The development team is currently working on an open architecture laptop concept project called the Balthazar Personal Computing Device (BPCD).
The goal of the developers is to give users complete control when working with a computer that is built using open and secure standards and is inexpensive to manufacture. The project leaders intend to show OEMs, using BPCD as an example, that open standards are the future — this is the right way to move away from the closed hardware architectures that many manufacturers use.
It is assumed that the user himself will be able to maintain the device and update the software, and with a minimum of costs. The creators of BPCD intend to completely abandon the use of Windows OS, as the novelty is designed to work with versions of Linux OS developed for RISC-V solutions.
Since the design of the BPCD was focused on functionality rather than design, the laptop does not have an attractive appearance. The device features a 13.3-inch display with a thick white and green chassis, reminiscent of rugged business laptops such as the Dell Latitude 7330.
The case is made of polycarbonate, aluminum composite or recycled plastic, with hot-swappable battery and storage, a waterproof low-profile keyboard on Cherry MX switches and a passive cooling system.
The BPCD concept specifications currently include a dedicated SoC based on the RISC-V architecture. This SoC runs on a SoM (System on a Module) board that can be replaced and upgraded. It also houses the RAM module.
The developers are considering using an ARM Cortex A7x GPU, although they are waiting for the publication of open documentation that will allow writing drivers and open source software for the GPU.
Alternatively, the development team is investigating NVIDIA GPU solutions that can be used in conjunction with open source solutions from NVIDIA.
It is also supposed to use a SATA solid-state drive in the concept, available for quick replacement thanks to the placement of a compartment for it on the side of the case. Alternatively, the laptop is also equipped with an eSATA connector for connecting external storage. It is reported that the concept does not provide for the use of modern solutions for storing data in the M.2 NVMe format.
Notebook specifications also include a 13.3-inch FHD 16:10 LED-backlit screen, a recyclable battery with a capacity of more than 10,000 mAh, a detachable camera module and an ergonomic keyboard. There are also USB ports, one OTG, HDMI, GPIO and a 3.5mm audio jack.
The Balthazar laptop can be used with 64-bit versions of NixOS, Trisquel GNU, Guix, Debian, and RISC-V variants of Ubuntu.
The completion date of the project is not yet known. The team is reportedly already working on the first BPCD prototype and the final version of the operating system.
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