Open Hardware GNU/LinuxOpen Hardware GNU/Linux
PPC64 Laptop PotentialPPC64 Laptop Potential
Roberto Innocenti, Power Progress Community - Associate & Academic Member
In collaboration with
OpenPOWER Academic and Research
powerpc-notebook.org first publishedpowerpc-notebook.org first published
List of hardware requirementsList of hardware requirements
Becomes Open Source HardwareBecomes Open Source Hardware
Established PowerProgressCommunity associationEstablished PowerProgressCommunity association
Donation campaign for Electrical SchematicsDonation campaign for Electrical Schematics
Donation campaign for Printed Circuit Board designDonation campaign for Printed Circuit Board design2019-20202019-2020
Donation campaign for Fast SI bus simulationsDonation campaign for Fast SI bus simulations20202020
Power Progress Community
founders and some of the
core team members
and the core team
Design Open Hardware, with prototypes, accessible to
the widest range of people.
Facilitate the re-use of dismissed or low-cost hardware
by means of open source software.
Encourage people to use open source software.
Help and promote innovation and scientific progress
supporting multiplicity and variety in order to avoid
- or at least reduce - monopolies.
Who make the Printed Circuit Board design?
The association counts around 50 volunteers, but
only very few are able to review the electronic
Volunteer capable of reviewing the design lacks
spare time for this -unpaid- activity.
We solve the situation by setting up “donation
campaigns” that allows us to indirectly hire
professional electronic designers:
PPC Association > Campaign > ACube Systems
Everyone can examine, alter, build, distribute or sell anything
(either the circuits design and/or hardware based on it).
Open Source Hardware Certification
Certification allows for some components non
100% Open Source Hardware as vendors may
Open Source Hardware is Essential
Our Open Source Hardware Path
Goal: Oshwa Certification - https://certification.oshwa.org/
Support from the NYU Technology Law and Policy Clinic
to make the project as Open Hardware as possible.
Contacts with Chip manufacturers for authorizations
to distribute the finalized project as Open Hardware
Publication of the electrical schematic (Orcad source)
with the Open Hardware CERN license v1.2
PPC64 Processor for Laptop or Little Endian?
When we searched a PPC 64 bit CPU for a laptop back in 2014,
we identified the Freescale T2080 as a good candidate because of
its reasonable cost, good performance and low power consumption.
With the NXP acquisition of Freescale, the evolution of PowerPC
CPUs stopped and ARM become the priority.
We are stuck with PowerPC CPUs that properly work in Big
Endian mode only, as Altivec does not work in Little Endian mode.
At the same time, most Linux distros supporting the Power
Architecture became switching from Big Endian to Little
Endian, as porting software from x86 is much easier.
It’s born before the Big Endian software or hardware?
Producing today a consumer motherboard
with a Big Endian (BE) CPU is hazardous,
as Linux distros with an official support for
PPC64 BE are lacking.
Maintaining PPC64 Big Endian software is
time consuming because of two factors:
difficult to solve endianess issues while
porting and lack of accessible hardware
CPU: NXP T2080, e6500 64-bit Power Architecture with Altivec technology
4 x e6500 dual-threaded cores, low-latency backside 2MB L2 cache, 16GFLOPS x core
RAM: 2 x RAM slots for DDR3L SO-DIMM
VIDEO: MXM 3 mobile video card interface
AUDIO: cmedia sound chip, audio in and audio out jacks
USB: 3.0 and 2.0 ports
NVM Express (NVMe), M.2 2280 connector
2 x SATA
1 x SDHC card reader
1 x ethernet RJ-45 connector
POWER: on-board battery charger and power-management
CHASSIS: Slimbook Eclipse notebook case 15,6”
CM8828 HD-Audio controllers and
CM9882A codec family
They sent an evaluation badge to Acube.
They assure the availability of the chips for
Have authorized the publication of
information in Open Source documents
Other Chip Vendors
There are already other Open
Hardware mobo that use Marvell
For AMD there are no problems to publish schemas
and PCB open hardware, considering that we do not
have the AMD Radeon chip in our mobo but on a
separate MXM card produced by AMD
Creating a brand new notebook chassis
from scratch in small numbers was not
Find a supplier that provide us few
hundreds of notebook body without the
motherboard was very difficult.
