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Chip wars: Intel keen on acquiring Arm competitor, according to report

Intel Chip
Intel Chip (Image credit: 60 Minutes)

What you need to know

  • A new report claims Intel is interested in paying over $2 billion to acquire SiFive Inc.
  • The acquisition would serve as Intel's response to NVIDIA's Arm purchase.
  • It would be the latest billion-dollar-tier investment from Intel in a recent string of them.

If you thought Intel was done spending money after it announced its $20 billion fab creation plan and various billion-dollar upgrades to its existing fabs, think again. A new report says the tech company is opening up its war chest once more to acquire a competitor to Arm.

The company being eyeballed by Intel is SiFive Inc., which was valued at roughly $500 million back in 2020, according to PitchBook. That valuation means little if Bloomberg's report is on the money — the money being, in this case, the rumored $2-billion-plus Intel offered SiFive.

As of this time, no deal has been struck, and neither SiFive nor Intel provided comments to Bloomberg. However, it's worth noting that neither company commenting is different than either company denying the deal's existence outright.

Though a company spending over $2 billion isn't unimpressive, remember that the company SiFive would be competing with, Arm, earned NVIDIA's favor to the tune of $40 billion. Multiple governments around the world are investigating that acquisition, though NVIDIA's CEO Jensen Huang doesn't seem worried — at least, not publicly. Regulators are concerned that NVIDIA and Arm would make for a heck of a power couple, resulting in Arm shedding its manufacturer neutrality to adopt an NVIDIA-focused approach.

What an eventual Intel-SiFive and NVIDIA-Arm faceoff would look like remains uncertain, though what is clear is that in the event Bloomberg's report ends up being accurate, we won't have to wait long to see the rivalry's results.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

7 Comments
  • I feel like this is more akin to Qualcomm acquiring Nuvia. As far as I understand, SiFive does not own the RISC-V standard.
  • With Apple using ARM architecture, it doesn't make sense to bring another architecture into the mix. I also don't see how the RISC-V architecture improves X86-64. Since Intel has pretty much gone all in with Big/little architecture, maybe they are hoping RISC-V can be molded into better little cores. However, I wish they would spend more effort getting the fabrication size under 10nm.
  • RISC-V is an open architecture similar to arm, you don't have to pay anyone for using it
  • RISC-V is also more flexible than ARM. If I had to guess the tech of the future will increasingly be powered by more bespoke processors, which RISC-V will enable to a greater degree than ARM. Whether a company like SiFive would be the beneficiary of this I can’t say.
  • Open but with a ton of newbie mistakes.
  • I'm certainly in no position to judge how true or false this is, but as someone who uses open source software my naive assumption would be that as more companies start to look seriously at RISC-V there will be improvements.
  • Nvidia's ARM acquisition needs to fail. Far too many things rely on ARM SoC Designs.