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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

OpenCores is a loose community of people who are interested in developing digital open source hardware through electronic design automation, with a similar ethos to the free software movement. OpenCores hope to eliminate redundant design work and slash development costs. A number of companies have been reported as adopting OpenCores IP in chips [1] [2], or as adjuncts to EDA tools [3] [4]. OpenCores is also cited from time to time in the electronics press as an example of open source in the electronics hardware community, for example [5], while EE Times reported in late 2008 that OpenCores had passed the 20,000 subscriber mark [6].


History of OpenCores

Damjan Lampret, one of the founders of OpenCores states on his website that it began in 1999 [10]. The first public record of the new website and its objectives was on CNET News in 2001 [7]. Through the following years it was supported by advertising and sponsorship, including Flextronics [1].

In mid-2007 an appeal was put out for a new backer [8], and, in November of that year, Swedish design house ORSoC AB agreed to take over maintenance of the OpenCores website [9].


In the absence of a widely accepted open source hardware license, the components produced by the OpenCores initiative use several different software licenses. The most common is the GNU LGPL, which states that any modifications to a component must be shared with the community, while you can still use it together with proprietary components. The less restrictive modified BSD license (with advertising clause removed) is also used in some hardware projects, while the GNU GPL is often used for software components, such as models and firmware.

The OpenCores library

The library will consist of design elements from central processing units, memory controllers, peripherals, motherboards, and other components. Emerging semiconductor manufacturers could use the information and license designs for free.

Currently the emphasis is on digital modules called 'cores', commonly known as IP Cores. The components are used for creating both custom integrated circuits (ASICs) and FPGAs.

The cores are implemented in the hardware description languages Verilog, VHDL or SystemC which may be synthesized to either silicon or gate arrays.

The project aims at using a common non-proprietary system bus named Wishbone, and most components are nowadays adapted to this bus.

Among the components created by OpenCores contributors are:


  1. ^ a b Andrew Orlowski, "Flextronics demos open source chips", The Register, 12 December 2003, [1]
  2. ^ Rick Merritt, "Vivace plans to release HD media processors", EE Times India (online edition), 20 April 2006 [2]
  3. ^ Dylan McGrath, "Firm packages OpenCores IP with EDA tool", EE Times (online edition), 9 January, 2006 [3]
  4. ^ "OVP Simulator Smashes SystemC TLM-2.0 Performance Barrier", EDA Cafe, 5 February 2009 [4]
  5. ^ Richard Goering, "Doors 'open' to hardware", EE Times (online edition), 6 June 2005 [5]
  6. ^ Anne-Francoise Pele, "OpenCores records 20,000 users", EE Times Europe (online edition), 28 October 2008 [6]
  7. ^ John G Spooner, "Open-source credo moves to chip design", CNET News, 27 March 2001 [7]
  8. ^ Peter Clarke, "OpenCores website, brand up for sale", EE Times Europe (online edition), 25 June 2007 [8]
  9. ^ Peter Clarke, "Swedish design house agrees to maintain OpenCores", EE Times Europe (online edition), 28 November 2007 [9]
  10. ^ risc16f84,risc16f84

See also

External links



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