Published in PC Hardware

RISC-V work is a risky business

by on26 October 2023

Unless you are a manager

While the world+dog bangs on about the potential of RISC-V, it would appear the industry has not gotten the memo, and people with those skills are being sent to the dole office.

SiFive has been laying off staff by offering its customers ready-to-use designs and making custom cores based on RISC-V tech. Figures have been placed at between 100 to over 300 employees from around 700 in mid-October (depending on who you ask).

Most of these staff were engineers who are precisely the people you need to develop RISC-V products and sales teams, the type of people you need to sell their work. The people who have kept their jobs are the managers who are busy sitting and looking at whiteboard presentations telling them that RISC-V will overtake x86 and calculating the size of their bonuses. CEO Patrick Little is still there.

SiFive issued the following statement to Tom’s Hardware: “As we identify and focus on our greatest opportunities, SiFive is shifting to best meet our customers’ fast-changing requirements by undergoing a strategic refocusing of all our global teams. Unfortunately, this realignment impacted approximately 20 per cent of employees across different business groups and levels. The employees are receiving severance and outplacement assistance.”

SiFive continues to be “excited about the long-term opportunities for the company and RISC-V.”

The company insists its growth has never been stronger, and opportunities have never been better.

“We are well funded for years in the future and continue to work with the market leaders in every segment,” the company said.

SiFive remains focused on our four product groups, essential, intelligence, performance and automotive, and as we explained in a press event earlier this month, and has a robust roadmap to meet the needs of these markets.

“We see tremendous new opportunities in AI and with Consumer products like wearables and mobile as Google brings Android to the RISC-V ecosystem. We will continue to offer customisation for specific customers, offering standard and custom products where it makes sense from a business standpoint.”

Fudzilla is just noting all this now because in the future, when SiFive managers stop their navel-gazing, patting themselves on the back, and spinning and realise they need staff to make products and a sales team to sell them, they will look back on this moment and realise “oh, so that is where we went wrong.”  

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