Earlier this month SiFive introduced the new Performance P870 RISC-V processor and Intelligence X390 neural processing unit. Like many of the company’s products, these are basically designs that other companies can license for their own RISC-V chips, but they might be some of the last pre-designed processor cores of this type from SiFive.

According to industry watcher Ian Cutress, SiFive recently laid off a large number of employees (update: 20% of its employees) and restructured the company.

SiFive Performance P870 processor

According to Cutress, SiFive may be planning to stop offering pre-designed processor cores like the P870 and will instead shift its focus to custom designs for individual clients (which isn’t new – it’s something SiFive already offers, but now it could be the only thing the company does).

In other words, we may not see any new announcements of licensable technologies like the one SiFive made earlier this month. But that doesn’t mean the company is going out of business… it just means that a lot of its products will be developed in partnership with specific customers. (update: it seems like SiFive isn’t ruling out offering “standard products” as well as “custom” designs in the future. See the company’s statement below for more details). 

Update: SiFive reached out with the following statement:

As we identify and focus on our greatest opportunities, SiFive is shifting to best meet our customers’ fast-changing requirements by undergoing a strategic refocusing of all our global teams.

Unfortunately, with this realignment, approximately 20% of employees across all different business groups and levels were impacted. The employees are receiving severance and outplacement assistance.

SiFive continues to be excited about the long-term opportunities for the company and for RISC-V. The growth of the company has never been stronger and the opportunities never better. We are well funded for years in the future and continue to work with the market leaders in every segment.

We remain focused on our four product groups, essential, intelligence, performance and automotive, and as we explained in a press event earlier this month, have a robust roadmap to meet the needs of these markets. We see tremendous new opportunities in AI and with Consumer products like wearables and mobile as Google brings Android to the RISC-V ecosystem.

We will continue to offer customization for specific customers, offering standard and custom products where it makes sense from a business standpoint.

Here’s a roundup of recent tech news from around the web.

The Risk of RISC-V: What’s Going on at SiFive? [More than Moore]

RISC-V chip design company SiFive has reportedly laid off a number of employees, potentially shuttering its RISC-V core design & licensing business to focus on custom cores for individual customers. Update: Maybe. The layoffs are real. What it means remains to be seen. 

Qualcomm Unveils Snapdragon Seamless to Allow Your Devices to Work as One [Qualcomm]

Qualcomm unveiled it next-gen chips for smartphones and PCs today. But the company also made a few other announcements. For example, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Seamless is yet another attempt to bridge the gap between smartphones, tablets and PCs with cross-device experiences like using dragging & dropping files and using mice, keyboards, and earbuds with multiple devices.

Qualcomm S7 and S7 Pro Gen 1 Sound Platforms Unleash Next Level Audio Experiences [Qualcomm]

Qualcomm S7 and S7 Pro Gen 1 sound platforms use on-device AI and “micro WiFi” to extend range beyond BT capabilities and bring 192 kHz lossless audio to wireless earbuds, headphones, and speakers.

Apple Announces ‘Scary Fast’ Oct. 30 Event to Roll Out New Macs [Bloomberg]

Apple has scheduled a “Scary Fast” event for Oct 30, when the company is expected to launch new hardware, possibly including a new iMac, among other things.

Kodi 21.0 “Omega” Beta 1 [Kodi]

Kodi 21 “Omega” Beta 1 released with the latest version of the open source, cross-platform media center software using FFmpeg 6.0 for media handling and a number of under the hood changes.

Keep up on the latest headlines by following @[email protected] on Mastodon. You can also follow Liliputing on X (the app formerly known as Twitter) and Facebook

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  1. Looks like scalpers have already hit places where you could (pre-)order RISC-V based products, e.g. the arace.tech listings for milkV SBCs and SOMs 🤬

  2. So essentially, they are cutting off RISC-V from the masses? I wonder if certain IP’s (cough, Intel, cough) feel threatened by them? I don’t know, something is amiss here.

    1. Did the masses ever really have RISC-V when the masses don’t even have lithography machines?

      1. Lol, I get what you’re saying. But what I meant was, when a company is “restructuring” and laying off a lot of people, that doesn’t bode well.

        What I mean is. Besides SiFive, I’m not really sure about availability of (or should I say, mass availability) of Risc-V chips to the masses. If SiFive is struggling, it makes me wonder why. Is there something nefarious going on? Intel and Microsoft are known for their underhanded tactics and anti-competitive products. Or is it something else?

        I look around the city where I live. At our one mall, there are several empty store fronts with “For Lease” signs on them. I see those around town too.

        The pandemic, amongst other things, have created supply issues, quality control issues, layoffs, and companies trying to tighten their belts amongst this world wide recession. Even China’s booming housing industry has quite a few unfinished apartment buildings because the construction company lost money and went belly up.

        So…. is this the result of anti-competitive practices fighting against SiFive and trying to drown them, or is it the recession and/or mismanagement on the part of SiFive? I have no idea. But in the end, I think this doesn’t bode well for consumers when it comes to getting Risc-V chips into the hands of consumers. Especially for those looking for an alternative to Arm and x86 like me.

        🙂

        1. “Intel and Microsoft are known for their underhanded tactics and anti-competitive products.”

          Typo. I meant to say “anti-competitive *practices“, not products.

        2. ARM is scalable, and it’s proven to work. Just look at Apple, from their watch to their phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop offering.

          RISC-V always had promises of such. But nothing came of it. SiFive never really had products out there.

          Now, if RISC-V was truly that revolutionary they should have gotten funding (seems like they did) and they should have made some end-user products ranging from watches, phones, tablets, laptops to desktops. Not in a massive amount, but in a large enough quantity to ship them out for free to various independent developers. Do some Guerilla Marketing. And ship out some SDK to the headquarters of Linux Distribution providers.

          Shake up the market. See where the criticisms fall. If a competitor steals your design, so be it. This is your rough draft, you will come with something better later. And if they had to resort to copying you it means they lack the ability to compete you anyways. The bigger problem is this initial hurdle.

          Once you’ve shaken up the market, it’s time to analyse. See what you did wrong, what you did right, and get those precious advice for free from the industry leaders. Now you have a blueprint for your second attempt, and you can secure more funding, and stamp out actual products for devices. Just keep your key-staff happy, secure your Intellectual Property, and look to making deals.

          Apple took a massive risk when they decided to go in-house for their chipset development, it lead to the iPhone 5S, A14, and M1. But they were smart about it. RISC-V and SiFive sounds like squandered potential and mismanagement.