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NGI0 grant for Software Heritage 2020/03/26

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

 

The Libre-RISCV SoC, Video Acceleration

[The Libre-RISCV SoC, Video Acceleration]

The Libre RISC-V SoC Project, has been funded by NLNet to get to FPGA-proven status. This was for the "core" (the main processor). One of the next, specialist, phases, is to ensure that its capabilities are useable to perform Video Acceleration. To do so, Video Software such as ffmpeg, gstreamer and their low-level libraries need to actually use the hardware-accelerated capability. A "normal" commercial processor usually has a separate proprietary VPU, along with proprietary software: both unfortunately are vectors for attack against users, undermining trust and privacy. Without access to Video Acceleration, users are left with the stark choice: be compromised, or don't watch any video, period. This project therefore provides a commercial-grade Video Decoder (minimum 720p) and helps restore trust in the software *and* hardware.

Why does this actually matter to end users?

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. This will significantly contribute to the creation a new generation of computer technologies, as well as more energy efficient and cheaper devices. NGI Zero funds several important building blocks of this project, like this effort to create open and trustworthy hardware acceleration, so no closed-off hardware or software to run specific components is needed in the world's first open computer processor. Ultimately these building blocks will come together in a transparent computer processor that can make our computing devices more trustworthy.

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.

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Deadline June 1st, 2020.