SiFive’s New RISC-V Chip Challenges Decades-old Computing Designs

The Performance P650 won't beat a top-end Arm chip in a Samsung or Apple smartphone, but the startup believes its designs eventually could. From a report: It's really hard to get a new chip family to catch on when companies like Intel and Qualcomm ship their products by the millions, but SiFive has a faster new design it hopes will carve a niche. The startup on Thursday announced its Performance P650 design, which comes with a 50% speed boost over the P550 that arrived in June. SiFive is one of the most prominent members of RISC-V International, an alliance collectively developing a family of processors using the new RISC-V architecture. That competes against the x86 architecture from Intel and AMD that dominates in PCs and the Arm architecture used by Qualcomm, Samsung, Apple, MediaTek and others to power all smartphones. Unlike x86 and Arm, though, RISC-V is free to use. It's a fresh start its advocates believe will be more economical and efficient. SiFive doesn't make chips. Instead, it licenses its designs to others that customize them for their own purposes, an approach that's served Arm well. With performance comparable to Arm's two-year-old midrange Cortex A77 design, the P650 won't be ejecting Qualcomm or other Arm designs out of smartphones any time soon. Customers can start evaluating the design in the first quarter of 2022, SiFive said. But if SiFive succeeds with its longer-term plans for better speed, battery life and cost, you could get a SiFive powered phone in a couple years. "By 2023, you're likely to see the first mobile phone with RISC-V," SiFive Chief Executive Patrick Little said in an October interview. "I think we have an excellent shot at the phone."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.