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Intel's Attempt to Acquire SiFive for $2 Billion Fell Apart, Report Claims

Intel
(Image credit: Intel)

While Intel was interested to acquire RISC-V processor developer SiFive and SiFive is considering its strategic options, the companies could not agree neither on financial terms nor on how SiFive technologies could be used at Intel reports Bloomberg. The latter company is still considering both an initial public offering (IPO) as well as a takeover by a larger player. 

SiFive is a world's leading developer of RISC-V-based processor cores and a contract designer of system-on-chips. Earlier this year it was reported that Intel had offered $2 billion for the startup and the two companies entered negotiations over other terms. As it turns out, the companies reportedly could not agree on financial terms and on how SiFive technologies would be integrated into Intel's roadmap. For obvious reasons, neither of the parties has issued a comment because the talks were private.

There are several reasons why Intel wanted to buy SiFive. Firstly, there are many applications that are beyond x86's reach that Intel would certainly like to address. The x86 market is limited to perhaps 350 ~ 360 million units per year. If Intel manages to get into RISC-V world early enough, it will be able to offer its customers high-volume low-power solutions produced at its own fabs several years down the road, which will greatly diversify the company's products offerings. 

While Intel could certainly develop and offer its own RISC-V cores to attract designers of SoCs for emerging applications, taking over a renowned RISC-V company with IP, clients, and people familiar with the ISA could be a preferable way to enter the RISC-V world. 

RISC-V is a dynamically developing open-source instruction set architecture (ISA) that is supported by multiple industry giants, including Google, Huawei, and Western Digital. While previously RISC-V cores could only address simplistic microcontrollers, today they can be used for more demanding applications and even run Linux. Adopters of RISC-V do not have to pay royalties for ISA and some of RISC-V cores are available free of charge. Meanwhile, there are commercial RISC-V implementations that should be licensed from their developers, yet even in this case there is no need to pay for the ISA itself. 

While Intel could certainly develop and offer its own RISC-V cores to attract designers of SoCs for emerging applications, taking over a renowned RISC-V company with IP, clients, and people familiar with the ISA could be a preferrable way to enter the RISC-V world. 

RISC-V is a dynamically developing open-source instruction set architecture (ISA) that is supported by multiple industry giants, including Google, Huawei, and Western Digital. While previously RISC-V cores could only address simplistic microcontrollers, today they can be used for more demanding applications and even run Linux. Adopters of RISC-V do not have to pay royalties for ISA and some of RISC-V cores are available free of charge. Meanwhile, there are commercial RISC-V implementations that should be licensed from their developers, yet even in this case there is no need to pay for the ISA itself. 

Si-Five is ahead of many RISC-V adopters and has better chances to address emerging applications that are not yet addressed either by x86 or by Arm architectures. To develop more competitive offerings, SiFive reportedly plans to expand its CPU development team form 200 to 400 engineers, which is why it needs money, either from private investors or from large companies. 

  • jkflipflop98
    This is a straight up "good ol boys club" deal.

    The CEO of SiFive is on the Intel board of directors.
    Just like they forced this horrid "Workday" crap on all the Intel employees because the CEO of Workday was on the board.
    I would have hoped Pat would be above this crap - but either he's not or he simply doesn't have the power to go against the board.

    Disgusting.
    Reply
  • Josh Mahurin
    jkflipflop98 said:
    This is a straight up "good ol boys club" deal.

    The CEO of SiFive is on the Intel board of directors.
    Just like they forced this horrid "Workday" crap on all the Intel employees because the CEO of Workday was on the board.
    I would have hoped Pat would be above this crap - but either he's not or he simply doesn't have the power to go against the board.

    Disgusting.

    Did you miss where the deal did not go through? Also the CEO of SiFive is NOT on the Intel board... not sure where you got that info. He is a former Qualcomm board member if maybe that's what you're thinking?
    Reply
  • dalek1234
    Admin said:
    the companies could not agree on how SiFive technologies could be used at Intel

    If Intel doesn't yet know how to use SiFive's technology, then why are they buying SiFive? This smells fishy. It sound like Intel wants to buy SiFive only so that somebody else can't (AMD?). I'm expecting that once the AMD Xilinx merger is complete and the two are integrated, it won't be long before AMD will want acquire other technoligies, such as Risc-V . I think Intel might just be playing it's usual dirty game here...I mean, "thinking ahead"
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    dalek1234 said:
    If Intel doesn't yet know how to use SiFive's technology, then why are they buying SiFive? This smells fishy.
    But they are not buying them for that reason, so how is it fishy?
    dalek1234 said:
    It sound like Intel wants to buy SiFive only so that somebody else can't (AMD?).
    Yeah because AMD has 2 bil lying around on top of all the money they need to design future products, support current ones and pay for wafers.
    I doubt very much that AMD wants to go back to being in debt again.
    Reply
  • mitch074
    the article's last 2 paragraphs repeat. Hasty cut'n'paste?
    the article's last 2 paragraphs repeat. Hasty cut'n'paste?
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    TerryLaze said:
    Yeah because AMD has 2 bil lying around on top of all the money they need to design future products, support current ones and pay for wafers.
    I doubt very much that AMD wants to go back to being in debt again.
    AMD wouldn't necessarily have to use cash. Their Xilinx deal is worth $35B, which AMD paid for entirely with stock.

    That being said, I have no reason to think AMD wants to buy SiFive.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    TJ Hooker said:
    AMD wouldn't necessarily have to use cash. Their Xilinx deal is worth $35B, which AMD paid for entirely with stock.
    Give away all your shares until your company isn't yours anymore...also not a very desirable prospect for AMD.
    TJ Hooker said:
    That being said, I have no reason to think AMD wants to buy SiFive.
    Want's maybe, having and ARM type CPU core isn't the worst thing you could have, but I do agree and don't see them doing it.
    Reply
  • renz496
    dalek1234 said:
    If Intel doesn't yet know how to use SiFive's technology, then why are they buying SiFive? This smells fishy. It sound like Intel wants to buy SiFive only so that somebody else can't (AMD?). I'm expecting that once the AMD Xilinx merger is complete and the two are integrated, it won't be long before AMD will want acquire other technoligies, such as Risc-V . I think Intel might just be playing it's usual dirty game here...I mean, "thinking ahead"

    more like intel want to stop any company to create a RISC-V processor that can challenge x86 in the future. why this deal does not go through? probably SiFive did not like intel intention to hinder RISC-V advancement in computing world.
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    TerryLaze said:
    Give away all your shares until your company isn't yours anymore...also not a very desirable prospect for AMD.
    The company is owned by the shareholders. Nobody currently owns a majority share. What does "until the company isn't yours anymore" even mean in this context? Are you aware that companies can simply create more shares (although this will usually result in a drop in the share price), as long as the current shareholders agree to it?
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    TJ Hooker said:
    The company is owned by the shareholders. Nobody currently owns a majority share. What does "until the company isn't yours anymore" even mean in this context?
    So how does that work? I have no idea.
    AMD just tells every single shareholder what percentage of share they have to transfer over?
    Reply