The Hidden Costs of Open Source


It is often implied that if you use an open source processor core there are no costs associated with using it. Of course, the RTL may be free of a license fee and royalties and it might be possible to access a free of charge toolchain for RISC-V, but there are plenty of hidden costs associated with using the core in a real integrated circuit design. If you are using the core in a product... » read more

A New Breed Of Engineer


The industry loves to move in straight lines. Each generation of silicon is more-or-less a linear extrapolation of what came before. There are many reasons for this – products continue to evolve within the industry, adding new or higher performance interfaces, risk levels are lower when the minimum amount is changed for any chip spin, existing software is more likely to run with only minor mo... » read more

Making Sure RISC-V Designs Work As Expected


The RISC-V instruction set architecture is attracting attention across a wide swath of markets, but making sure devices based on the RISC-V ISA work as expected is proving as hard, if not harder, than other commercially available ISA-based chips. The general consensus is that open source lacks the safety net of commercially available IP and tools. Characterization tends to be generalized, ra... » read more

Open Source Faces Challenges In 2020


I recently wrote a couple of posts about open-source EDA tools, OpenROAD: Open-Source EDA from RTL to GDSII and 2nd WOSET Workshop on Open-Source EDA. I have also written about open-source in general, as an approach to development and an approach to business in a post from over four years ago that I think stands up well: The Paradox of Open Source. The reason I called it a paradox is that ... » read more

RISC-V Challenges And Opportunities


Semiconductor Engineering sat down to discuss open instruction set hardware and the future of RISC-V with Ben Levine, senior director of product management in Rambus' Security Division; Jerry Ardizzone, vice president of worldwide sales at Codasip; Megan Wachs, vice president of engineering at SiFive; and Rishiyur Nikhil, CTO of Bluespec. What follows are excerpts of that conversation. (L-... » read more

Open ISAs Gaining Traction


Open instruction set architectures are starting to gain a foothold, often in combination with other processors, as chipmakers begin to add more specialized compute elements and more flexibility into their designs. There are a number of these open ISAs available today, including Power, MIPS, and RISC-V, and there are a number of permutations and tools available for sale based on those archite... » read more

Chiplets: Open Market or Joint Venture?


By Dr. Carlos Macián, senior director AI Strategy & Products, eSilicon Corporation “It may prove to be more economical to build large systems out of smaller functions, which are separately packaged and interconnected.” — Gordon Moore, 1965 “Chiplet” has become a buzzword and like most of its kind, the success of the buzzword predates the widespread availability of the produ... » read more

How To Navigate The Open Source Risk Landscape


Open source use isn’t risky, but unmanaged use of open source is. Open source software forms the backbone of nearly every application in every industry. Chances are that includes the applications your company develops as well. If you can’t produce an accurate inventory of the licenses, versions, and patch status of the open source components in your applications, it’s time to assess yo... » read more

Enabling The RISC-V Ecosystem


Earlier this year, OneSpin’s Sven Beyer discussed the emerging RISC-V processor and some of its verification challenges. He stated that “RISC-V is hot and stands at the beginning of what may be a major shift in the industry.” In the few intervening months, it has become even more apparent that RISC-V is fundamentally changing system-on-chip (SoC) development. Dozens of commercial and open... » read more

Will Open-Source EDA Work?


Open-source EDA is back on the semiconductor industry's agenda, spurred by growing interest in open-source hardware. But whether the industry embraces the idea with enough enthusiasm to make it successful is not clear yet. One of the key sponsors of this effort is the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is spearheading a number of programs to lower the cost of chip ... » read more

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