Prototypes ready, let’s proceed to test them.

Finally, the three prototypes are ready as you can clearly see from the pictures below.

The resulting cost of each prototype resulted in 1200 euros (without VAT) higher than what was initially planned due to the global shortages of electronic components that have skyrocketed prices of some important chips. So, more donations are needed to fund these 4392 euros more (1200 x 3 + 22% VAT).

Powerboard Tyche, bottom side.
Powerboard Tyche, top side. The visible biggest gray chip is the CPU NXP T2080 Power Architecture CPU.

Now the Hardware Tests stage has started, but prior to that we still need to solder the HDMI connector that has arrived too late to be included during the production phase.

Soon, our Open Hardware motherboard called “Powerboard Tyche” will be inserted in its notebook body chassis for starting the multiple hardware tests.
Below, you can see a picture of the old dummy PCB used for testing how to fit in the notebook.

Slimbook Eclipse Notebook
The external view of the Notebook body
  1. Slimbook Eclipse Notebook

    Pre-certification and CE certification

    €14,371.70 donated of €12,500.00 goal

Prototypes in production despite heavy chip shortages

We were supposed to start the production of the laptop prototypes at the end of last September but we stumble upon skyrocketing prices, especially regarding four fundamental chips. We had no other choice but to pay those incredible much higher prices, the only alternative would have been to stop all our activities.

We are glad to inform you that this week the prototypes production has started and – finger crossed – we are expecting them to be ready in the beginning of November. The following are the four fundamental chips and their actual cost:

  • Marvell Sata 3 controller 88SE9235A1-NAA2C000, around 130 euro per piece + VAT, 1 per PCB, total 3 pieces
  • TPS544B20RVFT 4.5-V to 18-V, 20-A synchronous SWIFT™ buck converter with PMBus programmability and monitoring around 550 euro per piece + VAT, 1 per PCB, total 3 pieces
  • 6-port, 12-lane, PCIe 2.0 Packet Switch PI7C9X2G612GP – Diodes around 250 euro per piece + VAT, 1 per PCB, total 3 pieces
  • Surge Suppressors 100V OV, UV, OC and Reverse Supply Protection Controller with -50mV Reverse Threshold LTC4368IDD-1#PBF around 100 euro per piece + VAT, 1 per PCB, total 3 pieces

The HDMI connectors (2041481-1) were completely impossible to find on the market in a reasonable amount of time. After long research, we could finally solve the problem thanks once again to the kind support of Slimbook, they will soon send us three connectors, one for each prototype.

Considering all chips, the cost of each prototype resulted 1200 euros higher than what was initially planned, 3600 euros more ( + 22% VAT) considering all three prototypes currently in production. You may find more information about these three prototypes in the post of July 2022 and May 2022.

As already stated in our post back in July, we are still asking you to continue donating as to help us supporting the dramatic increase in the actual costs we personally anticipated to proceed with the production. You may continue use the current campaign to donate.

  1. Slimbook Eclipse Notebook

    Pre-certification and CE certification

    €14,371.70 donated of €12,500.00 goal

Our presence for October-November in Free Software and IT events

We have planned our next speech at the LinuxDay in Milan (Italy) on the 22nd of October.

We are at NXP Technology Days in Milano on 27th October with our exposition, we are very glad for this opportunity that NXP has given us.

We hope to first show at least one prototype at the SFScon – Free Software Conference – on the 11th of November in Bolzano (Italy) in the occasion of our next speech.

PCB Design nearly complete, preparing for the next campaign aimed at working prototypes

The campaign aimed at the “Fast simulations bus” is nearly complete, and we will receive the resulting PCB design before the end of 2020. As soon as we have reviewed it, we will publish it in our GitLab repository. Here a screenshot with the PCB design currently being finalized.

our PowerPC Notebook Motherboard design screenshot from Mentor Xpedition

Similarly to what we did for the current campaign, the next donation campaign for financing the “Production of five working prototypes” will start as soon as the current campaign will reach its end. In coordination with ACube Systems, we fixed the cost of the five prototypes to 10.500 euros, and we aim at delivering them during late Spring 2021.

Freedesktop-sdk for PPC64 Big Endian Compiled!

