krolden
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nooooooo

that sucks.

@Blattstruktur
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But why should this be bad? As the comments point out, RISC-V will still be a libre ISA, SiFive did not make libre hardware and there might be a good outcome to this. SiFive has not proven to be of special worth.

@je_vv
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That’s the bad thing about open ISAs, open ISA != open HW (risc-v BTW is not a libre ISA, it’s an open ISA)…

However, SiFive contributes a lot to the open source SW community around risc-v and promotes risc-v even among other companies not buying SiFive SoCs/boards… And there’s no story yet about ME on SiFive SoCs that I’m aware of… On the other side, if it ends up happening, who knows what priority intel will give to the risc-v SoCs. All that is to be seen, if the offer materializes… SiFive could have been the one providing risc-v SoCs for sort of pine64, but with risc-v instead of arm. Not sure if intel prizing schemes would make that possible for example…

BTW, intel, amd, apple and qualcom, all have been found in one way or another abusing privacy through HW (be that ME or other mechanisms which expose somehow the SoC’s usage), so more of that would really be sad as well, for those waiting for non, or at least less intrusive alternatives.

The other somehow worrying thing about intel, is its commercial strategy, and possible implications on competing risc-v other SoCs providers…

Although I saw the comments on reddit, I don’t agree with the general consensus there… But it’s a bit too early to tell though. We’ll see. The only certain thing is that all that is really out of the control of most of us, :)

@Blattstruktur
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Interesting, thanks for your answer. What did you mean with “(risc-v BTW is not a libre ISA, it’s an open ISA)”?

@je_vv
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Free/Libre is associated with the 4 essential freedoms:

  • The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.

Like the ones defined for free SW. However open source is more concerned about the source code being open and of free distribution. The rule of thumb (though to make sure, one has to make sure if its license is been recognized by the corresponding organization), is that if it’s free/libre, then in general it’s open source, but not the other way around. For example the openBSD license is open source, but not free/libre…

From licenses stand point, enterprises and companies prefer to build on top of open source, given the ones that are open source but not free/libre, don’t impose exposing modifications of the open component of the commercial products, or to end users for example, thus protecting “competitive advantages and such”, whereas free/libre do. That was part of the considerations taken by the risc-v creator and organization, to get a wider adoption it was preferred to use an open source scheme for the ISA, which would attract more companies able to invest on new processors without the “concern” about free/libre licenses.

I do have a biased opinion about “free/libre vs. open source”, but I tried to refrain from exposing that too much, :) Most open source proponents enforce the idea they are the same, but in principle at least they are not, :)

@3arn0wl
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RISC-V is an Open Source ISA, but companies are at liberty to use it proprietorially…

In fact, they can use it, and not disclose that they are doing so (so long as they don’t use the RISC-V label, it doesn’t need to be verified).

I think that a lot of SiFive’s chips are actually closed-source… so in that sense, no different to Intel’s work. :(

@3arn0wl
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I honestly don’t understand what’s going on here…

When Intel lured Sunil Shenoy back from SiFive, I thought it indicated that they were interested in RISC-V as an alternative to their faltering X86 architecture.

Since Micro Magic’s demonstration of RISC-V’s capabilities at the end of last year, I’ve been waiting for Intel to announce that they’ve developed a RISC-V chip that can blow Apple’s M1 out of the water… I thought that they might try to use Micro Magic’s know-how - not SiFive’s!

Since RISC-V is an Open Source ISA, I assume they’ve realised that this isn’t analogous to Nvidia’s attempted acquisition of Arm… They won’t get control of the ISA - US$2.1B only buys SiFive’s brains and their (software) IP. (And the brains might not stick around for very long after the acqui-hire.) There is no consolidation of tech in this purchase.

Does Intel really need SiFive to develop a RISC-V chip? I don’t believe they do.

So what’s going on?

@3arn0wl
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So I guess the question to ask is:

What Intellectual Property do SiFive have - that Sunil Shenoy would know about - that would be worth >US$2Billion to Intel?*

And two possible answers occur to me -

Either - They’ve got the next generation of DataCentre chip

Or - They’ve got an Apple M1 beater SoC that hasn’t been released yet, because the software is still inchoate.

*Other than the significant intellectual brainpower of their engineers.

RISC-V (pronounced “risk-five”) is a license-free, modular, extensible instruction set architecture (ISA).

riscv.org

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