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Open Source Finally Hits Real Silicon

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the mask-of-progress dept.

Hardware 247

pagercam2 writes "While Open Source software has many success stories, hardware and particularly chips haven't had as much. While there have been multiple Open Source projects, none have come to a final product until now. The OpenRISC 1000 has been implemented by Flextronics Semiconductor(a division of Flextronics, the contract manufacturer possibly best known for its production of many Cisco products) along with PCI, 10/100 Ethernet, serial, GPIO etc. ... Details and pretty pictures available at OpenCores.org, and it even runs uClinux. Good Job!"

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247 comments

First Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664109)

Silicone?

Watch out... (3, Funny)

Bame Flait (672982) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664113)

It's all an attempt by these linux people to control the entire machine from the ground up. Don't trust them, they've let you down in the past.

Re:Watch out... (5, Interesting)

robslimo (587196) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664766)

I appreciate the joke, heh, heh.

But I'd like to point out that opencores has had a fair amount of its open IP commited to silicon to date... not via lithographic processes maybe, but in FPGA's at least in onesies twosies lots if not more.

It's pretty sweet to be able to put a Z80 core on an FPGA along with a few peripheral cores and make a machine-on-a-chip that can run your legacy embedded code with little or no change... and at a faster clock rate.

I want your honest opinion... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664116)

Does this [ctrl-c.liu.se] turn you on?

Re:I want your honest opinion... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664272)

Yes. That is some hot shit.

Re:I want your honest opinion... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664281)

Let me guess: this is your father and your mother?

And the piece that looks like a pile of fecal matter - you?

I LOVE TEH OPEN SORES (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664126)

ITS ON TEH SPOKE!!!1

Official Gentoo-Linux-Zealot translator-o-matic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664134)

Gentoo Linux is an interesting new distribution with some great features. Unfortunately, it has attracted a large number of clueless wannabes who absolutely MUST advocate Gentoo at every opportunity. Let's look at the language of these zealots, and find out what it really means...

Gentoo makes me so much more productive.

Although I can't use the box at the moment because it's compiling something, as it will be for the next five days, it gives me more time to check out the latest USE flags and potentially unstable optimisation settings.

Gentoo is more in the spirit of open source!

Apart from Hello World in Pascal at school, I've never written a single program in my life or contributed to an open source project, yet staring at endless streams of GCC output whizzing by somehow helps me contribute to international freedom.

I use Gentoo because it's more like the BSDs.

Last month I tried to install FreeBSD on a well-supported machine, but the text-based installer scared me off. I've never used a BSD, but the guys on Slashdot say that it's l33t though, so surely I must be for using Gentoo.

Heh, my system is soooo much faster after installing Gentoo.

I've spent hours recompiling Fetchmail, X-Chat, gEdit and thousands of other programs which spend 99% of their time waiting for user input. Even though only the kernel and glibc make a significant difference with optimisations, and RPMs and .debs can be rebuilt with a handful of commands, my box MUST be faster. It's nothing to do with the fact that I've disabled all startup services and I'm running BlackBox instead of GNOME or KDE.

...my Gentoo Linux workstation...

...my overclocked AMD eMachines box from PC World, and apart from the third-grade made-to-break components and dodgy fan...

You Red Hat guys must get sick of dependency hell...

I'm too stupid to understand that circular dependencies can be resolved by specifying BOTH .rpms together on the command line, and that problems hardly ever occur if one uses proper Red Hat packages instead of mixing SuSE, Mandrake and Joe's Linux packages together (which the system wasn't designed for).

All the other distros are soooo out of date.

Constantly upgrading to the latest bleeding-edge untested software makes me more productive. Never mind the extensive testing and patching that Debian and Red Hat perform on their packages; I've just emerged the latest GNOME beta snapshot and compiled with -09 -fomit-instructions, and it only crashes once every few hours.

Let's face it, Gentoo is the future.

OK, so no serious business is going to even consider Gentoo in the near future, and even with proper support and QA in place, it'll still eat up far too much of a company's valuable time. But this guy I met on #animepr0n is now using it, so it must be growing!

So what's Sparc V? (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664141)

So what's Sparc V? Swiss Cheese [sparc.org] ? Sparc specs have been available for a LONG time.

Re:So what's Sparc V? (3, Insightful)

interiot (50685) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664209)

Have open-source cores been available to implement those specs been available for a LONG time? Sounds like you're saying that just because we understand most of the MSWord file format, that means that we don't need StarOffice...

Re:So what's Sparc V? (5, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664515)

Have open-source cores been available to implement those specs been available for a LONG time?

For quite awhile, as I understand. The Leon chip [gaisler.com] is an example of this. Other areas such as Fujitsu's processors and set top devices have been based on Sparc.

I'm not saying that OpenCores is a bad thing. I'm just refuting this "we were here first" bullshit.

