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OSHW GNU/Linux PowerPC Notebook

Open Source Hardware GNU/Linux PowerPC Notebook project

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The Open Hardware GNU/Linux PowerPC notebook project want to group passionate people like you. These people with their involvement will make the difference to design a new open source PowerPC notebook motherboard

We are in the process of building an ethical purchasing group aimed at commissioning a notebook based on the PowerPC platform. The design will be Open Hardware compliant as much as possible, and the notebook will support Linux natively.

The choice of a small and local producer for making this notebook is both an ethical and forced choice, as on the Italian territory it was the only PowerPC experienced company matching our criteria based on the paradigms of an economy based on the human beings and not on a pure financial gain. We strongly feels that where you can find passion and cooperation making money is not the reference value, and for the selected company it is enough to gain just a little margin, solely aimed at maintaining the company running.

The community that is shaping around this project is much more than a classical ethical purchasing group as, in addition to collecting the necessary fundings for producing the notebook, is actively contributing to making possible that GNU/Linux and other operating systems will be fully supported.

The choice of the PowerPC platform is justified by an interesting technological situation: PowerPC CPUs that are produced today have good computational power with regards to the power consumption, they are well supported by the Linux kernel, and many Linux distribution supports the PowerPC architecture. The biggest challenge is a total lack of visibility, as the biggest information technology firms do not use PowerPC in their mainstream products, resulting in the general public completely ignoring their existence. Just count the number of companies, association and groups dealing with the -now mainstream- ARM platform: there is way too much competition in this field, and surely there is no need for new supporters.

Our community is aimed at advertising the notebook project in order to build a group enough big to be able to actually realize the project.

Forum: http://forum.powerpc-notebook.org/ Questionnaire: http://survey.powerpc-notebook.org/ Wiki http://wiki.powerprogress.org/

Social media: https://twitter.com/powerpcnotebook https://www.facebook.com/powerpcnotebook/ https://www.linkedin.com/groups/7300932 

We are building a vast group spread over the 5 continents, a group of creative people having a very heterogeneous background and knowledge and that is willing to collaborate for a common goal: designing and building a notebook  following the Open Hardware philosophy. This is a courageous project, some say a little bit crazy, a project that little or nothing has to share with strict market principles followed by mainstream firms.

Having people spread in the world collaborating on a voluntary basis was made possible by a shared vision: everyone can contribute its own knowledge and competence, share views and experience with others to reach the goal of building a notebook perfectly suiting IT enthusiasts that see in the Open Hardware a viable path for innovating. Altogether we learn the pleasure of discovering al technological aspects that are precluded to the general public when buying a ready-made off-the-shelf notebook, and discovering at the same time the pleasure of sharing such experience and pushing for a virtuous behaviour that has generosity at its core.

In the community there are people taking...

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PPC_notebook_electrical_schematics_v0.6.DSN

Orcad Schematics Source of PowerPC Notebook - version August 2020 - used for PCB design

dsn - 6.81 MB - 09/30/2020 at 10:33

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PPC_notebook_electrical_schematics_v0.6.pdf

Eletrical Schematics of Open Hardware PowerPC Notebook motherboard - version August 2020 - used for PCB design

Adobe Portable Document Format - 3.56 MB - 09/30/2020 at 10:32

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PPC_notebook_electrical_schematics_v0.5.pdf

Eletrical Schematics of Open Hardware PowerPC Notebook motherboard - version June 2020

Adobe Portable Document Format - 13.03 MB - 07/19/2020 at 11:50

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PPC_notebook_electrical_schematics_v0.4.pdf

Eletrical Schematics of Open Hardware PowerPC Notebook motherboard - version May 2020

Adobe Portable Document Format - 12.98 MB - 05/25/2020 at 20:46

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ppc_bloc_diagram_05_04_2020.png

block Diagram April 2020

Portable Network Graphics (PNG) - 1.36 MB - 04/08/2020 at 22:13

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  • 1 × CPU NXP T2080 QorIQ® T2080 Multicore Communications Processors - Power Architecture
  • 1 × Marvell SATA3 88se9235 Controller
  • 1 × Renesas μPD720201 USB3 Controller
  • 1 × Pericom PCIe Packet Switch PI7C9X2G612GP 6-port, 8-lane, PCIe2 Packet Switch with GreenPacket Technology
  • 1 × MicroChip USB2514 USB 2.0 hub controllers

