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PowerPC Open Platform Motherboards Finally Here 248

Cajal writes: "IBM's POP (PowerPC Open Platform) is a standard for making PowerPC-based motherboards. It's been out for years, but no one did anything with it. That's now changed. According to a story on PenguinPPC, Mai Logic is finally making POP motherboards. Finally, we can buy PowerPC motherboards without dealing with Apple."
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PowerPC Open Platform Motherboards Finally Here

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  • Price! (Score:5, Informative)

    by jweatherley ( 457715 ) <`ten.yelrehtaew' `ta' `semaj'> on Monday January 28, 2002 @12:59PM (#2914145) Homepage
    One board costs $3,900 - I think I'll still be dealing with Apple for my PPC needs - get a dual CPU and a GeForce 4 included for that price!
  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:01PM (#2914160)
    Motorola makes a bunch of boards including the Sandpoint and the MVP (Which is a dual board). Galileo/Marvell makes boards, Tundra sells boards...

    They're all ATX form factor and supported by linux too.
  • Yellow Dog (Score:5, Informative)

    by SlamMan ( 221834 ) <> on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:02PM (#2914172)
    You alreayd could get PowerPcs without dealing with apple. <a href="">Terra soft</a> [] makes the iBriq. Adimitidly, its not designed for desktop use, as its about the size of a cdrom drive, and needs an adaptor to use a pci slot, but if you really don't want to deal wwith apple....
  • by Nerant ( 71826 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:07PM (#2914200)
    Only the core layer of OS X is open sourced: it's what we know as Darwin. [].
    What makes Mac OS X really attractive on the surface is it's GUI, which is not open source. Check out a nifty diagram here [] to see how it all stacks up.
    The answer is yes: Darwin will probably run easily on one of these boards, (there is an intel port of darwin). It is unlikely you'll get Aqua and the other supporting layers to run though, bearing in mind that it is unlikely Mac OS X "as is" will run on one of these boards without significant code surgery.
  • GigE chip! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:10PM (#2914220)
    The article seems to indicate that the next model would maybe have gigE; but if you check the image on the site, JPG , you'll see that there is a Broadcom 5703 GigE chip right over the PCI slots! woohoo!
  • Finally? (Score:4, Informative)

    by stripes ( 3681 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:12PM (#2914235) Homepage Journal
    Finally, we can buy PowerPC motherboards without dealing with Apple

    Moto (and many others) have been selling PPC motherboards for many years, maybe close to a decade by now. They are used for a fair number of embedded projects. The two downsides are cost, and every frickn' one of them seems to have another way to interface with PCI, or to deal with the boot sequence, or something. So all the not-so-fun parts of porting an OS have to be done again and again while the rest of it "just works" (or tends to).

    P.S. for a (slow) PowerPC, just buy an old TiVo. Linux comes with it, and NTSC out. Of corse it is only 50Mhz, but it works (don't get a new TiVo by mistake, they try to rip you off with one of those 200ishMhz MIPS CPUs...)

  • by helixblue ( 231601 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:13PM (#2914245) Homepage
    Theoretically, if you have the source code to Darwin, couldn't you just fix the ROM issue (assuming it still exists).

    I mean, folks are using the Darwin source to run MacOS X on older unsupported Mac's, don't you think this can be fixed?

    The only way I can see it working otherwise is if say, the graphical Windowserver or a proprietary kernel module checks it.. but I'll bet my bottom dollar the kernel runs just fine.

    If it is otherwise, let me know. I'm curious!
  • by demon ( 1039 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:13PM (#2914246)
    No, not really. The Classic Mac OS (with the 9.x line) no longer actually uses a hardware ROM. The way it works with the modern (aka NewWorld) systems is that the Mac OS ROM is stored in a file on disk, as an ELF executable wrapped in an OF Forth script, which the OpenFirmware loads at boot and invokes. Apple has actually gone a long way in terms of separating the hardware and the software in their newer systems.

