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OSHW GNU/Linux PowerPC Notebook

Open Source Hardware GNU/Linux PowerPC Notebook project

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The 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 https://plus.google.com/communities/103352717884355831498

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...

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ppc_notebook_block_diagram_31_12_2019.jpg

This is the block diagram update at 31 December 2019

JPEG Image - 599.82 kB - 03/14/2020 at 16:10

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PPC_notebook_electrical_schematics_v0.2.pdf

Schematics of PowerPC Notebook exported in pdf

Adobe Portable Document Format - 1.20 MB - 12/26/2019 at 00:42

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PPC_notebook_electrical_schematics_v0.2.edf

Schematics Source of PowerPC Notebook exported in EDIF format - Cern License

edf - 23.18 MB - 12/26/2019 at 00:40

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PPC_notebook_electrical_schematics_v0.2.dsn

Orcad Schematics Source of PowerPC Notebook - Cern License

dsn - 5.63 MB - 12/26/2019 at 00:40

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PPC_OpenSource_PPC_laptop_block_diagram_12_2018.pdf

Block Diagram updated at December 2018 - PowerPC Notebook

Adobe Portable Document Format - 268.31 kB - 12/26/2018 at 22:05

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  • Progress on PCB Design and on Software

    Roberto Innocenti03/14/2020 at 16:19 0 comments

    Updates on Schematics transposed in the PCB design

    In February the designer analyzed the Pericom PI7C9X2G608GP PCIe Packet Switch with the direct support of Pericom staff. Now, the Pericom PCIe Packet Switch is fully tested and all the needed setup is completed, so the designer has completed the inclusion of  all required information in the updated version of the schematics and is starting to unravel the PCB. 

    The designer has updated SerDes connections following our suggestions taking into account the notes we have provided, so a new version of the schematics is expected soon.

    Arctic-Fox 27.10.1 PPC64 in our Repo

    The main contributor to Arctic-Fox – Riccardo Mottola – association member of our Power Progress Community – have released the new version 27.10.1+b0 that we have compiled and packaged in our Debian PPC64 repo. Riccardo says: “Session Store, code greatly improved compared to past releases, performance improvements in both the html engine as well as a new build system imported from Firefox. This release is definitely a great improvement compared to 27.9.19 right at start”

    Arctic-Fox 27.10.1 PPC64 running on our T2080-RDB, that has the same processor as our future notebook.

    Moved our repo to our Power Progress Community GitLab group.

    We have created a Gitlab group called Power Progress Community, and we moved all our gitlab repositories under https://gitlab.com/power-progress-community. What is important to know is that all URLs have changed and any cloned repository must be rebased. If you have cloned our repositories you should update git remote origin.

    Working on Unreal Engine for PowerPC64 Big Endian

    We are working on a port of UnrealEngine (UE) to PowerPC 64 Big Endian. We started by forking the PowerPC64 Little Endian (PPC64le) version and we are currently trying to compile the sources. The original PPC64le port for UE 4.23 was developed by Elvis Dowson and Raptor Engineering and can be found at https://github.com/edowson/UnrealEngine/tree/4.23-ppc64le. Access to the UE4 sources requires accepting the Epic Games EULA as described in https://www.unrealengine.com/en-US/ue4-on-github.

    We have  modified the original scripts to compile for PPC64 Big Endian but so far we still have to solve multiple errors leading before being able to generate a working binary. You can find our fork and ppc64 branch here https://github.com/robyinno/UnrealEngine/tree/4.23-ppc64 ( to access it you need to accept Epic Games EULA). We are building the source using both a Power9 virtual machine provided by Open OSU and OpenPower Foundation, as well as on our NXP T2080-RDB development kit using Debian PPC64 SID unstable. If you want to help us on fixing the compilation errors, you can start from our UnrealEnginePPC64 Wiki, please contact us.

    A screenshot of the ongoing compilation of Unreal Engine on our NXP T2080-RDB

  • PCB design updates and updated components list

    Roberto Innocenti02/12/2020 at 22:51 0 comments

    As we stated in a previous log, we have already contracted ACube Systems and the PCB design work has started. This post is a first report about the work in progress in relation to the PCB design.

