A venture in retrotronics

Hardware is software

It's still early in terms of silicon implementations, tooling and operating system support, but the open RISC-V processor specification is making inroads in the processor world. As RISC-V Marketing Manager Ted Marena wrote at the beginning of this year on on IEEE Times, RISC-V is to open hardware what Linux has been to open-source software.

To research institutes, startups and government agencies involved in High-Performance Cmputing, and to bulk consumers of processing power, RISC-V provides an opportunity to participate and collaborate in creating a (European) technical and scientific ecosystem around an open design.

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Avoiding licensing burdens

It has been five years since ETH Zurich in Switzerland and the University of Bologna in Italy started their joint PULP research project on the energy efficiency of microprocessor architectures. The project is fully based on open-source hardware and software, and has resulted in the tape-out of two dozen implementations.

The real freedom you get from open source projects is much more, and more important than the fact that you don't have to pay for it, Frank Gürkaynak, Director of ETZH's Microelectronics Design Center, writes in an article posted on All About Circuits. Researchers can take what we provide and freely change it for their experiments. Startup companies can build on what we provide as a starting point and concentrate their time and energy on the actual innovations they want to provide. And people who are disturbed by various attacks on their systems [1, 2] have the chance to look inside and know what exactly is in their system.

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