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Project Aims To Build a Fully Open SoC and Dev Board 47

Posted by timothy
from the reducing-the-riscs dept.
DeviceGuru (1136715) writes "A non-profit company is developing an open source 64-bit system-on-chip that will enable fully open hardware, 'from the CPU core to the development board.' The 'lowRISC' SoC is the brainchild of a team of hardware and software hackers from the University of Cambridge, with the stated goal of implementing a 'fully open computing eco-system, including the instruction set architecture (ISA), processor silicon, and development boards.' The lowRISC's design is based on a new 64-bit RISC-V ISA, developed at UC Berkeley. The RISC-V core design has now advanced enough for the lowRISC project to begin designing an SoC around it. Prototype silicon of a 'RISC-V Rocket' core itself has already been benchmarked at UC Berkeley, with results results (on GitHub) suggesting that in comparison to a 32-bit ARM Cortex-A5 core, the RISC-V core is faster, smaller, and uses less power. And on top of that it's open source. Oh, and there's a nifty JavaScript-based RISC-V simulator that runs in your browser."
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Project Aims To Build a Fully Open SoC and Dev Board

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 16, 2014 @06:03AM (#47683761)

    As the blog in EE Times ("The Case for Free, Open Instruction Sets") argues, an ARM license costs $1M to $10M and takes 6 to 24 months to negotiate and then they take a small royalty per chip.
    http://www.eetimes.com/author.asp?doc_id=1323406

    The proprietary instruction sets (ARM, IBM, Intel) have indeed evolved; that is not the problem. The problem is that you're not allowed to share implementations of the proprietary instruction sets with others. Thus, the lowRISC project is using a design from UC Berkeley for free without having to take the time or money to negotiate a contract, and they can modify it as much as they desire. Can't do that with ARM.

  • Re:Hackers? (Score:4, Informative)

    by gtall (79522) on Saturday August 16, 2014 @06:47AM (#47683843)

    Ah, you youngins...its original meaning was anyone who whacked away at software or hardware, it had nothing to do with finding unintended uses or any other borderline technical behavior. What happened was Hollywood and the media picked up the term to apply to people for whom they had no name. Those people were originally called crackers. But Hollywood and the media couldn't tell the phonetic different between the two terms, hacker was easier to pronounce, and had few letters. Then some babies were born and now use the term in its present meaning.

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