What lowRISC does

lowRISC brings together people from companies, universities and communities, to work on collaborative engineering to create high quality, secure and flexible silicon designs.

We create high quality, verified open source silicon designs, and tools to develop, test and maintain these. We also maintain select open silicon IP and open source tools which have been developed elsewhere.

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lowRISC is an independent engineering organisation, and we perform targeted development work and provide long-term maintenance, collaborating with engineers at companies, academics, and the wider open source community. We prioritise robust engineering and documentation, created through open processes, and act as a neutral non-profit home for collaborations. This attracts partners to build shared silicon infrastructure for large scale applications and free adoption by anyone, growing and strengthening a diverse ecosystem. We’re also looking beyond the status quo, which is why we’re exploring novel hardware security features such as tagged memory, in collaboration with the academic community who are exploring, developing and analysing next generation systems and technologies.

Our longstanding participation in open source software development means that we recognise the importance of maintenance and community, designing support for these in up front. lowRISC is striving to bring the best of the open source movement and digital working practices to the hardware world, whilst respecting the challenges of designing and manufacturing physical products. Both software and hardware are essential for an open source silicon future, and we are building an open culture which welcomes participation from everyone across different organisations, backgrounds and experience levels. The lowRISC community is friendly and we seek to support each other to learn and collaborate well. We hope to be part of an active, collaborative development community with a broad range of contributors, much as is seen in successful open source software projects.

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Our projects

Much of our day to day work takes the form of projects. Some current highlights include:

Ibex

Ibex is a two-stage pipeline RV32IMC core, implemented in SystemVerilog. Ibex was originally developed by ETH Zurich as zero-riscy, and was contributed to lowRISC in 2019. We are maintaining and further developing Ibex in collaboration with ETH and industrial partners, with a focus on quality and testing.

LLVM Compiler Infrastructure

lowRISC leads the upstream RISC-V LLVM effort. Providing a high quality software stack is a vital complement to our work on open source hardware, novel security mechanisms, and post-design flexibility. This work is a good example of our engineering model (and avoiding duplicated effort). We want to help adoption of open standards like RISC-V, and that means driving forward the community towards high quality open source implementations of those standards. Whilst we take on contract work in certain areas where it makes sense, we’re always looking for opportunities to reduce wasted effort (where private forks fix the same bugs!). We focus on code quality and maintainability, and making it easier for others to add custom extensions by ensuring basic infrastructure is available open source off the shelf.

64-bit SoC platform

Our 64-bit platform is currently Rocket based, and we’re adding support for Ariane, a 64-bit core from ETH Zurich. We offer an FPGA-ready SoC distribution, with open source peripherals such as SD and Ethernet, together with documentation and tutorials. We use this as a testbed for new ideas including tagged memory and minion cores. Our aim is to deliver to an equivalent standard as proprietary, closed IP of this type.

More projects coming soon!

We are hiring for multiple positions to deliver on an exciting, high impact, open source hardware roadmap in collaboration with Google and other industry partners. We’ll be sharing more updates about this work soon.

Your project here

If you have a project you would like to discuss with us, or would like to support our work, get in touch with info@lowrisc.org

lowRISC aims

lowRISC exists to demonstrate, promote and support the use of open source hardware at the silicon layer - bringing the benefits of open source to the hardware world. We are changing how hardware is developed, making it fundamentally more collaborative (and therefore efficient), and factoring in robust testing and maintenance.

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The lowRISC platform aims to be the “Linux of the hardware world” - combining technology and a thriving ecosystem to enable more custom silicon to power the next generation of computing. We are building a high quality library of IP and tools, including cores, SOCs, firmware and accessible tooling and test systems, which make up a complete open source silicon infrastructure. Together with our partners and community we prove our designs with volume silicon manufacture and accompanying low-cost development boards.

The lowRISC platform will:

  • provide a high quality, secure, and open IP base for derivative hardware designs
  • lower the barrier of entry to producing custom silicon for specific applications, meeting growing needs for more specialist chips
  • establish a vibrant ecosystem around open hardware designs and tools, making them reliable and sustainable
  • enable great R&D and product development elsewhere, including universities

In building the lowRISC platform, we are pioneering open hardware done right, developing an open ecosystem that together can make reliable and useful products at scale, and which is genuinely participatory and sustainable. On the technical side, we need new design methodologies, incorporating testing, open tools, coding standards, and useful and usable documentation in what we produce and maintain. On the community side, it means connecting software and hardware people and open and inclusive working practices. We are also developing governance and collaboration processes which involve the diverse partners essential to make open silicon a reality.