add mention of 3D MESA driver
[crowdsupply.git] / updates / 022_2020feb14_openpower_eula_released.mdwn
1 # Intro
3 Several things in this update: the OpenPower Foundation released their
4 EULA (which is really exciting); RISC-V Foundation opens access to
5 *some* mailing lists (but doesn't tackle the important stuff); we had
6 a last-minute decision to go to FOSDEM to meet NLNet (and meet lots
7 of nice people including someone from the EU Commission); we have new team
8 members helping out (and making really good progress).
10 Before we begin, however, we still have a high-priority task of finding
11 a c++ / compiler developer for the NLNet-funded 3D MESA Driver project.
12 EUR 50,000 is available, tax-free:
13 [this thread](
14 describes the scope, where you're pretty much at liberty to choose the
15 approach that you'd like to take.
17 # OpenPOWER Foundation releases the Power ISA EULA
19 This is a big deal: the
20 [EULA](
21 for anyone wishing to create a Power ISA compatible processor, it's been
22 designed to be "libre-friendly". We will need to do a full review,
23 and would appreciate feedback on it, via
24 [this bugreport](
25 A very quick read (like, right now): the really interesting bit is the
26 combination of a royalty-free grant (as long as you are fully
27 compliant with Power ISA) in combination with "if you initiate
28 patent litigation, you lose all rights immediately". This provides an
29 extremely strong disincentive for patent trolls to "try it on". It also
30 actively encourages contributors to make sure that their work becomes an
31 "official" part of Power, because that then gets them under the
32 "umbrella" of protection as part of this EULA.
34 My only concern - long-term - is the warning about Custom Extensions
35 potentially being incompatible. We remember the Altivec clash very
36 well, citing it as a historic lesson "How Not To Manage An ISA",
37 because both Altivec's vector extension and the one it clashed
38 with became high-profile public wide-spread common-usage extensions,
39 and it damaged Power ISA's entire reputation and viability as a result.
41 With our extensions being designed *knowingly* in advance to be
42 high-profile, public, wide-spread and common-usage, we absolutely have
43 to submit them as "official" extensions, or to work with the Open Power
44 Foundation to create an official "escape-sequence" namespace system
45 (ISAMUX/ISANS). As mentioned previously: anyone familiar with c++,
46 we need a hardware version of "using namespace", in its entirety.
48 First preliminary reading however, as Hugh kindly said privately to me,
49 there's really nothing controversial, here, and it actually looks really
50 good and extremely well-designed.
52 # RISC-V Mailing Lists
54 By complete contrast to how OpenPower is being managed...
56 Since the last update, some of the RISC-V Mailing lists have become "open".
57 There was no announcement. You can't get access to the prior archives.
58 Critically important lists - such as the UNIX Platform Working Group -
59 remain closed and secretive. Four years of requests by dozens of people
60 to not be "Fake Open Source". It's like pulling teeth without an anaesthetic.
61 Still, they're finally making an effort.
63 They still have not responded (as is legally required under their Trademark
64 obligations) to any of the twenty to thirty very deliberately public,
65 prominent, and reasonable in-good-faith
66 requests for inclusion in the *innovation* of RISC-V (not just its
67 "use", its **innovation**) by Libre Businesses with "full transparency"
68 as part of their core business objectives.
70 Failing to allow public participation in the UNIX WG is particularly
71 damaging to RISC-V's reputation. Telling u-boot and linux kernel developers
72 "oh if you want to contribute to RISC-V kernel or u-boot you have to sign
73 a secret agreement and sign up to a secretive mailing list", how well do you
74 think that's going to go down?
76 I really don't want to be the only person informing people about how
77 RISC-V is still "Fake Open Source" and how it's effectively cartelled
78 (and is running afoul of anti-trust laws). If someone else can take over
79 responsibility for this, I'd much prefer to keep the LibreSOC a positive,
80 welcoming and progressive community.
82 # FOSDEM 2020
84 As mentioned
85 [on the list](
86 we received a message from Michiel that they were financially backing over
87 *twenty five* projects that were attending and giving talks at FOSDEM!
88 They also let everyone know that the nice people from Brussels were going
89 to be attending. At which point, I went, "ah." and scrambled like mad to
90 make sure I was there, presenting a smiling face to ensure that the nice
91 EU Commission people knew that their money was definitely being put to good
92 use.
94 This actually turns out to be a serious problem for the EU. My friend Phil
95 decided a few years ago to go along to one of these "Independent Grant Review"
96 processes. He basically said that not only was the quality of the applications
97 absolutely atrocious, but worse than that the people volunteering to do the
98 review - ordinary people like solicitors, office managers, farmers - had
99 precisely zero technical knowledge and couldn't tell the difference between
100 a good application, a bad application or a deceptive application.
102 Now expand that up to applications for EUR 1 million. 10 million.
104 Consequently, for NLNet to be actually making sure that the money they've
105 been given responsibility for actually reaches actual programmers who
106 actually release actual free software which actually improves actual
107 real-world infrastructure for the benefit of EU Citizens (and incidentally
108 the rest of the world) is a bit of an eye-opener.
110 I had a brief chat with the person from the EU Commission. He was
111 delighted to be able to see the sheer number of people involved and being
112 sponsored by NLNet. I had an opportunity to ask him about the anti-trust
113 aspects of the RISC-V Foundation's ongoing intransigent behaviour.
114 He initially expressed puzzlement and some concern, because the EU is
115 funding quite a lot of RISC-V projects, and none of them had any issues.
