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Birds of a Feather – Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup, RISC-V and prpl

By Art Swift
President, prpl Foundation

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Images courtesy of Darrel E. Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup

Remember the old adage, “Birds of a feather flock together”? The Farlex Dictionary of Idioms says the expression comes down to us from the 16th century, and suggests that people who have similar interests, ideas or characteristics tend to seek out and associate with one another. It applies today as well, and the vibrant tech meetup scene is a good example.

I saw this idiom in action when I recently made a presentation at the Santa Cruz New Tech Meetup, a monthly meetup with more than 4,000 members.  Given Santa Cruz’s eclectic blend of residents, this meetup brings together students and professors from the University of California – Santa Cruz, local tech entrepreneurs and workers, commuters who drive “over the hill” to Silicon Valley, and tech-savvy local residents. Interest in exciting emerging technologies is what brings these “birds of a feather” together.

Event organizer Doug Erikson invited me to speak on the new RISC-V processor architecture, which is starting to be viewed as a platform of choice for innovation in processor architecture design.

RISC-V is a U.C. Berkeley computer architecture project that was spun out into a non-profit foundation in 2015.  The project revolves around a free and open alternative to Arm and other legacy instruction set architectures. RISC-V has taken off like wildfire in the last year, with more than 100 member companies and universities supporting the project, and thousands of community members worldwide following it.

My talk at the meetup was about how the world can benefit from a free and open instruction set architecture, and how companies big and small are using it.

So, you might ask, what’s the link between the prpl Foundation and RISC-V?  Once again, it’s the “birds of a feather” adage at work. Areas of common interest include:

  • Both are non-profit foundations backed by industry contributions;
  • Both foundations emphasize open standards and open source software;
  • Both have a keen interest in security, embedded devices and the IoT;
  • Both have a focus on innovation and enabling new technologies;
  • And the organizations have members in common, including Imperas and Microsemi which are quite active in both.

As for myself, in my copius spare time away from my role as the president of the prpl Foundation, and as member of the founding team at the RISC-V-based AI startup, Esperanto Technologies, I volunteer for the RISC-V foundation as the vice chair of the Marketing Working Group.  In addition, I participate in the RISC-V security working group, as does prpl’s Chief Security Architect Cesare Garlati, where prpl member Microsemi’s Rich Newell is the vice chair.

If you are not a member of both organizations yet, I invite you to get involved! Please contact me if you need additional information on membership in the prpl foundation or an introduction to the RISC-V foundation team. Let’s flock together and work on areas of common interest!

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