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Open Source Hardware Linux

Help Build the World's First Community-Funded CPU ASIC 140

Posted by timothy
from the dude-hook-us-up dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The 32-bit OpenRISC CPU has been available for many FPGAs and was turned into a commercial ASIC in 2003. Now, the OpenCores community is asking for donations to create a new ASIC with the OpenRISC CPU, ethernet, PCI, UART, USB and other peripherals. The goal is to be able to sell these ASICs at a low price to anyone who wants to build a cheap embedded system built completely on open source. The OpenRISC currently runs on Linux 2.6.37 and has ports of gcc 4.5.1 among other things."
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Help Build the World's First Community-Funded CPU ASIC

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  • Free at last (Score:5, Insightful)

    by olof_k (2093198) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @12:27PM (#35985306)
    This is a milestone in open source history. No more complaining about undocumented behaviour that causes drivers to crash. It's just to download the RTL code and see for yourself what is going on. If this catches on, the chances of building truly open systems greatly improves. Go OpenCores!
  • by StandardCell (589682) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @01:24PM (#35985644)
    This is a nice idea, but there are a few serious problems with it:

    1. If this doesn't catch on and people want it to continue, this could be a significant ongoing cost for running this project above and beyond allocating what people might think are one-time NRE charges. None of this appears to be detailed enough on that site so I'm not sure how far they've thought through this. Who are the target vendors, and have they tendered bids? Costs vary greatly, and I'm not at all ready to throw money when there appears not to be an "open source" plan with sufficient detail to make this real, nor with open listing of the credentials of the individuals involved. If you're gathering up to $250k for a project and you want my money, I had damned well better know that you're able to execute and that you have a real plan and definitely not just an FAQ.

    2. How did they define the product? Is it based on market needs? If so, what markets and where is the information on said markets? If it's for hobbyists, I get that, but did anyone do even a rudimentary survey to say how many timers or UARTs might be necessary, whether they should embed an MMU so you can run a more advanced OS, or what the max CPU clock speed should be? If *I* am going to put my money in it, then why not ask *me* what I want? And yeah, I know I can contribute, but how have all of those contributions been managed, organized and synthesized into what is being built AND make it sufficiently relevant for enough time that this would be worth doing before technology moves on? I don't see a single place for that around their site.

    3. Frankly, why bother when there are many other vendors such as Microchip who offer 32-bit micros with fully-documented architectures and better capabilities that you can run Linux on? I know, I know, this is what open source is about, but we're not just talking about someone's spare time on a machine they do other things with; this is a real product with real implications. I seriously don't buy how they're going to change the industry since the successful players in the industry guarantee supply to their customers.

    I know I'm going to get flamed and down-voted for this post, but the open source hardware world is much tougher than the software world, and ASIC designs are steadily dropping because ASSPs are taking their place. I think people's efforts need to be focused on software, and this is coming from a guy who's been on Slashdot more than a decade with a hardware background (and hence my name) and has switched to the software and systems world...

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