One can always hope.. (5, Interesting)

grub (11606) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664142)


If they make money with this and other chip fabricators get on the open source boat then perhaps one day we'll see an entire open source chipset and motherboard combo. No "SecureThisBIOS" and "TrustedThatOS" needed.. That would be damn sweet.

Re:One can always hope.. (5, Insightful)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664185)

I think it's either gonna end up like that, which would be great, or it's gonna end up with the slashdot crowd all being locked up for using Linux on hardware which breaches Uber-DMCA codes and is a tool of the terrorist communist nazis who go round killing puppies.

Having just read back my own post, I'm really hoping we get OSH (open source hardware) going before it becomes illegal to develop.

Re:One can always hope.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664309)

Ow! I was standing in front of you when you thought of that post. The quick jerking of your knee got me right in the shin. Watch it buddy!

DAMN THOSE BASTARDS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664635)

I have to admit, I was down with the terrorist communist nazis until they started killing puppies.

Re:One can always hope.. (4, Funny)

Luigi30 (656867) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664910)

You must be having delusions again. You should go to the Ministry of Love to have them treated.

Until 'trusted' is mandated by law.. (2, Interesting)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664278)

Then anyone that uses an unapproved 'open' system, be it hardware or software, will be jailed if caught..

Dont laugh, its comin... The hints are already in the air.

Finally a competitor for the 286 (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664145)

... really is this some sort of sick joke?

Re:Finally a competitor for the 286 (2, Informative)

Durin_Deathless (668544) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664186)

I don't know. It looks like it is similar in performance to a PPC 601. Simlar cache amounts, and similar Mhz limitations. I don't see much info about the processor though. Does it have an integrated FPU?

Re:Finally a competitor for the 286 (5, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664191)


A lot of what's floating in space runs with what we could consider antiquated hardware.

Old != Junk

Re:Finally a competitor for the 286 (-1)

alex_ant (535895) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664319)

If only we could send the linux weenies up to float in space along with it.

Re:Finally a competitor for the 286 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664578)

Well Im no math guy, and have no idea about watts, volts or the like, but damn this is a system on a chip running at 1.4 watts, ethernet as well. So say you had 1000 of these, that would be about 1400 watts? And about 16ghz of combined processing power, not bad if you ask me.

Where do they expect this to go? (5, Funny)

ObviousGuy (578567) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664146)

What's the roadmap from here for these open core processors? Is there one?

Re:Where do they expect this to go? (-1)

alex_ant (535895) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664338)

Today, we will have made a CPU to compete with the 486...

Tomorrow, we will have made a CPU to compete with the... 486DX2!

Re:Where do they expect this to go? (5, Insightful)

kien (571074) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664731)

Today, we will have made a CPU to compete with the 486...

I'll take an open-source, standards-compliant 486 computer over a 2Ghz Trusted Computing appliance any day.

--K.

congrats (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7665025)

you just made it into my "big-file-o-wise-quotes".
Thanks.

Roadmap (slashdotted) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664526)

When the dust settles, you can look at the roadmap [opencores.org] .

Squinting at the thumbnail, I can make out an OR1100 (a stripped-down OR1200 with no cache or MMU) and OMP (up to four OR1x00 cores with up to 256/256 KB I/D cache) branching from the OR1200. From the OMP will come the OR1400, a 64-bit superscalar design with 64/64 KB I/D cache.

Note that the roadmap shows OR1100 and OMP in 2002 and OR1400 apparently in 2003.

SLASHDOTTED! comments thread here (3, Funny)

Hubert_Shrump (256081) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664158)

let the jokes about what sort of processor runs their webserver thread here...

homepage: (4, Informative)

gimpboy (34912) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664194)

Project: OpenRISC 1000

Silicon Implementations

Several companies are making silicon implementations (ASICs) of OR1200 using different library vendors and foundaries, process geometries from 0.35um to 0.13um. For references contact lampret@opencores.org.

Here is an example of System-On-Chip (SOC) from Flextronics Semiconductor. It is a 32-bit general-purpose microcontroller implemented on UMC 0.18um targetting embedded applications with maximum clock frequency of 160MHz. The SOC features:

* OR1200 processor
* Memory Controller (FLASH, SDRAM, SRAM, DPRAM)
* PCI 2.2 32-bit interface 33/66MHz
* Ethernet MAC 10/100
* UART16550
* GPIO
* JTAG/Debug Interface

The OR1200 is implemented with 8KB instruction and 8KB data caches, I/DMMU with 64 TLB entries each, power management unit, debug unit, tick timer and interrupt controller. Its 32x32 multiplier is coupled with a 64-bit MAC unit.

