Talos Secure Workstation

Talos Secure Workstation

The world’s first ATX-compatible, workstation-class mainboard for the IBM POWER8 processor.

Overview
Performance
Talos™ competes with the highest-end mainstream (e.g., x86) computers available – Intel Xeon E5 and even E7 machines. Whether it’s AAA games, intensive CAD and modeling software, or machine learning algorithms for crunching huge datasets, Talos™ is well-equipped to handle the workload:

Up to 256 GB RAM
Up to 96 logical cores
Multiple PCIe, USB, and other interfaces
Onboard FPGAs
Security
Talos’™ fully open firmware means there are absolutely no inscrutable binary blobs where bugs, backdoors, and vulnerabilities can hide. If you deal with sensitive information or you care about the safety of your intellectual property, Talos™ will dramatically reduce the risk of intrusion and theft with features like:

Trusted Platform Module (TPM) that verifies all firmware before boot
No Intel Management Engine or equivalent
Auditable schematics, firmware, and software
100% self-hosting, no need for external tools or compilers
Control
Say goodbye to the days of not being able to configure your system to your needs because of inaccessible firmware, schematics, or toolchains. With Talos™, you own the machine and can modify it to your heart’s content:

No signing keys preventing firmware modification
Openly licensed firmware and software (Apache 2.0, GPL 2.0, GPL 3.0)
Open toolchains for the onboard FPGAs allow for tuning of power sequencing, IRQ routing, and more
Extensibility
You can extend Talos’™ capabilities with hardware accelerators (e.g., FPGAs and GPUs) and with custom peripherals, using a wide array of interfaces:

GPIO header
Seven PCIe slots
Eight USB 3.0 ports

Features & Specifications
POWER8 Single-Chip Module (SCM) [sold separately]
QEMU-supported Hardware Virtual Machine (HVM)
Translation Control Entry (TCE), a variant of an IOMMU
Vector Multimedia eXtension (VMX)
Vector Scalar eXtension (VSX)
AES acceleration for VMX / VSX
Up to 256 GB Memory
8 DDR3 RDIMM slots with ECC support
2 memory controllers
Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI)
2 PCIe x16 slots (8 shared lanes)
each can become a Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI)
4 PCIe x8 slots
1 internal mPCIe 1x slot
1 legacy PCI slot
Serial ATA (SATA)
8 internal SATA 6 Gbps ports
2 external eSATA 6 Gbps ports
RS-232
2 external ports with DB-9 connectors
2 internal ports with 10-pin connectors and level shifters
Universal Serial Bus (USB)
4 external USB 3.0 Type A ports
2 internal USB 3.0 stacked Type A ports
2 internal USB 3.0 ports via a single header
PS/2 Keyboard and mouse (combined connector)
General Purpose Input/Output (GPIO)
1 40-pin dual inline header with 0.1” pitch
most pins connected directly to one of the onboard FPGAs
Onboard, open-toolchain FPGAs for controlling low-level operations
2 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) ports
Video
Integrated ASPEED AST2400 for HDMI output
Support for discrete GPUs
Standard ATX form factor
Heatsink
Includes a 92 mm fan
Dissipates 190 W continuously in a normal office environment
Operating System
Little Endian Mode
Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.2 or higher
SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 or higher
CentOS 7 or higher
Fedora 22 or higher
Debian 8.0 (“Jessie”) or higher
Ubuntu 14.04.3 (“Trusty”) or higher
Gentoo (planned, build in process)
Trisquel (planned for Trisquel 8)
others
Big Endian Mode
Fedora 22 or higher
others
The POWER Architecture
Talos™ is designed around IBM’s POWER8 architecture and line of processors. IBM has published a significant amount of detailed POWER8 design and software documentation:

POWER Instruction Set Architecture (ISA) v2.07
POWER8 Processor User’s Manual for the Single-Chip Module
IBM’s OpenPOWER Connect portal (free account creation required)
OpenPOWER Foundation
Raptor Engineering (a partner of Raptor Computing Systems) is a member of the OpenPOWER Foundation, an open technical membership organization dedicated to the POWER architecture.

A World Beyond x86
The x86 architecture, while ubiquitous in personal computing, suffers from irreparable security and lockdown issues. For example, the Intel Management Engine (ME) is a problem that’s been brewing for about ten years, even though the popular technology press has only recently started reporting on it. The Intel ME is present on all modern Intel processors and is essentially a backdoor with full access to the entire computer – a security disaster waiting to happen. Due to the deeply entrenched interests of current players (e.g., Intel and AMD), and the presumed jungle of legally binding contracts those interests have with their myriad partners, this situation will never improve and will only worsen.

The video below goes into detail about why Talos is a great alternative to x86. (This presentation was first given at the Coreboot conference and developer meeting in San Francisco, June 2016.)

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