Slimbook to provide the notebook chassis

One of the main points when you are designing a laptop is the relationship between the motherboard and the enclosure. It is not a good idea to design the motherboard if you don’t have the chassis. At the same time, the enclosure has to take into account how the motherboard will be.

Now we are happy to announce that Slimbook will provide the enclosure we need for our Open Hardware PowerPC notebook. ACube and Slimbook are collaborating since the beginning of this year, exchanging information about components disposition and pinouts, thermal dissipation and so on. 

ACube is a well known company with experience in creating PowerPC computers including  Sam460ex and Sam460cr motherboards or the AmigaOne 500 desktop system.

Slimbook is having a great success selling their own Linux laptops (such as the ProX) and mini PCs world-wide.

Due to this collaboration we have almost everything we need to achieve our goal in terms of technology. 

Electrical Schematics final version

We want to update you that first days of October we will publish in our repository the pdf containing the final version of the schematics. After that, during October,  the Orca source will be available as well, tailored for the Slimbook chassis. This means that the design of the PCB will fit inside the Slimbook chassis.

In case you are able to convert Orca source to Kicad you are welcome to do it. If you have any issue when doing so, contact us and we will be happy to provide some help.

New ppc64 applications in our repo

Lastly, we have patched the following applications for ppc64 (Big Endian) : arcticfox, palemoon, mame, fs-uae, libx265, qemu, midori.  They run on PowerMac/ImacG5 ( Power4 processor) but also on more recent Big Endian ppc64 processors such as NXP T2xxx and T4xxx.

We are also working on many other complex applications like Blender that require the creation of dedicated groups for the distribution of the necessary effort.

We’re performing tests, reporting bugs and suggesting workarounds to complete the installation of Debian 10.0 using ISOs released by the maintainers of Debian ports for ppc64be.

If you want to join the software workgroup and help these software tasks feel free to contact us.

C-Media supports our Open Source PowerPC design

We announce the cooperation with C-Media. C-Media is a global leading audio IC/software solution provider.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/zenmama/13930451071/

In this post we want to explain one of our latest achievements. During the present year we have been looking for an audio chip to be included in our motherboard. We found that the CM8828 HD-Audio controller and CM9882A Codec family was a good candidate.  After some discussion with them explaining our project, they decided to support us. Furthermore, they have sent the Evaluation Board to Acube.

Maybe more important is the fact that C-Media will provide the needed chips for the production of our notebook. They know that their chips will be in our Open Source Hardware motherboard and will provide us with the needed information to write drivers as may be needed. In addition to this, we have ordered three pci sound cards based on CM8828/CM9882A to test with our T2080 Devkits and for Acube developments.

In the end, all these little steps are very interesting for our project, as this audio chip has high end specs but the most important point is that we have a direct and  good communication with the manufacturer. We want to thank C-Media for supporting our project and believe in Open Source Hardware.

Link to download the Datasheet of C-Media CM8828.

block diagram ppc notebook
OSWH PowerPC Notebook Block Diagram – July 2019

March 2019 Schematic Updates

In our last post we stated  “we hope to publish the initial schematic design before the end of February 2019”. Unfortunately a series of problems arise that we will try to explain in this status update.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sangudo/

As you may probably know, at the end of the first donation campaign we received four incremental releases of electrical schematics from the designer, the last one on the 11th of January 2019. We started a validation task at each release prior to their publication and each time we ended up sending back the schematics because we thought some design decisions had to be improved. These hardware reviews are quite complicated, and we would need additional volunteers, possibly hardware engineers able to properly address the task. Please, contact us or fill the collaboration survey if you can contribute.

At the same time, we were continuously evaluating various notebook chassis options, striving to find a suitable chassis that could fit our motherboard that has a MXM video card. The goal here was to identify an empty chassis that could be bought without a motherboard and with a life cycle of at least two or three years, which is the envisioned time-frame covering our laptop project.

The hardware designer that was paid thanks to donors is stuck waiting for the final notebook chassis as he requires the pinout specifications to finalize the design.