Test board for testing the SOC has 64MBytes of SDRAM, 32MBytes of FLASH, RS232 transceiver, Ethernet 10/100 PHY. Connectors are for RS232, Ethernet, JTAG/Debug and several Mictor logic analyzer connectors. The board has its own DC/DC regulators for 3.3V IO power supply and 1.8V core power supply. It can be used as stand alone board or as PCI standard form plugin board.

Software running on the SOC is Embedded Microcontroller Linux (uClinux) with a console on serial RS232. The console shows a network ping to a local network host - the ping shows the Ethernet 10/100 capability.

This board was the first prototype built (not fully assembled at the time)
Dynamic power of the entire test board is 1.4W. Dynamic current of the SOC IO power supply is 52mA (3.3V) and dynamic current of the SOC Core power supply is 86mA (1.8V). These are nominal values measured at 100MHz system clock.

Maximum system clock frequency of the SOC is 160 MHz. System clock is used to clock not only the OR1200 processor but the entire chip (exception is memory controller which can also run at 1/2 system clock). Max system clock 160MHz was obtained at 25C ambient temperature, 3.3V IO and 1.8V core.

Test boards are available to Flextronics Semiconductor ASIC customers. For more information about the test boards, the SOC technical details and business engagement please contact Flextronics Semiconductor.

IMPORTANT NOTE: For a live demonstration of the SOC in Silicon Valley, California during Dec 8th 2003 and Dec 15th please contact Damjan Lampret.

Re:homepage: (4, Interesting)

joe_bruin (266648) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664582)

sounds like a good competitor to the arm and mips chips that currently dominate the low-powered-gpp embedded market.

the real question is: where's the compiler? no, i didn't read the article, because the site is slashdotted. i presume they will have a gcc port shortly, if it doesn't exist.

the real problem with open architectures (mips, arm, sparc, ...) is that everyone has a slightly different implementation, and gcc just has general compatibility mode. for example, the cpu i'm currently working on has a 2 cycle 32bit multiply capability, but can also process a (non-multiply) instruction in the pipeline during the second cycle. unfortunately, gcc is not aware of this and i have a wasted cycle. this leaves me the option of doing optimizations in assembly, or fixing the compiler.

if this project is dedicated to optimizing the compiler for their cores, they could give established players a run for their money in performance. or at least force other core makers to distribute optimized compilers at far lower costs.

this is a good thing for everyone.

Good job but not quite (4, Informative)

downix (84795) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664162)

This is indeed a good step for the Opencores project, but the subject itself is misleading.

The LGPL'd SPARC-compatible processor Leon [gaisler.com] was put to silicon a long while ago.

Give credit where credit is due, the Leon tracked over this territory years before OpenRISC.

Flextronics Xbox (5, Informative)

doctor_no (214917) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664166)

>>Flextronics Semiconductor(a division of Flextronics, the contract manufacturer possibly best known for its production of many Cisco products).

Flextronics would actually be best known for being the main manufacter of the Microsoft Xbox.

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.11/flex.htm l

Re:Flextronics Xbox (2, Funny)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664544)

Last time I checked there were a lot more Cisco boxes out there than Xboxes though ;)

Re:Flextronics Xbox (1)

doctor_no (214917) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664684)

Not all Cisco routers are made by Flextronics. In fact, Cisco has a wide range of suppliers. Flextronics is just one of them.

More importantly, XBox is better known publicly.

OpenCores (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664169)

read Open Sores

domains that used up allready?

Open Source Finally Hits Human Body (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664180)

Details and pretty pictures available at goatse.cx.

/.'ed already (4, Informative)

Chas (5144) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664196)

Here's the Google Cache: [216.239.39.104]

Project: OpenRISC 1000

Silicon Implementations

Several companies are making silicon implementations (ASICs) of OR1200 using different library vendors and foundaries, process geometries from 0.35um to 0.13um. For references contact lampret@opencores.org.

Here is an example of System-On-Chip (SOC) from Flextronics Semiconductor. It is a 32-bit general-purpose microcontroller implemented on UMC 0.18um targetting embedded applications with maximum clock frequency of 160MHz.

The SOC features:

  • OR1200 processor
  • Memory Controller (FLASH, SDRAM, SRAM, DPRAM)
  • PCI 2.2 32-bit interface 33/66MHz
  • Ethernet MAC 10/100
  • UART16550
  • GPIO
  • JTAG/Debug Interface

The OR1200 is implemented with 8KB instruction and 8KB data caches, I/DMMU with 64 TLB entries each, power management unit, debug unit, tick timer and interrupt controller. Its 32x32 multiplier is coupled with a 64-bit MAC unit.