View all 6 components

  • Dummy board being finalized

    Roberto Innocenti04/30/2021 at 08:48 0 comments

    It is with great joy that we present you the first tangible result after years of spending time on planning, ideas, projects and schematics. Below you see pictures of the dummy board, a non-working prototype that was printed with a two-layers PCB that was paid thanks to the ongoing donation campaign.

    Top side of the dummy board.
    Bottom side of the dummy board.

    The primary use of this dummy board is to perform mechanical checks in conjunction with the Slimbook notebook chassis. The board is not finished yet, the PCB designer still has to mount additional mechanical components such as connectors to ensure the final working prototypes will fit perfectly in the Slimbook Eclipse chassis.

    The PCB designer in charge of the job is carefully working to fine tune the gerber design files and already adjusted some minor details, proving that a preliminary dummy board was very much needed.

    We would like to thank Gerard Schneider that kindly offered us a ATI Radeon 7970 MXM card, it will surely help us testing the working prototypes that will be produced later on. We welcome anybody else willing to send us other Radeon MXM cards that may lay unused in a corner, we would like to start as soon as possible to test various GPUs in the upcoming working hardware.

    [UPDATE 2021-04-22] Unfortunately our notebook board is set to work exclusively with MXM-A 3.0 (type A) with a size of 82mm x 70 mm and with a maximum power consumption of 55W, whereas the MXM card provided by that Gerard Schneider is an MXM-B (type B) with a size of 82mm x 105mm and a maximum power of 200W. Thank you anyway Gerard, your card will be useful to check and eventually fix the video drivers but it will not be used inside the prototypes.

    Even if it is “just” a dummy board, this is a great milestone, and we are really happy about it because we can finally touch something with our hands. We would like to thank all the people that made it possible to reach this point, and we really hope that the donation campaign financing the final prototypes will speed up because now we all want to see more!!

    Are you willing to help?

    Being part of a project like this could be an amazing experience, you meet new people, volunteers of other projects, companies devoted to open source and everyone is willing to help. We are continuously giving examples of this in our blog posts but, in the last weeks, we are especially grateful about the support received from KiCad developers and Slimbook.

    Collaboration Survey 

    Two additional enclosures for our prototypes.

    Slimbook is a company making a huge effort in promoting an Open Source environment. They produce notebooks, mini-PCs and desktop computers targeting mainly Linux users. As an example of their commitment to the open source community, they have a very have a good relationship with the KDE project and together they collaborate on the creation of laptops meant to use primarily KDE. Despite being a small company, they are having success selling their products worldwide and these are very appreciated by the Linux community. As you may know, we started our collaboration with Slimbook more than two years ago and they have been always quite helpful promptly responding to our requests and providing information about the enclosure design or the related components that will be also used in our notebook (screen, keyboard, dissipation devices, etc.). All their support and time was kindly offered for free. Besides that support, we have received two Slimbook Eclipse enclosures to continue our tests. This will make possible to assemble three prototypes of our PPC Notebook. Again, they did it for free. We have no words.

    Export our PCB to KiCad, a difficult journey

    At the very beginning of this adventure, we were trying to find hardware experts to design the motherboard but the level of expertise required for such type of hardware made this challenge unachievable for us. Of course, we have experts on that field but the complexity of this design...

    Read more »

  • PCB Complete sources published! Mentor Expedition, Altium and Kicad formats

    Roberto Innocenti04/10/2021 at 13:33 0 comments

    At the beginning of March the consultant engineer paid using the donation campaign provided us with the Mentor Xpedition source files of our PCB. Providing source files created with a proprietary software is not ideal, therefore we have worked to convert the sources to the Open Source KiCad format.

