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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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 30, 2011 @12:45PM (#35985412)
      • by olof_k (2093198)
        There are a number of open source CPU cores, most notably are probably Leon and opensparc. I'm not sure, however if the OpenSPARC has been turned into an ASIC.
        • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @01:07PM (#35985542) Journal
          There used to be a small company that produced the OpenSPARC chips. I can't remember what they were called - Star? Solar? Something like that. Anyway, they were bought by some database company a while ago, and they still make those chips.
        • by julesh (229690)

          There are a number of open source CPU cores, most notably are probably Leon and opensparc. I'm not sure, however if the OpenSPARC has been turned into an ASIC.

          I'm pretty sure it has been. The design is more suited to that application than FPGA synthesis (it's quite large, compared to what you can fit on most affordable FPGAs). Synopsys's ASIC design software includes modules derived from it for reuse on users' circuits; I'd be surprised if nobody had actually implemented something they'd designed using it.

        • Fujitsu what?

          • Fujitsu never implemented OpenSPARC. They developed the SPARC64 themselves, and the UltraSPARCs in their machines are manufactured by Oracle.
            • Snippets from Wikipedia:

              SPARC International was intended to open the SPARC architecture to make a larger ecosystem for the design, which has been licensed to several manufacturers, including Texas Instruments, Atmel, Cypress Semiconductor, and Fujitsu. As a result of SPARC International, the SPARC architecture is fully open and non-proprietary.

              In March 2006, the complete design of Sun Microsystems' UltraSPARC T1 microprocessor was released-in open-source form at OpenSPARC.net and named the OpenSPARC T1. In

              • Damnit.. didn't mean to hit submit yet...

                The actual exact implementation of a particular SPARC might not be completely open, but they are all built against an open spec to be called "Sparc". That's a far cry from x86 or POWER.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I found a link to "Download the only free 64-bit micro processors". How do I install that in my MoBo? I'm running Vista.

      • This looks very cool but who makes a motherboard capable of the processor? It is one thing to have the processor but without a complete motherboard, it is just one expensive trinket.
    • I applaud the effort, and I hope it succeeds. The community ought to have its own hardware.

      But I hope the prices are a little less than those of OpenMoko [openmoko.com] and friends (BeagleBoard, FreeRunner, etc.) have been.

      • by zill (1690130)

        But I hope the prices are a little less than those of OpenMoko [openmoko.com] and friends (BeagleBoard, FreeRunner, etc.) have been.

        $150 for a system powerful enough to run desktop linux and you're still complaining it's too expansive?

        • The system I am currently running Linux on, I pulled from the Trash. It even included a monitor, but no cable for the monitor. It a P4 3GHz, 512M with a 320G HD, the bonus was some music, but most of the was crappy Country music and I don't mean Country is crappy, just their chose in music. So yes, $150 is expensive.
    • by blair1q (305137)

      Wait. Are you saying that just because it's open source, it's fully documented? ...

      Pardon me while I pick up my lung.

  • by bcmm (768152)
    Pretty sure Linux runs on a CPU, rather than the other way around.
    • Pretty sure Linux runs on a CPU, rather than the other way around.

      Unless the CPU is emulated. Then it might run on Linux.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        If it's done in an ASIC, it's almost certainly got an HDL model that has been run on Linux.

      • Pretty sure Linux runs on a CPU, rather than the other way around.

        Unless the CPU is emulated. Then it might run on Linux.

        ...and if the CPU emulator is loaded within that emulator, it runs on itself.

  • Why can't the opensource community build a more up to date one that is 64-bit with built in GPU. That would be nice for tablets

    • by AdamHaun (43173)

      This looks like an embedded microcontroller, in which case 32-bit is already very high-end. You realize all that Arduino stuff is based on an 8-bit CPU, right? Modern high-speed 64-bit CPUs are very difficult to design and expensive to fabricate.

    • by Svartalf (2997)

      The CPU's not really the hard part... The GPU is...

  • GNU electric is used to design ASICs. You need a good set of standard cells and a synthesis tool. Then you write the logic in VHDL or verilog.

  • This is stupid.

    I am a big proponent of open-source software. I like the idea of being able to build my own versions of software, fixing bugs and adding features. I use it as a key component of my business. It is great. Moreover, most of the code that me or my employees write is or likely one day will be open source.

    However...open hardware is a fundamentally different thing. No one has chip fabs in their basement. So someone will have to pay big money to make the masks and tape-out and test the hardwar

    • Re:OK, I'll Say It (Score:5, Informative)

      by Bryan3000000 (1356999) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @01:10PM (#35985556)

      You don't understand. Chip fabricators will fabricate custom designed chips. Many companies have this done. Apple used to do it until they brought it in-house, and they still do for many components. If the design is actually completed and manufacturable, the only limit on price is the quantity of the order. This project can actually do what it intends.

