Possibility of A Purism POWER9 or RISC-V System Within Near Future?

I’d sell a kidney to buy a POWER9 or RISC-V laptop if Purism were to produce one. Maybe partner with the Raptor engineers for a POWER based laptop?

Even if it needed recharging every 15 minutes and were the size and weight of a 90’s era Thinkpad, I’d buy one since it’d be blobless except for the potentially GPU, and the ssd firmware…

A man can dream…


RISC-V is part of their vision, but not in the near future. I don’t think I’d expect RISC-V before 2025, but I’m just making that number up.


In the interim, I’d still love a POWER9 laptop. I may go ahead and buy one of the less expensive Raptor POWER9’s this coming year, though, I admit to not needing it beyond porting some of my stuff to the architecture, hacking around on the firmware a bit if I can learn something there, etc…

Indeed, we are considering both, but from my point of view I do not see a Power9 laptop. The Power9 has been around (and the whole Power architecture) has been around for a very ling time now and IBM’s policy of allowing third party use of the architecture has always been “challenging”. With Power you are basically 100% dependent on IBM and their good will. RISC-V on the other hand is completely open, anyone can pick it up and crank out chips using the ISA and/or based on the freely available designs. It frees us from the lock in to one single provider’s blessing.

I just visited the RISC-V summit in Santa Clara (CA) and talked to the SiFive guys. According to them we will see a lot more RISC-V silicon becoming available in 2019 - also more powerful silicon that can run Linux! There will be a lot more silicon for smaller systems, like microcontrollers for IOT, AI machine control etc.

So I think the RISC-V ecosystem is taking off soon and for mobile devices I would rather bet on RISC-V than on the Power9. For home or small business server like applications I can see the Power9. We will have to see what 2019 brings.

What I can assure you is that we are watching all of these developments very closely and it is in our very natural interest to adopt more free CPU architectures as soon as we possibly can.



I think a blog post on your experience at RISC-V would be read with interest if you managed to find the time. :slight_smile:


My personal opinion on this is that by targeting a different CPU architecture it would limit the appeal to many customers. Being able to only run a RISC version of Linux detracts greatly from the value of the current lineup.

Standard hardware that can run anything but freed from the baggage is the way to go until such time as it is no longer possible.

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Good to know!

RISC wise, so long as it can run a browser and a good Linux distro and the various applications involved, that’s 99% of what I do with my laptop.


I have my worries that RISC-V will follow ARM in terms of how much people are willing to push the power draw/thermals. They keep wanting to stick phone CPUs into laptops! I would forgive an ARM CPU that pushed double digits in TDP. If I want a computer as powerful as a phone, well, I would buy a phone.

It’s a little weird that I keep hearing reservations about POWER. If you are hesitant about its licensing, then what are your feelings about x86? Furthermore, modern x86 has limited libre firmware.

My hope is that IBM sees there is a healthy market of libre-computer enthusiasts, besides just enterprise. Then again, IBM does have a bad habit of dropping beloved products (ie Thinkpad). It’s worth a shot, I suppose.

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One of the great atrocities of our time…

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undoubtedly instead of a portable purism at 1500 euros a desktop purism at 700 euros in Europe would be more purchased. in europe there is not the same idea of mobility in U.S.A, and often those who use linux use it at home in their free time. I would not focus on risc or power but on increasing the range of users.
Anyway … always do a wonderful job and wait, when possible, news on the librem that I bought. Merry Christmas

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I think POWER is infeasible because of TDP. The 4-core typically draws around 60-92 Watts. I have a dual 8-core sitting next to me for AI research, and my experience of getting it working is a terrible pain because you have to flash the firmware, and the procedure for the initial flash is…tedious. Raptor has good intentions but it is not ready for the regular (even privacy conscious) user. This is a hurdle any one will need to overcome to make a mass-market product.

IBM’s decision to ditch Thinkpad was a good business decision. They were haemorrhaging money. The product they made was more costly than the market would allow. Try as they did, they just couldn’t get people to justify buying a $5,000US laptop for regular business use so they sold at a loss and tried to slowly increase the prices. As they did so, market share dropped. Lenovo recognized the reputation of ThinkPad, bought the brand, and restructured their entire company around that reputation (which they subsequently destroyed, imo).
I cannot think of a single product that IBM just stopped supporting in the last twenty years without obsoleting the product. That said, I don’t know the entire portfolio. However, even after Apple ditched POWER, IBM kept selling and supporting that same line of processors. Since most of their direct costumers are nation-states and security savvy mega-corps, the firmware on the POWER8 and beyond is open. Also, IBM has stated it doesn’t want to get in the legal gray area of providing backdoors for any purpose–that’s up to the firmware supplier (which, honestly, is still usually IBM).

