Update: October 26, 03:36 PT: SiFive has contacted More Than Moore and the site has issued a correction. Reports regarding the roadmap change, from pre-designed to custom cores are untrue. The roadmap is being enhanced, claims SiFive, with the recent addition of new cores being part of that enhancement.
Update: October 24, 5:22 p.m. ET: SiFive sent Tom's Hardware a statement via email. This story has been updated to reflect the newest information.
SiFive, one of the key companies in the RISC-V ecosystem, is undergoing a significant restructuring marked by extensive layoffs and apparently a shift in business focus, reports More Than Moore.
RISC-V has become quite a popular choice for making miniature low-cost cores, but there are several companies who are working on higher-performance RISC-V-based offerings. SiFive is one of such companies offering ready-to-use designs and also making custom cores based on what customers need. But now, SiFive has laid off somewhere between 100 to over 300 employees from around 700 in mid-October. Most of these were engineers, along with some sales and product personnel. Meanwhile, the company's leaders, including CEO Patrick Little, are still there.
“In a statement sent to Tom’s Hardware late on Tuesday, SiFive confirmed that it was laying off about 20% of its employees (~ 140) from a variety of different groups.“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,” a statement by SiFive reads. “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.”
The company also plans to offer standard and custom products for a variety of applications, including automotive, consumer, datacenters, artificial intelligence, high-performance computing, and wearables.
“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,” the statement clarifies. 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.”
The company remains optimistic about its future as it is well funded and expects demand for its products to remain high. “SiFive continues to be excited about the long-term opportunities for the company and for RISC-V,” the company stated. “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.”
The ramifications of SiFive’s restructuring raise pertinent questions regarding its future trajectory and influence within the RISC-V sector. The organizational changes, marked by significant layoffs and a potential shift in business strategy, cast uncertainty over the company’s forthcoming contributions to RISC-V standards and its broader impact on the industry’s evolutionary path.”
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Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.
Should have designed at least one ATX motherboard. Even if the performance is lower than x86, there would be takers.Reply
Not ATX but the mITX Milk-V Oasis was announced a few days ago.ezst036 said:Should have designed at least one ATX motherboard.
The SG2380 SoC has 16×SiFive P670 cores. (12 at 2.5 GHz, 4 at 1.6GHz).
Plus a "NPU" with eight SiFive X280 cores with 512-bit vector units. GPU, NVMe, SATA, LPDDR5 slots, PCIe slot ...
Each P670 core is out-of-order. RVA22 + V 1.0 + V cryptography. and has 4-wide decode. 2×ALU, 2×branch, 2×LDST, 2×FP, 2×V units,
SiFive announced the larger P870 core this year, which should be quite competitive. I hope it comes out.
Don't see this as a big issue. There's plenty Chinese companies developing Risc-V hardware and software and not just American Ones.Reply
Overall its not a big issue for RISCV, but I think its still a small obstacle to more adoption for RISCV overall, since SiFive is one of the more notable or well known RISCV hardware companies. At least from my limited perspective.pug_s said:Don't see this as a big issue. There's plenty Chinese companies developing Risc-V hardware and software and not just American Ones.
Wasn't SiFive's CEO recently complaining about US sanctions affecting their industry? Perhaps this is connected to that.Reply
What are these champions going to do next? Lead Tabata workouts? Build check and wisdom check NPUs? Power efficiency workshop a new GPU? Hack ATSC 3 frameworks?Reply
Well, the HiFive Unmatched was mini-ITX and the upcoming HiFive P550 is micro-ATX.ezst036 said:Should have designed at least one ATX motherboard. Even if the performance is lower than x86, there would be takers.
You raise a good point, but this doesn't necessarily mean SiFive is in trouble.ThomasKinsley said:Wasn't SiFive's CEO recently complaining about US sanctions affecting their industry? Perhaps this is connected to that.
In the startup game, being first-to-market can be everything. So, that naturally leads you to staff up quickly and build/refine your products to the point where they're viable. Once that happens, you might no longer need so many staff to keep the business on its natural growth trajectory until a liquidity event (i.e. IPO or acquisition). Furthermore, to make yourself more attractive to investors or would-be acquirers, you want to reduce costs to improve your financials. That means cutting headcount.
It's brutal, but it's too often a part of the game. Not to sound cold - and I do extend my sympathies to all affected - but people who like job security shouldn't go to startups.
I've been there myself, once having gotten let go from a startup that was not doing well (many years ago). I also have a friend who got brutally cut from a viable startup, pretty much immediately after they wrapped up the first version of their product. Kinda like how some game or graphics studios will have layoffs right after they finish a title. At least with a startup, they usually give you the opportunity to exercise your stock options when you're laid off.
Hopefully AMD picks up some of the SiFive engineering staff that got laid off.Reply
Shouldn't Intel and AMD be all in on RISC-V? Otherwise, they're going to be paying ARM for the next 50 years.Reply