[Libre-silicon-devel] Some questions regarding the NVDLA and "NVIDIA Open NVDLA License and Agreement v1.0"

David Lanzendörfer david.lanzendoerfer at o2s.ch
Mon Jul 16 19:44:23 CEST 2018

Hi manili

> I’m not very much familiar with different types of licenses and their legal
> issues. So would some one do me a favor and answer my questions?
Ok. I'll try my best :-)

> 1. Is NVDLA a libre and royalty-free IP core?
It's not Libre for a simple reason:
I'm not able to modify and share the core with others.
Only the software around the core is covered by this license.
It's like with the GPL, which doesn't cover the actual IP core they license 
their Verilog under at all (OpenCores.org issue)
At no point I actually receive a full transistor layout of the IP core, only 
LEF files with the pin-out (at best!)
It's more than a bit cheasy and quiet a bit of a diversion strategy to publish 
a free license when your core business is actually chip designs which are not 
covered at all under a copyright based licensing scheme... >_>
nVidia just got evil++, some level-ups really aren't that good.

> 2. Is it possible to modify it and relicense the modifications?
Software sure, but good luck getting the GDS2 files with the actual IP core in 
the first place in order to modify it.
Or even more unlikely, the Cadence (def) files with the actual wiring 

> 3. You know AFAIK the GPU architecture is somewhat similar to AI
> accelerator. So I’m thinking NVDLA is a good starting point but I don’t
> know about potential legal issues. So what do you think guys?
Even if they license the code around their core under a free-ish license I bet 
6 king cans of Tsing Tao or Paulaner, that the actual VLSI layout information 
of the actual core is only available after signing 23ish interlinked NDAs 
which contain your eternal soul now belonging to nVidia as well as your first 
born and all your other belongings.

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