Hands On With The Most Open-Source, High-Performance System For 2018

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 5 November 2018 at 11:00 AM EST. 31 Comments
While there are several vendors working on open-source hardware systems with goals of fully open designs and open-source software down to the firmware, there is only one vendor that has achieved that mission while delivering server/workstation class performance as we approach the end of 2018... Raptor Computing Systems' Talos II. We finally have this dual POWER9 system in our labs for some interesting benchmarks ahead.

We have done remote benchmarks in the past of the Talos II POWER9 system that is fully open-source, but only this past week were we able to touch one of these systems for the first time with Raptor Computing Systems kindly sending over a unit so we can run more benchmarks on it and the POWER9 architecture moving forward.

Should you be well behind on your Phoronix reading and other tech news, the Raptor Talos II is fully open-source down through the motherboard firmware and BMC. This is also a "made in America" system with the IBM POWER9 CPUs coming out of New York and the board and system being manufactured in Texas. This box arrived with dual 22-core POWER9 processors.

Unlike some other efforts to free system down to the BIOS/firmware that is based on generations old hardware platforms, Talos II is designed to be competitive with today's Intel and AMD offerings with being able to accommodate dual POWER9 CPUs, redundant 1400W power supplies, five PCI Express 4.0 (yes, PCIe 4.0) slots, and dual Gigabit Ethernet. This is a full open-source reality today and just not some goal that is hoped to be achieved in the future. The cost though of the Talos II can be significant with the server/workstation barebones starting at around $5k. There is though their entry-level/lite developer system that starts at $2149 USD for a single socket motherboard. Coming in at a much lower price point while still being an open-source hardware system will be their soft-announced Blackbird system that we will hopefully hear more about soon.

It was refreshingly easy getting this system setup and installing the POWER distribution of choice... Stay tuned for a lot of interesting tests coming out of this high performance POWER9 libre system. Likely in the next few days I'll have out my first proper article talking about the system and getting started with it at length. For those that have any particular test/benchmark requests, feel free to let me know via the forums or Twitter -- that's the primary purpose of today's article is issuing a call for any interesting test requests, beyond our usual smothering of benchmarks.

Thanks to Raptor Computing Systems for sending over this system. For those that may wish to experiment with Talos-based POWER9 hardware from the "cloud", there are VPS solutions via IntegriCloud.com.
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About The Author
Michael Larabel

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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