      • AMD used to fab chips, and sent some work to TSMC or IBM. Now they've spun off Global Foundries and still use TSMC.

        So, yeah, I see your point about companies doing custom fabs for other companies.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        No, you don't understand.

        From the GP:

        No one has chip fabs in their basement. So someone will have to pay big money to make the masks and tape-out and test the hardware. Unless some major vendor picks up the design and mass produces it lots of 100s of thousands, the price per CPU is going to be stupidly more expensive than an off-the-shelf CPU/motherboard or embedded system. And, even then, you are probably buying an overpriced, underpowered CPU just because it is "free."

        Repeat this until reality sinks in. He's not saying that chip fabricators won't fabricate custom chips. He's saying that the cost of getting them to do so is prohibitive. If your order volume is small, the fixed costs will eat you alive.

        As for the project doing what it intends... the mission statement on the beg-for-donations page linked up above is full of monumentally dumb claims about how this is could revolutionize the industry and make the multinational giants qu

        • by AdamHaun (43173)

          I am a product engineer in the semiconductor industry, and I agree with the skeptics on this one. Open "source" PCB layouts, ROM code, etc. are great, but designing an IC is a whole different ball game. There is no way that a community-funded project fabbed on a years-old process is going to compete on cost or features with anything sold commercially. Reliability will also be an issue, especially for a high-speed design. SoCs are designed, verified, tested, and manufactured by large teams of skilled and hig

          • by hazydave (96747)

            The question I would really have: even if they can do it, after all the cost cutting and everything, is there any chance of the end result actually beating a state of the art FPGA on cost, much less an off-the-shelf micro or SOC.

            • by AdamHaun (43173)

              Very little. Reductions in cost have mostly come from advances in process technology (aka Moore's Law) and high-volume production. A state of the art logic-only device is probably 45nm right now (32nm if you're Intel). OpenCores would probably be targeting 130nm or higher if they released today, which is three generations behind. That's a large difference in circuit density (>10x? the process naming isn't directly based on MOSFET size) and also a large difference in wafer size.

              Note also that an off-the-s

      • by artor3 (1344997)

        Unfortunately, this project doesn't look to be completed or manufacturable. In fact, it looks like all they have is some HDL. Do they know what process technology they're going to use? Have they done any layout work? Did they do so with manufacturability in mind? Have they given thought to test modes? Do they have anyone to develop a test program?

        Making a chip is hard. Even if you have all the IP, you're still looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop a thorough test program and work out

      • by hazydave (96747)

        Apple never brought "it" in-house. What they bought were the chip designers, not the fab. PA-Semi and Intrinsity are both fabless. Quite a few big semiconductor companies are: Qualcomm, Broadcom, nVidia, Marvell, SanDisk, Xilinx, Altera, etc.

    • by Tapewolf (1639955)

      However...open hardware is a fundamentally different thing. No one has chip fabs in their basement. So someone will have to pay big money to make the masks and tape-out and test the hardware. Unless some major vendor picks up the design and mass produces it lots of 100s of thousands, the price per CPU is going to be stupidly more expensive than an off-the-shelf CPU/motherboard or embedded system.

      I remember reading somewhere about companies that will actually do short runs of chips for you. Memory is hazy, but IIRC it's typically done on a process several generations behind using older equipment that would probably be idle otherwise. I think what they do is stick different customers' parts on the same wafer or something like that... Wish I could remember where I heard about it.

    • by olof_k (2093198)

      No one has chip fabs in their basement. So someone will have to pay big money to make the masks and tape-out and test the hardware.

      This is why opencores is asking for donations

      Unless some major vendor picks up the design and mass produces it lots of 100s of thousands, the price per CPU is going to be stupidly more expensive than an off-the-shelf CPU/motherboard or embedded system.

      Not necessarily. Of course, the more chips that are produced, the cheaper they get, but this is also a non-profit effort, so if you are looking to buy low quantities, it might be cheaper than commercial offerings

      • by Arlet (29997)

        Commercial 32 bit CPU chips are also very cheap. There's plenty of choice in the sub-$10 price range. Since every user a different requirements, it's hard to make an open source ASIC that they all want in sufficient quantities.

        And who will guarantee the design will be continued after the first batch ?

        • And who will guarantee the design will be continued after the first batch ?

