This Libre-SOC projectA team composed of engineers and creative roles aims to provide a completely open system-on-chip, and today released the layout sent by the team for chip manufacturing based on OpenPOWER-based processors. The Libre-SOC processor currently being manufactured on TSMC’s 180 nm node is a huge achievement in many respects. In order to obtain the tape-out, the Libre-SOC team was accompanied by engineers from Chips4Makers and Sorbonne Université funded by the NLnet Foundation.
The Libre-SOC chip is based on IBM’s OpenPOWER instruction set architecture (ISA) and is a milestone achievement in open source hardware. It is also the first independent OpenPOWER chip manufactured outside of IBM in 12 years. Every component, from hardware design files, documentation, mailing lists to software, is open source, designed to conform to the spirit and philosophy of open source.
This project is not just a CPU, but the development of a complete solution. OpenPOWER CPU comes with a custom-developed 3D processing kit that combines GPU (graphics processing unit) and VPU (video processing unit). The 3D pipeline can handle most modern video codecs and supports the Vulkan API.
The SoC will integrate everything needed to power a small embedded system and equip it with open source hardware and software that work seamlessly with custom open source drivers.
The test ASIC is a combination of 130,000 logic gates on a 5.5 x 5.9 mm2 area. The engineers behind it implemented the OpenPOWER ISA v3.0B specification, which is only the current design form. Thanks to Imec’s MPW Shuttle Service, the chip is being manufactured at TSMC’s 180 nm node, which represents a sufficient solution for this type of chip.
Before we get the final product, it is expected that there will be multiple Libre-SOC chip prototypes, and each new test ASIC will have additional features. The next step of the project includes adding and enabling Cray-style vector extensions (SVP64) to enable efficient vector processing in hardware.For more details, please go to Libre-SOC website. More details and development credits can be found at OpenPOWER blog.