RISC-V core out-clocks Apple, SiFive; available as IP

November 03, 2020 // By Peter Clarke
RISC-V core out-clocks Apple SiFive; available as IP
Micro Magic Inc. (Sunnyvale, Calif.) has functioning silicon of its 5GHz-capable 64bit RISC-V processor and is offering the design as intellectual property.

The Micro Magic processor out-clocks the Apple A14 bionic, the processor at the heart of the iPhone 12 and one of the first processors on 5nm silicon. It also goes faster than a quad-core U84 CPU that SiFive states can operate at up to 2.6GHz clock frequency when implemented in a 7nm process.

Micro Magic has a history that goes back to Sun Microsystems and beyond (see EDA company claims world's fastest 64bit RISC-V core). It is reportedly one of Silicon Valley's well-kept secrets and a go-to resource for design teams trying to remove bottlenecks in their datapath designs.

Andy Huang, an independent contractor who supports Micro Magic for marketing and business development functions, contacted eeNews Europe and demonstrated the processor running EEMBC CoreMark benchmarks over a Facetime connection. Huang was founder and CEO of ACAD Corp., the developer of the Finesim simulator, one of the first and fastest of parallel SPICE simulators. ACAD was acquired by Magma Design Automation in 2006 before Magma itself was acquired by Synopsys in 2012.

Huang declined to say which foundry had manufactured silicon for Micro Magic or in what manufacturing process it had been implemented. Huang said the that processor is made in a FinFET process and was manufactured using a multiproject wafer (MPW) run. He also said that Micro Magic had evaluated FinFET silicon libraries from three leading foundries – TSMC, Samsung and Globalfoundries – and intended to make the high-speed RISC-V design compatible with multiple sources of manufacture.

This compatibility is important for the chosen business model of the company. Although it has had samples of its RISC-V processor made, these are intended as a proof of capability. The company intends to go to market by providing the core for license as intellectual property, Huang said.

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