These are the reasons why the development of the electrical schematics is frozen since the 11th of January 2019. As a result, also our collaborators that have volunteered to validate the hardware schematics are stuck, as well as our selected product maker ACube Systems.

Identifying a suitable chassis is taking an unexpected amount of time and it is terribly delaying the second campaign aimed at the PCB design. Last year we had a meeting among both Power Progress Community associated members and the core group that is coordinating the project, and we all agreed to start the second donation campaign only after publishing the schematics resulting from first campaign. However, the amount of accumulated delay arise doubts among the participants on how to solve the current impasse, and we decided to ask the donors to give their opinion about whether to start now the second campaign (link) or keep waiting the publication of the result of the first campaign. If you are willing to actively support the project, feel free to express your opinion about the matter.

Our hardware volunteer team and ACube Systems are still reviewing the next round of documentation for selecting some key components that heavily depend on the selected chassis.

So far we have identified some potentially suitable chassis. However, some of them are designed to host a separated board to manage the batteries, a board that does not exists in our design, and some chassis have a dedicated space for a separated ethernet board, and again, others do not have a thermal design compatible with the heat generated by an MXM video card. The problem here is that the hired hardware designer stated very clearly that he is not willing to make an extra work to alter the initially agreed design features of the main board to accommodate it in a chassis requiring a very different internal layout. In other words, splitting functions in separated boards is out of question.

At this time the key question is: how much time is required to identify the correct notebook chassis?

Unfortunately, given our very limited spending resources and the experience we had so far, we are not able to make any speculation at this point. We strongly believe that it would be better to make a wise choice requiring more time, rather than an hasty solution now, because any wrong decision would risk to compromise the feasibility of the entire project.

We are not a private company aimed at making a profit out of this project in order to survive, in fact we don’t sell anything. We are a group of hardware enthusiasts more or less structured in a  non-for-profit association. We are doing our best to face strong limitations to achieve what we knew since the beginning was a very difficult and complex goal.

Taking all of this into account, we think that publishing to a wider audience now a very incomplete electrical schematics could impact way too negatively our project and the donors expectations. On the other hand, we are conscious that we are delaying for way too long the promised outcome of the first campaign and this fact too have a great impact to our credibility.

We are moving forward extremely slowly, that’s for sure. You know the requirements and the extremely limited actions that we can make, mostly due to extremely tight financial constraints.

After all what was said in this status update, we delivered to the donors the current version of the schematics, stressing on the fact that they should be considered only a draft not yet ready to be shared with a wider audience

In the end, we still strongly believe in the project, we are facing a contingent problem (the chassis) that it will be soon or later be solved. If you can help you are more than welcome.

Stay tuned.

January Post Update PCB Campaign

Schematics design: February 2019

The schematics are still under review by our hardware volunteers and Acube itself, we hope to publish the initial schematic design before the end of February 2019 in our gitlab repository. It will be a Work-In-Progress schematic design. As the schematic design is a Work-In-Progress we will only publish the pdf.  We will publish the Orcad files when the schematic design will be finalized. In parallel to the schematic design being released to the public, we will begin the PCB Layout Donation Campaign.

The schematics will be updated later including all laptop external connectors actually present on the laptop chassis, due to the selection of the chassis to use is still pending.

We plan to begin the PCB Layout Donation Campaign before the end of February 2019.

You can find more information related to the chip components inside the schematic design you can find in the previous post

Sfscon Bolzano – Italy – November 2018

At 16th November 2018 at Sfscon.it we have made our project presentation speech in the bigger room with the presence of around one hundred people ( even though it was late and it was the penultimate) .

We have talked about the steps done by us for our project of Open Hardware PowerPC GNU/Linux based Notebook. We have disclosed a preview of our electrical schematics and informed about the next steps.It was for us an honour to present our project near important speakers and just before Simon Phipps  which is the President at the Open Source Initiative (OSI). We thanks so much IDM Südtirol and Linux User Group Bozen-Bolzano-Bulsan of the Free Software Conference Bozen, South Tyrol, that are the organizers for such an opportunity. You can find the program of the Sfscon 2018 at this link.

