ORConf is back!

by Julius Baxter on September 19, 2023

ORConf 2023 group photo

ORConf is back! We've returned with yet another open source chip design tour de force courtesy of the brilliant community, our first since the previous outing in Bordeaux in 2019. The years have been kind, it seems to us all; with much progress to be presented and discussed over the three days being hosted by the University of Applied Sciences in beautiful Munich.

We were very pleased to have Andrew Kahng open the show with updates on the impressive developments in OpenROAD's place-and-route capabilities, continuing to pave the way for truly open source chip design.

Plenty of virtual prototyping news, and a fascinating presentation on laser attacks determining not only circuit structure but run-time values. Stafford Horne gave us the annual OpenRISC update; plenty since Bordeaux including simulator improvements, specification updates and continued support in the Linux kernel, all major tool chains and C libraries. Karol Gugala of Antmicro shared their work with the CHIPS Alliance on tooling which is always impressive to see and of course widely used by the community.

LowRISC's Greg Chadwick joined us for a keynote on the state of their work, including having taped out OpenTitan, continuing to keep Ibex improving, and future work they're undertaking; all fantastic to see. Continuing the security theme; Michael Gielda gave us the lowdown on another root-of-trust development in Caliptra, Felix Oberhansl analysing the RISC-V crypto extensions and how much they speed up software implementations, and Leon Woestenberg showing off their hardware-based (although originally RISC-V-in-the-loop) WireGuard implementation for high throughput ethernet networks.

Rihards Novickis brought up healthy debate about how Europe will implement the goal of its Chips Act, and what role FOSSi tools and designs can play in that - something which is very topical, and on the topic of which we will draw the attention of those interested to this workshop which is coming up soon.

The folks from ASTRON in the Netherlands shared details of their data transport implementations and other IP they are open sourcing which is great to see. Tomasz Hemperek of Cocotb maintainer fame, shared his verification flow and methodology for improving development speed and quality.

Cocotb is definitely not dead; and in fact appears to be in rude health with a presentation on the latest and greatest from Philipp Wagner, and followed by an unconference on cocotb on Sunday, bringing together the brains trust to plot world domination one API improvement at a time.

The folks of AsFigo shared their thoughts on testbench linting and maths libraries in System Verilog. Charlos Papon showed us some details on his Spinal HDL interconnect generator using TileLink.

Closing out the event's formal proceedings in style, as always, was Davide Rossi, with a retrospective on the decade-long PULP project; starting out with their humble beginnings working with OpenRISC CPUs and the inevitable switch to RISC-V, and a recap of the incredible architectural research work they've done and what is coming up. This is truly a remarkable research group who generate some very widely used IP and tooling and we're honoured to have hosted Davide a decade back in Cambridge and to have him join us this year to recap 10 years of work. Grazie Davide!

ORConf 2023 break

ORConf wouldn't be ORConf without plenty of social time, and this year we were treated to a couple of fantastic evening events in different sides of Munich. Great food and libations were on offer and we all hung out and chatted long into the evening, rapidly making up for 4 years between drinks.

Munich was in fine form this weekend, sunshine and warm weather were very welcome, and provided a great backdrop to a fantastic event.

A big thank you to the hosts and the folks who helped out running the show. An even bigger thank you to the attendees and presenters. The biggest thanks to professional ticket holder and our sponsors Antmicro, Axelera, lowRISC, Minres and Hudson River Trading who help make this event possible.

All recordings of the talks are now available on YouTube.

Photos courtesy of Matt Venn.