After a couple of years (!) we finally found a
viable solution thanks to the Slimbook
We are now designing a PowerPC
motherboard targeting the Slimbook
It’s born before the Laptop Chassis or the motherboard?
Collaboration PPC ↔ Slimbook ↔ ACube
Slimbook has sent
information about parts of the
The schematics have been
adapted for this chassis
The PCB is designed to fit
in the Slimbook Body
Slimbook Eclipse body
Allows us to use MXM
The body of the laptop is
actually the entire case, the
cooling system, the screen, the
keyboard, the backlight, the
webcam, the speakers and the
Slimbook Eclipse body
from PCB Design to Laptop production
1 Electrical schematics
2 PCB Printed Circuit Board
12 October 2019 - 8 September 2020
3 Fast SI bus simulations
9 September 2020
3 5 prototypes € 10.500
4 Hardware Tests € 14.000
5 CE Certification € 12.500
2 July 2017 - 7 June 2018
Donation campaigns plan
Why donation campaigns ?
● We could not make use of commercial crowdfunding platforms:
- they support the production of a product
- they require a working prototype at the end
● We are not making or selling any physical product.
● We are doing and supporting research and development.
● To achieve this, we must fund the engineering design process.
The association is run by hobbyists that work for fun on the project on their
spare time, no one is getting paid, only the funded electronic engineers
We have a very flexible business plan, no tight time-to-market strategy
We can afford to run a donations campaign for an unlimited amount of
time, and that is not allowed by any crowdfunding platform.
What if a phase fails?
Donors will decide on which other project of the
association divert the collected funds.
Donations are free and non refundable (Italian law)
Other projects of the associations are:
Debian ppc64 packages patches and fixes
Open Source Laptop Chassis Design
“Revivo with Scratch”, re-use of dismissed computers
As the activities of the association is decided by its
members, a potential donor might want to join Power
Progress Community by paying the yearly membership fee
Open Source code should be truly CPU agnostic
We commonly encounter open source software tight to Little
Endian CPUs nd that cannot be compiled on Big Endian
When a library or a framework cannot be compiled, it causes
troubles to all software depending on it, and that compromise
the usability of the entire system.
Our volunteers works to fix endianess issues to source
codes, but it’s a huge task for a very few people: we need
We are trying to concentrate on those packages and libraries
that solve the dependencies to a multitude of others
Support to Debian PPC64
Debian Repository is available
Goal: porting software to PPC64 Big Endian with Altivec/VMX
The list contains key software:
Firefox, mplayer, Linux Kernel, table...
11 groups, 546 packages, total repository size 1943.37MB (1.9GB)
Built using two Power8/9 instancies in OpenStack hosted thanks to the
Oregon State University Open Source Lab and the
Optimize graphic cards detection
Patch sources/package for Big Endian compatibility
Freedesktop-sdk, flatpack, Mesa
Docker , etc...
Compile, configure and test the latest Linux Kernels
Organize and publish our patches
Let’s collaborate with Debian PPC64 Big Endian
Let’s collaborate with MintPPC 64
Let’s collaborate with VoidLinux PPC64
Improve GNU/Linux PPC64 applications
Reach the goals of the Donation Campaigns phases
Involve additional volunteers, especially hardware expert and
anyone able to fix endianess issues
Support forks of our design to the newer Power Architecture
processors based on the OpenPower Open ISA
- Libre-SOC cpu/gpu
- A2I POWER Processor Core
In-source new Hardware designs with Open Hardware
Seminars in Tech High Schools and Universities to
encourage study and improvement on our Open Hardware
designs and Power Open ISA CPU/GPU
Join Open our Hardware team
Laptop Chassis Designs
FreeCad/Blender 3D chassis design
Open Hardware Designs
PCB review, PCB/Schematic forks
Join us with Your Creativity on
Creation of multimedia design to advertise (video,
animations, images, articles, etc…).
Translations of the websites, social networks and
Spreading the project on blogs, forums, socials
Law Assistance to support the Open Source Hardware
Maintain, update, manage our software tools and
Outreach, seminars in High Schools and Universities
and now QA
In collaboration with
OpenPOWER Academic and Research