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Western Digital To Open-Source The "SweRV" RISC-V Core In 2019

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  • #11
    This is phase 1. They will go to 64-bit, then 128-bit. The endgoal is exascale, so the data isn't owned by a cluster, but has a global address space.

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    • #12
      For anyone looking for a price/power/wattage competitive intel competative CPU, you will have to wait another few years. At very least.

      At the same time, RISC-V will make creating a new ASIC at lot easier, and for controllers that work with a wide variety of software, the lack of having to pay for a base architecture when you design and manufacture the chip yourself anyway will cut costs, and increase capabilities of a wide variety of products that require high end micro-controllers.

      I expect that RISC-V will be ubiquitous in the hard disk, SSD, flash drive controller market in the next 10 years. You will also likely find them in high end NIC cards, sound cards, SCSI controllers, and a whole.

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      • #13
        Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
        Overall I'd say it's good. I wouldn't mind having FOSS firmware for a SSD eventually, and this is a step in the right direction.
        What is the relation of the CPU being open sourced and the firmware being open sourced? Exactly zero. On top of that even if the CPU is open sourced it doesn't mean the rest of the SoC will have open specs.

        You don't need an open source CPU to have an open source firmware.

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        • #14
          Originally posted by andreano View Post

          You are implying that HDD/SSD controllers are high-end processors. Well, everything is relative, but that comparison wasn't the worst.
          No, I'm saying that even a crappy CPU running Linux (like the first gen Raspi) is many orders of magnitude more powerful than a microcontroller meant to run a bare-metal firmware, so that's like comparing a bike to a car. Sure it has some wheels but the similarities end pretty quick.

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          • #15
            Originally posted by ldesnogu View Post
            What is the relation of the CPU being open sourced and the firmware being open sourced?
            That you know what each register does, for starters. That's already a pretty large difference vs "knowing exactly jackshit" that allows to decompile and reverse engineer the firmware or develop your own.

            Also, you can also run this on a FPGA to develop stuff before trying it on a hard drive controller, if necessary.

            On top of that even if the CPU is open sourced it doesn't mean the rest of the SoC will have open specs.
            Which is irrelevant because none can fab his own chips anyway.

            You don't need an open source CPU to have an open source firmware.
            But with an opensource CPU you know how the CPU works and you can reverse-engineer the firmware.

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            • #16
              People were reading my comment all wrong. I'm actually seriously overwhelmed by just how powerful this thing is and wouldn't in the least be surprised to find linux running on it to do encryption going forwards now that BitLocker been pwned and HD manufacturers recognize the need for an upgrade-able firmware.

              I won't even be surprised to see this bad boy on an SBC eventually. I mean, just leave a few serial ports available and folks would likely attach diy-VT100 for fun.

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              • #17
                Originally posted by c117152 View Post
                People were reading my comment all wrong. I'm actually seriously overwhelmed by just how powerful this thing is and wouldn't in the least be surprised to find linux running on it to do encryption going forwards now that BitLocker been pwned and HD manufacturers recognize the need for an upgrade-able firmware.

                I won't even be surprised to see this bad boy on an SBC eventually. I mean, just leave a few serial ports available and folks would likely attach diy-VT100 for fun.
                This is a beefy microcontroller, but still a microcontroller, I really doubt Linux can (or should be hacked to) run decently in it.

                You need an OS only if you want to run third party software in a half-safe environment, and a storage controller is NOT a processor where it makes sense to run random code on. It has a single purpose. It is served better by a bare metal firmware.

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                • #18
                  Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
                  That you know what each register does, for starters. That's already a pretty large difference vs "knowing exactly jackshit" that allows to decompile and reverse engineer the firmware or develop your own.

                  Also, you can also run this on a FPGA to develop stuff before trying it on a hard drive controller, if necessary.

                  Which is irrelevant because none can fab his own chips anyway.

                  But with an opensource CPU you know how the CPU works and you can reverse-engineer the firmware.
                  Read again my post: you only need open specs for that. Did AMD have to release the RTL of their GPU for FOSS drivers to exist?

                  And also you need specs for all of the SoC not only for the CPU. Did WD say they'd release information about all of the SoC used on SSD?

                  And last point reverse engineering software doesn't make you magically better understand the CPU than an open spec. Do you need to read the source code of gcc to program in C?

                  The only point I agree with you is that indeed you'd be able to use an FPGA. But again this requires access to the source of all of the SoC. And if you only need to run on the CPU you already can do that with QEMU and rv8.

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                  • #19
                    Originally posted by ldesnogu View Post
                    Read again my post: you only need open specs for that.
                    Read my post: did I say this is the only way? No I did not. There are multiple ways to get there.

                    And last point reverse engineering software doesn't make you magically better understand the CPU than an open spec. Do you need to read the source code of gcc to program in C?
                    That's not what I said. I said that with an open source CPU you know what the CPU registers and instructions are and therefore you can reverse engineer the firmware.



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                    • #20
                      Originally posted by starshipeleven View Post
                      Read my post: did I say this is the only way? No I did not. There are multiple ways to get there.

                      That's not what I said. I said that with an open source CPU you know what the CPU registers and instructions are and therefore you can reverse engineer the firmware.
                      We're going nowhere, I think we are agreeing in fact I thought your original point was implying that having a FOSS CPU would help getting a FOSS firmware; what I say is that this is unneeded: all you need is a spec of the SoC.

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