Partners Work Together on the Design Verification of CHERIoT-Ibex, Bringing Class-Leading Hardware Memory Safety to Applications with Tight Power, Area and Financial Budgets

CAMBRIDGE, England– June 20, 2024– lowRISC C.I.C., the open silicon ecosystem organization, today announced a formal collaboration with Microsoft to help bring its CHERIoT-Ibex design to production grade, leveraging lowRISC’s comprehensive open-source silicon development methodology, the Silicon Commons.

“We are delighted to be working with Microsoft to bring CHERIoT-Ibex to the very high quality required for deployment into commercial products,” said Dr. Gavin Ferris, CEO of lowRISC. “This joint effort further demonstrates the success of our Silicon Commons approach to making chip designs radically more transparent and trustworthy.”

Microsoft’s CHERIoT design integrates CHERI’s fine-grained hardware memory security technology within lowRISC’s popular RISC-V microcontroller core Ibex®.

CHERI has the potential to prevent around 70% of current exploits without requiring legacy software to be completely re-coded, yet to date it has been out of reach for many critical applications where power, memory and cost are at a premium — such as IoT, Operational Technology and embedded systems. CHERIoT-Ibex solves this problem, being a 32-bit implementation which — when coupled with the open-source CHERIoT-RTOS operating system —imposes almost no speed penalty and only 5-10% overhead in power and area in comparison with lowRISC’s ‘standard’ Ibex® core.

By working together to create a comprehensive design verification (DV) suite for this groundbreaking IP, the collaboration between Microsoft and lowRISC announced today will allow companies to confidently deploy the core in commercial products.

“This is truly important foundational work, as it will help make CHERIoT-Ibex the world’s first production grade, open-source CHERI-enabled microcontroller core,” said Tony Chen, Partner Security Architect at Microsoft. “We’re looking forward to seeing it broadly leveraged in commercial designs, bringing much-needed hardware security — in an efficient manner — to a broad swathe of critical applications.”

About lowRISC®

Founded in 2014 at the University of Cambridge Department of Computer Science and Technology, lowRISC is a not-for-profit company/CIC that provides a neutral home for collaborative engineering to develop and maintain open-source silicon designs and tools for the long term. The lowRISC not-for-profit structure combined with full-stack engineering capabilities in-house enables the hosting and management of high-quality projects like OpenTitan via the Silicon Commons approach.

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lowRISC is a not-for-profit company using collaborative engineering to develop and maintain open source silicon designs and tools, through a unique combination of skills, expertise and vision.

We provide a home for multi-partner projects that deliver verified, high quality IP and tools, which provide the solid foundations that are necessary for the rapid development cycles required for next generation silicon products. lowRISC employs an engineering team in Cambridge, UK, working on our own developments, partner projects, and work-for-hire that is aligned with our mission.

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