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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Open-source hardware

Open-source hardware

Open-source hardware (OSHW) consists of physical artifacts of technology designed and offered by the Open design movement. Both free and open-source software (FOSS) as well as open-source hardware is created by this open-source culture movement and applies a like concept to a variety of components. The term usually means that information about the hardware is easily discerned. Hardware design (i.e. mechanical drawings, schematics, bill of materials, PCB layout data, HDL source code and integrated circuit layout data), in addition to the software that drives the hardware, are all released with the FOSS approach.

Since the rise of reconfigurable programmable logic devices, sharing of logic designs has been a form of open source hardware. Instead of the schematics, hardware description language (HDL) code is shared. HDL descriptions are commonly used to set up system-on-a-chip systems either in field-programmable gate arrays (FPGA) or directly in application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) designs. HDL modules, when distributed, are called semiconductor intellectual property cores, or IP cores.

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