    These days, the designer is analyzing the Pericom Switch with the direct support of Pericom personnel.

    The Pericom PI7C9X2G608GP is a PCIE Gen 2 Switch that provides one upstream port supporting x4 or x1, and 4 or 5 downstream ports that support x1 operation. This chip has a Power Dissipation of 1.2 W.

    In our mobo the PI7C9X2G608GP is essential as it allows to connect one 4x PCIe 2.0 controller of the NXP T2080 CPU with four 1x PCIe chips/cards: M.2 3G/LTE card , M.2 WiFi card, 1x Renesas USB3 Controller and 1x C-Media Audio chipset.

    The NXP T2080 CPU has four PCI Express controllers (two of them supporting PCIe 2.0 with maximum lane width off x8 and the other two supporting PCIe 3.0 with maximum lane width of x4).

    The NXP T2080 processor allows Resource Partitioning and has a Datapath Acceleration Architecture (DPAA) with many capabilities, few of them listed below:

    • SEC 5.2 full protocol processing for security protocols 
    • DEC 1.0 Decompression and Compression Engine
    • PME 2.1 Pattern Matching Engine

    Slides with more information on NXP T2080 Processor

    Open to multi OS

    The selection of our mobo components was performed having in mind to support a large number of Free Software OSs and even Amiga-like OSs.

    ACube Systems is in close contact with the amiga community regarding the support of Amiga-like OSs. In addition, ACube is working on the  audio driver for our C-Media Audio Chip to support amiga-like OSs.

    Components list and Pin Out

    Below, you can see an updated components list of our motherboard schematics, which is an improved version of the older components list.

    In version 0.2 of our electrical schematics,  the pinout of the Slimbook Eclipse Notebook has been integrated as can be shown in the gallery.

    Components in our Schematics version 0.2

    • CPU: NXP T2080: Datasheet ( login needed )
    • Sata3 Controller: Marvell  88SE9235
    • USB3 Controller: Renesas μPD720201 Datasheet  (login required from 2020) 
    • PCIE Pericom Switch: Diodes Pericom PI7C9X2G608GP (6-port, 8-lane, PCIe2 Packet Switch with GreenPacket Technology) – Schematics Page 24
    • Audio Chip: C- Media CM8828 and CM9882A – Schematics Page 31
    • CPLD WRAPPER AND IO EXPANDER – Schematics Page 14
    • HDMI Transmitter: ON Semiconductor CM2020-01TR datasheet
    • Power Convertor: LTM8064EY#PBF datasheet
    • Smart Battery Charger Controller: LTC 4100 datasheet
    • Gigabit Ethernet Transceiver with RGMII Support: Microchip KSZ9031RNX datasheet
    • MXM3.0 Compatible Connector: JAE MM70-314-310B1-2-R300  datasheet

    Others:

    • Clock Generator: IDT 9FGV0641 datasheet – Schematic page 34
    • Frequency Synthesizer : DT9FGV0641 datasheet
    • 100V UV/OV and Reverse Protection Controller with Bidirectional Circuit Breaker: LTC4368 datasheet – Schematic page 40

    More Info

  • PCB Design Started! Carpe Diem! 83 days left

    Roberto Innocenti02/07/2020 at 09:32 0 comments

    Four months have passed since we started our donation campaign aimed at the PCB design and we are now at around €6500 (27%) of the goal €24000 for the entire phase 1 of the design, and we must admit that the rate of donations is slower than what we had hoped for.

    Phase 1 is subdivided in two subtasks:

    • 1A) PCB Project € 19000
    • 1B) Fast SI bus simulations €5000

    In other words, we reached an encouraging 34% of what is required for subtask 1A.

    As we really want to speed up as much as possible the activity, we decided to formally split phase 1, and not to wait to reach €24000 to start the design of the PCB.

    To do so, we signed a contract with ACube Systems (company we rely on for the design) just for subtask 1A. Doing so gives the chance to start right now the PCB design. At the time of signing the contract, we paid €6000, the amount required by the designer to start working.

