End of life

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Summary

End of life (EOL) is a known marketing term. It is used in this wiki specifically to describe motherboard manufacturing lifespan.

End of boards can often still be found second hand. But this isn't very convenient.

Workaround

ThinkPenguin.com said "There might be an expensive solution to this problem of motherboards being discontinued before anybody can get Coreboot working on them. There are industrial grade boards that have a multi-year life-spans as opposed to the short six to nine month life-span of consumer grade boards. I'm not saying server boards. I'm saying "industrial boards". They could be designed for use in point of sale machines and similar- not just for use in servers. They aren't necessarily faster/more powerful/etc like you might want in a server.

What I was thinking of as a "industrial board" was essentially a motherboard that would continue to be produced over a long period of time.

I have an example of that here, but I might actually be misinterpreting the info:

http://www.supermicro.com/products/motherboard/Core/Q87/X10SLV-Q.cfm

Reregarding say for GIGABYTE Ultra Durable, I think they are talking about the quality when they refer to lifespan here. Not the product lifecycle (ie how long it'll be manufactured/available for sale).


So this board has a "7 year product life". My interpretation of that is it'll continue to be manufactured and made available for purchase for a period of 7 years. Most consumer motherboards are only manufactured and made available for retail sale for a period of 6-9 months before they're discontinued. After that major stocks are depleted and chances are you won't be able to locate any significant quantities other than what might be lying around for future repairs, etc (for example a computer repair shop might maintain a few extra boards to cover warranty repairs). If they decide that they no longer need the stock as there were few repairs after a few years they might unload that stock (ie put 2-3 on ebay, etc).

Now a company can't really guarantee that there will be no changes whatsoever as everybody is dependent on other companies. There is a supply chain. If you can't get certain chips because the company upstream of you discontinued the chip then certainly you can't manufacture more of the same board with that chip. But in any event the idea is that there will be minimal changes, and certain long-life chipsets will be used so that things like drivers won't need to change generally speaking. This ensures you can release a product today and 5 years down the road you can still swap the board without updating the OS/kernel/drivers.


I'm not myself intimately familiar with industrial-type manufacturing processes. I've only looked into it to the extent that we've needed to in an effort to support other companies looking to build GNU/Linux based products.


If you can get Coreboot working on one of these motherboards then there is a chance of making this happen. I think its like a 7-year period too. Of course selling a 3-year old board isn't going to sit well with a lot of people. Particularly at significantly higher prices than what they're use to seeing, it might be twice the price for the board mind you.


The other option is to simply jump ship on X86 and avoid the BIOS issue altogether. I think this is the best approach. However its not a total solution as you'll still find issues with things like proprietary stage-1 boot loaders and non-free graphics (and in some cases like with the Raspberry Pi it won't even boot without this piece).

But a computer need a BIOS to boot into say GRUB, right? An x86 system does. You can look at mini ARM boards though and this is not the same. They'll have a stage-1 and stage-2 bootloader, but no BIOS per say."

Examples