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DesignerDamjan Lampret, with contributions from others in the OpenRISC community
Bits32-bit, 64-bit
EndiannessBig (unimplemented stub for Little)
General purpose16 or 32
Floating pointOptional

OpenRISC is a project to develop a series of open source instruction set architectures based on established reduced instruction set computing (RISC) principles. It is the original flagship project of the OpenCores community.

The first (and currently only) architectural description is for the OpenRISC 1000, describing a family of 32 and 64-bit processors with optional floating point and vector processing support,[1] and the OpenRISC 1200 implementation of this was designed by Damjan Lampret in 2000, written in the Verilog hardware description language.[2][3]

The hardware design was released under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL), while the models and firmware were released under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

A reference SoC implementation based on the OpenRISC 1200 was developed, known as ORPSoC (the OpenRISC Reference Platform System-on-Chip). A number of groups have demonstrated ORPSoC and other OR1200 based designs running on FPGAs,[4][5] and there have been a number of commercial derivatives produced.

Instruction set

The instruction set is a reasonably simple MIPS-like traditional RISC using a 3-operand load-store architecture, with 16 or 32 general-purpose registers and a fixed 32-bit instruction length. The instruction set is mostly identical between the 32 and 64 bit versions of the specification, the main difference being the register width (32 or 64 bits) and page table layout. The OpenRISC specification includes all features common to modern desktop/server processors: a supervisor mode and virtual memory system, optional read, write and execute control for memory pages, and instructions for synchronization and interrupt handling between multiple processors.

Another notable feature is a rich set of SIMD instructions intended for digital signal processing.


OpenRISC prototyped on Flex FPGA dev board, running uClinux

Most implementations are on FPGAs which give the possibility to iterate on the design at the cost of performance.

As the OpenRISC 1000 is now considered stable, ORSoC (owner of OpenCores) launched a crowd-funding project trying to build a cost-efficient ASIC to get improved performance. ORSoC faced criticism for this from the community.[citation needed] The project never reached the goal.

As of April 2017, no open-source ASIC has been produced yet.

Commercial implementations

Several commercial organizations have developed derivatives of the OpenRISC 1000 architecture, including the ORC32-1208 from ORSoC and the BA12, BA14 and BA22 from Beyond Semiconductor. Dynalith Systems provide the iNCITE FPGA prototyping board, which is capable of running both the OpenRISC 1000 and BA12. Flex and Jennic Limited manufactured the OpenRISC as part of an ASIC. Samsung use the OpenRISC 1000 in their DTV system-on-chips (SDP83 B-Series, SDP92 C-Series, SDP1001/SDP1002 D-Series, SDP1103/SDP1106 E-Series).[6] Allwinner Technology are reported to use an OpenRISC core in their AR100 power controller, which forms part of the A31 ARM-based SoC.[7]

Cadence Design Systems have started using OpenRISC as a reference architecture in documenting tool chain flows (for example the UVM reference flow, now contributed to Accellera).[8]

TechEdSat, the first NASA OpenRISC architecture based Linux computer launched in July 2012, and was deployed in October 2012 to the International Space Station with hardware provided, built, and tested by ÅAC Microtec and ÅAC Microtec North America.[9][10][11]

Academic and non-commercial use

Being open source, OpenRISC has proved popular in academic and hobbyist circles. For example, Stefan Wallentowitz and his team at the Institute for Integrated Systems at the Technische Universität München have used OpenRISC in research into multicore architectures.[12] The Open Source Hardware User Group in the UK has on two occasions[13][14] run sessions on OpenRISC, while hobbyist Sven-Åke Andersson has written a comprehensive blog on OpenRISC for beginners,[15] which attracted the interest of EE Times.[16] Sebastian Macke has implemented jor1k, an OpenRISC 1000 emulator in JavaScript, running Linux with X Window System and Wayland support.[17]

Toolchain support

The OpenRISC community have ported the GNU toolchain to OpenRISC to support development in C and C++. Using this toolchain the newlib, uClibc, musl (as of release 1.1.4) and glibc libraries have been ported to the processor. Dynalith provides OpenIDEA, a graphical development environment based on this toolchain. A project to port LLVM to the OpenRISC 1000 architecture started in early 2012 (project page).

