Raptor Computing Reveals More Details About Their Blackbird Low-Cost POWER9 Board

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 6 October 2018 at 06:51 AM EDT. 56 Comments
This week at the OpenPOWER Summit Amsterdam, Texas-based libre computer vendor Raptor Computing Systems announced Blackbird as a low-cost, micro-ATX POWER9 motherboard to be available in the coming months. The company has now revealed some additional details.

Blackbird was announced as a POWER9 platform catering towards desktops and appliances along with other low-power computing use-cases. Some additional details the company has now shared include:

- Blackbird will support two DDR4-2666 ECC Registered DIMMs in dual-channel mode. They are only supporting two DDR4 DIMMs to keep costs lower.

- There will be four SATA 3.0 ports onboard powered by a Marvell controller.

- There will be an onboard HDMI display output via AST2500 for at least having display/2D.

- 5.1 channel sound via S/PDIF.

- The system at full load power consumption is to be under 100 Watts paired with a quad-core IBM POWER9 processor.

- It will be completely open-source / blob free down to the firmware just like their Talos Workstation line-up.

- Again, this is catering towards the lower-end of the POWER9 space with four or eight core processors.

In the next couple of weeks they are expected to reveal pricing details. The Talos II Lite is currently Raptor's low-end offering at $1099 USD. Blackbird should be priced much lower than the Talos II Lite but just how low remains to be seen. It will almost certainly not be able to compete at the levels of the plethora of Intel/AMD motherboards due to economies of scale, but if they can at least make it much closer that would certainly be interesting.

For the IBM POWER9 processor pricing, the quad-core model starts at $375 USD while the octal-core model starts at $595 USD. So it might be possible to get a basic open-source POWER9 system for $1,000 USD or less (likely excluding current DDR4 prices...) which would be a significant development in this space.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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