Open Hardware Foundation

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URL = http://www.openhardwarefoundation.org/


Description

The growth and maturation of the Open Graphics Project has led to the need for a more formal organization to assist in the business and financial aspects of making an Open Hardware designs a reality. To this end, we have started the process of incorporating the Open Hardware Foundation. The Open Hardware Foundation will be a non-profit corporation whose charter is to promote the design and production of open source and open documentation hardware. As we have been formed to meet the needs highlighted through the efforts of the Open Graphics Project, the Foundation's initial focus will be to facilitate design and production of the OGD1 hardware prototype card, the OGP graphics chip set, and the OGA consumer graphics adapter as well as assist OGP developers purchasing development boards through the Open Graphics Project Developer Assistance Program.

Patrick McNamara [1]:

"The OHF is a non-profit corporation whose stated goals are to facilitate the design, development, and production of free and open hardware. Those of us who formed the OHF believe in free hardware and free software and many of us participate in other open source projects. However, it is much more difficult to turn a hardware idea into a physical device than it is a software idea into a usable program. One of the key focus areas of the OHF is the production of open hardware. We want to be able to go to our local computer retail store and buy a piece of hardware that is at least an open design and at best a free and open implementation. The relationship between the OHF and Traversal Technology is one of partnership. Each brings with it key assets. Traversal has IC (integrated circuit) design experience, the desire to make a commercially-successful product, and the desire to contribute back to the community by making that product free and open.

The OHF brings the desire to see a free and open hardware product made available to the average user, the resources of the free and open source community, and the capability to bridge the gap between community developing free and open hardware and the business world producing the hardware.

From a financial perspective the OHF will enable the community to pool its resources to help fund the production of the OGP by providing Traversal a known number of sales. The OHF can then provide the OGP based cards it purchased from Traversal to developers who are working on open source drivers and firmware for the card. Traversal benefits by having less financial risk associated with producing the graphics chip and the open source community benefits by having hardware available at reduced or no cost for developers who can contribute further to the project." (http://www.osbr.ca/archive.php?issue=10&section=Ar#A4)


Background

The OHF is an offshoot of the Open Graphics Project:

" The Open Graphics Project or OGP is an effort to design, implement, and manufacture a free and open 3D graphics chip set and reference graphics card. The OGP was started because existing consumer-level graphics adapters will only work to their full extent with certain specific operating systems, using proprietary drivers. This puts owners of such a card at the mercy of its manufacturer for as long as they are using it, especially on less mainstream, thus less supported, platforms that are left prone to security and maintenance problems. The Open Hardware Foundation (OHF) came into being as on offshoot of the Open Graphics Project. Unlike software, hardware is a physical item and costs money to produce, lots of money. As an example, the initial run of Open Graphics chips is expected to cost around $2M US to produce, just for the graphics controller chip. To help offset this cost, the project founder, Timothy Miller, started Traversal Technology Inc. Traversal is a for-profit corporation aimed at commercializing and licensing the Open Graphics core. One of Timothy's concerns in forming Traversal was the company's interaction with the open source community. Because of this concern, Tim suggested the formation of an organization to safeguard the interests of the free/open source community. With Traversal, or any commercial entity interested in making open hardware, such an organization could serve as a guide or reality check, helping the hardware vendor understand the needs and ideals of the people who would buy their hardware.

For these reasons and others, the Open Hardware Foundation was created. " (http://www.osbr.ca/archive.php?issue=10&section=Ar#A4)


History

OSHWA.org:

"Four years later, openhardware.org would house an organization by the same name. But the first Open Hardware Foundation came out of the Open Graphics Project (an effort to design, implement, and manufacture a free and open 3D graphics chip set and reference graphics card). Realizing that the initial run of Open Graphics chips would cost approximately $2M to manufacture, Timothy Miller, founder of the Open Graphics Project, decided to create an offshoot company called Traversal Technology Inc. One of Miller’s concerns was how the company would interact with the project’s community and suggested the creation of a organization to safeguard the interests of Open Graphics Project community (McNamara 2007a)⁠. Thus, Patrick McNamara founded the Open Hardware Foundation (OHF) in 2007, in partnership with Traversal Technology, with the goal of facilitating the design, development, and production of free and open hardware. Another goal of the OHF was to help fund the production of open graphics products by providing Traversal a known number of sales. Traversal benefited by having less financial risk associated with producing the graphics chip and the open source community benefited by having hardware available at reduced or no cost for developers who could contribute further to the project (McNamara 2007a). But in 2009, McNamara announced that in order to better support the Open Graphics Project, the Foundation’s funds (the product of donations) were being applied towards the Linux Fund(2) (McNamara 2009)⁠." (http://www.oshwa.org/research/brief-history-of-open-source-hardware-organizations-and-definitions/)


More Information

  1. Open Hardware
  2. Open Source Hardware
  3. Open Design