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Messages - pocock

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Some cases (e.g. the Fractal Define 7 XL) offer metal side panels with acoustic dampening or tempered glass as an alternative.

For systems built with the various Raptor motherboards, Talos II and Blackbird, what are the real world observations about noise levels?

Is anybody going to notice the difference in acoustic emissions if they choose tempered glass cases over the fully sound dampened cases?

I didn't see anything about this when interacting with sales or when looking at the order page

When I do a search for Vikings on all it only returns one link:

If choices like this are not obvious to purchasers then some people won't look for them, they will simply leave the site without any purchase.

It would also be helpful if you can clarify:
- is Vikings responsible for support, warranty, etc?
- does this also serve Switzerland and potentially the post-Brexit UK?

A web search for Vikings doesn't always return anything useful as it is a very generic word.  Vikings web site:

There are a few comments about this topic in other threads (search for Europe to find them) but I thought it is worth having its own thread.

To summarize the problems:

- delivery from the US means longer delay, higher shipping costs and uncertain administrative charges at customs clearance

- if a product has to be returned under warranty, there are extra taxes in each direction, on top of the extra shipping cost and delay

- if a product being returned is completely dead on arrival or subsequently failed beyond repair, it is a horrendous waste of money to pay more taxes for a round-trip through customs

- overall, the type of person who buys this product is probably an experienced user who is aware of all these risks and may be deterred from purchasing

There are other products with similar challenges, for example, the LimeSDR.  In their case, it is even worse, because they are based in the UK, they asked Europeans to support them in crowdfunding but they decided to outsource all shipping to a US company:

Here is why the issue is really important for OpenPOWER:

- most EU countries have a single market and there is a possibility the UK will participate in the single market after Brexit.

- Switzerland is not in the single market but some logistics companies have been very effective at setting up customs-bonded warehouses near the border and they can deliver into either the EU or Swiss markets without extra burden.  Example: Basel (CH) airport is actually on French territory, in the EU.

- a lot of the developers on related projects are in the European countries.  Looking at the Raptor wiki, the Firefox and Tor issues are on the front page, both of these groups have a lot of people in Europe.

What can be done about this, for the OpenPOWER products but also for other products like LimeSDR?

Please feel free to share any ideas

General OpenPOWER Discussion / Re: next generation Blackbird ideas
« on: May 09, 2020, 07:16:15 pm »

Condor release is coming after all.  Beware...

But in our case, it looks like Raptor's Condor has half of what is discussed in this thread.

DisplayPort would be completely acceptable in lieu of HDMI.  Most good monitors seem to have at least one of each these days.

The Condor wiki page doesn't mention plans for M.2 or bifurcation.

General OpenPOWER Discussion / next generation Blackbird ideas
« on: May 08, 2020, 06:04:11 pm »
I had a look over the various specs and blogs that people wrote about experiences with Blackbird and Talos II boards.

Here are some observations, maybe a wish list for future board designs:

Blackbird only supports 2 DIMMs / 2 memory channels, but for the price of these boards and CPUs I feel that it is very compelling to have 4 channels, as in the Talos II Lite, which is only a little bit more expensive than Blackbird anyway.

With only two PCIe slots on the Blackbird and Talos II Lite and no support for PCIe bifurcation, it is difficult for people to do NVMe RAID.  It would be really useful to have a couple of M.2 slots on the board so that people can have up to two NVMe SSDs and still keep the PCIe slots free.

4K monitors are much more common today than they were when POWER9 was launched.  It would be nice to have basic 2D support for a 4K display on the built-in HDMI port.  From practical experience running Debian and GNOME, I found that small 4K graphics cards, like the NVIDIA K420 with 2GB were unstable but cards with 4GB or more have been trouble-free for a development desktop.

On size, it could be bigger than Blackboard but it really needs to be smaller than Talos II (Lite) to open up a wider choice of cases.

A board with all of the above would probably be somewhere between Blackbird and Talos II Lite.

General CPU Discussion / POWER9 water cooling kit
« on: May 08, 2020, 03:06:30 am »

This article has a photo of a POWER9 with a water cooling kit

Water cooling could be a useful solution for people who are trying to minimize noise levels.

It can also be useful for moving heat further away from the place where equipment is used, if sufficient pipework can be installed.

General Discussion / Fractal Design cases
« on: May 07, 2020, 06:12:53 pm »

Here is a photo of another board in this particular case, does it appear suitable for Talos II?

More about the case:

Some of their cases also appear suitable for Blackbird.

Searching their support page produces some measurements and screenshots for SSI and E-ATX:

For example, this appears to rule out their R6 E-ATX case for Talos II:

GPU Compute / Accelerators / the microcode question
« on: May 07, 2020, 05:18:02 pm »
Raptor's workstations come with the AMD WX7100 GPU by default

While AMD is officially engaged in the production of the free/open source amdgpu driver, the AMD cards still require some microcode / blobs.

From the perspective of Talos II buyers/users, can anybody make suggestions about the best links/documents for helping decide upon the graphics and GPU strategy?

To put that another way: given that Talos II has VGA and the Blackbird's built-in HDMI can only do Full HD (1080p), if somebody wants to have one or more 4K displays and they don't need 3D, what are the recommended options without any microcode?

General Discussion / heat and noise / remote KVM access
« on: May 07, 2020, 03:36:00 pm »
For many European users in older buildings, there is no air conditioning.  Heat and noise from workstations can be a drain on productivity.

Can anybody comment on solutions for operating HDMI, keyboard and mouse over non-trivial distances, e.g. when hiding the workstation in another room with the door closed or even confining it to a basement or in-building data center?

For most Talos II and Blackbird users, I feel that there will be a particular interest in solutions to this problem that are secure and not dependent on proprietary technologies.


The Blackbird and Lite motherboard only have 2 PCIe slots and the full motherboard only supports 2 out of 5 slots if a single CPU is fitted.

Furthermore, I read that PCIe bifurcation is not supported on the Blackbird and Lite, so they can't have multiple NVMe SSDs on a single PCIe card.

Does Thunderbolt 3 provide an answer to this problem?

I searched for Thunderbolt in the forum and wiki and couldn't find anything about it.

For example, Thunderbolt 3 can connect multiple SSDs, 4k displays and 10GbE NICs, reducing the number of things that have to go in the two PCIe slots.

Here are a couple of the Thunderbolt 3 cards I found at a local supplier:

Some of the issues that come to mind:

- does the PCI card work at all in non-x86 boards?

- can it boot from an NVMe SSD on Thunderbolt 3?

- does the Linux kernel compiled for ppc64 support Thunderbolt 3 boards like this?

Has anybody tried this already or is anybody in a position to try one of these cards?

One downside of using Thunderbolt 3 is the security risk.  Having storage outside the main PC case is not always a good idea.  Attackers with physical access to a Thunderbolt port may also be able to use the port to scrape the contents of RAM

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