          That's part of the point of an open source chip - and the reason that Sun open sourced the T1 and T2 designs. If you have a product that's built around this chip, then you can always get more, as long as there remain companies with fabs that produce chips from their customers' designs. You're never in the position of NASA, having to hunt for second-hand 8086s because they aren't produced anymore and the original supplier isn't interested in doing a low-volume run. They may be expensive, but they won't be

          • by Arlet (29997)

            Sure, you can always get more, but they may be very expensive, if you need only small quantities.

            • by olof_k (2093198)
              Yes, it might be expensive to manufacture small quantities, but availability is the key here. The space industry has learned it's lesson, and that's why they are interested in open source CPUs like LEON and OpenRISC
            • Less expensive than you might think. You can do small runs for around $10K (last time I looked was a few years ago, prices may have changed since then), and that's typically far less than the cost of rewriting your software stack for a new architecture and testing it for regressions.
              • by Arlet (29997)

                It all depends on the application. I think this deal could be interesting for big parties, already into building their own SoC on proprietary ASICs, but not quite big enough to license an ARM core.

                For hobbyists and small time players, developing an ASIC, even together with other people, isn't really interesting. It's still very costly, and a lot of work if you want to make your own modifications or bug fixes.

              • by imsabbel (611519)

                Er... Any procress that is reasonable recent will cost a lot more for a single lithography mask...

          • by hazydave (96747)

            You can't always get more. I need 100 more ... the cheapest fab I can find has a minimum run of ten 300mm wafers... you get 2500 chips per wafer, etc. And I'm the only one who needs one this year? No thanks... I'll do better buying from an actual chip company.

            The real answer is that you're safe with the open design in an FPGA, because there will always be some big evil chip company making FPGAs. Then again, they also make microcontrollers, CPUs, SOCs, etc. and aren't going to stop anytime soon. I do not bel

      • by hazydave (96747)

        CPUs, in particular, thrive on volume. The main reason RISC largely failed on the desktop wasn't that RISC couldn't keep up with x86, it was simply that RISC couldn't afford to keep up with x86. Intel can amortize development costs over 100M+ devices per year. And ok, sure, they charge a premium right now. So how about ARM... they come from multiple suppliers, and at least some of the cost of development is amortized over 1000M+ devices per year. I can buy a basic ARM7TDMI SOC starting at under $3.00.... a

    • Depends on the process. If you're happy with something a few generations out of date, it can be relatively cheap. I looked at it a few years ago with regard to the OpenSPARC stuff, and there were companies that would produce small runs surprisingly cheaply. You only need around 100-1000 for the per unit price to be expensive, rather than unaffordable.

      The most important use, however, is companies wanting to produce their own SoC. Typically, they'll license a core from ARM, add some other things specif

    • You can do this in your basement with an FPGA on a slower scale, and i am sure that if enough orders were batched we could get a chip fab in some other country to make a 'smallish run' at a more reasonable cost than your estimate.. ( no, not 'cheap' but i don't think 100's of thousands either )

      And 'free', or 'low cost' isn't the only selling point here, to me at least. 'Fully documented' and 'non-proprietary' is nothing to sneeze at.

    • by TeknoHog (164938)

      However...open hardware is a fundamentally different thing. No one has chip fabs in their basement.

      And the reason is that FPGAs are cheap and much more fun.

      • FPGAs are cheap in smaller quantities. Once you scale up ASIC production the per-unit cost falls well below FPGA chips and they're much faster.

        • by TeknoHog (164938)
          True, but my point was that open hardware designs are interesting since you can use FPGAs to play with them. I am personally excited by the possibilities of trying out different designs on my own desktop. The hardware may be slower, but it won't take ages and millions to get a working prototype.
          • The key word is prototype. Once you have chosen the prototype, you can go to production with it. That's what this project is about. They are trying to find enough people who want this prototype that has been in FPGAs for a long time to go to larger-scale production with a higher speed chip as a result. Keep using FPGAs to figure out the core you want (or to play with as many as you want), but if you decide to put it into a mass-market item, an ASIC is probably the way to go.

    • This is stupid.

      Troll much?

      You're interested in what having source code can do for your business. The OpenCores community is interested in having free hardware. These are two very different interests. People who have different interests than you are not stupid. If you're old enough to talk about your business, you're old enough to grow up and realize that you don't have it all figured out.

      This is Stallmanism as its worst--"freedom" for freedom's sake without regard to functionality or practicality

      All I will say about this is it is rather shocking to hear this statement being cast in a negative light.

      • This is stupid.

        Troll much?

        This is Stallmanism as its worst--"freedom" for freedom's sake without regard to functionality or practicality

        All I will say about this is it is rather shocking to hear this statement being cast in a negative light.