    Slimbook Eclipse Notebook

    One of the reasons forcing us to speed up the planned activities, is linked to the availability of the Slimbook model “Eclipse” that will not last forever, very much like any other commercially available products such as the electronic components we selected during the electrical schematics design phase. In fact, the electrical schematics are customized for the pinouts of that specific Slimbook model, and the PCB design will be specifically shaped to fit in the Slimbook Eclipse chassis. Because of these constraints, we have to finish the PCB design (phase 1A), the fast SI bus simulations (phase 1B) and the prototypes (phase 2) around this summer.

    We fixed the end of April 2020 as the time-limit for phase 1A, so we have 3 months left to raise the remaining €12500. As you may well understand this goal is quite ambitious, but it is necessary if we don’t want to risk to fail.

    For the above reasons, we kindly ask all people wanting the PowerPC laptop project to succeed, to do an extra effort to help us increase the rate of donations right now

    As the entire project will adhere to the Open Hardware principles, we do not foresee any company donating to the project, as they will not get an exclusive competitive product out of it. Therefore, the only solution we foresee to speed up the donation rate, is to increase the number of people donating to the project.

    Please, please, help us to spread the word about the project, and help us to convince more and more people to donate to it.

    Alternatively, if you are aware, or better, you are involved in some sort of publicly funded research project meant to finance activities that benefit to the masses, help us establishing a link to get some funds.

    A few hints on how you can spread the word about the project:

    1. publish comments in your blogs, websites, social profiles, or forums talking about the project, reporting one or more of these key elements: 
    • Our project have already started the design of the motherboard PCB.
    • Power Progress Community aims at completing its open source hardware notebook during this summer and needs donations now.
    • Power Progress Community, the user-based and not-for-profit association promoting the project, releases all of its design documents compliant to the Open Source Hardware (OSH) principles.
    • The electrical schematics that came out of the first campaign are already available at https://gitlab.com/oshw-powerpc-notebook/powerpc-laptop-mobo
    1. post a comment in tech or ethical blogs or forums asking people to give  the project a chance, based on these facts:
    • Our project promotes technology diversity (different from x86 and ARM) through its Open Source Hardware laptop.
    • Free yourself from spyware and backdoors helping our Open Hardware Notebook Project.
    • Anyone will be able to freely customize any aspect of the laptop (shape, components), for example making a stripped-down version similar to a single-board computer.
    • Being completely open, the project will deliver useful material for students, that will be able...
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  • PCB for a Happy New Year!

    Roberto Innocenti12/26/2019 at 00:37 0 comments

    Orcad Source Schematics Published

    At the end of August of 2019 we published the first version of the schematics in pdf format. Then, in October we uploaded the second version and after that the 13th of November we released the Orcad source, accomplishing what we promised.

    Schematics Source in EDIF published and ready to be converted to KiCad

    Now we have exported it 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

    OpenStack Debian 10 PPC64 Big Endian created

    We have created the Big Endian  PPC64 Debian 10 image for OpenStack and we have set a Power9 VM in the OpenStack gently provided by OSU Open Source Lab with the agreement of OpenPower Foundation. Open Source Lab has made this image public so other OSU OpenStack hosted projects could use it. 

    https://wiki.powerprogress.org/OpenStackPPC64Debian10

    So, now we can compile  Big Endian PPC64 debian packages in our Big Endian PPC64 Debian 10.

    Big Endian PPC64 Optimization Software Packages available in our gitlab repository

    https://gitlab.com/oshw-powerpc-notebook/software

    You can find different repositories, one for each application. In general they are mirrors of the original repository plus two branches that start with ppc_ prefix. Where possible we have ppc_master that have only few modifications ( README, etc) and ppc_debpack that adds the debian folder to build .deb package. All the other patches proposed will be on other branches

    So anyone wanting to test and patch a software package should create its local branch doing a merge from ppc_master + ppc_debpack + base+master that should be the upstream of the project.