SFScon18 – Free Software Conference 2018

Stand at Paris Open Source Summit (POSS) – France – December 2018

Power Progess Community was represented for the first time at the Open Source Summit held from December 5 to 6, 2018 in the vicinity of the French capital

The annual Open Source Summit event focuses on the promotion of free and open source softwares in the Paris region, bringing together both the various associative communities and companies.
We had for a first presence many visitors interested in our initiative.

We’d like to thank the team at Parinux.org and Franciliens.net to allow us to participate to the POSS event. Open Source Summit – Paris – December 2018

POSS 2018 – Eduard that inform about our PowerPC Notebook project

Open Source Laptop Chassis Design

Thanks to some collaborators there is a first setup of the design of a future Open Source laptop chassis design, done in FreeCad. You can find the design in our repo.

If you like to collaborate to the Open Source Laptop chassis design please contact us.

For more information you can check in the dedicated site

Building in the Minicloud

We want to thank the University of Campinas in Brazil for their support and for the excellent service (called Minicloud) they are offering. The Minicloud provides free access to POWER virtual machines that can be used for development, testing or migration of applications to POWER. The virtual machines of Minicloud run on OpenStack, which supports running a large number of virtual machines on a single scale-out Linux server. We are using their infrastructure to build our Yocto based distribution. Currently we are upgrading all the project to Yocto 2.6 and this task is being performed in a Minicloud VM. If you have a project which follows the basic rules explained before, you can ask for an account here https://minicloud.parqtec.unicamp.br/minicloud/ .

NXP dev board T2080 e6500 with Debian sid PPC64 and RadeonHD

This is our first successful attempt to setup a T2080rdb with a video card.
The RadeonHD 5450 is attached to the onboard PCI Express Gen3 4x connector using a 16x cable adapter.

We are using this board as it uses the same CPU (NXP T2080) as the one selected for our Open Hardware laptop project

You may find more infos about the board here
https://www.nxp.com/support/developer-resources/software-development-tools/qoriq-developer-resources/qoriq-t2080-reference-design-board:T2080RDB

The system is a Debian sid PPC64 with packages available in the following repositories
http://ftp.ports.debian.org/debian-ports/

Few software did not works without applying patches to make them work properly under PPC64 (see Midori, Firefox, Iceweasel, VLC, mplayer), so we setup our own repository
https://repo.powerprogress.org/

 

This the output of the Hardinfo 0.6 alpha benchmarks, compared to a PowerMac G5 (IBM 970) and a three years old intel laptop (i7-4600U).

T2080rdb, cpu T2080 e6500 1.8Ghz, 4 cores, 8 threads, altivec
RadeonHD 5450 1GB DD3, on the oboard PCIe 4x using a 4x to 16x adaptor
Debian Sid PPC64

CPU Blowfish 5.38
CPU CryptoHash 338.35
CPU Fibonacci 2.96
CPU N-Queens 3.63
CPU Zlib 0.41
FPU FFT 8.46
FPU Raytracing 2.85
GPU Drawing 1219.24

PowerMac G5, cpu PowerPC 970 1.8Ghz, 2 cores, 2 threads, altivec
ATI Radeon 9600 PRO 128MB AGP
Debian Sid PPC64

CPU Blowfish 32.81
CPU CryptoHash 78.82
CPU Fibonacci 3.11
CPU N-Queens 26.01
CPU Zlib 0.15
FPU FFT 10.29
FPU Raytracing 12.94
GPU Drawing 699.74

HP EliteBook 840 G1, cpu i7-4600U 2.10GHz, 2 cores, 4 threads
Intel HD Graphics 4400
Ubuntu 18.04

CPU Blowfish 3.89
CPU CryptoHash 341.53
CPU Fibonacci 0.59
CPU N-Queens 5.67
CPU Zlib 0.52
FPU FFT 1.95
FPU Raytracing 2.06
GPU Drawing 7973.70

