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Nix Flake
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Theme fund: NGI0 Entrust
Start: 2023-06
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Operating Systems


Improve hardware support for open source FPGA tooling

FPGAs are reconfigurable chips capable of handling many electronic signals in parallel. They are used in network equipment like backbone switches, firewalls, video devices like surveillance cameras and radio equipment like mobile-phone base stations, radar systems and satellites to process high volumes of data with very low latency. FPGAs are also used to test digital circuit designs before they are manufactured as chips.

The functionality of FPGAs is determined by a configuration file which is loaded into the FPGA at power-on. The configuration file is usually generated from a design file by a proprietary tool provided by the manufacturer of the FPGA.

openXC7 will provide a complete set of open source tools to generate a configuration file for the widely used family of Xilinx Series 7 FPGAs from manufacturer Xilinx/AMD without having to use any proprietary tools. This will empower digital design engineers to have the guarantee that no backdoor is implemented on FPGA based devices by the proprietary design tool provided by the vendor.

The availability of the source code of the FPGA design tool will also allow anyone to come up with new use cases for FPGAs currently not possible with existing tools.

In this project the team will implement gigabit transceiver support, both for the widely used Artix7 and the Kintex7 families of devices, thus enabling complete open source network infrastructure (e.g. an open source 10 GB Ethernet switch). The second focal point will be identifying and fixing issues that arise from the community of users of the toolchain.

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This project was funded through the NGI0 Entrust 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 101069594.