How are modern processors and their architecture designed?

This page summarizes the projects mentioned and recommended in the original post on /r/ECE

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  • openlane

    OpenLane is an automated RTL to GDSII flow based on several components including OpenROAD, Yosys, Magic, Netgen and custom methodology scripts for design exploration and optimization.

    For "how the architecture is brought to silicon": Look at OpenLane. It's a complete Verilog to GDS flow, all open source and already used for some tape-outs.

  • skywater-pdk

    Open source process design kit for usage with SkyWater Technology Foundry's 130nm node.

    You always need a description of the actual silicon used for the RTL-to-GDS flow. This is the PDK. Currently there is AFAIK only one open source PDK available, typically companies are very strict about giving information to third parties. But the Skywater 130nm PDK really gives you a chance to look into, and freely work and design ICs with it:

  • Onboard AI

    Learn any GitHub repo in 59 seconds. Onboard AI learns any GitHub repo in minutes and lets you chat with it to locate functionality, understand different parts, and generate new code. Use it for free at

  • picorv32

    PicoRV32 - A Size-Optimized RISC-V CPU

  • rocket-chip

    Rocket Chip Generator

    More complex CPUs are typically completely out of scope for hand coding, therefore you can implement generators like:

NOTE: The number of mentions on this list indicates mentions on common posts plus user suggested alternatives. Hence, a higher number means a more popular project.

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