Can We Replace Intel x86 With an Open Source Chip?

Can We Replace Intel x86 With an Open Source Chip?

An anonymous reader quotes, Jason Perlow, the senior technology editor at ZDNet:
Perhaps the Meltdown and Spectre bugs are the impetus for making long-overdue changes to the core DNA of the semiconductor industry and how chip architectures are designed… Linux (and other related FOSS tech that forms the overall stack) is now a mainstream operating system that forms the basis of public cloud infrastructure and the foundational software technology in mobile and Internet of Things (IoT)… We need to develop a modern equivalent of an OpenSPARC that any processor foundry can build upon without licensing of IP, in order to drive down the costs of building microprocessors at immense scale for the cloud, for mobile and the IoT. It makes the $200 smartphone as well as hyperscale datacenter lifecycle management that much more viable and cost-effective.

Just as Linux and open source transformed how we view operating systems and application software, we need the equivalent for microprocessors in order to move out of the private datacenter rife with these legacy issues and into the green field of the cloud… The fact that we have these software technologies that now enable us to easily abstract from the chip hardware enables us to correct and improve the chips through community efforts as needs arise… We need to stop thinking about microprocessor systems’ architectures as these licensed things that are developed in secrecy by mega-companies like Intel or AMD or even ARM… The reality is that we now need to create something new, free from any legacy entities and baggage that has been driving the industry and dragging it down the past 40 years. Just as was done with Linux.
The bigger question is which chip should take its place. “I don’t see ARM donating its IP to this effort, and I think OpenSPARC may not be it either. Perhaps IBM OpenPOWER? It would certainly be a nice gesture of Big Blue to open their specification up further without any additional licensing, and it would help to maintain and establish the company’s relevancy in the cloud going forward.

“RISC-V, which is being developed by UC Berkeley, is completely Open Source.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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