As for RISC-V, I think given a few years it’s feasible. They know they have some performance issues and they are actively working on that. My understanding is there is a variant of Ubuntu that is being used for testing.

I recently saw a start-up trialling a laptop with 4 8-core Cortex-A75, and a 4-core A53. The A53 handled bootstrapping and shutting down the other four processors, and minor tasks. The machine had some whacky firmware issues (eg with all 4 A75’s up, only 7 cores could be used on each, attempts at virtualization caused a kernel panic), but typical battery life for the person testing it was 16-18 hours typical, and the performance I observed was quite good. The use in question was browsing, typing articles and technical documents, video calls, and watching movies on a plane with Wi-Fi off. I saw it used to play ported versions of a couple of popular gaming titles from a few years ago (that I cannot name) with ease. I have no knowledge of what graphics chipset it used that I’d assume some Mali variant.


Could you please explain why is is difficoult to setup the raptor machine? I do not have one, but i think i will buy it in 2019, i’m trying to gathering all info i can gather for the initial installation i found this guide


Is this not a good one? I’m not an expert but also not a completly noob, i consider myself an average linux user no more no less, in this guide seems we have to change the bmc password, than install the os without upgrading or install firmware
What i’m missing?

Anyway as i already wrote in older topic, i hope purism will offer a power9 solution as risc-v is not ready yet and x86 are meh


I have a Talos II, myself. Only the initial firmware installation is a pain. Don’t worry, that’s already done for you when you get the machine. I recently upgraded the BMC firmware and PNOR flash for my machine and it was relatively easy carefully following the instructions (maybe a little bit hair-raising since this is a $5000 machine we’re talking about, I’ve had plenty enough scares with it).

I will add that it is refreshing to get a none-x86 computer that makes installing and tinkering with alternative operating systems a first-class citizen. You can brick most phones and tablets since the firmware for booting is stored on the same medium as the operating system instead of safely in a separate flash chip. Even if I did brick my Talos II, I can still recover by getting the right equipment to plug in to the board to reflash the firmware.

@harmony_machine is right about the TDP in even just the lowest end POWER9. IBM would need to create something like a POWER9M for laptops. 4X SMP per core is a little ridiculous for consumer hardware. Makes running htop satisfying, I’ll admit.


Thank you for your reply this make me happy, as average user i prefear painless procedure, if the machine has already the initial firmware is a good things, i hope they will improve the bmc and pnor update to make it easier.

Back in topic, as someone already wrote, in europe a desktop market is not like in usa, people prefear to work at home or office, so i think a purism power desktop system should be welcome here, i still hope to read something about that from @todd-weaver news on 2019

The new raptor mainboard “Blackbird” announced for Q1/2019 will be much cheaper (about 1200 USD incl. a 4-core CPU):


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Hey there eagle. I think was coming out in 2019 is the NAS/ROUTER. There is a video on YouTube Todd is being interviewed on Monero. Todd makes references to a device/software bundle being available for early 2019. Now if you jump on the Nextcloud website there is a device that does just that. It’s a router and you can also make it a NAS.

something 32bit-64bit soketable in a mitx or matx would be sweet. also under 1k please.

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A power9 matx or mitx with completly open firmware like blackbird but from purism should be really nice to have, ofc the price should be a little less from raptorcs offering and finally support EU customers with an EU reseller should be welcome too.
Blackbird schematics should be open too so i think purism could use it to start to develop their own mobo dropping the costs


in case you missed this

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OpenPOWER is at least as open as RISC-V. And I have not seen completely free RISC-V systems but Raptor CS is selling completely free OpenPOWER systems. Meaning you don’t have to use any proprietary software to use the hardware.

If you start to develop an OpenPOWER notebook now it should be based on POWER10. And this could mean that the TDP can be brought down to 20 or at least 40 Watts.

If not you could still offer a POWER10 workstation.