Binary Blobs Continue To Prove Challenging For POWER10 Plus Very Expensive Motherboards
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 15 December 2021 at 04:00 AM EST. 34 Comments
HARDWARE --
While POWER CPUs have generally been well received by the free software community for being open-source friendly especially with the OpenPOWER Foundation, IBM's latest-generation POWER10 processors are continuing to be an upset.

In particular, not all of the POWER10 firmware is open-source and there are no indications of that changing in the near-term. There are firmware blobs still necessary for POWER10 when it comes to the DDR memory support and PCI Express, which obviously are crucial with today's systems.


Raptor Blackbird with POWER9.


Raptor Computing Systems that has been at the forefront of offering 100% free software POWER-based systems down to the motherboard designs and system firmware is understandably upset by the situation with POWER10. While they offer excellent Talos II and Blackbird offerings right now for fully free software POWER9 systems, those processors are showing their age and obviously would be great to see POWER10-based libre systems.

Raptor put out a community poll in relation to firmware requirements and POWER10 interest.

Making matters worse beyond the proprietary firmware components is the expectation that a POWER10 motherboard from Raptor could cost in excess of $3,500 USD. The motherboard would be very pricey due to POWER10 complexities. That $3,500 USD cost would not include the CPU itself or a custom heatsink. Even with an EATX form factor, Raptor Computing Systems says it would be a "packed" motherboard for a single socket design.

So at least in the near-term, things aren't looking good around having a fully free software POWER10-based system. Those concerned with fully free systems down to the firmware can check out Raptor's current wares on RaptorCS.com.
Related News
About The Author
Author picture

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 or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

Popular News This Week