A new open-hardware computing platform, flexible and powerful, designed for use as a desktop, laptop, or standalone board.

Aug 29, 2019

Project update 28 of 28

Novena Five-Year Anniversary

Dear Backers,

How time flies! Five years have passed since the conclusion of the Novena campaign. Since then, Moore’s Law has been trudging along, albeit at a slower pace than before. Still, the passage of time has raised the specifications of a Raspberry Pi past the Novena’s on many key fronts: a quad-core 64-bit CPU running at 1.5 GHz with 4 GiB RAM and USB3 for just $55. Still lacking native SATA and no on-board FPGA, but certainly quite a machine for a very affordable price.

It’s exciting to see the gap between what entry-level Makers start with and what professional consumer electronic products ship with basically vanish. A decade ago it was a 16 MHz Arduino Uno vs a 600 MHz iPhone 3GS; now it’s a quad-core 1.5 GHz Raspberry Pi vs a 2x2.5 GHz + 4x1.6 GHz iPhoneXS. That gap will only continue to narrow as Moore’s Law slows down, further reducing the disparity between what mere mortals and well-funded corporations can build with.

We are happy to report that we have met our campaign promise of guaranteed availability of the Novena mainboard for 5 years. At the time, this was a key stipulation made by the Debian community to consider it as a target for hardware support. To achieve this, we took a good chunk of the campaign proceeds and purchased strategic reserves of components that tend to go End-of-Life (EOL) quickly, allowing us to fabricate a healthy inventory of motherboards. For the past five years, we made sure the motherboard was always in-stock should someone need to buy one.

However, now that we have arrived at the 5-year turning point, it’s time to officially announce the Novena mainboard as entering "EOL" status. Significantly, some of the chips used on the Novena mainboard are no longer in mass production, making it difficult to produce new boards.

Thus, we are officially ending our guarantee to produce new hardware based on demand. Today, we’d like to offer our supporters a "last time buy" offer. We have about fifty units in stock, which we are discounting to a price of $199. If you have an installation that depends on the availability of Novena mainboards, now would be a good time to purchase a spare. Additionally, there are a few leftover accessories and add-on items available while supplies last.

To wit, we have had several Novena mainboards that have been running 24/7/365 for the past 5 years, and experienced few failures. We’re personally hoping to wring another 5 years of service out of our Novena-based server farms; with negligible power consumption, they continue to adequately serve web traffic and CI builds for a couple small businesses. There’s also an Heirloom laptop still happily chugging away day after day next to the workbench.

We’re excited to see that there are numerous alternatives to Novena along the openness spectrum that have cropped up over the years, and we are hoping to see the trend continue toward better and more open computing hardware reaching the hands of consumers.

Thanks again for your support in making the dream of open personal computing a reality!

-bunnie & xobs

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