Design News’ Chris Wiltz has predicted that 2019 will be “the year of open source,” and while it’s hard to imagine the impact of open source software getting any greater than it already has it’s clear that the impetus behind open hardware is growing at an exponential pace.
In the piece, which begins as a retrospective of the big moves in the world of free and open source software (FOSS) and open hardware throughout 2018, Chris points to what appears to have been an inflection point for open hardware, and in particular free and open source silicon (FOSSi) projects. “Building custom silicon chips—a notion once far too impractical and costly for all but the largest chipmakers—is now a serious reality,” he writes, “thanks to RISC-V, an open-source instruction set for building chip architectures.”
Chris points to a range of developments from companies including SiFive, Microsemi, Western Digital, and Esperanto, though skips over some of the impressive efforts of others including IIT Madras, Thales, OpenISA, PULP Platform and OpenPiton, Bluespec, Huami, Sipeed, Hex Five, lowRISC, and even the not-for-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation, all of whom have released or announced RISC-V-based projects over the last year.
The piece concludes with some warnings, however, with a particular focus on embedded efforts. “Paramount among issues encountered by developers using open source were incomplete or confusing documentation and a lack of responsiveness and support from developers,” Chris explains. “Among those surveyed by GitHub, 93 percent said there is a ‘pervasive problem’ in the open-source community with incomplete or outdated documentation.”
The full piece is available now on Design News.