The Linux Foundation has thrown its weight behind the free and open source silicon (FOSSi) movement, launching an industry group dubbed the CHIPS Alliance to 'host and curate high-quality open source code relevant to the design of silicon devices'.

The free and open source silicon (FOSSi) movement has been growing considerably in recent years: From Western Digital's plan to switch its storage processing products to RISC-V to Nvidia's interest in the platform, an increasing number of companies are investigating FOSSi as a real alternative to proprietary silicon in projects ranging from embedded to high-performance computing.

Now, the Linux Foundation is getting involved: Best known for its stewardship of the Linux kernel, the Linux Foundation also hosts a range of related free and open source software (FOSS) projects - and is now expanding into hardware with the launch of the CHIPS Alliance.

Founded by RISC-V pioneers SiFive, Esperanto Technologies, and Western Digital, alongside cloud computing giant Google, the CHIPS Alliance will see each of the members contribute technology and support with a view to improve collaboration within the ecosystem - and is open to additional members in the future.

'Open collaboration has repeatedly proven to help industries accelerate time to market, achieve long-term maintainability, and create de facto standards,' claims Mike Dolan, vice president of strategic programs at the Linux Foundation. 'The same collaboration model applies to the hardware in a system, just as it does to software components. We are eager to host the CHIPS Alliance and invite more organizations to join the initiative to help propel collaborative innovation within the CPU and SoC markets.'

'As new workloads surface every day, we need new silicon designs in order to optimise processing requirements,' adds Martin Fink, interim chief executive of the RISC-V Foundation and executive vice president and chief technology officer of Western Digital. 'Today’s legacy general-purpose architectures are, in some cases, decades old. With the creation of the CHIPS Alliance, we are expecting to fast-track silicon innovation through the open source community.'

The CHIPS Alliance isn't the first such attempt at creating umbrella organisations for improved collaboration in the field of FOSSi: The FOSSi Foundation, LibreCores, OpenCores, and the relatively specialised RISC-V Foundation are among the better known in the field, and it remains to be seen how the CHIPS Alliance fits into the landscape.

More information on the project is available via the official website.


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