LONDON – ORSoC AB, a Swedish design house that took over responsibility for maintaining the OpenCores website, www.opencores.org, in 2007 has announced that work has begun on OpenRISC 2000 (OR2K), an upgrade to the OpenRISC 1000 32-bit processor.
The OpenRISC 1000 first surfaced as a freely downloadable 32-bit processor design in 2000 (see Free 32-bit processor core hits the internet). It occupied about 35,000 gates or 70 percent of the smallest Xilinx Virtex FPGA available at that time, on which it could be clocked at about 100-MHz.
Since then both the OpenRISC 1000 and the open-source movement for hardware circuits have developed substantially, although at a much slower pace than open-source software movement.
OpenCores said in its September newsletter that work has now started to define the next-generation processor architecture for modern high performance FPGAs.
"Drawing on the experience of the OpenRISC 1000 project, the new architecture will be designed from the outset for multicore usage and will offer improved performance and code density. The emphasis will be on modularity of design, to give maximum flexibility to the end user," the group said. As with the OpenRISC 1000, OpenCores will license the OR2K under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL).
Some of the design decisions taken so far include a re-working of the instruction set, aimed at striking a better balance between code-density and simple RISC-like implementation. Future areas for work include interrupt handling, the floating-point mathematics interface, and the software debug interface.
The design is being performed through an online Wiki interface to try and encourage large-scale collaboration. The architectural specification (also on the Wiki) is based on the OpenRISC 1000 and is being reviewed and updated for the OR2K.
Related links and articles:
News articles in reverse chronological order:
OpenCores bundles development environment with OpenRISC
RISC processor IP licensor surfaces in Slovenia
Open source designer to demo Flextronics' 'free' processor
Free 32-bit processor core hits the Internet