Raptor Computing To Launch "Arctic Tern" As An FPGA-Based Soft BMC

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 17 July 2022 at 05:55 AM EDT. 17 Comments
Raptor Computing Systems that is known for their open-source POWER9-based Talos II and Blackbird systems that are fully open-source designs and running on free software down to the firmware level are preparing for a new product launch.

Unfortunately this new Raptor product isn't a POWER10-based design, which still looks out of reach due to not all of the POWER10 firmware being open-source and a step back compared to the level of openness around POWER9. The new product they are preparing to announce is "Arctic Tern" and it's a soft BMC solution as a replacement for baseboard management controller capabilities on servers.

Arctic Tern is an FPGA system that runs the Kestrel soft BMC and can be plugged into existing servers to replace the BMC functionality relied on commonly by ASpeed ASICs. Raptor has been working on Kestrel as an open-source soft BMC.

Open-source, user-controlled Raptor Blackbird with POWER9 CPU.

Arctic Tern will at least work in their Blackbird and Talos II products while they haven't yet noted compatibility for other traditional proprietary server platforms.

Raptor Computing Systems shared basic details on Arctic Tern in this tweet. Availability and pricing details haven't yet been revealed or other features. Of the benefits of this new product, they added, "It boots nearly instantly after power is applied, and uses a fully open source POWER-compatible CPU, so there is no place for a backdoor of any type to hide undetected. The downside is that it is very slow in terms of CPU speed, so runs its own RTOS (Zephyr) vs. OpenBMC."
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