I didn’t get this article, could someone summarize it, please? I got that Talos might be some POWER9 system, and that the author is now running nested virtualization on it, but I fail to understand the importance.
It’s actually an article about how you can use QEMU to emulate OpenPOWER systems like the Talos II on other platforms, so you can experiment with the platform instead of having to jump in with both feet if you’re concerned about the cost. If you’re not interested in those systems, this article won’t be relevant to you.
Is Talos II (or other Raptor Systems stuff) the only available OpenPOWER system? Or are there others? Search engines don’t get me much farther than Raptor so far.
No, because naturally IBM sells them too. There are also the Tyan and (I think) Wistron machines.
However, those are all servers, and IBM – from personal experience, even – doesn’t do end user sales. Raptor sells servers too, of course, but they offer them retail. They’re a small business and COVID-19 has slowed their ship times, but you can plunk down a credit card and buy one, so they’re easiest to acquire. On the other hand, if what you want is an OpenPOWER workstation, Raptor is currently the only game in town.
Thanks. Workstation is my primary interest, but I was curious about the whole space. I’m probably a couple years away from rebuilding my (Threadripper based) workstation, but when I do I’d like to consider one of these. I’m hoping some other options emerge (from Raptor or others) because right now it doesn’t look like the $3000-ish I usually budget goes very far with their current offerings.
The main cost is the motherboard, and there’s just no economy of scale there right now. The CPUs are IBM binned, so they have some volume and price similar to Intel and AMD, but the boards (even though you get schematics and they’re based on the IBM reference design) are still specific to Raptor and manufactured in small numbers. $3000 could get you an 8-core Blackbird (32 threads) if you shaved a couple corners, but that may be less system than you want. My dual-8 Talos II main workstation with the bells and whistles would probably price around $7500 currently.
Not an expert on that topic, but as I understand it, Talos currently offers the only workstations on the whole market which can be run without any closed firmware while being somewhat competitive with regards to performance.