    To achieve the porting of the sources, we first tried loading the Mentor Xpedition sources using the PCB Design Software Altium, and from there, export the sources to KiCad.

    We were pleasantly surprised by members of the KiCad team that promptly answered our call for volunteers able to help us in the source translation process, thank you guys, it was really much appreciated!

    In our task, we found a very useful post on the KiCad blog that explains how to import an Altium PCB design file in Kicad.

    Apparently the Altium Importer is not available if you start PCB window from the KiCad project manager window, you have  to start it from the command line as pcbnew-nightly to get the KiCad import feature for loading alien formats.

    KiCad eeschema-nightly currently does not support importing Altium schematics. There is an ongoing discussion, so perhaps there are some alpha/beta-testers of it.

    For BOM – we are finding information in the Altium database as well as KiCad. The KiCad export info we obtained in our first attempt is simplistic, and it does miss instance identifiers (c43, u17, r9 sorts of designators, which are present in Altium info). We do not see anything yet about enabling/disabling details types from the KiCad BOM export, so we are unsure whether more detailed columns can be obtained.

    You may find the original Mentor Expedition sources in our GitLab repository. We were unable to run the visECAD Viewer as even the provided free license version doesn’t seem to work. In fact, visECAD Viewer appears to be withdrawn from the market and it not anymore available to download, and we did not not receive any answer to our requests of support from the Siemens team.

    We were able to view the Altium import with the Altium online viewer thanks to the support of the Altium team.

    After all our attempts, we are now pleased to announce that it is now possible to load the source files of the notebook motherboard PCB in KiCad using its kicad-nightly version.

    Another recent news about the PowerPC notebook project, is that Slimbook will kindly provide us with two additional Slimbook Eclipse empty chassis. These will be used to test that our prototypes will correctly fit. At the same time, the guys at ACube Systems are investigating  suitable MXM video cards mounting AMD chips that could be used in the prototypes. We are investigating how we could collect  the additional funding required to pay for the various MXM video cards that will be used for testing and for the two additional Slimbook Eclipse chassis.Thanks to the kind contribution of the donors, the preparation of all components for the prototypes is progressing well.

    We would like to reach the 50% of the final goal of the current campaign as soon as possible to avoid slowdowns in the current prototypes production phase. We currently need your financial support more than ever!

  • PCB gerber files published, Updates on the Prototypes

    Roberto Innocenti02/14/2021 at 11:59 0 comments

    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


    Slimbook Eclipse Notebook

    Donation Campaign for Production of three working Prototypes

    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.

  • Another success: PCB completely financed! It’s time for the prototypes campaign!

    Roberto Innocenti12/19/2020 at 19:43 0 comments

    Thanks to the kind contribution of the donors, we just reached the goal of the campaign for financing Phase 1B “Fast simulation bus”.

    The PCB (Printed Circuit Board) design is currently being finalized, as soon as we have reviewed it, we will publish it in our GitLab repository. This last phase was of fundamental importance as we could test the correctness of the design, paving the way for the next campaign.

    We got through the hardest parts with regards to the Research and Development choices. We past the uncertain ground with its many open challenges and many solutions have been explored. We also past the economical goal of previous campaigns that were quite heavy, and thanks to many people we have managed to get this far, again, thank you all!

    We are now ready to launch Phase 2 “Production and delivery of five working prototypes” with a goal of 10500 Euros (around 12720 USD).


    Slimbook Eclipse Notebook
    Donation Campaign for Production of five working Prototypes

    Our target is to complete this new campaign by Spring 2021, and we are working again with the patient guys at ACube Systems that will assist us in making the five prototypes.

    printed circuit check

    These prototypes will be very important as they will be used to

    • put the PCB design to the test
    • learn how to correctly initialize the hardware
    • fine-tune the configuration of U-Boot
    • fit the motherboard in the Eclipse Slimbook body

    So far, we worked with U-Boot on the NXP T2080 RDB Devkit but that is quite different to our motherboard, which is quite more complex. We have to fine-tune U-Boot directly on the final hardware, and the prototypes will be essential for this. In addition, work on U-Uoot is still required even with the Devkit in order to correctly set up the framebuffer. Right now we can access the U-Boot console in serial mode only. ACube Systems will assist us on this task.

