Tenstorrent, a developer of heterogeneous processors for AI applications led by ex-AMD engineers Ljubisa Bajic and Jim Keller, has licensed a general-purpose CPU design developed by SiFive based on the RISC-V architecture. Licensing general-purpose cores and IP will speed up time-to-market of Tenstorrent's products.
Tenstorrent develops high-performance AI training and inference system-on-chip architectures based on its own Tensix processor cores optimized for machine learning (ML). To run traditional workloads, Tenstorrent's SoCs will use SiFive's new general-purpose Intelligence X280 64-bit RISC-V-based cores with fully integrated 512-bit wide RISC-V Vector extension (RVV). SiFive is expected to disclose details about its vector processing solutions later this week at the Linley Spring Processor Conference.
Along with SiFive's Intelligence X280 IP, Tenstorrent will also get a RISC-V software stack that will further speed up time-to-market for the AI SoC company.
"SiFive Intelligence is a new initiative dedicated to bringing cutting-edge software and hardware technologies to those looking to innovate in the AI market," said Chris Lattner, President of Engineering and Product at SiFive. "Tenstorrent, with its team of industry leaders and an already impressive track record of silicon success, is an ideal partner for SiFive’s new products targeted at machine learning applications."
The AI SoC designer has not disclosed all of the specifications of its upcoming processors just yet, but it is now obvious that the company wants its SoC architectures to be capable of general-purpose processing, vector processing (for AI inference and high-performance computing), and ML. Ultimately, Tenstorrent's architectures could be used for a wide variety of applications, including next-generation supercomputers that require both AI and HPC capabilities.
Ljubisa Bajic and Jim Keller spent decades working on x86-based designs at AMD. Keller has also worked on multiple Arm-based designs while at Apple. The very fact that Tenstorrent chose to use SiFive-developed RISC-V CPU design is noteworthy by itself and is a testament to the new architecture.
"The Tenstorrent architecture addresses the growing demands that come with data-written code as part of Software 2.0," Keller said in a press release. "We are excited to partner with SiFive because of their ability to deliver CPUs and software for the modern RISC-V ecosystem."