SiFive announces Performance P650 processor with up to 16 RISC-V cores

SiFive has announced a new RISC-V processor. The Performance P650 has sixteen cores, which according to the manufacturer are 50 percent faster than the company’s previous Performance P550 cores. The P650 will be available under license.

According to SiFive, the Performance P650 is intended for “performance-oriented uses” such as data centers, edge computing, automotive and in mobile devices. The company does not share specific specifications, but reports that the P650 architecture supports configurations with up to sixteen cores. Users can also run multiple Performance P650 chips within a system. The company previously reported that the upcoming chips can be combined in clusters with 128 cores.

The company further reports that the Performance P650 design builds on the existing P550 architecture. The manufacturer claims that the P650 offers IPC improvements of 40 percent compared to the P550. SiFive does not mention specific clock speeds for the P650, but does report that they are higher than those of its predecessor. SiFive previously suggested that the P650 gets a boost clock of up to 3.5GHz, while the P550 runs at up to 2.4GHz. With these higher clock speeds, along with the IPC improvements, the P650 would perform about 50 percent better than the previous P550. SiFive claims that this makes the P650 ‘the fastest licensable RISC-V core’.

SiFive also writes that the Performance P650 has a 64-bit design. The chip also offers support for virtualization and the hypervisor extension for RISC-V. The company will release an architecture preview for its lead partners early next year. Based on the P650 product page, this seems to be a so-called rtl, or a register transfer level. It allows users to mimic and evaluate the P650 cores. Availability for other customers will follow in mid-2022. SiFive’s chief technical officer will give a keynote address on the Performance P650 during the RISC-V Summit 2021, which will take place between December 6 and 8.

The design of the Performance P650. Source: SiFive