Paco Gómez, project coordinator of De-RISC and CEO of fentISS: “It is really satisfying to see how the project continues its development properly and how people with different expertise work together to achieve a common goal.”
Where does the idea for De-RISC come from?
PG: This idea comes from the big opportunity that the RISC-V open standard represents for creating a full platform comprising hardware and software for future European developments in the aerospace market.
What is RISC-V and how is De-RISC related to it?
PG: RISC-V is the open-source instruction set architecture in which De-RISC is based. When developing software, it is necessary to determine the structure of this software system, which is called architecture. A software architecture can relate to the architecture of a house. A building will need to stand itself, it will have to bear the total weight of the furnitures, it will have to be resistant to climate, and all that will depend on the materials and the way you build the house. There are many materials and methods and each of them has its own characteristics. Choosing these materials is like choosing the right architecture in software development. Additionally, this architecture is based on an open standard. This means that the RISC-V specification is freely distributed, with no restrictions and without charge, and it can be used and extended by users. The typical example of an open-source software is Linux. To some extent, RISC-V is at hardware level what Linux was in its origins at Operating System level, offering a competitive open source platform able to compete with Windows-based products. In De-RISC, we want to profit from the ecosystem which is built up around the RISC-V standard and develop a RISC-V multi-core platform and hypervisor for aerospace applications.
What are the big challenges that the De-RISC consortium is facing/is going to face during the development of the project?
PG: I think that currently the hardest part is the lack of face-to-face interaction. Due to the global health situation, events are being cancelled or moved online and, internally, progress meetings must be held remotely. It is difficult to get adapted to this situation but the consortium is doing its best to make it work and we are getting good results. In the technical side, making the hardware and software progress in parallel is also a challenge but the team coordination is working well and we are achieving the expected goals.
Is it difficult to be the project coordinator of De-RISC?
PG: It is actually an intensive job but, at the same time, it is very rewarding. I thought this job was going to be more difficult, but the consortium and the full team is always willing to help and they make things really easy. It is really satisfying to see how the project continues its development properly and how people with different expertise work together to achieve a common goal.
Which have been the major achievements of the project so far?
PG: During these past months, the work hard achieving good results in different areas such as the completion of the first prototype of XtratuM XNG running in the De-RISC platform, the implementation of the RISC-V H extension for full virtualization, or the integration of the multicore-interference oriented statistics unit SafeSU in De-RISC. The validation phase is now well underway and the use case will show the power of the new platform in aerospace.
What are the next steps to be taken for the project development?
PG: The next important step is to use the full virtualization features in the hypervisor and to develop the space grade target board with the interfaces defined in space standards. The validation phase will also be instrumental to gain confidence in the results and get the project platform closer to full space qualification. They will also serve to compare the performance with previous space platforms implementing the same use cases. Promotion activities will also be an important task in the forthcoming period to achieve the ambitious business objectives of the project.
What would be the major achievement you would like to reach with this project?
PG: The major achievement of De-RISC would be to be market leaders of a fully European platform providing outstanding performance and ensuring a long-term availability and support and a solid development roadmap for customers developing critical embedded applications. The autonomy demanded to critical embedded systems in different markets is increasing at a fantastic rate and we expect to be an important technology provider to meet the required demands in terms of performance and real-time, safety and security support.
What are the key things you have learned from being involved in the De-RISC project so far?
PG: I have gained a better understanding of RISC-V architecture, and the new opportunities that might arise when companies and institutions with advanced and complementary knowledge work together to achieve an ambitious goal. The cooperation with other De-RISC partners is providing new benefits to my company beyond the pure technology development.I personally enjoy learning new things and De-RISC is definitely a project to do so!