    The motherboard is designed (screw and ports positions) to fit inside the Eclipse Notebook body that the prototypes should be mounted on.

    Moreover, we need to redesign the dissipation heat pipes that will be slightly different from what was originally in place for the Eclipse Notebook.

    Maybe some of you didn’t even think it was possible but we are progressing. The journey is still not finished. We need you to tell about this project all around you as we need more interested people, more donations.

    2021 is our year! Let’s make this project a reality!

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

    Roberto Innocenti12/10/2020 at 22:29 0 comments

    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. The plan is to extensively check each prototype before building the next one so as to include fixes in each round. We will keep you updated at each step, and, finally, we will be able to provide you with photos of physical products.

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

    Roberto Innocenti10/18/2020 at 13:17 0 comments

    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

    Download our Board Layout

    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

    Donation Campaign for Signal Integrity Analysis of the PCB Design

  • Orcad source of Electrical Schematic v0.6 published

    Roberto Innocenti09/30/2020 at 10:54 0 comments

    Finally we have published on our gitlab repository the Orcad source file with the latest version (v0.6) of the Electrical Schematics.

    This file is at base of the PCB Design which is currently being worked on using Mentor Xpedition. The previous version of the schematics required some updates in order to accommodate minor changes to match the Slimbook chassis internal spaces. In addition, the schematics are now compatible with the I/O expansion board and the position of the external ports found on the “Elipse” chassis model, that was kindly provided by Slimbook.

    After achieving the goal of Phase 1A (thank you all!!), we have just started Phase 1B of the donation campaign targeting the “Fast SI bus simulations”, in other words, an in-depth analysis of the integrity of signals of the PCB that came out from the previous campaign.

    After discussing with the engineers currently working on the PCB, we were told that publishing an incomplete and potentially buggy PCB does not have much sense, as there might be major problems that will be solved after carrying out the SI bus simulations. At the end of these long discussions, we agreed on publishing the PCB only after reaching the end of Phase 1B, when all checks will be done.

    At this point we cannot fix a deadline for publishing the PCB, as the end of the work on the PCB largely depends on when we will reach the goal of Phase 1B donation campaign and when the SI simulation will help solve all electrical problems that may come up.

    The tentative deadline for Phase1B is 16th October so there are two weeks left to donate the remaining 4000 euros (around 4700 USD). If we will reach the goal, the PCB with SI bus simulation should be ready by the end of November .

    To Donate

    More Info

  • Today 15 Sept 2020 our Speak at OpenPOWER Summit NA

    Roberto Innocenti09/15/2020 at 10:22 0 comments

    Today 15th September at OpenPOWER Summit NA, there will be many interesting speaks and projects, our speak will be at 5:35pm ( Europe/Rome Time Zone).

    Around 6 years back, we started as a group of FOSS, PowerPC and Open Hardware enthusiasts, with beginning to work on PowerPC Notebook project which was designed around GNU/Linux using Open Hardware. We had very limited funding with limited skills to work. But our enthusiasm and motivation led us to reach fabrication stage for the motherboard. Finally this year we could successfully design its PCB with the help of collaborators and limited funding from donors. There were many challenges faced in this process. Since PowerPC processors have been around for more than 2 decades, but the current implementation on Notebook was difficult to take in the market. Coming to the performance in Big Endian mode is maximized in this with many software need to be patched. In future we plan to upgrade our PCB design to the more recent packaging technology for the processor. Also, with increasing collaborators, it would be possible to design more smaller and cheaper PowerPC board.

