Open source audio firmware and SDK from Intel Corporation enable developers with tools to adapt operating systems for audio devices

PORTLAND, Ore. (Embedded Linux Conference), March 14, 2018 – The Linux Foundation announced today that Sound Open Firmware (SOF) has become a Linux Foundation project. With significant engineering and code contributions from Intel® Corporation, SOF includes a digital signal processing (DSP) firmware and an SDK that together provide infrastructure and development tools for developers working on audio or signal processing. Intel and Google support SOF and invite others to join them in advancing the project.

While many audio drivers ship with open source components, firmware has remained closed and shipped as binary modules. As a result, firmware issues have often been difficult to address. With SOF, developers and users may be able to debug and resolve issues more quickly and optimize footprint and performance by adding only the functionality needed for their products. It will also offer developers the ability to improve security by independently assessing code quality. The project is the first fully open source BSD/MIT-licensed audio firmware. The SOF firmware and drivers are platform- and architecture-agnostic.

“We’re pleased to welcome Sound Open Firmware to The Linux Foundation and to support the SOF community in its growth,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation. “By giving developers access to the hardware interface to the operating system, SOF will help them add more value and customization to their products.”

The SOF open source SDK comes with five components: the firmware source code, firmware tools to convert firmware into appropriate formats and debug, a tool chain for firmware image creation, an emulator to trace and debug drivers and firmware, and ASoC Linux kernel drivers that are required to register the DSP and firmware. These tools include scripts to help developers evaluate tradeoffs between memory, audio quality, and processor load. SOF will provide code signature tools for production devices. The project also has GNU Debugger integration, a feature contributed by Google.

“The SOF project provides firmware source code, tools, and debug capabilities for developers to innovate and enhance production devices for all Linux based operating systems.” said Imad Sousou, vice president and general manager of the Open Source Technology Center, at Intel® Corporation. “Intel is proud to provide a fully customizable open source code base firmware for all Intel hardware platforms.”

“We are excited to support this project and work with Intel to bring other new, open source technologies to the industry,” said Puneet Kumar, engineering director of Chrome OS, Google. “We look forward to seeing Sound Open Firmware accelerate the development of new features and simplify system integration of the DSP hardware and software.”

SOF currently supports the Cadence Tensilica Xtensa instruction set architecture on various Intel platform-based devices that have audio DSP. SOF can also be ported to other platform architectures.

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