We have patched freedeskop-sdk to compile perfectly on PPC64 so now we are preparing, according with Freedesktop-sdk teams, the merge requests to send to the mainline repository.

So we have successfully compiled 432 packages that it involves even the last version of go lang.

We thanks OSU Open Source Lab and OpenPower Foundation to provide us a Power9 VM with 8 cores and 16GB of RAM that permit us to compile Freedesktop-sdk for PPC64.

Now thanks to OpenPOWER@UNICAMP we have a Power8 VM to recompile freedesktop-sdk for PPC64 in Continuous Integration for gitlab freedesktop-sdk pipeline.

As Flatpak binary is running on Debian 10 PPC64 Big Endian and need the Freedesktop-dsk layer to prepare the flatpak packages starting from hundreds of manifests, now we are a step closer to see flatpak packages prepared for PPC64 .

Eureka! Here we have the Board layout! 15 days to donate 3660 euro left.

We are happy to share to all the donors and followers the Board Layout of our PPC64 Notebook Motherboard!!!

The design of our board layout is meant to fit inside the Slimbook Eclipse body. The PCB Design which is currently being worked on using Mentor Xpedition.

In September 2020 we have published on our gitlab repository the Orcad source file with the latest version (v0.6) of the Electrical Schematics, you can go more deep on these board layout starting from the Orcad source.

Open Hardware PowerPC Notebook Board Layout for Slimbook Eclipse Body – TOP
Open Hardware PowerPC Notebook Board Layout for Slimbook Eclipse Body – BOTTOM

The tentative deadline for Phase1B is 2th November so there are two weeks left to donate the remaining 3660 euros. If we will reach the goal, the PCB with SI bus simulation should be ready by the end of November.

In this case in December 2020 we will work on production of the Prototypes together with the Prototypes Donation Campaign.

We have to give a name to the motherboard, suggestions still remain open few days more on our forum

The PCB design Donation Campaign has started!

This long awaited campaign finally begins!

Few days ago we announced that Slimbook will provide the enclosure we need for our Open Hardware PowerPC notebook. In addition to that, we have published in our repository the pdf containing the new version of the schematics. Further updates will arrive during the following days ( the Orcad source files will be available during October) 

eletrical schematic of powerpc notebook

Continue reading

PowerPC Notebook Block Diagram done!

Three months have passed since the kick-off of our campaign, and it is now time to share a status update.

We reached the amount of €7100 thanks to more than one hundred donors that contributed, in some cases with more than one donation. We are thinking about how to boost the donations to achieve the €12600 final goal. We have seen that a good number of donors are new followers of the project, so it seems that our communication activities successfully attracted new people. We now want to go even further, so we kindly ask everyone to share more and more our project, for example supporting its advertisement in online tech magazines and forums, websites and other media. To promote these activities, the project was presented last week end at two Linux Day events in Italy, one in Milan by Roberto I. and one in Bolzano/Bozen by Diego M. The very same week-end ACube advertised the project at the very successful Amiga32 event in Neuss (Germany) and many people have shown their interest. On November 11th, Philippe F. will give a presentation at the Alchimie 12 event in Tain l’Hermitage (France).

Do you want the electrical schematics to be ready by Christmas? The solution is only one: prepare yourself for an active contribution, either by donating, and by involving more people!

PowerPC Notebook block diagram

PowerPC Notebook block diagram

Regarding the work in progress, ACube is working on the electrical schematics design and sent an early block diagram that was extensively discussed with our hardware core team of volunteers. After this discussion, in particular regarding an NDA component, we have arrived to a final version agreed by both sides: almost all components are identified. We are including PowerPC Notebook block diagram a block diagram of our PowerPC Notebook motherboard (without integrated circuit names). We will disclose all integrated circuit names when we will reach the required amount of donations to complete the electrical schematic, as agreed with ACube. Then, we will publish design files when a design phase is completely finished and tending to be error-free and fault-free. Before that, anyone wanting to actively collaborate in the design review can join and participate in our project and association.

In a nutshell, we are working hard to promote the campaign, and ACube is on track to accomplish phase one of the project. We see the light at the end of the tunnel! Keep it up!

Lastly we want to remember the importance of small recurrent donations. The possibility of having many people helping with a small amount of money monthly is very interesting for us as this will guarantee the constant work of the hardware designer.

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.