The OR1K project provides an instruction set simulator, or1ksim. The flagship implementation, the OR1200, is a register-transfer level (RTL) model in Verilog HDL, from which a SystemC-based cycle-accurate model can be built in ORPSoC. A high speed model of the OpenRISC 1200 is also available through the Open Virtual Platforms (OVP) initiative set up by Imperas.

Operating system support

Linux support

The mainline Linux kernel gained support for OpenRISC in version 3.1.[18] The implementation merged in this release is the 32-bit OpenRISC 1000 family (or1k).[19] Previously OpenRISC 1000 architecture, but this has now been superseded by the mainline port.

RTOS support

A number of real-time operating systems have been ported to OpenRISC, including RTEMS, FreeRTOS and eCos.

QEMU support

Since version 1.2 [20] QEMU supports emulating OpenRISC platforms.

See also


  1. ^ Damjan Lampret et al., "OpenRISC 1000 Architecture Manual", Architecture Version 1.0, Document Revision 0, December 5, 2012. Available from the OpenCores website [1]
  2. ^ Interview with OpenRISC designer Damjan Lampret, published online in EE Times in February 2000 [2]
  3. ^ Interview with OpenRISC designer Damjan Lampret, on the cover of February 2000 edition of EE Times[3]
  4. ^ Patrick Pelgrims, Tom Tierens and Dries Driessens, "Basic Custom OpenRISC System Hardware Tutorial: Embedded system design based upon Soft- and Hardcore FPGA’s", De Nayer Instituut, Hogeschool voor Wetenschap & Kunst, 2004. Available online "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-11-27. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
  5. ^ Xiang Li and Lin Zuo, "Open source embedded platform based on OpenRISC and DE2-70", Masters dissertation, SoC program, KTH, Sweden. Available online [4]
  6. ^ Samsung Open Source Release Center, follow the links → TV & VIDEO → TV → DTV → ETC →
  7. ^ Linux-sunxi project community wiki page on the AR100 controller. Retrieved on 20 July 2013.
  8. ^ UVM Reference Flow, Accellera website (undated).
  9. ^ Post to the openrisc mailing lists at on 8 April 2012 by Fredrick Bruhn, CEO of ÅAC Microtec
  10. ^ "Swedish breakthrough in space on NASA satellite with electronics from ÅAC Microtec" (Press release). ÅAC Microtec. 2012-10-11.
  11. ^ "Svenskt genombrott i rymden på NASA-satellit med elektronik från ÅAC Microtec" [Swedish breakthrough in space on NASA satellite with electronics from ÅAC Microtec] (Press release) (in Swedish). 2012-10-11. Archived from the original on 2012-10-16. Retrieved 2018-03-16 – via Mynewsdesk.
  12. ^ Wallentowitz, Stefan; Wild, Thomas; Herkersdorf, Andreas. "Multicore Architecture and Programming Model Co-Optimization (MAPCO)" (PDF) (Research poster at the Sixth International Summer School on Advanced Computer Architecture and Compilation for High-Performance and Embedded Systems (ACACES), 11-17 July 2010). Terrassa (Barcelona), Spain. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-02-10. Retrieved 2018-10-29.
  13. ^ Chips (Programmable Logic, Computer Conservation with FPGAs, OpenCores & OpenRISC 1000). OSHUG meeting #9, Skills Matter, 116-120 Goswell Road, London, 21 April 2011.
  14. ^ Practical System-on-Chip (Program your own open source FPGA SoC). OSHUG meeting #17, Centre for Creative Collaboration, 16 Acton Street, London, 29 March 2012.
  15. ^ OpenRISC 1200 soft processor. Blog post by Sven-Åke Andersson, 2 March 2012.
  16. ^ Comparing four 32-bit soft processor cores. Clive Maxfield, EE Times, 3 May 2012.
  17. ^ OpenRISC Emulator In JavaScript Can Run Wayland
  18. ^ " - linux/kernel/git/torvalds/linux-2.6.git/tree - arch/openrisc/". Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. Retrieved 2011-10-17.
  19. ^ "Linux 3.1". Kernel Newbies. Retrieved 2011-10-17.
  20. ^ QEMU Changelog 1.2

External links