[Replicant] [PATCH 6/9] freedom-privacy-security-issues: Improve hardware freedom state description.

Paul Kocialkowski paulk at replicant.us
Wed Apr 20 09:34:08 UTC 2016

Le dimanche 27 mars 2016 à 15:55 +0200, Denis 'GNUtoo' Carikli a écrit :
> On Thu, 03 Mar 2016 17:03:58 +0100
> Paul Kocialkowski <paulk at replicant.us> wrote:
> > Talking about FPGAs comes out of the blue here. Either way, the FPGA
> > design itself causes the same hardware freedom issues, so it's not an
> > any better candidate for a solution. Since FPGA have a purpose that
> > is not what is relevant for mobile devices, I wouldn't mention them
> > at all.
> It does indeed shift the problem lower down the stack, but if we're
> going to talk about hardware freedom issues, we'd rather stick to some
> guidelines, since otherwise it's only going to result in (merge)
> conflicts.
> Would RMS article on hardware freedom fit?
> If so, maybe a resistor with hardware freedom is less relevant than
> hardware freedom that applies to a CPU or controller.

I see hardware freedom split between two fundamental layers: PCB and chip. FPGA
is a layer on top of chip, but it's a very specific case.

> In the latter cases, the FPGA configurability gives practical freedoms,
> that can, at some efficiency costs, gives freedoms that do not even
> apply to ASICs.

I agree there is more practical freedom with FPGAs vs ASICs, just like there is
more practical freedom regarding CPUs vs ASICs because you can reprogram them,
but these are different layers. Re-configuring FPGAs is kind of in-between
software and hardware, but there is still a hardware side to the problem,
independent from the ability to reprogram FPGAs.

> ASICs related freedom have a fundamental issue: You cannot modify an
> already manufactured ASIC[1].
> With an FPGA, you can modify its configuration. That will make it act
> like the modified ASIC you want.

I prefer to see it as two distinct levels, like hardware and software for CPUs.
For FPGAs it would be hardware and configuration.

I think it makes more sense to talk about the two aspects separately.

Either way, my point was that talking about FPGAs in the context of Replicant is
not relevant, because it's out of the scope of mobile devices.

> References:
> -----------
> [1]While modifying an already manufactured ASIC is technically possible,
>    it's out of reach of most people due to its prohibitive cost.
> Denis.
Paul Kocialkowski, Replicant developer

Replicant is a fully free Android distribution running on several
devices, a free software mobile operating system putting the emphasis on
freedom and privacy/security.

Website: https://www.replicant.us/
Blog: https://blog.replicant.us/
Wiki/tracker/forums: https://redmine.replicant.us/
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