Test board for testing the SOC has 64MBytes of SDRAM, 32MBytes of FLASH, RS232 transceiver, Ethernet 10/100 PHY. Connectors are for RS232, Ethernet, JTAG/Debug and several Mictor logic analyzer connectors. The board has its own DC/DC regulators for 3.3V IO power supply and 1.8V core power supply. It can be used as stand alone board or as PCI standard form plugin board. Software running on the SOC is Embedded Microcontroller Linux (uClinux) with a console on serial RS232. The console shows a network ping to a local network host - the ping shows the Ethernet 10/100 capability.

This board was the first prototype built (not fully assembled at the time)

Dynamic power of the entire test board is 1.4W. Dynamic current of the SOC IO power supply is 52mA (3.3V) and dynamic current of the SOC Core power supply is 86mA (1.8V). These are nominal values measured at 100MHz system clock. Maximum system clock frequency of the SOC is 160 MHz. System clock is used to clock not only the OR1200 processor but the entire chip (exception is memory controller which can also run at 1/2 system clock). Max system clock 160MHz was obtained at 25C ambient temperature, 3.3V IO and 1.8V core.

Test boards are available to Flextronics Semiconductor ASIC customers. For more information about the test boards, the SOC technical details and business engagement please contact Flextronics Semiconductor. IMPORTANT NOTE: For a live demonstration of the SOC in Silicon Valley, California during Dec 8th 2003 and Dec 15th please contact Damjan Lampret.

But WHY did Flextronics choose to build it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664299)

in the first place? Surely it was not out of the goodness of their hearts. What sectors are they targetting for this chip?

Awww yeah (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664211)

First we got a stoned beaver, now we're hitting silicone. The day has come, my friends!!! Oh wait, that's silicon. As in computer chips. Nevermind.

Open Source Chipsets (5, Interesting)

Raynach (713366) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664216)

I, for one, would like to see the open source community making open source chipsets, from the design, material, and the software to make it work. This is basically rebuilding the computer from the ground up, except with an open source backing of it. Why should major companies control the architechures that we are using? Although, the manafacteur of these chips may be a problem, but it would be very interesting to see electrical and computer engineers working on an open project to make a suprerior chip. This could, in fact, prove Moore totally wrong.

Or, I'm just being fanatical and ranting about nothing, whatever.

Re:Open Source Chipsets (4, Interesting)

LittleBigScript (618162) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664300)

Possibly the chips could be designed in parallel with an opensource kernel (can't think of one at the moment) and built like a amiga or atari style machine. Hardware, which is openware, would be a bunch of medium grade processors each running SMP on cheap processors.

I think that a good and durable machine could be developed with a high speed bus and provide most, if not more speed than people need.

Open Source Chipsets-Free GPU's for everyone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664506)

Maybe we could develop our own GPU and put an end to all this binary nonsense once and for all.

Re:Open Source Chipsets (5, Informative)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664588)

Sure it could be done, up to and including the design verification using chip simulations, but actually making the chips and debugging the silicon process could get very expensive. I'm sure you could find a foundry in Taiwan or China to produce it, but would there be a market for it so you could get back all those startup costs? Do you know of some folks who have a few hundred K to invest against AMD, Intel, Motorola and IBM for a tiny slice of the market? Hardware has a lot of startup costs than software to get it to market. It's not like compiling the new code for your kernal fix. Maybe if it was specialized and optimized for embedded applications it might have a shot. I guess you could call it the "Penguin" chip since I'm assuming it would be optimized for Linux.

Re:Open Source Chipsets (4, Insightful)

geekee (591277) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664793)

"Why should major companies control the architechures that we are using? "

Because advanced CAD tools to design state of the art microprocessors costs millions of dollars. Even if you afford these tools, state-of-the-art fabs cost billions of dollars. Open Source works in software because equipment to develop software is cheap enough that anyone can afford it. Equipment to develop hardware costs a fortune, and needs some corporate support, or a lot of donations. Until a process makes it to MOSIS, the average person can't afford access to it.

Open Sores Finally Hit Real Silicone (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664227)

That's what I thought it said at first and I figured this was gonna be a story about how some guy who has wacked off to Jenna Jameson porn so much that he's got cuts on his cock and now he finally got a chance to meet his idol.

Almost Used in iPod (-1, Troll)

raisinets (730288) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664245)

I'm a systems designer on the iPod team, and we actually considered OpenRISC as the CPU on future iPod versions. Its appeal to open-source lovers made it a serious contender.

J

Re:Almost Used in iPod (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664340)

So, tell us: how does Steve Jobs cock really feel inside
a) your anus
b) your throat

Re:Almost Used in iPod (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664359)

in that order

Re:Almost Used in iPod (4, Informative)

gwernol (167574) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664385)

Just FYI, this guy's a troll. Check out his recent posts. Apparently he's also "in middle management at Honda". I highly doubt Apple are considering OpenRISC for the iPod.

Bad troll. Bad.

Re:Almost Used in iPod (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664405)

Didn't you hear? Honda is purchasing Apple. I work in middle management at Hopple MotorComps, so you can believe me.