Now some remarks
1) The Debian Sid was set up on the PowerMac G5 then, the 2.5’HD was attached to the T2080rdb onboard SATA. We used a vanilla 4.17.6 kernel image customized for this board (no patch applied) and a modified Device tree blob stored on the onboard SD card. You may find the U-Boot kernel image (uImage) and the Device tree (uImage.dtb) in our GitLab account
https://gitlab.com/oshw-powerpc-notebook/T2080customizations/
2) Not figured out (yet) how to go online using the T2080rdb onboard ethernet ports.
3) Games such as Chromium BSU or NeverBall simply works. Games such as SuperTuxKart does not start, Torcs is slow and the audio is completely corrupt
4) The T2080rdb works well with the RadeonHD 5450, but many errors floods the serial console whenever trying to plug in other RadeonHD cards (e.g. 4550, R7 250E which is a rebranded HD7750).

This is the error that floods the serial console:
pcieport 0001:00:00.0: AER: Corrected error received: id=0000
pcieport 0001:00:00.0: PCIe Bus Error: severity=Corrected, type=Physical Layer, id=0000(Receiver ID)
pcieport 0001:00:00.0: device [1957:0830] error status/mask=00000001/00006000
pcieport 0001:00:00.0: [ 0] Receiver Error (First)

Collaborate with us

If you like to help on fix debian packages for powerpc (ppc64 be expecially) or help on improve kernel configuration , u-boot(menu,etc) or others configurations to run more video cards, etc… contact us.

You can even select which type of collaboration you like to make, in case please fill our collaboration survey.

Electrical Schematic engineering task started! thanks to ACube Systems

Thanks to the already received donations ACube has received a payment to start the study of the components list. In relation with this, Power Progress Community has provided a possible component list based on non NDA chips to manage usb3, sata3, audio and others. Electrical Schematic engineering task started! Starting on Monday 7th August, ACube is analyzing that information and will produce feedback and suggestions.

Milano, 10th August 2017, Power Progress Community association is announcing the official collaboration of Acube Systems SRL through a contract signature to create the electrical schematics of the GNU Linux PowerPC Notebook. The project involving both organizations will create a PowerPC laptop featuring an MXM video card whereas the current phase is expected to produce the complete electrical  schematics for this computer.

Electrical Schematic engineering task started

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sumofmarc/7841135420

Power Progress Community wants to thank again for the big and passionate collaboration of all the volunteers and donors that made this happen. “As the expected period to complete the electrical schematics is 10 weeks, now it’s in our hands that means also in donors’ and collaborators’  hands to reach the 12600€ goal in less or equal time.” stated Roberto Innocenti, president of Power Progress Community association.

ACube Systems was already collaborating in the preliminary tasks and supporting the association. Enrico Vidale, CEO at ACube Systems said “Since a long time we wanted to build a PowerPC laptop. Thanks to the Power Progress Community, the dream will become true. We are excited about the future!

Power Progress Community is a non-profit association composed by people contributing on a voluntary basis, and inspired by the Open Source Hardware and Software movement. The mission is not focused on selling products, and the contribution to the “PowerPC Notebook” is an example. The Power Progress Community is working to establish and consolidate a potential purchasing group big enough to motivate a manufacturer to start the building process. In addition, the Power Progress Community association is supporting a crowdfunding campaign for designing and prototyping the laptop, as well as encouraging the open source developers in supporting the PowerPC platform.

ACube Systems S.r.l., a world-renowned company, was established in January 2007. The main goal of ACube Systems is to create and promote innovative hardware and software products thanks to an in-house research and development team supported by collaborations with some well-known Italian and international teams.

The Power of making Progress is in the hand of our Community.

First engineering task to be started soon

First engineering task to be started soon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/takkaria/

After reaching the 4000€ milestone we are ready to sign our first contract with ACube Systems. This will allow to start the engineering work and we want to thank all the donors for making this possible! All supporters are contributing to keep us moving enthusiastically forward. Of course, we still need to achieve the 12600€ goal to end up the analysis phase and to produce the complete electrical schematics and deliver an extensive documentation, but we feel confident in our long term success.

In the meantime we are making progress on our T2080  CPU based development boards. We are working on  booting them  with a Radeon graphic card, so please, if some  uboot expert  like to contribute, please contact us .

