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Can someone explain the advantage of RISC-V vs. other open source architectures (e.g. OpenSPARC?).

Are there legal issues that make it more favourable?

Lots have been written about that, but this might be a good starting point: http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/Pubs/TechRpts/2014/EECS-2014-14..., but read also the spec (http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/Pubs/TechRpts/2011/EECS-2011-62...) and pay attention to the footnotes.

IMO, compared to OpenSPARC, this is a fresh design that leverages lessons learned from everything that proceeded it. There are many problems with SPARC that makes it hard & expensive to scale up and down.

Well, I think the fact it's LGPL vs. GPLv2 is one point in favor of RISC-V. The other major factor I believe is that the RISC-V architecture is better suited for embedded type applications. I don't think you could (easily) scale down the OpenSPARC design enough to make it a suitable architecture.

The RISC-V ISA and Berkeley's open source reference implementations are BSD-licensed, not LGPL.

And yes, the RISC-V ISA is simpler than the SPARC ISA. We also have clearly separated the base integer ISA from the various extensions, such as floating-point, atomics, supervisor, etc.

Thank you for the correction, I was thinking OpenRISC (which is LGPL), vs. RISC-V (which is BSD).

I believe OpenSPARC is a bit slow, this could be faster.

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