Two weeks ago we organized an event at TU Munich, Germany, that featured talks around RISC-V, lowRISC and the FOSSi Foundation. It was a great event with very interesting discussions.
The first talk was from myself about FOSSi and the FOSSi Foundation. I have put the focus on a high level view on the issues we identified and how we want to tackle them. The feedback was positive, but one of the major concerns raised in a question was how patents relate to our activities. Patents are important in the semiconductor industry and problems around patents are not unique to FOSSi, but we should address this topic as part of our legal activities that currently focus on licenses.
The second talk was from Krste Asanovic who gave an excellent talk again around the technical background of RISC-V, the RISC-V Foundation as governance body for the RISC-V instruction set architecture, and finally the recent actual hardware their startup SiFive launched. An interesting question that came up in the Q&A session was about why comapnies like AMD for example are involved in RISC-V. Krste mentioned that on an x86 processor chip there are actually still some other controllers with some other in-house ISA, and RISC-V may probably become a factor for that kind of small deeply embedded cores. On similar lines, NVIDIA plans to replace their custom ISA for the control cores in their GPUs.
Finally, Rob Mullins presented the lowRISC project and their current state and vision for the next years. Technically, I was happy to see that the tagged memory support will be available again soon and I think Rob gave a good overview of it. Beside that Rob highlighted the importance of collaboration in academia to build meaningful research platforms, which we as the FOSSi Foundation strongly want to encourage and foster.
After the talks everyone came together for networking, snacks and beers, which were kindly sponsored by the RISC-V Foundation.
On Friday we organized some Birds-of-a-Feather sessions that were attended by roughly ten people. In the first session we talked about open source ASICs and how a path to a stabalized process/node with a FOSSi ecosystem could look like. We will followup this topic over the next months. After that Krste talked about the RISC-V Foundation and the governance framework, followed by discussions around the software ecosystem.
Overall, I think the event was a great success and I had the impression the attendants really enjoyed it too.
Update: Our friends of Antmicro also have blogged about the event.