New Details On System76's Open-Source Hardware Plans Come To Light
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 17 October 2018 at 12:43 PM EDT. 18 Comments
HARDWARE --
Longtime Ubuntu/Linux PC vendor System76 has been teasing their efforts around an "open-source computer" and other open-source hardware efforts now that they are in the home stretch of setting up their own US-based manufacturing facility. Some new details on their initial aspirations are now out there.

The "open-source computer" speculations have fueled speculation quite wide ranging from some thinking system76 is working on RISC-V or ARM designs to others thinking they may be doing a Coreboot effort for Intel x86 CPUs... Harris Kenny of system76 shed some light on their open-source hardware journey a few days back on Twitter. System76 founder Carl Richell also chimed in with some additional details.

They confirmed they are not designing their own motherboard but working on "pulling proprietary functionality off the mainboard and onto a custom, open source (hardware and firmware) daughter board."


Interestingly, this daughter board communicates with the host system through a USB 3.0 connection... Carl commented that they have SATA working at "full performance" with the USB connection and an Atmel embedded controller is used on the daughter board. (Update: Carl has clarified to Phoronix that the SATA ports are straight-through with drive data not going over USB but the USB communication being used for thermal/chassis control functionality.)

That's about all we know for now. It will be interesting to see its full capabilities and when it materializes; it's not an approach we've seen to date for pursuing an open-source system compared to the likes of Raptor's Talos and Blackbird products that are fully open-source hardware down to the motherboard firmware.
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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 10,000 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.

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