Author Topic: Story Time  (Read 1661 times)


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Story Time
« on: April 09, 2022, 04:25:43 pm »
Back sometime in 2015-2016 I became interested in Coreboot'd boards shortly after learning of Intel ME/AMD PSP from some heavy lifters in the free & open source community. The stuff for sale at the time were largely ASUS serverboards that had Coreboot ported. But they had been E-ATX or other eccentricities that made them difficult to build around. And the smaller boards were mostly either much older, poorly/partially supported or made concessions in allowing nonfree blobs to run.

That year I identified a board that followed standard ATX, supported big multicore CPUs and was more widely available: the SuperMicro H8SGL-F. Not a hard sell at the time only being 4-5 years old. I emailed Raptor Engineering, identified from the ASUS firmware ports, and inquired about porting the H8SGL-F. They quoted about 10,000 USD to handle such a job, which, at least at the time, I most certainly did not have the money for.

Not too long after, crowdfunding was opened for the Talos Power8 Secure Workstation. I followed the project through its development, crowdfunding failure, and eventual revival with Power9. And here I am today with an Open Power workstation humming away at the desk. Funny how things work.

Those old ASUS boards are still sold through some vendors but I'm glad they are no longer the only options for a strong, free workstation. I did end up buying some H8SGL boards anyway while awaiting Raptor's work, and I've got to say they weren't terrible. They, along with their Bulldozer/Piledriver chips, could be had for dirt cheap, supported ECC memory, IOMMU, did not contain embedded rootkit circuitry and the BMC could be disabled both in BIOS and via physical jumper. In doing so, reaching much of the way to decent design only without having free firmware.
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Re: Story Time
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2022, 03:42:39 pm »
The die hard D16 board. We still have some of those running, fully specced with dual CPU and 256GB RAM. Rarely any issues and the only server-grade X86 hardware that runs coreboot without blobs (except CPU microcode updates you probably want). They are okay while they last - though we prefer the Talos II line-up for the well functioning BMC, better performance and much more RAM. I'm planning to replace all D16 boards with Talos II by 2023 for our hosting offers.

There is someone who recently started coding new boot firmware for the D16, which probably will add a couple of years to its live-span if that will work well:

What I find odd is that they ignored the KCMA-D8 so far.
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