Regarding the Radeon card, a few days ago ACube confirmed the inclusion of an MXM connector in the notebook. This is a very good point, as it gives us the possibility to deliver the basis for an upgradeable laptop.

Finally, we would like to end this article reminding that any  help is more than welcome. New members joined us to collaborate with the hardware team (i.e. the above mentioned boot process) and many people are contributing in spreading our campaign in the  social networks. We need to reach more donors as they will help us reaching our goal and to release a truly Open Source PowerPC Notebook. So please, tell everybody about this project on forums, social networks, and why not, have a chat about it with your friends during these summer evenings.

News to share from our “social” pages:
http://twitter.com/powerpcnotebook
http://www.facebook.com/powerpcnotebook/
https://plus.google.com/communities/103352717884355831498
https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7300932

If you like to collaborate with us or give us some suggestions you can fill our survey.

In any case if you subscribe the newsletter you will receive updates from us.

 

The fundraising of the PowerPC Notebook reaches a 20% of its goal in six days

The fundraising of the PowerPc Notebook has reached a 20% of its goal in six days. This is a good starting point but we need you to spread our project to achieve our target.

Remember this campaign is trying to lead to a fully open source hardware. Releasing a complete laptop product as Open Source is an important step that people will forward across the globe. So this project is important to spread the open source philosophy. Do not miss this opportunity. Donate now!.

In another vein, we are tracking the campaign and following what people says in social networks. Some of you have expressed some concerns because there is no refund if the campaign fails. As we have explained in the FAQ of the campaign page, if we cannot reach the sum of 12600€ we will use the money to fund a similar project in the scope of the association (Power Progress Community) mission. As is stated in the statutes (ART 3):

“The Association promotes and disseminates software (especially open source software), and open hardware (with focus on, but not limited to, PowerPC and OpenPower architectures) with the aim of sharing knowledge and expertise.”

There are also discussions about the final specs of the machine. We cannot give all the details because is the objective of this stage to determine what components to include. So what we can do right now is to clarify that we want to have an MXM connector for the graphic card but we cannot guarantee that it will be finally included.

We are in the good way! Just remember that everything will start after we reach the 12600€ goal and we are very close to that. Do not hesitate to contact us to ask or comment whatever.

The PowerPC Notebook campaign has just started

We are very happy to announce that our funding campaign has just started. Starting today, we will accept donations through our campaign page with the objective of collecting funds to establish a contract with Acube Systems to design the PowerPC Notebook motherboard.

It has been a long way and we feel we are only starting. We wanted to reach this point many months ago but we found some difficulties and we tried to find solutions for all of them. In this time we have created our non profit association (Power Progress Community), we started a preliminary task for selecting hardware components, we have identified people to maintain a Linux distribution, we contacted companies and organizations and of course, we received you support in our website, in our facebook page, in the forum and other social networks.

The PowerPC Notebook campaign has just started

The PowerPC Notebook campaign has just started

After all this work and solving all these issues we are ready to collect the money required to start the engineering process. In the end, it is not the intention of this blog entry to explain all the details here so, we invite you to find all the information in the  campaign page: https://fundraising.powerpc-notebook.org/

Thank you very much for your support and enthusiasm.

Update regarding the crowdfunding

Dear readers, members of the community

As you know, we last stated that it was our goal to begin the crowdfunding campaign in May. We have settled on the way in which we want to conduct our crowdfunding, which is a combination of recurring and non-recurring crowdfunding over time to fund the development of the laptop. We’re not aiming a campaign constricted in a short time as we felt that would not go well with self-hosting our crowdfunding. This manner of crowdfunding is comparable with Patreon donations or the manner in which organizations like Haiku Inc. are funded.

For us it is important to take a while to coordinate this with our manufacturer, to finalize an exhaustive text and to produce a video to explain the fundraising. Due to this we are delaying the start as we’re sorting this out at the moment. We need some more days to complete these tasks and to set up the online donation campaign.

 

A small delay is no delay

Our aim is launching the campaign sometime in June, but we will keep you updated as we make progress.

Our apologies for the delay, we thank you for your patience and stay tuned! 😀