We are proud to announce the birth of the Free Silicon Foundation (!

We organize a conference in Paris, March 14-16 2019, to promote:

1. Free and Open Source (FOS) CAD tools for designing circuits
2. the sharing of hardware designs
3. common standards
4. the freedom of users in the context of technology

Program and submissions:

background-attachment: fixed is so confusing...

@fsi I'm glad you exist, we need trustworthy FOSH computation.

Are there recordings of the first conference?

Also: Localized RISCV fabbing when? :thinkhappy:

Thank you!

Last year's conference was a smaller event (one day only) and the slides are available here: . For this year, recordings are not planned yet.

We contacted foundries too - let's see how far we can go in the direction of opening the PDKs: We have already fabricated RISCV chips, but various NDAs did not allow to publish layouts. We are working to change that. At FSiC there will be a session about this too.


Do foundries limit you in using self-created PDKs for basic elements?

Do they claim ownership of self created layouts when their design rules and layer definitions are used?


It depends from the foundry. Still, 100% self-created standard cells do not contain (if at all) accurate spice models necessary to make analog components (needed for example for input/output) so only simple digital-only circuits are possible.

If the self-created cells can be derived from general abstract principles (and then adapted to the exact foundry parameters), the foundry should not be able to claim any ownership.

So for every foundry, to 'free' the library incl. the simulation models, you have to repeat the foundries work of producing a test circuit, characterize it and then derive models from it.

That's hell of a task.

Hope they cooperate instead and give the data voluntarily.

@fsi Who is "we", and why does your logo look derived from the FSF? As a foundation, how do we verify your existence? Which country are you established in? Who controls your budget, and what is your budget?


Some members are listed here: .

Our logo intentionally resembles the FSF logo because we aim to be for silicon what the FSF is for software. We had extensive discussions with Richard Stallman before deciding to create the F-Si.

The F-Si is formally a "Swiss Verein" according to Art. 60-79 of the ZGB (see for legal details and budget checking rules).

The F-Si budget is currently below 10kEur.

@fsi @maiki Extraordinaire ! Des circuits intégrés libres en vue !

Bon champagne les mecs !

Alors là bravo !

Comment fait-on pour rejoindre votre fondation ?

@stman @maiki


We will soon put on the wiki the answers to your question and to the many more we are receiving.

@fsi Awesome! What a great initiative :)

PS. Can we please start calling people “people” and not “users”. “User” is an othering. Silicon Valley and surveillance capitalists are extractive corporations and have users. In ethical technology, we are people and we design and develop for our ourselves and for other people.

As an IT person, I disagree. We acknowledge that users are people, but we need the classification for technical/documentation reasons.


@rick_777 @fsi Hey man, I’m no IT person, just a guy who’s been coding since he was 7. Here’s a test: replace user with person and see how often it works and how much more humane it seems. Again, I’m not an IT person but we use person in all our code comments and documentation and marketing at @indie and it works great for us. But, take all this with a huge pinch of salt because I’m definitely not an IT person. Whatever the fuck that is.


@fsi @indie

You're right that corporate environments use the word more often, but it's our of necessity rather than for dehumanizing reasons.
Imagine a point of sale software: There's the client (the guy who pays to make the software), which is not the same as the customer, whom the sales people give attention to. And the salespeople are the users, because it's them who use the software - 1/3

@aral @fsi @indie
And when we're talking about libraries and APIs, the user is the programmer who uses the libraries to build stuff, but the end user is the person who uses the software made by the programmers.
So you can see, there's a difference between client, customer, API/library user and end-user - 2/3

@aral @fsi @indie Most of the time, there's only one kind of user, so user and end-user is the same thing. But there need to be terms to differentiate, to avoid ambiguities and misunderstandings. - 3/3

@rick_777 @aral @fsi What I find helpful: use project-specific terms that highlight what they want to achieve. That helps me keep their goals firmly at the front of my mind.

For example for my Odysseus web browser and Memex browser engine, I use the term "web surfer" or "reader".

And for my Brix toy programming language I say "students".

@rick_777 @aral @fsi
Yeah, "people" is people in general. Why would I talk about people in general if my software is only aimed at, idk, firefighters. Most people are not firefighters. 🤷

@aral @fsi I somehow fell in love with the 'ethical design' picture ( There is just one word disturbing me: magical. I hate things that just work magically. It means I can't understand them. Nor can I fix them if they're broken.
Usually this is the case for all those things that come in a black epoxy housing and have more than three leads.

(@aral I'm misinterpreting the meaning of 'magical' in this context on purpose 😉. Don't be mad at me.)

@balu @fsi Haha, I’m not mad at you :) You’re right, that word has been misused and abused to no end.

Here’s what I prefer today: we need beautiful defaults. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have seams. That’s the beauty of free software. The seams are available for those who care to look beyond the defaults. But we must layer the seams.

@aral @fsi Did you actually have hardware in mind too? To me the 'ethical design' pyramid sounds like you were thinking at software but ethical principles just apply to hardware too... Just wondering.

(With hardware I don't mean a finished product such as a cellphone but the naked CPU inside.)

@balu @fsi Applies equally to hardware. Ethical tech much consider the whole stack. And we must start designing the whole car, not just the wheels or the engine.

@fsi If I understand 'free silicon' right, then you aim at a crucial but also high target. Today's silicon industry looks incredibly obscure to me. Regarding spectre, meltdown and other backdoors I used to say: 'Intel inside' -- but what's inside Intel? We'll never know and maybe they don't even know themselves 😂.
I guess you already know about HiFive? It is also open source (I never looked at the code though).
Do you plan to do something like this or are you more 'meta'?


Totally agree.

In HiFive/SiFive just a small portion of the source/documentation is open, and it is not free (no copyleft license). Nor are the tools to generate the layout.

We want to change that - see the conference program:

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