Monday, February 15, 2016

More about the Talos POWER8

Lest it seem like I'm not shilling enough for the Talos POWER8 workstation, the closest thing to a Power Mac you're (hopefully) going to get in 2016, let me pimp it some more. Raptor Engineering has dropped the price a bit to $3000 US and updated the specifications over the weekend; particularly interesting to me is that QEMU virtualization is supported, making the prospect of running Power Mac software on it under virtualization very possible. Supported OSes include a decent range of Linux distributions, and little-endian mode (so-called "ppc64le") is supported too which should improve graphics card support, though I like big endian and I cannot lie and you other brothers can't deny.

Phoronix has also done some early benchmarking on a test system Raptor gave them access to. This is notable because this means the damn thing actually exists. Although OpenBenchmarking calls it "57 cores," that's probably an artifact of SMT (my POWER6 has two cores and two threads per core, so AIX thinks it has four logical cores; my bet is that this is an 8-core system and POWER8 has eight threads per core, with some reserved for the kernel, hence "57"). Raptor has published their own set of benchmarks, but they tested against a Sandy Bridge Xeon and an AMD Opteron 6328, so I'm not sure how useful that comparison is; the Phoronix tests are against more current competitors, which I think is a fairer fight. Although they reported only three tests in that article, on the two tests where the Talos was on equal footing with the other systems (i.e., had access to the same acceleration or there weren't x86-specific optimized paths) it was nearly neck and neck with the top-ranked Xeon and Haswell i7s -- and remember you get the CPU and the motherboard for that $3K. Performance will only get better as the various Linux distros improve their support for the POWER8's capabilities. You can read some other interesting tidbits in the discussion thread.

So, again, if you're at all interested, please put in your (non-binding but do be serious) interest. Rumour has it their threshold is 2,000 units for a production run.

Friday, February 12, 2016

38.6.1 released

38.6.1 is released, fixing an urgent security issue in Firefox and updating the font blacklist. And ... that's all I'm going to say about that. It's already live on the main page.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Imagine there's no Intel transition ...

... and with a 12-core POWER8 workstation, it's easy if you try. Reported to me by a user is the Raptor Engineering Talos Secure Workstation, the first POWER workstation I've seen in years since the last of the PowerPC Intellistations. You can sign up for preorders so they know you're interested. (I did, of course. Seriously. In fact, I'm actually considering buying two, one as a workstation and the second as a new home server.) Since it's an ATX board, you can just stick it in any case you like with whatever power supply and options you want and configure to taste.

Before you start hyperventilating over the $3100 estimated price (which includes the entry-level 8-core CPU), remember that the Quad G5, probably the last major RISC workstation, cost $3300 new and this monster would drive it into the ground. Plus, at "only" 130 watts TDP, it certainly won't run anywhere near as hot as the G5 did either. Likely it will run some sort of Linux, though I can't imagine with its open architecture that the *BSDs wouldn't be on it like a toupee on William Shatner. Let's hope they get enough interest to produce a few, because I'd love to have an excuse to buy one and I don't need much of an excuse.