SiFive - September 13, 2022

Introducing SiFive Automotive Products

The Next SiFive Revolution

As SiFive announces its long-term plans to meet the rapidly changing needs of the automotive markets, this blog explores the many advantages the SiFive Automotive™ portfolio brings across a wide range of current and future applications, including; electrification, cockpit, ADAS, safety, and others. Our power efficient, flexible and high-performance cores are ideally suited for the most critical applications, and are of course, supported by the global RISC-V ecosystem.

Why SiFive?

Founded by the same engineers who invented the RISC-V ISA, SiFive is uniquely positioned to extend and broaden the reach of RISC-V based processors in new and growing markets. The rate of SiFive innovation and product development in the last few years has been astounding. SiFive has grown rapidly, and today offers not only the most comprehensive portfolio of RISC-V IP, but is rapidly approaching performance at the high-end that matches or exceeds any CPU IP vendor. SiFive’s growing portfolio of IP, ranging from small 32-bit real time CPUs all the way up to high-performance 64-bit application processors, singles out SiFive as the only RISC-V IP supplier that can cater to the entire spectrum of automotive compute requirements as a one stop shop. From our CEO, who grew Qualcomm’s automotive division, to our many automotive SOC experts, we are a team that uniquely understands the needs of today’s automotive manufacturer.

A Portfolio Approach

SiFive’s roadmap delivers a portfolio of products that meets the requirements of the vast majority of automotive CPU applications, including MCUs, MPUs and, soon, SoCs. We often read about macro trends in automotive electronic architecture design, including centralization of computing, increased compute at the sensing edge, increased SW complexity due to mixed criticality support, and a shift from domain to zonal controllers, to list but a few of today’s trends. The implications are a need for newer, more capable ECUs, and a higher degree of mixed criticality functional integration into fewer devices, at the price of increased software complexity. Despite the evolution in electronic architectures, the variety of automotive semiconductor products continues to remain broad, from small MCUs all the way to complex SoCs; however, there are significant commonalities across the many use cases including functional safety and security. Virtually every electronic device in a vehicle must comply with ISO26262, ISO21434, and additional local standards as applicable, such as UNECE WP.29 r155. SiFive Automotive products provide tailored levels of integrity, with area optimized products for both ASIL B and ASIL D, while in-field configurable integrity levels can be enabled through the available split-lock variants.

Introducing the SiFive Automotive Family of Products

SiFive has launched its new product portfolio and the first three SiFive Automotive product series, each with area and performance optimized variants for their intended use. SiFive is the only RISC-V IP supplier to offer multiple processor series that optimally meet automotive designers’ exact compute, integrity, and security requirements across a broad range of computing applications, from MCUs to complex SoCs. All of the product variants offer best-in-class levels of functional safety and security capabilities, with a high degree of configurability to different integrity levels. The E6-A is the first commercially available offering. The E6-A is a 32-bit real-time core, with broad availability later in 2022. By the second half of 2023, two more product series will be added to the portfolio, the X280-A and S7-A. The X280-A is a vector capable processor ideally suited for edge sensing in ADAS, sensor fusion applications, and any ML/AI accelerated functionality in the vehicle. The S7-A is an optimized 64-bit CPU tailored for safety islands as often used in ADAS, gateways, and domain controllers. A standout feature of S7-A is native 64-bit support, meaning that the safety island can now access the same memory space as the application CPUs.

Later in 2023, a new high-end processor, configurable to up to 16-cores, will be added to the portfolio. Customers should expect best-in-class performance and ASIL support and a tailored automotive alternative for high performance CPU IP. And much more is on the way in the coming months as the roadmap expands to meet market needs, and our SW, tools and OS partners add new levels of support.

All of the above could not have been possible without SiFive strategically adding top talent from the industry, both in CPU design and the automotive market, including, our CEO who managed the growth of Qualcomm’s automotive business, and a renowned safety expert and co-founder of Yogitech, among others. The automotive team benefits from investments in processor design that are foundational to the underlying technology, while also leveraging expertise in automotive R&D, functional safety, and security. Our team is ready to answer your automotive questions.

Ecosystem and Next Steps

The automotive semiconductor market is dependent on advances from a broad range of SW, tool, and OS vendors, and their support for SiFive the RISC-V ecosystem is growing at a phenomenal pace. The ecosystem supporting RISC-V today is fast growing and reaching maturity, with many announcements in the pipeline.

SiFive is collaborating with a wide range of automotive technology companies to create a robust and vibrant RISC-V community.

SiFive’s first automotive products are arriving in the market at a time of rapid growth and change and the company brings a modern architecture, supported by the broad global RISC-V ecosystem, with unique solutions for some of automotive’s most critical technologies.

If you’d like to hear more, give us a call or visit our Automotive page for more information.