    The main thing is that the OpenFirmware has to have support for (a) HFS/HFS+ filesystems, and (b) loading monolithic ELF binaries. Shouldn't be too hard to duplicate that kind of stuff without stepping on Apple copyrights.
  • by ADRA ( 37398 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:15PM (#2914255)
    Its an evaluation board, so it is bought by systems engineers to make the real products from. It is like taking half the work out of an apple or asus like company in doing their work. The infrastructure is all there, they just need to design what features they want into it.

    I thought Apple had a really proprietary bios which was not licensable. Has this changed in PPC models? I don't think this is so much an Apple clone as a variant use for PPC's.
  • by Moderation abuser ( 184013 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:16PM (#2914265)
    PPC is fated to be an embedded CPU only, unless the support hardware comes down in price.
  • by swngnmonk ( 210826 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:25PM (#2914335) Homepage

    As I understand it, the core codebase (Darwin) is fairly agnostic - it's just another flavor of Unix, teeth, hair, a**hole & all. Darwin sourcecode is available, if not GPL'd (Doesn't Apple have their own 'open source' license?). Darwin has already been ported to other platforms.

    The catch is the UI - Apple's precious UI - the part of OSX that isn't available for the world+dog. In the bad old days, Apple would fill up the ROM chips will hardware implementations of their QuickDraw API (And lordy, did those old Macs need those API calls in hardware!).

    During the CHRP clone days of the mid-90s, Apple was able to put all that stuff back in software, eliminating the need for those chips. Needless to say, CHRP is quite the distant memory.

    So the question remains - is Apple still using proprietary chips on the Mobo to ensure that noone can manufacture legit clones? If so, what parts of OSX rely on that hardware? How much could you get running? It'll be interesting to find out..

  • BPlan Pegasos (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:36PM (#2914408)
    Will cost a much more reasonable price, around $400 or so for a mATX PPC motherboard with onboard Firewire, AGP4x, etc. Will work with Linux. Due within the next couple of months.
  • by Matthias Wiesmann ( 221411 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @01:37PM (#2914415) Homepage Journal
    Wrong, if Darwin runs on those board and the processor on those board are PPC processors, then the higher levels of OS X will run. Only the Darwin layer interacts with the hardware, all the other layers interact with the Darwin kernel (that's one point of having a kernel). So Aqua cannot "know" if the motherboard is genuine Apple or not.

    This is one reason people were able torun OS X on unsupported machines [].

    The high-level components like Cocoa and Carbon don't run on Darwin/Intel because the available binary code is PPC code.

  • by Aapje ( 237149 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @02:05PM (#2914593) Journal
    The bios is Open Firmware, an open standard (IEEE 1275). It works with Sparc, ARM and PPC. I assume that these guys will also use it (it's use with the PPC is well described).

    I think you mean the ROM, which was moved to RAM when clones were allowed. This post goes into more detail on that: 246

    In short, it might actually work (theoretically). But there probably will be issues with drivers.
  • Re:Sorta (Score:5, Informative)

    by Matthias Wiesmann ( 221411 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @02:21PM (#2914676) Homepage Journal
    • Carbon and Cocoa do not rely on ROMs
    • Classic relies on a ROM file in the OS9 system folder
    • The real ROM is used only for booting
  • by jeffehobbs ( 419930 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @02:23PM (#2914694) Homepage

    If by proprietary you mean an open and fully documented standard like Open Firmware, then yes. []

    The guys working on Darwin have done some amazing work on getting OS X to run on legacy Mac hardware. Check out the incredible work that Ryan Rempel has done on XPostFacto: page=XPostFacto.html []

    for a fantastic example -- he's written kernel extensions and an installer that allow users to install OS X on older macs it was never really designed for. And it works great -- I've got OS X running on an old 7500, and it truly was a trouble free installation; three clicks more than a normal OS X install.


