Combat coronavirus. Buy a Blackbird.


There hasn't been a lot of content on Talospace lately because of how exponentially busier my particular dayjob has gotten and bluntly I'll just say the Chinese government has a lot to answer for the way they've handled all of this. I'm not going to belabour the obvious impact on COVID-19 on health, but it's also similarly roiling financial markets and a lot of businesses are going to fail the longer this goes on as supply chains get perturbed, especially for imported components.

Any contraction, but in particular one that has a high probability of being prolonged, is bad for niche computing markets like ours. Global contractions like the one that's hitting and the persistent one that's certain to follow disproportionately affect big-ticket items as people hold onto cash. (A finance colleague of mine is convinced there's about to be a liquidity crunch, and he makes a compelling argument I won't repeat here.) Unfortunately, largely because our sorts of systems lack various economies of scale, these are the systems most likely to die off if companies like Raptor go under because they're the ones much fewer people are buying.

This should not be interpreted as me telegraphing some belief that Raptor is financially unsound (they're a private company anyhow; I have no idea what their balance sheet looks like), but I'm rather invested in OpenPOWER and I wouldn't want it to be a casualty of the economic hit we're likely to take until a COVID-19 vaccine or effective treatment exists. And right now Raptor are the ones actually shipping workstations and I want that to continue.

I myself have already pulled the trigger on a second Talos II, upgrading to a dual-8 POWER9 DD2.3 system instead of the dual-4 DD2.2 I have now. I'll combine the RAM and cards, leaving me with a spare board, CPUs and chassis which can be a source for parts or to replace my aging POWER6 frontline server when it reaches my planned end of service period in a few years. I'm looking forward to it arriving, and I'm sure the extra few thousand would be appreciated by the back office to keep folks on the payroll getting systems configured and shipped.

If you're dithering over whether you want to pick up that Blackbird and you've got the cash or plastic on hand, consider just going ahead and doing it. Even just consider picking up a board and CPU if you need to save a little extra. Support the small businesses that support us. If this whole thing goes like we worry it's gonna, we're all going to be spending a lot more time at home anyway, so you might as well do it with a computer you can trust.

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