Re:Almost Used in iPod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664467)

I guess I'd have to take your word for it that Apple is being bought by Honda because your dad's a private plow contractor (were you hired by Gates to muck around /.?)

Re:Almost Used in iPod (2, Informative)

Ion Berkley (35404) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664420)

I AM using this processor in a commercial product. I have to be sincere about this, its tremendous value for money(!) and its reasonably bug free, but the architecture and code quality are about a 3 out of 10 against its peers in the embeded world. So saying that both LEON and OpenRISC have indeed brought some momentum to the space of free (as in the Stallman definition) hardware and for that alone if nothing else we should all be pleased.

Re:Almost Used in iPod (1)

tarkap (234141) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664428)

funny, two days ago you worked at Honda [slashdot.org] .

Must be tough working two big jobs like that.. 'middle management' at Honda and a systems designer at Apple.

Re:Almost Used in iPod (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664574)

this is one of those moments where it might just be wise to take a step back and review where you stand in life. you just posted a comment to a web site message board calling a relatively anonymous person out on working two different jobs in the span of a week. How big of a loser do you have to be to read a site so much as to remember what dozens of people post after several days, and then to actually post about it! don't write this off as babble, actually think about it. i'm thinking within a year, with some drastic changes, a new wardrobe, and a bath, we could get you laid. but let's start one step at a time. take 24 hours off of slashdot. that's step 1.

and for anyone who is going to give me the same crap i just gave this guy in some sort of meta-flame, go fuck yourself. i got laid yesterday.

Re:Almost Used in iPod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664665)

wow, I couldn't believe anyone could have their own head so far up their ass..

like most /. readers, we've been around long enough to take comments like "I'm on the iPod design team at Apple" and do a little background research.. this didn't entail a formal inquiry to Apple's HQ, it was actually pretty simple to click on his name, and read a few of his (your?) top5 most recent stories.

Someone that is careless enough to make up stories about where they work, post them on the same messageboard, a week apart.. deserves to be told he's a fucking moron.

btw: I got laid this morning too.. by a woman though...
Just because you like getting your ass pounded by obese gorillas, doesn't mean you should shout it from the rooftops.

Hardware development (2, Interesting)

adrianbaugh (696007) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664256)

The development is naturally going to take longer for a finished product - nobody's going to release alpha (or even beta) silicon.
After all, you really don't want to have to submit a critical bug patch when the first mass run of chips is half-done... (Or the coder whose bug it fixes!)

What can't be open-sourced? (5, Interesting)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664270)

How about the old VW sedan, especially the off-patent parts? Can an open-source automobile design based on, say, the 1980 VW sedan be set-up and evolved in poor countries?

In general, what problems would there be in creating open-source engineering designs for hardware of all kinds branched off from off-patent intellectual property? That, as it turns out, was the express purpose of the US Patent system as conceived by Benjamin Franklin, unless I am mistaken.

Re:What can't be open-sourced? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664392)

How about the old VW sedan, especially the off-patent parts? Can an open-source automobile design based on, say, the 1980 VW sedan be set-up and evolved in poor countries?

You'll never be able to produce an automobile en mass scale cheaper than VW (or nearly as good).

In general, what problems would there be in creating open-source engineering designs for hardware of all kinds branched off from off-patent intellectual property?

Again you would never be able to mass produce the item cheaper than a proprietary company. Besides there is very little demand for box cameras and tube radios.

MOD PARENT UP/GRANDPARENT DOWN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664433)

Grandparent is just a hippy pipe dream.

Emission regs... (1)

Goonie (8651) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664450)

There's no way an old car design would meet emission regulations.

That's a really big deal in most cities in developing countries, which are choking under smog levels that make LA look like Alaska.

Re:Emission regs... (1)

Durin_Deathless (668544) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664500)

Yeah, actually you could. By 1980, VW used _only_ fuel injection(Bosch CIS), and there were some with Oxygen Sensor systems. The fuel injection is a very clean system, and is entirely mechanical except for the O2 system (sensor, computer, and the frequency) valve it controls.

I know. I have an '84, which is the same system. I just had to fix the O2 loop, but that was just a bad relay. Easiest system in the world to diagnose.

Re:Emission regs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664706)

The emissions regs are much more stringent today (in the US anyway) than in 1984.

The fact that you car passes for 1984 standards (which is what you get tested against) is irrelevant.

