SAN FRANCISCO—Startup SiFive Inc., a provider of customizable SoCs based on the RISC-V architecture, said it raised an additional $8.5 million in funding from Spark Capital, Osage University Partners and Sutter Hill Ventures.
The Series B funding round brings the total amount invested in SiFive to $13.5 million, according to the San Francisco-based firm, an early leader in the emerging open source hardware movement. Sutter Hill was already an existing investor in SiFive, while both Spark Capital and Osage University Partners are new investors, the company said.
SiFive debuted last year by publishling specifications for an SoC based on an embedded Linux processor core and one using a microcontroller core both based on work of the RISC-V Foundation. The company later began selling an Arduino board running its first RISC-V-based SoC and made open source RTL code for the chip available online for the chip.
Earlier this month, SiFive announced a new embedded RISC-V core and a way to access its processor cores on its Web site at one-time licensing costs in the mid-six figures.
SiFive was founded by RISC-V inventors Krste Asanovic, Yunsup Lee and Andrew Waterman. The company describes its mission as "democratizing access to custom silicon." SiFive says it sold and delivered more than 1,000 HiFive1 software development boards to developers in over 40 countries in their first six months of availability.
Todd Dagres, a general partner at Spark Capital, said through a press statement that SiFive's goal of "putting custom chips into the hands of everyone from startups to exploratory design teams to inventors with a healthy crowdfunding campaign" resonates with Spark Capital's core values. Dagres will join SiFive's board of directors as a result of the investment.
RISC-V has developed an ecosystem of more than 60 companies that contribute software and tools. SiFive competes with a range of cores from Cadence, Cortus, Imagination, Synopsys and Andes Technology Corp., which rolled out its first 64-bit core earlier this week.
To date, Microsemi Corp remains the only publicly announced licensee for SiFive. However, Jack Kang, vice president of product and business development at SiFive, recently told EE Times that the company has multiple licensees. Microsemi is using RISC-V in imaging and video chips including its IGLOO2 and RTG4 FPGA platform.
SiFive took home the "startup of the year" award at the 2016 ACE Awards. The company says it now has more than 20 employees.
"This investment will enable our continued growth for years to come, and will allow SiFive to further establish that alternatives really matter in an era where traditional silicon vendors no longer are the most innovative in the industry," Kang said in a statement issued earlier this week.
—Dylan McGrath is the editor-in-chief of EE Times.