmation of particular IP that will likely be supported.

Intel Foundry Companies

Introduced earlier this yr 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 change into a foundry participant prior to now, whereby they construct chips below contract for his or her prospects, it hasn’t actually labored out that nicely – 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 below Keyvan Esfarjani, with IFS led by Randhir Thakur as President reporting to this group. As reported by CRN prior to now week, Intel has just lately employed numerous key abilities from its foundry competitors to assist 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 yr Intel worker most just 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 consists of 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 as a way to compete with different foundry competitors, Intel wants to have interaction with different IP holders to supply design kits and instruments for different applied sciences. For instance, if an Intel Foundry Companies buyer needs to make use of an Intel core paired with a 3rd occasion reminiscence controller on Intel’s 14nm course of, that third occasion reminiscence controller design needs to be validated at Intel. Equally, if a buyer needs to mix Arm cores or different accelerators, that IP needs to be validated. Intel has to create a construction of supported IP except for their very own, and at present’s announcement is without doubt one of the preliminary steps to that.

At the moment’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 assist 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 improvement 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 just a little free, and said that

Intel just 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 improvement of the IFS enterprise, IFS is creating … the P550 on the Intel 7nm.

The primary sentence is vital 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, reminiscent of enabling the P550, however then going past to different components of SiFive’s portfolio. How extensive the scope is past the P550 has not been commented on at the moment, nevertheless if all goes nicely, we might simply think about a large remit for SiFive options at any foundry. It must be famous that some musings have been made that Intel is likely to be attempting to accumulate SiFive, nevertheless nothing that AnandTech might verify or get touch upon – the truth that the 2 corporations are placing this announcement out at present would possibly dampen these rumors just a little. 

The truth that the press launch additionally mentions 7nm is an fascinating angle. We’re protecting what Intel is making with SiFive P550 in a separate information article, as it’s large enough information to get its personal title.

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