  • Electrical Schematic v0.5 published

    Roberto Innocenti07/19/2020 at 12:49 0 comments

    In the last PCB update post we mentioned that a new version V. 0.5 ( June 2020) of the electrical schematics is in the works. After a few rounds of internal reviews, that new version is now finally ready to be publicly shared.

    https://gitlab.com/power-progress-community/oshw-powerpc-notebook/powerpc-laptop-mobo

    Thanks to the project’s supporters  (here a list of donors) we reached 76% of the goal of the current step.render powerpc notebook

    Donation Campaign for PCB design of the PowerPC Notebook motherboard

    1. €14,761.16 donated of €19,000.00 goal Donate

  • PCB Ready by September 2020 – more time for donations

    Roberto Innocenti06/29/2020 at 21:40 0 comments

    CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 www.flickr.com aicomputin

    The progress of donations is going well and we reached 71% of the goal.

    A big thanks to all donors!

    New Version of Electrical Schematics

    We just received a new version of the schematics (v0.5) that raise the power consumption footprint up to 90W in order to support higher end MXM 3 video cards that may reach a maximum of 55W under heavy load. As an example, the AMD Radeon E9174 (GCN 4.0) has a TDP of 50W.

    Electrical Schematic version 0.5 June 2020

    We will publish in our repository this new version of the schematics ( pdf format and Orcad source) as soon as we finish an internal round of checks in close collaboration with ACube Systems, as we would like to ensure that it can be considered finalized.

    PCB Design Timeline

    In the next few days the engineer taking care of the motherboard design will concentrate on the PCB, as the Electrical Schematics are now stable enough.

    Thanks to the donations already received, the work on the  PCB design ( done with Mentor pads ) can move forward and we estimate it could be completed by September 2020. The timing is somehow unfortunate, as August in Italy is a month where anybody is on holiday, nevertheless, we will do our best to avoid interruptions.The date of publication of the PCB design will depend on the results of the internal review process once we receive it, hopefully it will not take long. The design of the PCB fit inside the Slimbook Eclipse body.

    Slimbook Eclipse Notebook
    Slimbook Eclipse body

    We will export the Orca electrical schematic design even to EDIF format, to make easier for new volunteers to convert it to Kicad Format. To convert from EDIF to Kicad we have found edif2kicad tools  https://github.com/svn2github/edif2kicad but we are sure you will find other tools or even you will be able to create a new one

    In case you are able to convert our PCB Mentor Pads design 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.

    More time for Donations

    After an internal discussion, we decided to postpone the deadline of the current Donation Campaign (Phase 1A) to the 30th of July 2020

    The plan is to deliver the PCB design with the end of Phase 1A, and right after that start Phase 1B “Fast SI bus simulations” on the 1st of August with a goal of €5000 (around $5600). As a consequence, there will be no interruption in the donation campaign, it will transparently fade from Phase 1A to Phase 1B seamlessly.

    We kindly ask all followers, friends, and donors to concentrate their donations before the 30th July 2020, to ensure the end of Phase 1A without further delays.

    We also kindly invite any of you that is capable of technically reviewing the hardware schematics to contact us, as that will help speed up the design process, as well as improving the overall quality of the final motherboard.

    You can now donate from any country thanks to Stripe Payment Gateway

    Potential donors from Countries such as Lebanon and China were unable or had serious difficulties to donate via Bank transfer and PayPal. The issue is now solved thanks to the addition of Stripe Gateway among the payment methods, they applied for us a discounted rate being a  non-profit organization and they charge a commission on each donation of 1,2%+0,25€ inside the EU, and  2,9%+0,25€ outside the EU.

    Donation Campaign for PCB design of the PowerPC Notebook motherboard

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Discussions

kwapiszon wrote 10/21/2020 at 09:13 point

how long this device work? for example I can decrease cpu to 40Mhz and working time increase to week on one charging battery?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Roberto Innocenti wrote 12/19/2020 at 19:40 point

the T2080 processor itself have Advanced Power and Energy Management as you can see here https://www.nxp.com/files-static/training/doc/ftf/2014/FTF-NET-F0032.pdf we will see the prototypes and Linux how results in terms of battery life

  Are you sure? yes | no

kwapiszon wrote 02/12/2021 at 13:46 point

one week will be great. my psion 5 work 4-7 day on 2 AA

  Are you sure? yes | no

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