        I couldn't agree more. Additionally, Chip makers like Intel adding encryption capabilities to to their chips is offensive at best. Everyone knows that if an attacker has physical access, all bets are off -- even with encrypted chips... The only thing this does is prevent the end users from being able to tell what their CPU is doing.

        In no other industry do people purchase items that they can not be sure of their contents and function: Food has ingredient lists, cars have opening hoods, clothing lists f

    • by blair1q (305137)

      Two words:

      FP
      GA

      Who needs ASIC?

      • by Arlet (29997)

        FPGAs are fine for small designs, but a nice 32 bit pipelined RISC, with a decent cache, MMU, multiple buses, and a bunch of peripherals will require an expensive FPGA to run at a reasonable speed.

        It would be smarter to go and buy a standard CPU. You can get a dual core (ARM9 + DSP) 300MHz OMAP for $30 in small quantities.

  • What is the current state of Open Source ASIC Synthesis and Layout tools? It does nobody any good to have an open RTL core if you need to pay the Synopsys tax (on top of the foundry NRE) to implement it.
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      I cant remember the exact name but some 15 years ago there was a functional open project for doing die design.. Not sure if its around anymore or not...

      "sea or something" or other ...

  • Frankly, I'd love to buy one of those SPARC T2 chips, and since their design is already released under the GPL, it would be great to have an initiative to actually build them, so we can put them in desktops and laptops. Right now, they're tucked away in Oracle / Fujitsu (super expensive!) server-only land.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      You don't want a SPARC T2, T3, or any other recent SPARC design in your desktop or laptop. Performance of a T3 is, accoridng to SPEC, very similar to a hugely cheaper and less power-hungry AMD Magny-Cours for massive-threaded applications... and much, much worse for few-thread apps. The "high-end" Fujitsu SPARC64 VII+ is also pretty damn slow.
      • by cpghost (719344)
        Well, I actually want it for simulations, because FPops are pretty good on a SPARC, and not every workload in this area is vectorizable on a GPU via OpenCL. Furthermore, SPARC is still a vastly superior architecture w.r.t. register windows and very fast thread switching. In my experience (purely subjective, I agree), even a lowly sun4u UltraSPARC IIIcu @1.5GHz still beats most high end Intel/AMD at nearly double that frequency for most day to day applications too. My only gripe with the Ultras is, of course
        • Floating point is not good on SPARC at this point. The T2 processors have a best-case floating-point performance of between ten and fifteen gigaflops, if I recall, and that's only if you can keep it saturated from all 64 threads. Figure that the T3 doubles that to 20-30, but again, only if you can continuously issue floating-point instructions from all 128 threads. The SPARC64 VII, the "high-performance" chips, have a theoretical performance of around 10GFLOPS per core (40GFLOPS per processor) but rarely (i
  • 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...
    • by olof_k (2093198)
      I understand your critisism, and I also would like to see a more detailed plan. Since this is a pilot project, some things will have to be worked out during the planning phase.

      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.

      As it is stated in the FAQ, the more money donated, the smaller process opencores can afford. That will also decide the possible ASIC vendors that can be used. I'm a bit curious about what other costs than the NRE that you are thinking of

      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.

      The OpenRISC has been used in many projects before. The IP cores that are going into the ASIC shou

    • by Kjella (173770)

      I never got the allure of open hardware. Pretty much all the benefits from open source is that you can change it easily, but you'll never be able to make individual ASICs. If you want any change you'll have submit it to some committee that'll gather up changes for a production run, potentially rejecting yours and/or accepting others you don't want. You will never be in any real control of the hardware you run.

      Many chips are extremely well documented how they function, sure they have bugs in errata lists but

      • I never got the allure of open hardware. Pretty much all the benefits from open source is that you can change it easily, ...

        I'm sure RMS will buy one, but I can almost guarantee that I will not. But if there are enough people like RMS out there, feel free.

        Purchase Windows 9! The most secure OS line just got even more secure! W9 now implements both Intel CodeCrypt and AMD Secure Ops, giving you security from the application level all the way to the encrypted processor instructions!

        Currently, I can open up "closed source" binaries in a hex editor and see EXACTLY what it's telling my hardware to do. This may not be possible in the near future with chips that support public key encryption at the instruction level.

        Once this is possible, it's a simple matt

        • by Arlet (29997)

          Once this is possible, it's a simple matter to require licenses for any and all software development

          If that ever happens, it's a simple matter to also require licenses for any and all hardware development. Therefore, whatever your fears, this project isn't going to help.

