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Category: Community

RISC-V Is Not Free, But It’s Open

I’m writing this blog post in Hsinchu, Taiwan. I’m here to attend the RISC-V Workshop, which is a 2-day event where people in the community come together and share their latest activities regarding RISC-V development.

For those who don’t know, RISC-V is an open-source hardware instruction set architecture (ISA) based on reduced instruction set computer (RISC) principles. Because it’s open source, everyone can make their own RISC based processor without paying a royalty to anyone.

There were so many things I learned from not only the speakers but also the people I’ve met during a networking session. Among them, I want to bring up this one in order to highlight the biggest misconception about this new ISA.

“RISC-V is not free, but it’s open.”

RISC-V is free in the sense that it’s a royalty-free architecture, but it does not mean cost free. In fact, RISC-V could be more costly than the established architectures like ARM since there aren’t enough tools out there in the market yet and you will have to create them by yourself at least for the moment.

However, it’s completely open in the sense that anyone can refer to its specification, download the RTL, run it on FPGA, make necessary changes and even propose changes to the RISC-V Foundation if they should be part of the specification. There are some physical boards available so that you can run your code on actual RISC-V processor if performance is a crucial factor.

I’m happy to see the workshop is taking place here in Taiwan. At the same time, I’m a bit disappointed by the fact this whole movement is happening without much involvement from Japanese companies.

This reminds me of the days when Linux just came out. Japanese companies insisted to keep using a proprietary OS like Solaris and WindowsNT because they could get an enterprise level support from vendors. Now that we have RedHat and no one argues the cost-effectiveness of Linux today.

In exchange for not being part of early Linux adoption, Japan lost its position as an innovator in the Linux community. Japan could make the first Linux based smartphone. Japan could be the major PaaS player built with Linux. Now, these seats are taken by Android and AWS respectively.

I always tell my team, “the longer you delay getting feedback, the more risk you will have to deal in the future.” This applies to the release of new products and services to potential customers as well as the understanding of game-changing things like RISC-V.

Right now, the best way to get real feedback and minimize the risk is to listen to the people in a community and become an early adopter by ourselves. I’m hoping Japan won’t miss this opportunity and make the same mistake twice.

Startup Lecture at Kyoto University Design School

On March 19th and 20th, I will be joining the 2-day startup lecture organized by Kyoto University Design School (aka D-School).

Joining me is Mr. Soga from KAPION who sold his DVD authoring startup to Apple and Mr. Matsuda from SARR who is dedicated to academic-industry collaboration and bio-tech startups for the 15 years.

Below is a brochure for the lecture. This is a open lecture so everyone interested in entrepreneurship, startups, university ventures is welcome. The entire lecture will be given in Japanese. Contact the organizer at innovation [@] rish.kyoto-u.ac.jp if you’d like to join us.

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Grand Front Osaka

Visiting Grand Front Osaka for the first time. This is the place akin to Shibuya Hikarie, where multipurpose buildings are put together. A difference is the former is consisted of four distinct buildings and located in Osaka, and the latter is actually one 180m tall building and located in Tokyo.

The purpose of both complexes is almost same, but Grand Front puts more focuses on collaboration between academic institutions and businesses. Hence, it hosts satellite offices from nearby universities to accelerate collaboration between them as it can be found here.

Looking forward to seeing more startup activities in this region in the future.

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Boulder Colorado Being My Good Teacher

ecently I had discussion with the team of Startup Weekend Kyoto and the discussion was toward when and where we should do next event.

While there are lots of similar startup related activities happening in this region, I had feeling for long time that none of these individual activities were really connected. The information is scattered around various websites and places, and there isn’t a central place where we can get the most up-to-date info. I’m talking something like http://www.startupcolorado.com/

At Startup Colorado they provide the following information.

  • Local startup events
  • Blog posts from local entrepreneurs and investors
  • Map of local startups and supporting businesses
  • Information about community fund
  • Links to useful resources like talent recruitment

For people outside region these info are super valuable and important such that any first time visitor can reach out to any company or person and make an appointment BEFORE actually arriving to Colorado. Also, the website makes it easy to get a grasp of activities happening in the region. I don’t have any worry if I were to visit Boulder city for the first time.

Unfortunately we don’t have such a central place where we can distribute all those info. Kyoto is still a city that is considered far away to foreigners and being difficult to just get an overview of what’s going on there. So I proposed the SW Kyoto team to build a similar website like Startup Colorado and make SW related activities as contents of that website. Of course, we will need to create the rest of other contents like startup maps and blog posts from local founders. We will do that.

What I’m saying is that we need to make started related information in this region far more accessible to anyone who’s interested in startup and the city. Hence, the information must be available both in English and Japanese.

Lastly, what’s even missing is something like community fund that we can use it to fund started related activities in the region. As for SW Kyoto team, one of the biggest time consuming tasks is to find appropriate sponsors for each event to cover the fees for venue, beers and pizzas. If we could eliminate those tasks, I think it will be much easier for entrepreneurs and volunteers to holds events more frequently since they don’t have to go through mini-fundraising every time.

Disclosure: I’m hugely being inspired and biased by Brad Feld’s recent book Startup Communities right now so please excuse me for being very specific about this.