The POWER and PowerPC General Discussion / News Thread

Submitted a pull request for a kernel config for ppc32. Once this is accepted, all of the core components for Void Linux will be done!

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The Talospace blog recently posted about an abandoned effort to have a common socket for Power, SPARC, and x86 processors:

I mean, interfaces like DDR, LPC, and PCIe certainly aren’t ISA-specific; but it’s kind of mind boggling to me. Is there any precedent for a socket shared between vastly different architectures?

Also, here’s an interesting image I found while talking to Stewart Smith on Twitter of a Yadro POWER8 system’s memory card:

For those unfamiliar with Power, POWER8 (and POWER9 Scale Up variants) talk to memory through a Centaur memory buffer acting as an L4 cache. IBM systems come with the RAM and memory combined on one DIMM, while this Yadro system has the Centaur buffer chip on a riser card, and normal RAM DIMMs slotting into that.

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Looks like the Blackbird mATX board will be getting some coverage on LTT:

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Watercooling experiments

Daniel Kolesa has been watercooling a POWER8 on a Tyan board, which is really cool to see. The socket retention/cooler mount looks similar to POWER9 Sforza, so maybe we’ll be seeing some one trying this on Talos II & Blackbird?

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The 4 cores run so cool it’s probably fine. I am going to see about borrowing a blackbird plus 8 core once the talos ii review is done. It’s basically done now. It’s interesting.


PSA - New mailinglist for Power Architecture community

There was some discussion on Twitter about the Power Architecture community being somewhat disparate across platforms that not everyone uses, and different subsets of the community. In response there is now an official community mailinglist hosted by the OpenPOWER Foundation:

A community mailing list for discussing developer/grass roots OpenPOWER and/or PowerPC matters - hardware and software.

Discussion around developer systems from the likes of Raptor (Talos II/Blackbird) as well as re-purposing older POWER hardware for use by individual developers is particularly encouraged.

All OSes are welcome - Linux/FreeBSD/OpenBSD etc.

Additional Links

Having the mailinglist now is good, but there will still be people hanging out at:

IRC #talos-workstation on freenode (channel requires registration with NickServ)

As well as other sites that are not strictly Talos/POWER9 focused:

Blog of Adelie Linux maintainer
Linux on PowerPC Macs (Facebook group)
MacRumors Forum - PowerPC Macs

MPC7500 on Twitter mentioned several other sites as well as a list of distro-specific PPC channels on freenode:


@olddellian here, reporting back from the Twitter trenches…

Mil-embedded blog - AltiVec is back

the page footer says it was updated March 4, but the tweet that linked to it dates to 2015, so this is probably old news

Apparently Power+AltiVec is still used in military/aviation. It’s interesting to see that the author also brings up AltiVec/VSX’s width limitation. I wonder if we’ll see IBM or Freescale (now NXP) widen this in future processors?

… while AltiVec has returned unchanged, it’s still not as wide an engine as you find in the Intel 4th and 5th generation products. Intel floating point engines are twice as wide as the 128-bit AltiVec. That means that the T-series of processors, AltiVec can perform four instructions in parallel, since, for single precision, each instruction is 32-bits. The Intel SIMD engine is 256-bits wide, so compared to AltiVec, can execute twice as many instructions at the same clock tick.

Raptor showing off MythTV running on Blackbird

Power ISA documents for 2.03, 2.04, 2.06B

MPC7500 dug up some links to older Power ISA documents.

Tyan POWER8 Habanero board issues

Something else worth mentioning, apparently the Tyan Habanero (____-BP012) systems have a reputation for bad capacitors. Something to keep in mind if you are considering buying one to play around with:

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Who the fuck thought that was a good idea

Hmm. This thread just went quiet again. I hear the Talos II review from Wendell is getting ready to drop. You think it may be this weekend?

I also have a Blackbird on preorder and I expect to do a video review once I have my system put together.



LTT says they have a video on the way showing off the Blackbird board when they were at the IBM Think conference, I wonder if they will release at about the same time…

@SwimSwimHungry There was a bit more activity with Daniel Kolesa (and Karel Gardas) on Twitter hacking together some non-standard cooling for Tyan POWER8 gear, if you want to be amused by that. I grouped all I could find into a Twitter “Moment” thing here:

I saw this post from Linus… but I wonder if he is even going through with this. A board like this isn’t exactly targeted towards his demographic.

To that end, he did cover the RISC-V dev board, so anything’s possible I suppose. :slight_smile:

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Yeah, I don’t exactly know the filming-publishing lag time on their channel; for all I know, it might be visible on Floatplane already?

Updates on Talos II / Blackbird

They have a screenshot of Godot running on Power:

I also forgot to mention that Raptor is especially optimistic about the state of the NIC firmware reverse engineering (though apparently the wiki page is a bit out of date):

IBM cooler mounting/socket retention system

Daniel Kolesa is successfully using the 3U HSF (heatsink+fan) that Raptor sells on his Tyan POWER8 system:

Looking at images of the different sockets, and their heatsink mounting, I’m starting to think that it’s probably all the same mounting system. For larger sockets, the screws attaching the mounting clamps to the PCB change position, but the clamps themselves always appear to be the same distance apart:


POWER9 Sforza

POWER9 LaGrange:

POWER9 Monza (source):

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@wendell In a recent Adata NVMe drive review, you mention testing out SR-IOV on a benefactor-leased Firepro S7150.

Any plans to try that out with the Talos? or is the board already on its way back to Raptor?

I assume the userland special sauce of the AMDGPU Pro driver is probably x86 only, but the SR-IOV support would be in the kernel part and therefore opensource, right?

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Power Saving Idle States in POWER9 Chips

An Overview of Idle States in the POWER9 Processor
Interesting IBM wiki/blog page about how different idle states or STOP levels function.

Linus of LTT at IBM Think

There is an unlisted video, uploaded on March 14, but it is on IBM Systems’ channel, and doesn’t mention Raptor’s products. Found via this tweet

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So Linus has the video up on Floatplane - It’s just a quick overview video of Power CPU’s.

Still I’m impressed with the coverage.

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Not sure if this is something anyone is interested in, but putting it out here anyways:
I have a Powerbook G4 Titanium lying around. My wife saved it from a former employer. It’s working and i did get Debian to work on it. Battery is dead but everything else seems fine.
I’d be willing to give this away for free if anyone here has a use for it. I’m in Germany and would only ask for shipping. It’s currently running Mac OS 10.idon’tknow.
Just if someone needs a machine for testing stuff or such. I have no use for it after having tinkered with it a bit for fun.

Well I’ll be darned. Linus’ video went up, and it wasn’t bad at all!

Alright Wendell. You’re up next. :wink:


Oh, I would love to see someone like you set up a store or trading post for gear! I love this stuff, but I am not as well versed in this arena. My knowledge dates to the introduction of Yellow Dog, then I changed careers. Learning all over again.