        • by Dhalka226 (559740)

          The over-zealous help combat the over apathetic...

          Do you? Or do you alienate the middle by focusing on hypotheticals that even you acknowledge will be seen by most as paranoid and over-zealous?

          This isn't some math equation, where you registering a +20 on the GiveAShits scale balances out a couple guys with a -10 GiveAShits output. Unless there is some massive, highly funded contingent of paranoid and over-zealous types out there that I am unaware of, you can't do this by yourself. You need to reach the

        • by mounthood (993037)

          CPU hardware security tied to end-user software is already on the way. See Why Intel bought McAfee [arstechnica.com].

          Intel has waited for ages for its ecosystem partners to come up with ways to give consumers access to vPro's security benefits, and little has really panned out so now they're just going to take vPro (and any newer security technologies) directly to consumers via McAfee.

    • by bmajik (96670)

      I think you have some nice points but I think there is another angle to look at this.

      It seems like buggy hardware continues to get made, and i know for a fact that I've bought motherboards from newegg that had component and design errors. I was SOL.

      I'm not a super gamer, i don't want to pay the final 90% of cost for the last 10% of performance.

      I'd much rather go to "openboards.com (A partner of openboards.org)" and order the latest reference MB design. I also don't mind paying a few bucks more than i woul

  • Speaking of grassroots chip design, what is happening with HDCaml these days? I thought the idea was pretty neat when I first heard of it (a hardware design language that is nicer to work with than VHDL and Verilog!), but is anybody actually working with or on it? Or any other improvements on the established languages?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by olof_k (2093198)
      Haven't heard of HDCaml before, but the idea of inventing a nicer languange than Verilog and VHDL lives on. System Verilog adds a lot of syntactic sugar and new functionality, and there is a cool project called MyHDL that uses Python. System Verilog is gaining popularity in the industry, but unfortunately there aren't any open source tools to work with it yet. The commercial ones don't seem to implement the full language either. A bit like the HTML5 situation. We could really need something though. Even aft
  • Prices (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I work for a company that produces outsourcing for ASIC supply chain. Assuming a 130nm process, we are talking about $750K for masks and the like and $250k for Non-recurring engineering. Manufacturing run requirements would be a half lot at 8 inch- 12 wafers at probably 100-150 units per wafer MINIMUM.So expect a production run of at least a thousand.

    I don't think this project can be done on commercial terms.

  • by BigFootApe (264256) on Saturday April 30, 2011 @03:59PM (#35986714)

    While poking around a couple of weeks ago, I found a couple of HDL sources for MIPS R3000 cores. Would these run into licensing issues? They could be adapted to something similar, or perhaps other uses with the addition of on chip I/O and perhaps a vector unit, IMHO.

    • by olof_k (2093198)
      Not sure about MIPS, but ARM is quick to act if someone puts out ARM clones, and I guess the same principle would apply to MIPS clones, as they both are licensable. The difference is that the R3000 is from 1988 (according to wikipedia), which probably makes it less interesting
      • The original ARM designs are from 1985 (approximately). There's also an ARM OpenCore http://opencores.org/project,core_arm [opencores.org] which I wasn't aware ARM Ltd had attempted to kill yet?
        • by Arlet (29997)

          The original designs aren't very popular anymore. The oldest ARM that's still widely used is the ARM7, but some of the patents have already expired. The patent for Thumb support (6,021,265) was filed in April 14, 1997, so that hasn't expired yet. Of course, Thumb support is optional. The latest patent I can find for ARM-only, is nr 5,701,493, filed on August 3, 1995.

  • Im >.
    thank you, people.
  • I mean, sure, we have MIPS and ARM that are close to open and free (and some others), and SPARC is almost close to open and free. And there seems to be some sort of camp that thinks x86 is teh language of teh gods.

    But what's wrong with a cpu design that is open from the bottom up?

    (I mean, I guess it's open, they mention the GPL all over, but I have to log in to look at the design. I should go register and log in, if I can, to see if the design is worthwhile. I note they talk about the harvard split extendin

    • by reiisi (1211052)

      Hmm. Verifiers on all fields.

      Username? taken/not taken, and I assume they pre-registered the 1 and two character names? Reasonable.

      e-mail address? Hmm. Takes a@b.c, so that's all good. (I'll send them an apology later.)

      First name, last name? Ai I is not valid. Yu Li is not valid. Woops.
      Numbers not valid. Eeeeeeh, well, no, that's a woops, too.
      Three letters and up on the "real" names are valid. Not good, but proceeding to next screen.

      Position. (They need this?) Acronyms must be at least two letters, apparent

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982

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