Google Wants to Foster an Open Source Hardware Community


Google is actively engaged in two key open hardware efforts – lowRISC and CHIPS alliance. The company joins the board of lowRISC and becomes a founding member of CHIPS Alliance project.

Google has already proven its commitment to open source software by making some notable contributions to the open source community in the form of Android, Chromium OS, Go, Material Design Icons, etc.

Now, the tech giant wants to foster a similar community for hardware and chip design, specifically open source silicon.

In a blog post, Google reveals that the open source software community has been vital to the company’s success, and it believes that the new domain of open source silicon could bring similar benefits.

“Google has been an early, strong supporter of the open silicon community. We believe deeply in a future where transparent, trustworthy open source chip designs are commonplace. To get there, we are committed to establishing a collaborative, community-focused, open source basis for free and open silicon design” – states the Google Open Source blog.

According to the company, “besides enabling and encouraging innovation, chip designs derived from a common, open baseline will provide the benefit of implementation choice while still guaranteeing software compatibility and a set of common interfaces.”

Additionally, it will ensure design transparency and security. However, to take full advantage of open silicon, Google points out the “need for new design methodologies, new governance models and increased collaborations between industry, academia and not for profits.”

Google actively engaged in two open hardware efforts

Working through its Open Source Programs Office (OSPO), Google is actively engaged in helping seed the open silicon space by providing funding, strategic and legal support to key open hardware efforts – lowRISC and CHIPS alliance.


lowRISC is a leader in open silicon community outreach, technical documentation and advancing the goal of a truly open source system on a chip.

“We have long supported lowRISC’s mission of transparently implemented silicon and robust engagement of the open source silicon community, providing funding, advice, and recognizing their open source community leadership by selecting them as a Google Summer of Code mentoring organization,” Google writes in the blog post.

Furthermore, Google is joining the board of lowRISC, and has appointed Dominic Rizzo and Ronald Minnich as corporate directors.

CHIPS Alliance

Google has also joined as a founding member of the Linux Foundation’s CHIPS Alliance project.

CHIPS Alliance features an industry-driven, collaborative model to release high-quality silicon IP and supporting technical collateral.

In collaboration with CHIPS Alliance, Google recently released a Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) instruction stream generator to aid in the verification of RISC-V cores.

Google believes “such open sourcing of verification tools will prove critical to the long-term success of the open source silicon community.”




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