    Our script to Install Debian 10 PPC64 on your Mac G5

    Under Debian Scripts on our repo there is the script that permit us to successfully install debian 10.00 PPC64 on our G5 machines. You can find all the detailed steps in our post

    During installation with Debian PPC64 netinstall on Imac G5
    Completed the installation and restart in rescue mode you can see in the command line our grubfix.sh script
    During installation of needed packages thanks to our grubfix.sh script

    Are you the Donor that will start the Butterfly Effect?

    In our presentation at sfscon.it on November 15th we talked about the Butterfly Effect of donating, spreading our project or collaborating in one of the hundred ways you would like to do it.  Any single action could have an incredible positive consequence. Now imagine many of these actions together.

    Beat your butterfly’s wings!

    The creators of the reality of our project are hundreds of supporters, people that donate its time and money and express their creativity, passion and intelligence, giving life to this project. Our project exists thanks to anyone of you.

    render powerpc notebookDonation Campaign for PCB design of the PowerPC Notebook motherboard

    Goal: make publicly available a production quality Printed Circuit Board (PCB) design for the motherboard of the PowerPC Notebook based on the electrical schematics of the first donation campaign.

  • The PCB design Donation Campaign has started!

    Roberto Innocenti11/26/2019 at 09:43 0 comments

    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  and the Orcad source containing the new version of the schematics. Further updates will arrive in December.

    As you might note, the new PCB donation campaign is starting already at 11% of the goal thanks to the recurring donors that have donated 10 or 20 euros per month. That’s the real power, thanks to these modest recurring donations it has been possible to reach this 11% of the PCB donation campaign goal, could you imagine what would happen with one hundred of recurring donors giving 10 euro per month?

    Again, we want to thank very much all our donors, those that have continuously donated for a year, those that have donated frequently and of course, those who have donated once, all of you have made possible to arrive here.

    Other than that, more than one hundred of you have already declared the intention to donate to this PCB campaign, the only thing we can say is that finally now is the right moment for that.

    Finally, many of you expressed us your commitment  to share the donation campaign to involve other people to join the project. So, now that the PCB campaign is open you can spread it.

  • Open Hardware Schematic Published in Alpha version

    Roberto Innocenti07/19/2019 at 21:42 0 comments

    Above all, one of the greatest problems preventing us from finalizing these schematics was the missing chassis required to take a series of very important design decisions. Finally, very recently, a chassis was selected and is now in our hands, paving the way to accomplish the goal.

    Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/curtiskennington/3642074604

    In April we asked your opinion on either publishing an unfinished work or wait for better quality schematics. The Core Team chose to wait and “Send the information (the work in progress pdf of the schematic design) only to the 132 donors and kindly asking them to not publish”.

    At the end of June there was an important meeting between Acube and the designer to discuss the suggestions from our Hardware team, and another topic was how to adapt the schematic to the new chassis. In fact we have prepared the next steps for the PCB design.

    So now we have this modified block diagram that could have further few minor changes.

    PowerPC Notebook Block Diagram – June 2019

    Currently, the designer is working to update the schematics. This task is expected to be completed on August.

    In the meantime, the Core Team we voted again in June and this time we have decided to publish the pdf of the current version of the schematic. That does not contain the updates we are expecting in August.

    In other words, the schematic that we have uploaded to our repository is the same pre-release version that we have sent to the donors at the end of March 2019, and it should be noted that it is an alpha version. The only difference from the donors’ version is that it contains the recently selected Open Hardware license that is the Cern Open Hardware License v 1.2 (Cern OHL).

    We have selected Cern OHL because it is specific for open hardware and it covers aspects regarding hardware production. It has the same viral effects that other open source licenses have but taking into account that there is a licensor of the hardware and another part that is manufacturing it.

    The current version of the schematic is published in our repo in gitlab.

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

  • Bookmark the date for PCB donation campaign start

    Roberto Innocenti12/26/2018 at 22:20 0 comments

    Bookmark the date of our PCB donation campaign (details below), now that the electrical schematics that came out of the first donation campaign are in our hands.

    The schematics are now under review by our hardware volunteers and at the same time, during this month, we have been preparing the steps to certify our hardware design as Open Source Hardware following the OSWHA Certification procedure.

    More Info....

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