26 January 2011

Microsoft, NetBSD, and extensible computing

Antti Kantee, a member of the NetBSD core group (as well as the author of the really cool rump subsystem - which, among other things, has helped fuel the explosion of automated testing which has been occurring recently) has just imported a new port to the NetBSD source tree:  eMIPS (Extensible MIPS), a dynamically extensible processor architecture from Microsoft Research.  The actual port of NetBSD to the platform was done by Alessandro Forin and Neil Pittman of Microsoft, and Microsoft has generously donated the code to The NetBSD Foundation.

I'm still just starting to look into the capabilities, but eMIPS appears to support application-specific hardware optimizations and even machine instructions.  The overview on Microsoft Research's project page for eMIPS says: "Have you ever thought of building your own processor or maybe just defining your own machine instructions? With eMIPS now you can."  Sounds like a really interesting avenue for research, and I eagerly await cool applications based on it.

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