The OpTiMSoC Blog
In our blog we regularly post about the status of the project, things we figured out while working on it and other things that might come to our mind. Please contact us if you want to share your experience with OpTiMSoC, guest posts are always welcome!
Woohoo! After more than two years of work and 479 git commits later we are very proud to present the all-new 2018.1 release of OpTiMSoC!
A look at the statistics gives a first impression of how large this release is:
diffstat tells us about 973 files changed, 133,697 lines inserted and 58,806 lines deleted.
Or in other words, the code size increased by 74,891 lines!
How do those lines of code translate into functionality, you may ask?
Let’s have a closer look.
Some projects we take upon ourselves are done quickly: start, do the work, profit. Others take a bit longer. And then there are these projects which seem to linger forever in an “almost done” state. Just one more small thing and we’ll be done. A small fix here. An extension to a module there. A new component elsewhere. And so it goes on, and on, and on. For days, for weeks, for years. Adding Linux support to OpTiMSoC is such a story. But there’s a happy end: Linux support has finally arrived!
OpTiMSoC is a highly complex system. If all goes to plan, software, hardware and tooling work together to form a well-integrated SoC (framework). But as so often, the reality is less gloomy: changing a single line of code anywhere could lead to trouble anywhere else. Finding out about breakages only weeks of months after the fact makes debugging a nightmare. 
Each year in September or early October the OpTiMSoC team attends ORConf, and this year was no exception. In addition to exchanging a lot of ideas with friends and other open source enthusiasts, ORConf presents itself as a good opportunity to reflect on what has happened in OpTiMSoC land over the last year.
Linux was ported to OpTiMSoC during the 2017’s Google Sumer of Code. This blog post details the work that was accomplished during the project; and as well the work that was left to be tackled.
It’s OpTiMSoC release time! After a bit over half a year of work, we’re proud to announce our first release in this year, 2016.1. It comes with many great new features, but two are especially noteworthy: our switch to FuseSoC and the integration of Open SoC Debug. Both new features strengthen our collaborations with other projects – because sharing is caring!
Good news first: We have a put out a regular release and we promise to do this more often. Until now there was not much sense to make releases, because everything was in a flow and there was not even an installation package. But this has changed, from now on regular releases can be found on github. The release numbers are numbered throughout the year (2015.1 on December 30 will hopefully not happen again..).
A few weeks ago we started cutting out the different parts of OpTiMSoC from the original repository to separate repositories at the new organization. The aim is to structure it better and have separation of different aspects of OpTiMSoC.
Maybe not visible to the outside, but there has been a change in the website rcently. We have updated the documentation, moved the entire site to github pages and added some social media buttons to share the website or our blog posts.
Every autumn the community around the OpenRISC processor meets somewhere to discuss the current status of the project, to exchange ideas with other free/open hardware projects, and to discuss future directions. This year the OpenRISC Conference “ORCONF” was held at TUM in Munich and attracted around 40 people from all over Europe and the US.
Since its beginning, OpTiMSoC contained a method for communication between a PC and an FPGA board. For the ZTEX 1.15 boards we used the USB 2.0 interface, based on the Cypress FX2 chip available on those boards. As we continued the development, we realized that this connectivity functionality is not only useful in OpTiMSoC, but in other projects as well.
It’s official! We are proud to announce that our talk at FOSDEM has been accepted. FOSDEM, for those of you who have never heard of it, is one of the largest Free/Open Source conferences in Europe with a very strong focus on developers and technology. It is held every year in Brusseles, Belgium. This year it takes place on February 1st and 2nd.
The “brain” in a SoC is its processor; in OpTiMSoC this task falls to a the freely available OpenRISC processor. For the second year now the developers of the OpenRISC processor met in Cambridge, UK for a two-day conference on October 5th and 6th to discuss the current status of the project as well as plans for the future.
OpTiMSoC is growing rapidly. Most of the time we have our heads deep down into the internals, chasing large and small bugs, implementing exciting new features and if it all works, enjoy a beer at night.