SiFive creates global network of RISC-V startups

SiFive creates global network of RISC-V startups

Technology News |
By Peter Clarke

It is pretty easy to see what SemiFive, StarFive and LeapFive all have in common with SiFive but as SiFive CEO Naveed Sherwani explained on Linkedin they are just three of a set of nine companies around the world affiliated to SiFive and all started by ex-employees of SiFive with the help of SiFive.

Sherwani estimates that more than $1 billion has now been invested in RISC-V focused startups around the world with the largest share of that being in China.

Sherwani breaks the numbers down thus: Greater China including Taiwan, $450 million; USA, $350 million; Europe $50 million; India, $50 million; Korea, $45 million; Other countries $65 million.

Next: More about four

SemiFive Co. Ltd. (Seongnam-si, South Korea) was founded in 2019 as a designer and manufacturer of computer semiconductors intended to offer a low cost and fast chip design service. The company designs and produces semiconductor chips that are customizable, and available at lower IP and royalty fees, enabling customers to get silicon chips as per their requirements. Semifive describes itself as a subsidiary of SiFive.

StarFive Technology Co. Ltd. (Shanghai, China) was founded August 24, 2018. Similar to SemiFive, StarFive provides customizable RISC-V core technology based on the E, S and U RISC-V implementations from SiFive and puts that together with a chip design platform. The company states it is focused on China local R&D and intellectual property rights and helping the Greater China region create semiconductor chip and system designs in a wide range of applications for the artificial intelligence and IoT era.

LeapFive describes itself as being a US/China company founded in 2019. According to Linkedin Victor To is vice president of engineering there having moved over from another company in the SiFive galaxy, ExaLeap. To was senior director of software engineering at Cisco and LeapFive is now building RISC-V based SOCs for edge compute. The SOCs are suitable for multiple use cases. LeapFive is providing FreeRTOS on the lower-end SOC and a Linux Distro with execution and development tools on the high-end SOC. Customers can develop applications or port existing applications from ARM and x86 based systems.

Aglaia Kong, a former divisional CTO at both Cisco and Google, has roles at both LeapFive and ExaLeap. 

ExaLeap LLC (Santa Clara, Calif.) is more of software play with plans to deliver specialized operating systems to run on RISC-V for vertical IoT solutions in smart enterprise, smart manufacturing and smart hospital. But at LeapFive Kong lists herself as CTO delivering an RISC-V IP and SoCs for smart homes.

In June 2019 SiFive itself raised $65.4 million in a Series D round led by existing investors Sutter Hill Ventures, Chengwei Capital, Spark Capital, Osage University Partners and Huami, alongside new investor Qualcomm Ventures LLC. That round of brought the total investment in SiFive to more than $125 million. It seems like SiFive has been spending some of that money on creating startup seeds to carry the RISC-V idea out to the rest of the world and introducing entrepreneurs to sources of venture capital.

That means there are at least five more SiFive startups to find. We have asked SiFive to provide more information but no reply had been received by the time this article was posted.

Related links and articles:

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ARM versus RISC-V at European Processor forum

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