Re:Emission regs... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664572)

the engine is just one part of the system, and apparently not the hardest one at that even(if you're just going for something that will get the job done).

though, i can't imagine what the use would be for an open source car design, as there's plenty of equivalents already(shitloads of 'kit' sports cars exist for example). it's not that complicated to design a *car*, however it can be very complicated to design a car that would be like the cars sold in western countries nowadays(safety/rigidness calculations, testing, emissions.. luxury, soundproofing.. ). if you skip some stuff like the incar electronics(and thus have manual stuff for windows&etc), soundproofing the actual design phase can be quite cheap anyways(even if you go for a high performance car). though with better/longer/more expensive design phase you're supposed to end up with cheaper production in the long run i guess.

though iirc they sold one design in india for around 50 years straight.. very easy additions could have been done that would have improved it drastically without adding too much real cost(heck, maybe even reducing it).

Re:What can't be open-sourced? (1)

On Lawn (1073) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664511)


Your right! This does happen, and your correct the VW Bug is very popular for this kind of thing. Other cars that have modded/evolved are the Fiat something (the US even wound up importing one of these as the Yugo) and Deux Cheveux.

Cars are pretty open source as it is though. You can deconstruct a car, or even just look at it and decipher pretty much what it is or how to do one yourself. The problems in distribution come in the assembly lines, and how sophisicated a piece it can cheaply produce. Not to mention the ghastly amount of regulation in the industry (not neccisarily a bad thing).

Re:What can't be open-sourced? (2, Informative)

CaptKilljoy (687808) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664677)

In general, what problems would there be in creating open-source engineering designs for hardware of all kinds branched off from off-patent intellectual property?

Because physical hardware costs physical resources to build (modern designs are more efficient to construct because of advanced materials and fabrication techniques now available) and consumes physical resources (newer designs are more energy efficient), it's more likely to make sense to pay the expense of creating a modern design up front, depending on the age of the OS desgin.

Contrast this with the unique position of software where it's possible to gradually accumulate more and more functionality until a package becomes good.

(Open-source is not some sort of magic uber-nostrum that solves every problem.)

It was a trick question (5, Interesting)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664945)

Those of you who claim it can't be done for reasons of economy of scale or emission regulations, among other things, are mistaken. Much of the work that would be required has already been done and has been on the market for decades. I was not thinking of the First World market. In the Third World, hand-made auto parts and Mom-and-Pop auto part factories are common. In that context, they are in effect pirating existing IP. To go the whole way and create an open-source design spec with easy to determine compliance tests would be the next logical step.

This represents a branch point from the First World industrial paradigm of economy of scale and elimination of manual labor, coupled with planned obsolescence and faddishness to ensure a short interval between new car purchases. An open-source car reverses this drastically. Low economy of scale and higher manual labor content coupled with an open-ended product lifetime shifts the focus from the manufacture of the car to that of its components. The car owner repairs the vehicle over a period of many years, possibly turning over the majority of its components one or more times over a long period of time. Small-scale manufacturers would build a mix of components based on demand for specific versions of a component. Clever management of the project should consciously support this. This business model is unsustainable by massive industrial concerns, but might work well in an economy with lower-skilled, small-scale enterprise. It would not be massively profitable, but may be a model for keeping large populations employed.

If the interconnection ot the automobile's components is carefully and thoughtfully evolved, a single vehicle might be an ever-changing machine, gradually absorbing better components over time. It would not be a static piece of technology that quickly becomes obsolete. This is a subtext of my original post.

So what's the point? (5, Insightful)

Afromelonhead (730368) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664280)

I guess I can see how this would appeal to the many /. readers who are very pro-Open Source. To me, though, this has a distinctly different application than that of Open Source software. Sure, people have loads of hard drives and other random computers to go installing all their *BSD/Linux, but how many people have the ability to produce these chips? In addition, many, many people have at least some coding ability that can be used to contribute to the Open Source software projects, but do that many people really have the ability to recognize mistakes on the circuit boards and actually fix them?

Just my two cents...

Re:So what's the point? (3, Informative)

Jennifer E. Elaan (463827) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664557)

Yes, many of us do. Companies like MOSIS will fab silicon cheaply, and for those who are truly poor, Xilinx FPGA's can suffice quite nicely. And designing a chip isn't that difficult. I have an implemenation of a small 32-bit stack-based CPU targetted to a Xilinx FPGA around here somewhere.

I'm currently designing a tiny Single Board Computer (Z80-based) for embedded control applications. Sure, the specs aren't that impressive (a couple MHz, 32K RAM, 512K flash), but that's not the point. The thing is designed to fit on a robot and run on batteries.

Open hardware designs are still about geeky people doing fun things.

Re:So what's the point? (1)

msgmonkey (599753) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664656)

I'm sure most coders don't contibute to OSS projects because their code quality is n't good enough. OSS does n't work because of numbers it works because you can get at the source.

If you go to the opencores website there is code for all sorts of things, PCI bus interface, DDR SDRAM, video controllers etc. Alot of stuff these days is done on FPGA's and it's not expensive like it used to be. Granted you wont be producing any high end processors but the majority of problems dont need them. If you're starting something and need some working code to customize and contibute back too it's great.

