PCB gerber files published, Updates on the Prototypes

We have published the first version of the gerber files of the notebook motherboard PCB on our GitLab repository!

The engineers in charge of the design used the software Mentor Xpedition to carry out the design, and in a couple of weeks we will publish their original sources of the PCB from which the gerber files were exported. The cause of the delay in the publication of the sources is because the PCB simulations still are being performed, and until then the sources -and consequently the gerber files- might change. The simulation of the PCB that was successfully financed with the previous donation campaign is currently being finalized. As nobody in our association has the required tools, ACube Systems is taking care of supervising the entire review process for us.

We are perfectly aware that providing source files created with proprietary software is not ideal, therefore we are investigating how we could provide the PCB sources for the Open Source KiCad software. A first attempt we are testing is to load the Mentor Xpedition sources using the PCB Design Software Altium, and from there, convert the source to Kicad. We are looking for volunteers that could help us in the source translation process.

While interacting with ACube on the simulation process, we were faced with the fact that the verbal agreement we made on the prototyping costs dated back to mid-2017 and the world went through great changes. Back then, they estimated a total cost of €10.500, consisting of a first € 3000 for the initial equipment, and € 1500 for each prototype motherboard, multiplied by 5 motherboards. However, after detailing and updating all involved costs using today’s market quotations, it appears clear that most of the components costs have increased since then, maybe because of the pandemic, who knows. Take for example the NXP T2080 CPU, since 2017 its price has simply dubled, and most of the other components have increased their price too. We discussed extensively with ACube Systems, the initial equipment is still € 3000, but the final cost of each prototype motherboard has increased to € 3000, doubling the initially estimated price of 4 years ago.

Because of this dramatic increase in the production cost we decided to make 3 working prototypes only, that makes € 9000. On top of these we add another € 500 to make a dummy board (not working board), printed with a two layers PCB and all mechanical components correctly mounted. The scope of such a dummy board is to ensure that the working prototypes that will be produced later will mechanically fit in the Slimbook Eclipse. As a result, the ongoing campaign goal will be increased to € 12.500.

  1. Slimbook Eclipse Notebook

    Donation Campaign for Production of three working Prototypes

    €13,770.45 donated of €13,500.00 goal

We are currently investigating the impact of the increased production costs to the final product, but we do not have an answer so far. We will keep you informed as soon as we have a reliable estimation.

Expanding gaming library, Fosdem 21 and more

Progress on the software front

It is a well-known fact that a strong software library is a key factor to the viability of any platform – as could attest any unwilling user of a specific operating system 😉.

Our team is aware of that. Our contributors are strongly focused on compiling and optimizing a broad array of games and productivity applications to the PPC64 Big Endian platform, and you will find all of it in our repo.

Super Mario 64

The timeless sm64 is making its way to our portfolio, delivering countless hours of challenging courses and brilliant colors in a package loved by children and adults alike. Jump around, fly, dive, explore dungeons, lakes, mountains and collect coins and stars to make it to the top.

Super Tux Kart

Super Tux Kart is inspired by the most popular arcade racer in the world. It will keep you busy while you master every turn and try to overtake your opponents. As the developers of the Mascot Kingdom say: “In Story mode, you must face the evil Nolok, and defeat him in order to make the Mascot Kingdom safe once again! You can race by yourself against the computer, compete in several Grand Prix cups, or try to beat your fastest time in Time Trial mode. You can also race or battle with up to eight friends on a single computer, play on a local network or play online with other players all over the world.”

H-Craft Championship

H-Craft Championship is a sci-fi racer with more than 28 tracks and unique driving physics. Get the Championship trophy or push your limits with two time attack modes. You will also enjoy a good time with your family and friends with 4 players sharing the same PC.

Unfortunately, we’ve had to halt work on porting the Unreal Engine. It is a huge task and we’ve faced roadblocks. We are planning to resume the task once we’ve completed the MRs of our port to the mainline of Freedesktop-SDK, required to compile flatpak packages on PPC64 Big Endian.

FreeCAD

When it’s business time, beyond the usual Linux productivity suites, we are also offering a PPC64 Big Endian optimised version of FreeCAD, so you can make come true your next breakthrough using the best laptop in the world. FreeCAD is a modeller for CAD, MCAD, CAx, CAE and PLM fitting a broad range of uses in engineering and architecture, and runs the same way in all major platforms, ensuring the full portability of your work.

If you don’t believe source code, I am sure you will believe your own eyes. Visit our YouTube channel and enjoy a bit of PowerPC glory! We are online at (link to youtube)

Exciting, right?

If you have the chance and skills to help, our warm and friendly community invites you to leave your mark on the future of open computing with your contribution and, as a bonus, you will become a better and more versatile developer. Why?

We live in an increasingly little endian world. With the near-monopoly of x86/amd64 in the desktop/laptop/server computing world, the culture of writing portable and performant multi-platform software has declined. We favour a multicultural world. An environment where multiple platforms have an opportunity to thrive gives us new perspectives to solve computing problems, instead of relying only on the old and tried, leading to a world of opener, safer and better software overall.

When developer to our platform, you must keep in mind that you are targeting a Big Endian platform. Manual endianness swapping must be avoided. If you are careful enough, you may be able to extract a bit of performance here and there, but you always must maintain specific use cases and ensure proper architecture detection throughout your code, otherwise the code won’t be architecture-independent.

With automatic swapping, the code is easier to maintain and port. POSIX offers tools for automatic endianness conversion. For more details, please check our guidelines.

Our talk at the FOSDEM 21

FOSDEM is a free event for software developers to meet, share ideas and collaborate. In 2021, the gathering will be online. Be part of the best FOSS conference in Europe – it is for free and registration is required.

We will, of course, mark our presence, with our own Roberto Innocenti hosting a talk and showcasing that now it is the time to switch to Open Hardware and raise again the profile of the Power Architecture.

Roberto’s presentation will happen on Saturday, 6th of February, 2021, starting at 12:15 CET and ending at 13:00. We will be seeing you there!