Bluespec, Inc. will open source its BSV development tools on January 31, 2020. The company is contributing this powerful field-proven technology to the open source hardware community to reinforce an industry uptick in the use of high-level HDLs that will address challenging new design and verification problems. According to CEO Charlie Hauck, “Open source collaborative development is the only way to deliver the HDL advances necessary for leading-edge applications requiring security, AI, and high assurance. Formal verification, one of the most critically needed advances, requires access to HDL tool source code to provide a complete chain of proof.”
The uptick in the adoption of high-level HDLs is most evident in the proliferation of open source processors implementing the RISC-V ISA. Three quarters of the top dozen RISC-V open source projects are implemented in high-level HDLs. The DARPA SSITH (System Security Integration Through Hardware and Firmware) program uses six different processors as development vehicles, all implemented in high-level HDLs. For projects with a clean slate and no legacy constraints, high-level HDLs are gaining adoption.
IIT Madras Ph.D. and RISC-V Shakti project member Neel Gala explained the transformative power BSV gives his team. “Bluespec System Verilog gives you a high-level abstraction, like going from assembly [level programming] to C. You don’t do the dirty work, the compiler does all the work for you. You work at a much higher level, your throughput increases. Simulation and turnaround time decreases, and your product release time has a shorter cycle.”
BSV is the only HDL based on Guarded Atomic Actions. This provides a foundation for reasoning about the functional correctness of hardware. Various projects have demonstrated the verification advantages of BSV hardware (Kami at MIT, BlueCheck at the University of Cambridge). Open sourcing the BSV tools will stimulate further development in advanced hardware verification.
Source code for the BSV tools will be licensed under a standard open source license and be hosted by a separate nonprofit organization. Bluespec, Inc. will continue to offer supported versions of the BSV tools, based on the open source code. It will also upstream fixes and enhancements to the public repository. Companies are encouraged to join the BSV supplier ecosystem by providing BSV products and support based on the open source code.
You can access the open-source content here.
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