Open Processor Foundation
Open Processor Foundation (OPF) is a 501c3, a Californian non-profit organization. Our mission is to accelerate the development of advanced processors and provide the necessary tools to bring new and innovative products to market quickly at far lower development costs.
OPF is an open, participatory community seeking to improve J2 and subsequent processors. Join us to reach new realm of advanced architectures, develop new features for the benefit of everyone. We need your help to create advanced, powerful microprocessors to solve your problems. Low cost and low power are essential ingredients in today’s products, and your participation in this forum will enable all to be liberated to create hers or his own system chips or system FPGA.
We also need help answering questions on the mailing list or IRC channel, plus helping to improve this website. So, we would appreciate your help, your contributions and to offer your work with something that you love to do. If you need some inspiration, we will maintain a list of possible projects on the Wiki.
If you have an idea on what to contribute, then join the maintainers mailing list and discuss your ideas there. That way others can provide input early on, which makes your contribution more likely to get accepted.
A Public Benefit Nonprofit Organization: OPF is a public benefit nonprofit organization dedicated to promote the universal freedom to create, distribute, and modify microprocessor design. We released J2 on June 17, 2015 with a simple DDR controller, UART to run minimal uClinux. We hope you will join this forum and this exciting opportunity. J2 will be easily and available for your use and to initiate your imagination.
Designed in Clean-Room: J series processors combines 20+ year old processor technologies, new open source tools, and most advanced design methodologies. J series processor has been designed through a clean-room design process to respect the original manufacturers’ copyrights, trade secret, and trademarks. J series leverages open source and proprietary software tools, operating systems, and applications which Hitachi and Renesas accumulated over two and a half decades.
Patents: World Trade Organization (WTO) implemented an uniform patent system worldwide, and a patent expires 20 years after its application date. Thereafter the invention will belong to public domain. J2 processors’ architectural features are older than 20+ years and predate all valid patents. J2 series processors has more immunities from patents because its architecture and microarchitecture predates all live patents. OPF plans to have its own patent pool to cross license with newer patents and newer technologies.
Architectural Validation and Certification: OPF administers architectural validation and certification to ensure that open sourcing will not fragment the architecture. All J series implementation needs to pass architectural validation including OPF validation suite, OS bring up tests, and debugger tests. For architectural extensions OPF has Architectural Committee which includes its original architects to perform architectural validations, certifications, and plan for future architectural extensions.
Community License: OPF distributes the RTL with a Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) License and tools with a GNU Public License(GPL). The rationale behind the use of BSD license is that we would like to see our Processor Cores by industry for commercial use. For those interested in this subject “OPEN SOURCE SEMICONDUCTOR LICENSE” by Eli Greenbaum might be a good reading material.
Community Design and Support Schemes: OPF heavily relies on community design and support. www.0pf.org releases Architecture and RTL. Other sites such as www.uclinux.org and www.nommu.org releases Linux stack.
Network with Original Device and OS Manufacturers: OPF collaborate with the original manufacturer of SuperH architecture, Renesas. Hitachi developed SuperH architecture in 1990s. SuperH was marked orphan by Linux Foundation since February, 2014 and now in Linux Orphanarium due to inability to keep the cross tool current with Linux releases. OPF is working with Linux Foundation to reinstate J/SuperH OS support, and also conducting discussions with Microsoft and QNX to continue support of Windows Embedded Auto 7 and QNX 6.5.1. Linux community is assisting us on this effort. Microsoft now embraces the open source strategy on the client platform and tools. Microsoft and 0pf are also discussing potential collaborations.
Network with Larger Open Source Hardware Communities: We plan to collaborate with RISC5 team at University of California at Berkeley. This group started RISC movement in early 1980s which inspired SuperH architecture in the first place. Current discussion is to share the logic device fabric and methodology.
We are becoming friends with OpenRISC folks and regularly exchange emails. OpenRISC is their core. www.opencores.org offers the other SH2 open source clone Aquarius core written in Verilog.
Furthermore there is an umbrella organisation www.oshwa.org which holds annual meetings in Colorado, a state we love. We hope to contact them at some point.
OPF is also brainstorming with Hewlett Packard Building in Stanford U.
Positive Industry Impact:
I believe that Open Hardware Community’s combined effort for open source processors will have a positive impact to industry by removing barriers which engineers feel on a day to day basis. To formulate a Killer system solution IP, the IP typically requires a processor core in a system on a chip (SoC). Sheer usage of a processor core requires a company sanction. Now engineers can instantiate a system with a processor. When we see
1. If the processor core within a Large Killer IP is open source core, the receiver of the Large Scale IP does not have to sign a new license for the processor core just to use the Large Scale IP.
2. If in the process of a Large Scale IP development, the application has turned out to require more perf from the processor core, then he can enhance the core while leaving the rest of the logic intact.
3. If Company A license a Large Scale IP involving a processor to another Company B. Then Company B license its IP involving the IP from Company A to Company C. In order for Company A, B, and C to conduct logic simulation, test and shuttle run, A, B, C with Open Source Core no one has to purchase license. In case of licensed core, all have to obtain processor license. Even if Open Source Processor Cores may be limited in functions, they (a) simplify joint work amongst IP vendors, (b) speed up joint work among multiple parties, and (c) save a lot of $ in the meanwhile.
4. For a hardware Startup, often the IP license will be the hurdle which they have to get over to start their development. Here open source processor gives you the edge.
Why are We Doing This?: For over 50+ years we were blessed with Gordon Moore’s Law which states that the semiconductor performance doubles every 18 months. This created circular logic among financial investors, semiconductor manufacturers, and manufacturing equipment technology providers, application software providers, consumers in market, and then finally financial investors that if you invest in process technology, its geometry, cost, power, and speed improves at the rate of 144% every year. Moore’s Law is coming to an end or mask cost grows astronomically when you approach processes smaller than 40nm, and this logic no longer seem to work for most of us. OCF feels we need to have another scenario of exponential growth called Network Effect. Network effect comes from the law of combinatorial growth, which also grows exponentially as the nodes grows linearly. Most innovations combines previous innovations. For this to happen the new innovators need to have access to the previous technology. We believe open sourcing processors is one of the many ways to bring continued exponential growth in semiconductor industry.
Why We Started This and Who Helped Us?
Working groups are being developed in these areas. Please let us know how you would like to participate in this important industry initiative
Handles Technology Roadmap, Operations, Licensing, Partnership, Technology Directions, End-User Relationship, and Finance.
Architecture Committee (including software)
Manages Architectural Roadmap, Validation, Certification, Process Compatibility, Micro-Architecture Implementation, Logic Compatibility, Cross Tool Maintenance, Operating System Maintenance, Bus Architecture, and Memory Architecture. Coordinates with Free Software Foundation, Linux Foundation, Google, QNX, Microsoft, and TRON Association.
Coordinates Design Support including Online Support, and Professional Design Service.
Administers OPF’s Marketing Communication Activities including Press Release. Coordinates with Major Partners such as Semiconductor Fabrication Companies, FPGA Companies, EDA Companies, and Technology Providers.
Intellectual Property Committee
Handles Copyright, OPF Patent Pool, Patent Cross License, Trademark and Trade Secret Issues. Coordinates with Patent Aggregators.