116 I asked him a very simple question: "how many of those projects are
117 simply *implementing* existing RISC-V Standards?", and he replied, "all
118 of them". I then asked, "how many of those projects are *innovating*,
119 developing alternative extensions to what is dictated by the RISC-V
120 Foundation?" With the answer being "none", *that* was the point at which
121 he understood the extent of the problem, and (with the systematic failure
122 to respond to in-good-faith requests to participate in innovation),
123 how the RISC-V Foundation - and its members, by way of them having
124 "voting power" and thus having direct influence over how the RISC-V Foundation
125 is run - are at risk of violating EU anti-trust legislation.
127 oops.
129 # Meeting other LibreSOC people
131 It was fantastic to meet Staf, and talk to him about the upcoming
132 test chip that he'll be doing. He will be including an SR-Latch cell for
133 us, because it saves such a vast number of gates in the Dependency
134 Matrices if we use a D-Flip-Flop: 50,000 gates if we use an SR-Latch,
135 and a *quarter of a million* if we use a DFF.
137 There were several other
138 people we met, including one who can help us to develop a
139 [BSP]( (Board Support Package).
140 Also we got a chance to talk to several other people with cross-over skillsets.
142 This alone was worth the time to go to FOSDEM, this year. Now what
143 we have to do is make sure to plan properly in advance, to put in some
144 papers at appropriate conferences. We really need to organise a proper
145 conference where everyone meets up.
147 # New members
149 We created an [about us](
150 page for members (if you'd like to help do just sign up)
152 We have now four new people who are contributing: Cole, Veera, Yehowshua
153 and Michael. Veera is a sysadmin and I would be delighted to get some
154 help managing the server. In particular I would like to install public-inbox
155 but it requires exim4 and mailman to be converted to Maildir. This is
156 the kind of thing that would be great to hand over to another sysadmin.
158 Cole just loves the idea of what we're doing and wants to learn, so what
159 I've asked him to do is to simply follow instructions and tutorials, and
160 give us feedback on whether they're clear. If not, that's a problem that
161 needs to be fixed, and, contrary to expectations, it's precisely his
162 *lack* of experience is absolutely perfect for testing that.
164 Yehowshua - a friend of Michael - got in touch around the time of the
165 last update, and he's been helping find funding. As he is at Georgia Tech,
166 he will be applying for the LAUNCH-X Programme, funded initially by my
167 old boss, Chris Klaus. Chris has been really helpful here, he's really
168 delighted to be able to help other Georgia Tech Alumni. Yehowshua has
169 also been encouraging and helping with a redesign of the website CSS,
170 and been instrumental in a major rewrite of the wording.
172 Michael has just jumped straight in to the processor design. Yehowshua
173 tells me he first met Michael as he was sitting in a cafe with an FPGA
174 board attached to his laptop. He's another of these extremely rare
175 self-motivated, self-taught, "auto-learner" types who are worth their
176 weight in gold. He's currently helping with the
177 [Dynamic SIMD partitioner](
178 which we will need to do a special update about, at some point.
180 One particularly fascinating common theme between all of us turns out
181 to be music, maths, and high-coordination sports. Yehowshua loves
182 skate-boarding, and I love rollerblading, for example.
184 One very interesting thing came out of the contact with Georgia Tech's
185 CREATE-X Programme: we are looking to create a Public Benefit Corporation.
186 More on this later, however it became clear to us that we need good
187 "communicators". Not so much more "programmers", although we do still
188 urgently need a c++ compiler type person for the
189 [MESA 3D Driver](
190 We need entrepreneurs - especially undergraduates from Georgia Tech - willing
191 to take on the responsibility for going out and finding, meeting and talking to
192 clients and customers, coming up with ideas, and giving us, as "Engineers",
193 the feedback we need to target the processor at an actual market.
195 # Other stuff
197 The extra NLNet budgets are helping, as is the continued sponsorship from
198 Purism. I am beginning to get slightly overloaded with the managerial and
199 bureaucratic tasks, combined with the "Engineering" tasks that, as is always
200 the case, require 100% sustained week-long focus.
202 These two (three? four? five?) things are clearly incompatible. whoops.
204 I still have to coordinate the NLNet tasks for each of the Memorandums
205 of Understanding, at which point the tasks listed on them, people can
206 then get paid for completing them. I can't quite get over the fact that
207 NLNet was happy to allocate such a huge amount of money to this project,
208 it's amazing, humbling, and a huge responsibility.
210 Also, we got word that the 180nm tape-outs (one in March 2020, one in October
211 2020) are actually subsidised. In addition, we have *verbal* informal
212 confirmation that some proprietary cell libraries are about to be
213 announced as being libre-licensed. This is particularly fascinating.
215 Reading between the lines, we can surmise / hypothesise that various
216 "noises" about how hardware is proprietary and how difficult it is to
217 do Libre / Open ASICs (people basically give up and don't even bother
218 because it's so ridiculously costly, no one individual Libre / Open
219 ASIC developer could possibly imagine themselves contributing to,
220 let alone raising the multi-million funds for, say, a
221 4 GHz 10-stage 12-core SMP multi-issue processor, so they don't
222 even bother to design or release anything that *could* be part of
223 such a design), and consequently it looks like various large companies
224 who shall remain nameless for now are quietly and subtly waving around
225 very large amounts of cash in front of the noses of Foundries, tempting
226 them to release things like Cell Libraries under Libre Licenses.
228 Given that the U.S. Trade War has recently caused a whopping
229 **twelve percent** drop in
230 [ASIC sales](,
231 with USA ASIC sales dropping **twenty four percent**,
232 they're probably "quite open" shall we say to large up-front cash deals.
234 Anyway, as always, if you'd like to help out (and actually receive money
235 for doing so), we have a nice shiny new section
236 [on the website](, "How can i help?" and there
237 is a heck of a lot to do. Feel free to get in touch, any time.