  • Re:Sorta (Score:2, Informative)

    by Lee Cremeans ( 873 ) <> on Monday January 28, 2002 @03:09PM (#2914985)
    Not true on older Power Macs (everything before the Blue and White G3 and the iMac). With these "OldWorld" Macs, the Mac OS ROM is still actually in ROM on the motherboard. Newer Macs use the "NewWorld" architecture, where the Mac OS ROM is just another boot image to load from disk (think SPARCstation here).

  • Hello,

    There's another PPC Motherboard with PCI, UDMA100, and Firewire coming in a couple of weeks from a German company named bPlan. It's called Pegasos, and info is here [].

    $650 with a G3/400 is a lot more palatable than $3000. I just hope it has OpenFirmware on it!
  • price factor (Score:5, Informative)

    by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @06:11PM (#2916357) Homepage
    Quite a few people here aren't really clued in on the facts. First, the $3900 price tag is for an evaluation model. Intel and AMD do the same thing to vendors... nothing new. And, yes, there have been many $4000 PPC motherboards around.

    Second, if you read the PR on MAI's site, you can see that they plan to release the boards for SIGNIFIGANTLY less then $3900. The bigger flipside to this is that they also plan to produce (or license to produce) PCI cards and embedded g4 devices from $300-$600 with SMP capabiliy. (cool.. i can dual boot now.) similar cards sell now for $2000+

    Third, nobody seems to mention this chipset's ability to use PC hardware. I suppose this would be pretty easy to accomplish, but it's still a cool feature. The only limitation here would be driver support (not a HUGE issue. i dobut many people will be playing quake on this anytime soon. the first boards would sell to developers).

    Fifth, as a small sidenote, microcode solutions ( plans to relesae a suite of ppc emulation products this spring. They plan on offering a hardware board, as well as a software based product. Of course, many are skeptical and believe it is vaporware. They currently offer a ppc amiga based macos emulator. (there are tons of amiga ppc motherboards out there. there are still a disturbing number of amiga users (shame gateway cut off their funding, right when they were about to make a comeback.)

    Finally, the chipset itself sells for $20. This is comprable to what chipset vendors such as VIA charge for their hardware. I would expect to see other companies support this sometime.

    Another issue is legality. It's perfectly legal to run LinuxPPC and beos. NOT macos. Sure, OS9 doens't need a hardware rom to run, but it is written specifically in the EULA that macos may ONLY RUN ON APPLE HARDWARE (yeah... it's in caps in the EULA... lawyers really abuse their shift keys!). Another project, MOL (mac-on-linux) which hopes to produce a mac compatibility layer (what wine is to windows, mol is to macos). Supposedly, it works well.
  • by DavidRavenMoon ( 515513 ) on Monday January 28, 2002 @10:17PM (#2917519) Homepage
    OK, I know this is a troll but...

    Why deal with Apple? Because dealing with Apple means difficult to use, closed systems.

    Not difficult to use at all... give a few examples.

    Apple traditionally promotes "simple" over "easy to use". A hammer might be much simpler than a tool box, but it is a lot hearder to use a hammer to turn a bolt.

    Macs are known for being easy to use. It must be you!

    Until now, "PowerPC" was a dishonest marketing trick: the Mac wasn't a PC, but the PC in the PowerPC chip might have misled some fools into thinking it was.

    Well, no. Apple invented the personal computer, also known as the "PC."

    IBM coined the phrase "PC" for their first entry into the field to compete with Apple.

    Now as far as PowerPC, that's IBM's trademark, not Apple's, since it was their Power CPU to begin with. They went to Apple with the chip.

    Bottom line... it doesn't have to be Wintel to be a PC.

  • Um, but this board costs close to $4000. It would be cheaper to buy a full fledged mac and strip out all the componants. Terrasoft [] also sells PPC computers, but not stand-alone mother boards. They will build you a cusomized board though.

If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error. -- John Kenneth Galbraith