News

Hackers donate 90% of profit to charity 2019/06/13

NGI Zero awarded two EC research and innovation actions 2018/12/01

EC publishes study on Next Generation Internet 2025 2018/10/05

Bob Goudriaan successor of Marc Gauw 2017/10/12

NLnet Labs' Jaap Akkerhuis inducted in Internet Hall of Fame 2017/09/19

 

The Libre-RISCV SoC

[The Libre-RISCV SoC]

It is 2019 and it is not possible to buy a mass-produced laptop, tablet or smartphone and replace all of its software (with software that a user can trust) without loss of functionality. Processor boot-loaders are DRM-locked; WIFI, 3D Graphics and Video Processors are proprietary, and Intel's processors contain problematic features and intransparent elements such as the "Management" Engine. The most logical way to restore and engender trust is to literally make a new processor - one that is developed transparently and may be independently audited to the bedrock. The project develops a a low-power, mobile-class, 64-bit Quad-Core RISC-V SoC at a minimum 800mhz clock rate, suitable for tablet, netbook, and industrial embedded systems. Full source code files are available for the operating system and bootloader, and the actual processor, its peripherals and its 3D GPU and VPU. Details at http://libre-riscv.org/3d_gpu/

Why does this actually matter to end users?

Consumers and businesses overpay for computer hardware, because the market is not working well. When you go to a store to buy a laptop or mobile phone, you may see different brands on the outside but choice in terms of what is inside the box (in particular the most expensive component, the processor technology) is pretty much limited to the same core technologies and large vendors that have been in the market for decades. This has a much bigger effect on the users than just the hefty price tag of the hardware, because the technologies at that level impact all other technologies and insecurity at that level break security across the board.

In the field of software, open source has already become the default option in the market for any new setup. In hardware, the situation is different. Users - even very big users such as governments - have very little control over the actual hardware security of the technology they critically depend on every day. Security experts continue to uncover major security issues, and users are rightly concerned about the security of their private data as well as the continuity of their operations. But in a locked-down market there is little anyone can do, because the lack of alternatives. European companies are locked out of the possibility to contribute solutions and start new businesses that can change the status quo.

This ambitious project wants to deliver the first completely open computer processor in history - one you don' t have to merely trust, because you can verify and modify everything about it. All of the technology included, from top to bottom, will become available for inspection, and can be tuned by anyone technically capable enough. In practical terms, this will mostly be done by experts, but there is one major difference: anyone can become an expert, and noone has to ask permission to experiment. This will significantly contribute to the creation a new generation of computer technologies, as well as more energy efficient and cheaper devices.

Logo NLnet: abstract logo of four people seen from above Logo NGI Zero: letterlogo shaped like a tag

This project was funded through the NGI0 PET Fund, a fund established by NLnet with financial support from the European Commission's Next Generation Internet programme, under the aegis of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology under grant agreement No 825310. Applications are still open, you can apply today.

Calls

Send in your ideas.
Deadline October 1st, 2019.

 

 
Last update: 2019/05/15