About OpenSPARC                               Back to OpenSPARC Overview

OpenSPARC is open-source hardware!
Small amounts of computer hardware Intellectual Property (IP) have been available for many years in open-source form, typically as circuit descriptions written in an RTL (Register Transfer Level) language such as Verilog or VHDL. However, until now, few large hardware designs have been available in open-source form. One of the most complex designs imaginable is for a complete microprocessor; with the notable exception of the LEON 32-bit SPARC processor, none have been available in open-source form until recently.

In March 2006, the complete design of Sun Microsystems' UltraSPARC T1 microprocessor was released-in open-source form, it was named OpenSPARC T1. In early 2008, its successor, OpenSPARC T2, was also released in open-source form. These were the first (and still only) 64-bit microprocessors ever open-sourced. They were also the first (and still only) CMT (chip multithreaded) microprocessors ever open-sourced. Both designs are freely available to anyone. These downloads include not only the processor design source code but also simulation tools, design verification suites, Hypervisor source code, and other helpful tools. Variants that easily synthesize for FPGA targets are also available.


Learn From The Real Chips

Explore the code that works. Learn techniques that have been designed and tested in commercial multi-core multi-thread low-power and highly productive microprocessor chips.

 History of OpenSPARC

Sun Microsystems began shipping the UltraSPARC T1 chip multithreaded (CMT) processor in December 2005. Sun surprised the industry by announcing that it would not only ship the processor but also open-source that processor - a first in the industry. By March 2006, UltraSPARC T1 had been open-sourced in a distribution called OpenSPARC T1. In 2007, Sun began shipping its newer, more advanced UltraSPARC T2 processor, and open-sourced the bulk of that design as OpenSPARC T2.The "source code" for both designs is comprehensive, including not just millions of lines of the hardware description language (Verilog, a form of "register transfer logic"-RTL) for these microprocessors, but also scripts to compile ("synthesize") that source code into hardware implementations, source code of processor and full-system simulators, prepackaged operating system images to boot on the simulators, source code to the Hypervisor software layer, a large suite of verification software, and thousands of pages of architecture and implementation specification documents.

OpenSPARC is the genesis of a vision by engineers, technologists, evangelists, and executives at Sun Microsystems, Inc. to create a larger community where open conversations and collaborative development projects spawn dramatic innovations around chip design. Individual programmers as well as representatives from Universities, industry associations, supporting software companies, foundries, entrepreneurs, large corporations and visionaries have already begun to participate in this expanded community.

SPARC stands for Scalable Processor ARChitecture. The technology is based on pioneering research around RISC at the University of California, Berkeley. It has been the basis of Sun's premiere line of servers since its introduction the Sun 4/260 and 4/280, in mid-1987 and then as the Campus-1 "pizza box" in 1989. That year, Sun transferred the ownership of the SPARC specifications to SPARC International, who continues to license the technology and manage compliance testing for the trademark today. SPARC has had a long history of openness. Take a look at Dawn of OpenSPARC.


What OpenSPARC Means to You


As a developer
Opening the UltraSPARC T1 & UltraSPARC T2 source code lets developers create innovative software applications faster, and with a higher degree of hardware integration than ever before. Software developers will now be able to create highly optimized applications that are tightly integrated with the hardware, creating unique, high-value solutions for specific markets.

As an EDA developer
OpenSPARC provides a platform to demonstrate and test your tool's capabilities on a commercial design.

As a student or professor in academia
Opening the UltraSPARC T1 & UltraSPARC T2 source code gives you the opportunity to research, modify, test and create unique solutions built on a proven architecture. A modern, real (not "toy") design -- OpenSPARC can boot real off-the-shelf commercial operating systems (e.g.Solaris, Linux, FreeBSD).  Use a real design for your study, research or to test for your VLSI design methodology innovations.

Open doors to collaboration around chip design. Help spread the word that OpenSPARC is a platform for making this happen.

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