So what's state-of-the-art in open-source ?

Is where it's at? I'm interested in synthesizing cpu cores which I think puts me in the area of large-ish fabric devices but again I stopped looking for a few months and now I feel like I have no idea what to expect :)

@vertigo @h @cstanhope

@jjg @h @cstanhope reverse engineering work with Xilinx artix 7 is ongoing. Otherwise, the state-of-the-art is the Yosys tool chain for the iCE40HX family.

@jjg @h @cstanhope ISTR there was a recent announcement at a recent C3 convention to this effect, but I am not fully aware of what that announcement was about. Might want to check up the itinerary and videos from the latest C3 conference.

@vertigo I'm still not clear what's the situation regarding RISC-V and FPGA development, what's at the intersection of these two important building blocks. @jjg @cstanhope

@h @jjg @cstanhope Can you be more specific?

Right now, the "official" RISC-V reference implementation, Rocket, is still ASIC-optimized. FPGA-based RISC-V cores tend to be home-grown things these days.

You can still synthesize Rocket on an FPGA, but because it's optimized for ASICs, it needs a rather large FPGA to do so, since it's investing individual LUTs to things that can be only a few transistors in an ASIC.

@vertigo What I mean is that the current state of affairs makes every industrially-made CPU suspectful. Especially those made in countries with governments known for spying on citizens wholesale, who attempted to build the Clipper chip in the past.
I'm wondering how far we can go building these systems really from scratch. We still depend on Xilinx or Altera/Intel at some point anyway.
I'm curious about your point of view on these matters.

@jjg @cstanhope

@h @cstanhope @jjg @vertigo It's difficult because as far as I know producing CPUs at anything like a sane price point still requires a serious amount of capital. With major efforts it can be possible to make individual transistors, like Jeri Ellsworth did with a hacked microwave, but I don't think it would be possible to reliably make CPUs that way.

@bob
I know, and I agree. But the difficulty of the enterprise never deterred RMS when he started. I think we're at the beginning of a new crossroads of similar long term importance.

@vertigo @jjg @cstanhope

@h @cstanhope @jjg @vertigo I think you're probably right about that. If you pay attention to the relevant conferences it looks like the trend is going to be that much of what we think of today as systems level software is going to get baked into the hardware so that it's not modifiable except by throwing the gadget away and buying the next generation. It's a consequence of reaching the limits of transistor miniaturization on silicon wafers.

I also expect that Intel won't learn much from ME and will instead just embed the same functionality into the CPU rather than a separate chip, as AMD does. Hardware CPU backdoors will probably continue to be a problem.

@bob @vertigo @jjg @cstanhope I agree. And this is precisely part of the reason why the work of guys like @vertigo and @jjg is so important.

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