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If you really want Free firmware...

Matthew Garrett wrote:
No, you're missing the point. I understand that there are practical
arguments against this desire for freedom, but that doesn't alter the
philosophical basis - as far as freedom is concerned, there is no
difference in having non-free code in ROM or on disk.
Yes, but we achieved viability for Free Software by creating our own. I think it's going to be necessary for us to innovate better mechanisms for the creation and distribution of hardware - not just Free designs but the actual hardware, before we can pull this off. The best efforts toward this so far are at opencores.org . If you really want to have hardware incorporate Free firmware, you should start working with those guys.

Currently, I don't believe there are any non-proprietary gate-arrays available to us. All must be programmed with proprietary software, and the internal formats are treated as secret sauce by the manufacturers. Thus, all opencores designs are programmed into proprietary parts. That is probably the next challenge we should conquer. The original patents have about run out.

Surprisingly, the first step toward doing it is to design a gate-array within a gate-array. Only once you get that working do you go full-custom at the chip foundary. People have tried to design the gate-array, but haven't carried this as far as it will need to go. It will take fund-raising to do it. I feel it's an appropriate project for SPI or another organization to raise the money for this.



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