Whats the point........ (-1, Flamebait)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664284)

.....of a huge ass 160Mhz CPU? If its that slow it should be as small as embedded chips are.

It takes billions and billions of dollars just to build the fabs alone to have a successful consumer processor. Nevermind the salaries for all the engineers. What good is UCLinux?

Can anyone seriously point out some practical applications of this processor?

Re:Whats the point........ (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664375)

"Can anyone seriously point out some practical applications of this processor?"

Sure.

For chips derived from this test SoC:

MP3player
VoIP hard phone
Network Router
Firewall
Wireless Access Point
DVD player
Car stereo
Cell Phone
PDA

For uClinux:

It's all around you, many of the products _you_ use every day run it. Just because you think Linux means servers and desktops doesn't mean that's the only place it's widely deployed!

J

Re:Whats the point........ (1)

niko9 (315647) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664897)

It's all around you, many of the products _you_ use every day...

I only caught the last sentence as I was scolling down, and I almost thought you were going to tell me that these Open source chips are opressing me for my electrical properties and I am a slave to some sort of artificial consctuct.

Thank God you were only talking about open source ships that could be so superior in their design one day thet they could acheuve a state of consciou...er...eh never mind

--

Re:Whats the point........ (2, Interesting)

f1ipf10p (676890) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664383)

This fills a need for many consumer solutions that will have their cpu emebedded, similar to what VIA does with EDEN or C3. Most users have no idea of the clock speed of the cpu in their satellite tuner or DVR. I assure you many engineers that pick CPU's for systems will be glad to have this as a choice...

Re:Whats the point........ (2, Insightful)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664440)


...because I, and many others, would rather run linux on a 160Mhz processor than MS Windows on a 5.03G processor.

Sera

Re:Whats the point........ (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664505)

"Embedded" doesn't mean "small". A cable set-top box, a DVD player, a vending machine, a map display in a new car and an MRI scanner are all "embedded".

This is free as in free beer right? (2, Funny)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664404)

Because if so how do a download a free copy? Or does it get sent in the mail if i fire them an email? Does one pay postage as well? This IS opensource right? I just want the free stuff.

cool, but I want more specs (4, Interesting)

randyest (589159) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664422)

I didn't know open source had made it to real hardware; thanks slashdot.

Judging from the specs included at the linked site, this core compares favorably with CPU cores from ARM, NEC and others who make big bucks selling (and supporting) these cores for system integration. This is interesting, and it's maybe even more interesting that I haven't noted it in any trade journals (did I miss it, or has this thing been going on under the industry radar?)

However, it seems like the CPU core itself is open-source, while a lot of the bonus features on the SoC (System On a Chip) example cited are IP from Flextronics (the the company that did the physical design for this open-source CPU core, which was manufactured by UMC). I can't tell for sure because the site is slashdotted already. The links on PCI, JTAG etc. would presumably tell if all these IP macros (besides the CPU) are open source also -- does anyone know for sure?

Either way, the specs on the sample chip are interesting: SoC with OR1200 CPU implemented by Flextronics Semiconductor: 32-bit general-purpose microcontroller, UMC 0.18um fab process, maximum clock frequency of 160MHz. This SoC contains (1 each I assume): OR1200 processor, Memory Controller (FLASH, SDRAM, SRAM, DPRAM), PCI 2.2 32-bit interface 33/66MHz, Ethernet MAC 10/100. UART16550, GPIO, JTAG/Debug Interface.

BTW, 160MHz is pretty darn good, until you see that 160MHz is not really "MAX" as in "max (worst-case) operating conditions" as one usually specs these things. Usually, when a spec says "maximum clock frequency", it means that you can safely run the part at these speeds under the entire range of allowed operating conditions (temperature and voltage). It's rather meaningless to tell the fastest it canpossibly go (which would be 0Kelvin, with a voltage almost high enough to fry the cip), so wpecs tend to tell you the max safe speed.

That would be the highest temperature (usually ~70C, but it's really based on the junction temp, which is calculated from ambient temp, airflow, and package thermal characteristics -- higher than 25C in any case, since that's usually called "typical"), lowest voltage (usually nominal minus 5% or 10%; so for 3.3V system, worst case voltage would be 3.3-0.33=2.97V, for 1.8V core it would be 1.62V), and slowest process from the fab (whther this is the case or not is unspecified in the list). Instead, lower down the page I see:

Max system clock 160MHz was obtained at 25C ambient temperature, 3.3V IO and 1.8V core

I could take a wild guess and say the thing would run at least 125MHz (respectable for the tech at hand), so calling it 160MHz (but not at worst-case conditions) is a little odd, or at least non-standard. If it were a "normal" industry player quoting me a part's clock rate that way, I'd become very, very suspicious of them for the rest of the negotioations.

