About lowRISC

lowRISC is a not-for-profit company using collaborative engineering to develop and maintain open source silicon designs and tools, through a unique combination of skills, expertise and vision.

We provide a home for multi-partner projects that deliver verified, high quality IP and tools, which provide the solid foundations that are necessary for the rapid development cycles required for next generation silicon products. lowRISC employs an engineering team in Cambridge, UK, working on our own developments, partner projects, and work-for-hire that is aligned with our mission.

lowRISC Team

The lowRISC team is based in Cambridge, UK. We have a talented engineering team with diverse experience in industry, open source, and research and development.

Engineers at lowRISC include hardware, software and full stack specialists, with skills including processor and SoC design, hardware security, design verification, RISC-V tools, and the LLVM compiler.

Ongoing work at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory explores ideas for Linux-capable 64-bit systems.

We are also grateful to our collaborators elsewhere in the community, as well as the undergraduates, graduate students, and interns who have contributed.

King's college Cambridge viewed from the backs

lowRISC CIC Board of Directors

The lowRISC Community Interest Company board consists of:

  • Prof. Andy Hopper, CBE FRS FIET FREng (Independent Chair, Treasurer and Vice President of the Royal Society)
  • Prof. Luca Benini (ETH Zurich)
  • Alex Bradbury (CTO, lowRISC)
  • Gavin Ferris (CEO, lowRISC)
  • Ron Minnich (Google)
  • Robert Mullins (University of Cambridge)
  • Dominic Rizzo (Google)
Additionally, Mark Hayter of Google sits on the board as an observer.

lowRISC values

lowRISC is different. Here are some of the things that distinguish us in the open hardware world, and which drive and shape our work:

  • Durable technology. lowRISC creates infrastructure which will be used, useful and sustainable for future generations of computer systems, by getting the foundations right and not cutting corners.

  • Open source. Our work is open and permissively licensed, moving the whole industry forward with flexible, accessible and effective systems and tools.

  • Technical excellence. High quality, robust engineering and great documentation are essential to provide useful and maintainable technology.

  • Collaborative engineering. We work closely with others, testing new ideas and developing systems together, and sharing what we learn and build. lowRISC is part of the open technology ecosystem, and fosters inclusive and participatory communities.

  • Pragmatic. We make choices that enable us to take concrete steps as best we can towards open source silicon being used at scale.


ecosystem

Part of the open ecosystem.

The open source hardware ecosystem includes organisations working in many different ways, and working together to drive adoption of open source silicon. New relationships and partnerships are developing all the time.

lowRISC is a Founding member of the RISC-V Foundation.

lowRISC staff are actively engaged in numerous key community initiatives and are frequent speakers at events such as the RISC-V Workshops, ORConf, and LLVM Developers’ Meetings.


lowRISC C.I.C.

lowRISC Community Interest Company is a not-for-profit, private company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales with Company number 09272283.

What is a CIC?

A community interest company (CIC) is a type of company, designed for social enterprises that want to use their profits and assets for the public good. CICs have all the flexibility and certainty of a regular company, but with special features to ensure they are working for the benefit of the community. A social enterprise is a business with “for-good” objectives whose surpluses are reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community. (Find out more about CICs on the gov.uk site.) lowRISC C.I.C. does not have shares, so we don’t pay dividends, and any surpluses are reinvested in our work.

While permissive licensing is used for hardware and software design artefacts, it remains necessary to protect trademarks, and certification has a key role to play. This is where lowRISC as a vendor neutral not-for-profit provides an independent home for holding intellectual property rights, and either directly operating, or specifying and overseeing the operation of certification programmes.

As a not-for-profit company, lowRISC can act as a neutral home for projects and multi-party corporate collaborations, and is a trustworthy steward for open source designs and tools.

How does lowRISC fund its activities?

lowRISC is sustainable thanks to a business model where partners contribute engineering effort and funding, ideally as part of a multi-year commitment, often targeted at particular projects. This is further supported by work-for-hire where this directly contributes to the development of strategic open source technologies and best practices.

Surplus resource is used to support lowRISC’s wider aims and community. We also receive support from grants, donations and consultancy.

Bigger than the sum of our parts

Our model and approach allows us to have significant impact, regardless of our team size. We work with engineering teams at other companies, researchers, and the wider community to accelerate our projects.


History

lowRISC emerged from the University of Cambridge Computer Lab, where our early work was supported by a private donation and a grant from Google.

Since 2018 we have focussed on collaborative engineering on active open source silicon projects with multiple partners, and on supporting and stewarding open source compiler infrastructure and tools.

We still work closely with the University of Cambridge, as well as other academic and corporate partners, and the wider open source community.

view of the Cambridge Computer Lab building

lowRISC C.I.C. Incorporation information

lowRISC Community Interest Company is a not-for-profit, private company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales with Company number 09272283.

Registered office address: 4a Newmarket Road, Cambridge, CB5 8DT, UK


Contact us

You can contact lowRISC at info@lowrisc.org or +44 1223 852454.

Please send any post to:

lowRISC CIC
7 Hills Road
Cambridge
CB2 1GE
United Kingdom