Powerboard Tyche rework completed by June

Motherboard final name

In October 2020, we asked the community to join our forum and submit their suggestions to name our motherboard. The discussions were intense, and the suggestions were very diverse, covering everything betweeh mythology, fauna and flora, literature, music and technology.

We kept the pool running for a year, until we reached the threshold of 1000 votes. Check the final results here. After an inicial parsing of the suggestions by the core team, we realize that it’s incredibly difficult to name something. =)

Statue of Tyche, goddess of fortune At the stunning Archeology Museum in Istanbul, Turkey

Among the suggestions, we got Bellatrix (a star or a Harry Potter villain, depending on where you come from), Overture (a musical motif of energy and character), Phoenix (that could also become a mascot), and others…

After a few rounds of reminders, in the March 2022 Power Progress Community meeting we decided to mix the first name selected on the public vote and the third because the first and second alone were too generic, so the composed name of the board is POWERBOARD TYCHE.

The POWERBOARD name is self explanatory. Tyche is the Greek Goddess of Fortune, to whom good and bad events could be atributed. Initially, however, her role was to bring positive messages to people. Her Roman equivalent is Fortuna.

We look forward to seeing our POWERBOARD TYCHE powering our notebooks and other devices soon!

Encryption Software

Since 2018, we’ve been in contact with CEuniX.eu , who created the Post-Quantum-Cryptography library. Particularly, we’ve been in touch with Stiepan, a Free Software and PowerPC enthusiast, who is now Chief Executive Officer of the QRCrypto SA. They would love to see PowerPC running their Post-Quantum Encryption software. We want to see it running on our PowerPC Notebook.

In 2018, they made a donation for our Electrical Schematics Donation Campaign and now they want to help us again by supporting the last mile of Donation Campaigns.

We are very grateful for their commitment to our project

Rework of a part of the mobo and situation of the components

We were waiting for the two ordered MXM AMD video cards, but the distributor informed us that they were forcefully EOF ( End of Life) due to the end of GDDR5 production. Moreover, the merge of AMD and Xinlinx is delaying the production of the new video card with GDDR6.

As you know, we were having troubles to find a few components in the marked (listed below) not only because of their availability but also due to the increased price. After an extensive research, the designer was able to identify the replacement components.

Below, a detailed list of unavailable or extremly expensive parts that the designer is replacing with other readily-available components:

  • 1 per pcb Transistor: NPN; BSR17A bipolar; 40V; 0.2A; 0.35W; SOT23 – ON SEMICONDUCTOR > 3100% cost increase from 0,5 euro to 16,50 euro per piece
  • 4 per pcb Field Effect Transistor –NDC7002N MOSFET 2N-CH 50V 0.51A SSOT6 – ON SEMICONDUCTOR : >1100% cost increase from 0,50 euro to 6,5 euro per piece
  • 2 per pcb MOSFET N-CH 100V 60A PPAK SO-8 SiR870DP – Vishay Siliconix > 3250% cost increase from 1,53 euro to 50 Euro per piece
  • 1 per pcb Parallel NOR Flash Automotive Memory MT28EW01GABA1HJS-0AAT – MICRON > 3250% cost increase from 13 euro to 423 euro!!!
  • 1 per pcb IC EEPROM 256KBIT I2C 1MHZ 8SOIC AT24C256C-SSHL-B – Microchip Technology > 1000% cost increase from 0,29 euro to 2,5 euro
  • 1 per pcb 24-bit translating 1.65- to 5.5-V I2C/SMBus I/O expander TCA6424ARGJR – Texas Instruments Not Available
  • 1 per pcb 24 MHz XO (Standard) LVCMOS Oscillator ASFLMB-24.000MHZ-LC-T – Abracon LLC – Not Available
  • 1 per pcb I/O Controller Interface IC HI-PERFORM LW PWR SM FOOT USB 2.0 HUB USB2514-AEZCNot Available
  • 1 per pcb Two-Lane PCIe 2.0 to Four-Port 6 Gbps SATA I/O Controller 88SE9235 – MARVELL – 980 euro!!!!!!!
  • 1 per pcb 6-port, 12-lane, PCIe 2.0 Packet Switch PI7C9X2G612GP – Diodes – 700 euro!!!!
  • 1 per pcb Power Switch ICs FDC6331L – onsemi / Fairchild – >3300% cost increase from 1,25 to 41,6 euro
  • 1 per pcb Switching Voltage Regulators 4.5-18V 20A SWIFT TPS544B20RVFT – Texas Instruments – 90 Euro!!!
  • 6 per pcb Switching Voltage Regulators 4.5-V to 28-V, 6-A TPS56637RPAR – Texas Instruments – > 10000% cost increase from 3 euro to 344 euro per piece ( 6 piece = 2.064 euro!!!)

Previously missing in February, but now available again

  • 3 per pcb IRLML6346TRPBF – N-Channel 30 V 3.4A (Ta) 1.3W (Ta) – Infineon Technologies
  • 2 per pcb 403C11A24M00000 24 MHz ±10ppm Crystal 10pF 60 Ohms 4-SMD
  • 7 per pcb MOSFET – DMN3730U-7 N 750mA 30V POWER MOS – Diodes
  • 9 per pcb Trans MOSFET – SI4925DY P-CH 30V 5.3A 8-Pin SOIC – ON SEMICONDUCTOR

The designer is replacing these components with new ones available currently and having an affordable cost in the market. Consequently, there’s extensive rework of the electrical schematics and of the Printed Circuit Board design. The new PCB design should be ready in June 2022. In the meantime, the designer is ordering the new components. When we receive them, we should have everything needed to produce prototypes.

Our speech on LibrePlanet 2022

In March 2022, we attended the LibrePlanet 2022 and followed many interesting talks.

LibrePlanet 2022: “Living Liberation” was a resounding success. Participants socialized using our online conference space, LibreAdventure, and created beautiful things in Minetest. Stalwart and Supporter level attendees joined the LibrePlanet after-party with staff and board members, which was a blast. Both Saturday and Sunday featured a wide range of speakers covering how nearly every topic you can think of relates to one common concept: free software.

Our talk was titled “Why we feel it is a liberation experience to take part to the Open Hardware PowerPC Notebook project,” and was presented at the LibrePlanet 2022 by Roberto Innocenti.

This talk illustrate the reasons and motivations that made Open Hardware PowerPC Notebook undertake the challenge of designing a PowerPC based notebook from scratch — one that is fully compliant with the Open Hardware principles and based on GNU/Linux — and what we are learning from it.