It's still way cool, and if those IP cores are all available open source also, I'm really excited. But, I still have a lot of unanswered questions that I expected to see at least a brief mention of:
  • Is a hardware/software co-simulation environment available?
  • If so,what simulators and languages are supported?
  • What support model(s) are available for design teams considering this core?
  • What is the die size for the SoC made by Flextronics?
  • How much is Flextronics selling these SoC's for, or are the ASIC (customer-specific)?
I guess I could do as the article suggests and call or email Flextronics:

Test boards are available to Flextronics Semiconductor ASIC customers. For more information about the test boards, the SOC technical details and business engagement please contact Flextronics Semiconductor.


... but I don't think they'd appreciate those sorts of inquiries from an employee of a competitor :)

Re:cool, but I want more specs (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664558)

The OpenCores project includes JTAG, NIC, RS-232, PCI, Memory, etc resources. it's pretty complete. My guess is that a substantial amount of the real-estate is open-sourced.

Re:cool, but I want more specs (1)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664944)

However, it seems like the CPU core itself is open-source, while a lot of the bonus features on the SoC (System On a Chip) example cited are IP from Flextronics (the the company that did the physical design for this open-source CPU core, which was manufactured by UMC). I can't tell for sure because the site is slashdotted already. The links on PCI, JTAG etc. would presumably tell if all these IP macros (besides the CPU) are open source also -- does anyone know for sure?
Objection! Asked and answered... chances are the PCI and JTAG IP, as well as some of the other stuff, is from UMC, which may get it through alliance with IBM. The JTAG (Joint Test Action Group) specification is public, and it's something more of a methodology (boundary scan and whatnot) than a core. PCI is also a spec, but more of a core than JTAG. Chances are many foundries and ASIC design houses have their own implementations of that spec and others. If there were a good open source implementation, it might save smaller foundries and ASIC forms some development costs.

A somewhat different approach (3, Insightful)

randall_burns (108052) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664429)

Chuck Moore [colorforth.com] has been doing forth chip design for a while. His chip design software and Forth development system is public domain, but he hasn't Open Sourced his CPU designs yet. What makes his designs important IMHO is that they are very simple compared to conventional chip designs-which makes them appropriate for things like very low power consumption and makes it possible for one person to understand/implement their design.


Part of what makes Open Source hardware important is that Open Source designs are what will actually be implemented as small scale manufacturing [ennex.com] becomes more practical. There are various proposals around for doing manufacturing of chips using rather different processes than we are used to today(i.e. "growing" chips in a chemical medium). What these ultimately take us towards is robotic infrastructure that can be remotely controlled and is as "self-replicating" as a lathe or a blacksmith's shop.

A somewhat different approach-Harris RTX-2000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664566)

"What makes his designs important IMHO is that they are very simple compared to conventional chip designs-which makes them appropriate for things like very low power consumption and makes it possible for one person to understand/implement their design."

The Harris RTX-2000 [ultratechnology.com] was a stack-based processor.

They are too simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664736)

He has proposed that putting 100s of his chip on a single die would be a good idea. With his present design that is just not a good idea though. In it's present form it is just a poor design for that kind of parallelism (the lack of computational resources creates too much delay, which increases storage needs to get good utilization which isnt available ... it's just a poorly balanced design for parallel processing). It is only usefull for competing with the likes of PIC and other minimalistic micro-controllers.

Make it 24 bit at least, put in a stack overflow interrupt and a single cycle MAC (yes I know it will be as big as the rest of the processor, who cares). That would be slightly more interesting (although merely having a good core doesnt solve the huge task of designing the rest of the architecture to be able to do some usefull work with them, for instance on chip memory and interconnect).

Fact checking. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664680)

Dynamic power of the entire test board is 1.4W.

Is this correct? Transmeta might have some real competition here.

It runs Linux and is Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7664709)

...therefore it must be good?

Watch out - Xbox and Globalization (3, Interesting)

illumin8 (148082) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664728)

Before everyone sings the praises of Flextronics, keep this in mind:

Flextronics also makes the famous XBox for Microsoft in their Guadalahara Mexico facility. I just listened to a special on NPR about globalization and NAFTA and an economist was saying that without NAFTA the XBox would cost $400.

Your Cisco routers would probably cost more too, but I'm not sure if the cheap prices are worth it for the loss of US jobs.

whats the point? (3, Insightful)

gyratedotorg (545872) | more than 10 years ago | (#7664804)

maybe im missing something here, but i dont see how open hardware could ever be as successful as open source software. why? because the hardware required to build software (ie: a computer) is a commodity in most of the developed world. how many people own machines capable of producing microchips?

i always felt that the power of open source lies in the fact that if you know how to program, you can make changes to the software yourself. now if i somehow got a hold of a schematic for my processsor and managed to improve the design, how would i go from paper to silicon?

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