The Open Source Hardware Camp 2018 is set to take place in Lincoln on the 30th of June and 1st of July, and the call for talks and workshops is now open.

While the event has an overall theme of, naturally, open source hardware, there is no overriding topic list and interested parties are invited to pitch talks and workshops ranging from: active open-source hardware projects, principles and practices for open development, novel, interesting, or otherwise fun projects built using open hardware, skills and techniques from circuit board fabrication to DIY surface-mount assembly, and all relevant technologies from SPI bus programming onwards – or anything else that may be of interest to the community.

Talks will take place on Saturday the 30th of June, with workshops on the 1st of July. Anyone interested can find more information on the announcement post, discuss their pitch on the Open Source Hardware User Group (OSHUG) mailing list, or submit their idea via the online form. Submissions close on the 25th of March at 1700.

The latest interview in the Open Source Digital Design Insights (OSDDI) series is now live, with a discussion on the topic of the OpenPiton processor project with Jonathan Balkind.

Based on the open-source OpenSPARC design, itself created when Sun Microsystems released the RTL code for its UltraSPARC T1 processor in 2006, the OpenPiton is designed to be scalable from a single core to 500 million cores for highly-parallel compute tasks – a major upgrade on the original design, which featured eight cores and 32 hardware threads.

In the interview, Jonathan provides an introduction to the OpenPiton project, the group behind it, commercial applications of the technology, and its relevance to data centres of the future. The video is available in full on the AB Open Vimeo page,  along with previous entries in the series.

Electronic Design has put together a guide designed to demystify LoRaWAN, the increasingly widespread open-standard long-range low-power wireless area network technology.

Written to address eleven common misconceptions or confusions surrounding the technology, ranging from confusion between the physical LoRa layer and the LoRaWAN protocol which sits on top of it to real-world examples of the sort of battery longevity and signal range its users can expect, the guide is aimed at those who have heard of LoRaWAN but either not fully investigated it or had previously dismissed the various claims made about the technology’s capabilities as fanciful.

The authors of the piece certainly know their way around the topic: Ribash Chauhan is the global community manager for The Things Network, the global community-driven LoRaWAN platform, while Keith Lee is an engineer at LoRaWAN-compatible development board creator Gumstix – the latter’s Strata LoRaWAN board being used to demonstrate the low power requirements of LoRaWAN devices, measured at 20mA idle and 110mA during transmission.

Those whose interest has been piqued by the piece can find more information on LoRaWAN on the LoRa Alliance website.

Linux kernel maintainer Linus Torvalds has announced a last-minute delay to the release of Linux 4.15, marking the first time a kernel version has needed a ninth release candidate since 2011.

“I really really wanted to just release 4.15 today, but things haven’t calmed down enough for me to feel comfy about it, and Davem [David S. Miller] tells me he still has some networking fixes pending,” Linus explains of the delay, announced on the same day Linux 4.15 was due to go live. “Laura Abbott found and fixed a very subtle boot bug introduced this development cycle only yesterday, and it just didn’t feel right to say that we’re done. So I’m doing an rc9 [ninth release candidate] instead. I don’t particularly like to, but I like it even less releasing something that doesn’t seem baked enough.”

The changes in the ninth release candidate – the first time a kernel version has required so many since Linux 3.1 in 2011, which required ten release candidates before being declared ready for launch – relate largely to architecture updates in the x86, Arm, PowerPC, and MIPS architectures along with some driver and networking plus what Linus describes as “various random misc. fallout” – the latter likely a reference to the patches for the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities which have been causing instability in some systems.

Linux 4.15-rc9 is expected to be the final release candidate before Linux 4.15 launches in full, likely early next week.

The Free and Open Source Silicon (FOSSi) Foundation has announced a call for proposals as part of its application to the Google Summer of Code event, which has previously borne fruit including the recreation of a classic computer on modern hardware.

An educational initiative run by advertising giant Google each year, the Summer of Code programme pairs student developers with open source organisations to work on projects over a three month period. Previous projects run through the FOSSi Foundation as part of the Summer of Code include the integration the recreation of the classic Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC) on a field-programmable gate array for educational use – a project which saw student Hatim Kanchwala travel from India to Hebden Bridge to present as part of the ORConf conference during Wuthering Bytes last year.

Students and mentors looking to join the Summer of Code event can apply via the FOSSi Foundation on the official website. Potential mentors must be available between May and August to provide mentorship to the student or students assigned to the project, though project proposals are welcomed even from those unable to provide mentorship in person.

Applications close on the 23rd of January.

The lowRISC project has officially announced the launch of lowRISC 0.5, a milestone release of the popular RISC-V implementation which brings with it open-source Ethernet support.

Built upon a RISC-V implementation from the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley), lowRISC 0.5 marks a major milestone release on the road to a completely open-source RISC-V based system-on-chip (SoC) design. By far the biggest change in this revision is the addition of open-source intellectual property (IP) bringing 100Mb/s Ethernet support, allowing lowRISC devices to boot from a remote server for the first time.

Additional improvements made in lowRISC 0.5 include the first preview of interrupt-driven device drivers in Linux, an optimised Secure Digital (SD) interface, support for the Network File System (NFS), and multiuser system support. “Our main development focus currently is migrating to a newer version of the upstream Rocket [RISC-V core] chip design and reintegrating our changes on top of that,” the team explain of the project’s roadmap, “but we felt that the integration of Ethernet support merits a release before that change.”

Full details on making use of the new release are available on the official website.

OpenPiton image courtesy of the Princeton Parallel Group via Flickr.