O'Reilly European Open Source Convention - October 17-20, 2005 - Amsterdam, The Netherlands
 Convention Coverage


Use and Implementation of Open Source Hardware and FPGA Technology
Meindert Kuipers, Project Manager, Arcobel Embedded Solutions

Track: Emerging Topics
Date: Wednesday, 19 October 2005
Time: 16:50 - 17:35
Location: St. John's Room II

The advantages of open source software development are obvious. There are many well-known possibilities to use open source software in projects. Many applications, however, also require special hardware: VoIP routers, modems, MP3 players, upgrades of legacy systems, and systems for more industrial applications. Hardware schematics are traditionally not easily shared as open source for a multitude of reasons. The technology of FPGA's (Field Programmable Gate Arrays) has made very significant progress in the last decade and very complex devices are available at low cost for even consumer type applications. The contents or IP (Intellectual Property) for an FPGA is developed in almost the same way as software, and can easily be shared thanks to well defined HDL's (Hardware Description Languages) that are independent of a hardware vendor or specific technology.

In the past few years, a new trend has become visible: a microprocessor implemented inside an FPGA. The processor itself now becomes "soft." This "softcore" can be open source as well. The Web has a number of resources dedicated to open source IP for FPGA's. The presentation will explain briefly the technology behind FPGA's, discuss the tools for developing IP, and show a number of possible CPU softcores and other useful open source applications for hardware development.

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