Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 

What is CHIPS Alliance?

CHIPS Alliance, a member of the Linux Foundation, is championing open source based collaboration in the chip design community. This includes architectures, specifications, reference implementations, PDKs and EDA tooling. CHIPS Alliance hosts different workgroups to bring community members together to focus on topics of shared interest.

Why do we need open source hardware, chips, FPGAs, etc.?

Open source ingredients for hardware design are enabling and accelerating the global collaborative ecosystem. They encourage the formulation of new, disruptive ideas that drive the industry forward, decrease cost and time needed to build new processing platforms, and give users more control over the technology stack and the ability to co-design software and hardware more effectively.

How is CHIPS Alliance related to the Linux Foundation?

CHIPS Alliance is a Linux Foundation project, so it inherits many of the Linux Foundation’s processes, governance, etc. To be a member of CHIPS Alliance you also need to be a member of the Linux Foundation. Visit here for details on joining the Linux Foundation.

Where can I find projects hosted by CHIPS Alliance?

The CHIPS Alliance hosts multiple open source projects. Similar projects are organized into workgroups. To find out more about our workgroups, visit here. To browse all our projects, visit our GitHub.

How are CHIPS Alliance projects licensed?

Typically, CHIPS Alliance projects are covered by the Apache License 2.0 for code, and OWFa 0.9 for specs. The Technical Steering Committee can allow non-Apache/OWFa licensed code into CHIPS Alliance if it meets certain conditions. See Chapter 7: “Intellectual Property Policy” of our Technical Charter.

Does the IP policy of CHIPS cover all of my work in this space, including pre-existing work?

Members are never obligated to contribute to code or specification projects in CHIPS Alliance, nor are they obligated to participate in the development process in any way. Members and non-members alike must sign a CHIPS Alliance CLA (distinct from membership) before contributing to code or specification projects.

Our specification projects leverage the OWFa 0.9 (Necessary Claims) license, as described in the CHIPS directed fund charter which is included in the project’s membership agreement. Prospective members will want to review the IP policy set forth in the charter with their own legal counsel, in order to understand how the implementation of OWFa may relate to their specific situation. Please note also that CHIPS utilizes a notice and voting period in connection with specification releases, and provides a mechanism for members to opt out of further commitments under OWFa at any time by following the procedures outlined in the IP policy.

Our CLAs can be found in the TSC repository.

Is the mission of CHIPS Alliance to build open source IP cores?

Yes, among other things. CHIPS Alliance wants to promote, develop and enhance open source digital and analog IP building blocks for ASICs and FPGAs, but the scope of our organization goes beyond that. We are also adopting and developing open source tools, interconnect standards and methodologies for a complete open source hardware paradigm.

What if my project does not fulfil the criteria of CHIPS Alliance? For example, if it’s on the wrong license or I can’t join for other reasons.

We do have a concept of “Commons,” which are related projects that are not directly members but collaborate with us closely. See here for details.

Do I need to contribute code to belong to CHIPS Alliance?

No, joining is separate from any code / spec contributions. You can join CHIPS Alliance to collaborate around open source silicon even if you don’t have any or don’t want to contribute pre-existing open source projects.

Do I have to be a member / represent a member company to get involved?

No. Our Working Group and TSC meetings, as well as mailing lists, are all open. You are welcome to join the conversation around open source hardware/silicon and work with us even before you decide to join. See here for our meeting times and additional information.

How do you join the CHIPS Alliance?

Click here to learn about joining CHIPS Alliance and see our membership documents, or email us at membership@chipsalliance.org.

I represent a non-profit/academic institution, can I join CHIPS Alliance?

Non-profit and academic institutions may join CHIPS Alliance as Associate members at no cost. Please reach out to membership@chipsalliance.org to share your interest in becoming an Associate member.