The case for an open ISA
Systems-on-a-chip (SoCs), where the processors and caches are a small part of the chip, are becoming ubiquitous. Thus many more companies today are making chips that include processors than in the past. Given that the industry has been revolutionized by open standards and open-source software -- like TCP/IP and Linux -- why is one of the most important interfaces proprietary?
While instruction set architectures (ISAs) may be proprietary for historical or business reasons, there is no good technical reason for the lack of free, open ISAs.
It's not an error of omission. Companies with successful ISAs like ARM, IBM, Intel, and MIPS have patents on quirks of their ISAs, which prevent others from using them without licenses that academia and many small companies can't afford. Even IBM's OpenPower is an oxymoron; you must pay IBM to use its ISA.
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