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28 June, 2022 - 17:07 By Tony Quested

SiFive chips into Cambridge to take on Arm in its own backyard

Cash rich Californian RISC-V computing company SiFive has opened a UK R & D centre in Cambridge and plans to hire more than 100 people within two years.

The Register has reported that chip designer SiFive is “pulling in nearly $400 million in funding this year between a new investment round and the proceeds of a business sale with the ambitious mission of eclipsing rival Arm – and the x86 world of Intel and AMD – with processor designs for everything from smartphones to servers.”

AMD is already growing from a new Cambridge base while Arm parent SoftBank of Japan is plotting a NASDAQ float – and possibly a UK IPO – for the company next year. Wherever the biggest money lays will be the decider for a lone US float or dual UK-US listing, says SoftBank.

SiFive’s arrival gives Cambridge the biggest A-list of tech pioneers in its history with the likes of Apple, Amazon, Samsung, Qualcomm, Microsoft, Huawei, Broadcom and other major players already well established.

Chip designer SiFive recently raised a $175m Series F financing round at a more than $2.5bn valuation. SiFive reveals that its total funding from investors, which include SK Hynix as well as the venture arms of Intel, Qualcomm and Western Digital, now stands at more than $350m.

CEO and chairman Patrick Little said: “The market demand for SiFive’s leading RISC-V cores is unprecedented, providing an incredible opportunity for both seasoned and up-and-coming talent to join us in delivering innovative solutions to customers who represent an elite list of leading global technology brands. 

“As part of our global expansion, we’re proud to open our UK R & D Centre in Cambridge to access the considerable local technical talent, especially CPU experts. 

“We offer a chance to work alongside true industry pioneers to develop critical technology that is fundamentally changing the way the semi industry does business. 

“With long-term plans to grow talent and teams in Cambridge and across the UK, we are looking for employees who want to make an impact, working on some of SiFive’s highest performance products. It’s a great chance to join us early in our growth in the UK and beyond.”

The UK government is thrilled with the coup. Minister for Investment, Lord Grimstone said: “Overseas investment supports jobs and boosts local economies across the UK, playing an important role in this government’s Levelling Up agenda. 

“SiFive’s UK expansion is both a strong example of this and a major vote of confidence in our thriving $1 trillion tech sector, cementing the UK as a tech and science superpower.

“This investment is a fantastic opportunity to be part of SiFive’s growing team in the UK and work alongside the co-creators of RISC-V and is a great compliment to the UK and its future.”

SiFive’s new R & D operation underscores its accelerated momentum and growth across the globe. The company is on a mission to build the world’s best computing platforms and bring the open standard RISC-V ISA to all by giving designers the tools to deliver differentiated and best-in-class products. 

In March, SiFive announced its $175m Series F round and appointed Nicole Singer as senior VP and Chief Human Resources Officer. 

With Singer on board, SiFive plans to more than double the company’s global staff across its international offices (U.S. headquarters, France, India, UK, and Taiwan) by 2024. 

Currently, SiFive is seeking UK and Cambridge-based candidates in CPU design, architecture, verification, software development, sales and customer experience.

• PHOTOGRAPH: Patrick Little, President and Chief Executive Officer of SiFive. Photo – Business Wire.

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