Open Processors

The same principals that brought the Linux operating system to the computer world are helping to propagate a new generation of computer hardware. Numerous processor designs are now being made open for anyone to modify and use, and available for free—or in some cases for small royalties—making it possible for device makers to select from a wider range of chip hardware than ever before. Although they are all doing so for different reasons, organizations such as Power.org, recently founded by IBM, OpenCores.org, an online clearinghouse for processor core designs and to a lesser extent SPARC International, which maintains the SPARC processor, aim to offer one-stop shopping for would-be chip licensees. SPARC International charges licensing fees it says are relatively low. Its 64-bit SPARC V9 core can be licensed for $ 30,000, while its 32-bit SPARC V8 can be had for $ 25,000.


The same principals that brought the Linux operating system to the computer world are helping to propagate a new generation of computer hardware. Numerous processor designs are now being made open for anyone to modify and use, and available for free—or in some cases for small royalties—making it possible for device makers to select from a wider range of chip hardware than ever before. Although they are all doing so for different reasons, organizations such as Power.org, recently founded by IBM, OpenCores.org, an online clearinghouse for processor core designs and to a lesser extent SPARC International, which maintains the SPARC processor, aim to offer one-stop shopping for would-be chip licensees. SPARC International charges licensing fees it says are relatively low. Its 64-bit SPARC V9 core can be licensed for $ 30,000, while its 32-bit SPARC V8 can be had for $ 25,000.

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