Will anybody save Linux on Itanium? Absolutely not

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Analysis No eventually than Intel IA64 abutment is removed from the Linux kernel, accusatory about it begins… but the discussions are fascinating.

Although the angle to abolish abutment for Intel's abominable Itanium architectonics - aka Itanic - from Linux was rebuffed in February, aloof weeks ago, in October, the move was approved for atom 6.7. Just as one ability expect, this has fabricated a few bodies actual affronted and been almost admired as a bad move. LWN has an accomplished appraisal about this beneath the appellation of the Push to save Itanium.

Linus Torvalds, meanwhile, has responded, saying:

He offers a conceivably atypically bashful and reasonable proposal, neatly abbreviated by @mewse on Lobsters:

We couldn't put it bigger ourselves. We abnormally admire this summary of how and why the Itanic set captain at all. We awful acclaim it, but in case some of the analogue is unfamiliar, we will additionally attack to ameliorate it.

To abridge the summary, back Intel began its EPIC activity – no, really, it stands for Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing [PDF] – the abstraction of out of adjustment execution (OoOE) in microprocessors was new, and for x86, unproven. In brief, the abstraction of OoOE is that processors can breach bottomward circuitous x86 instructions into smaller, RISC-like chunks, resequence them on the fly to run them as fast as possible, and again arouse the after-effects into the adjustment that the software originally expected. In 1994, it wasn't assertive that approaching x86 processors would be able to bigger accomplishment the apprenticeship akin parallelism, or ILP as HP alleged it [PDF], in apparatus code. So rather than case on above improvements in the architecture of CPUs to assassinate absolute code, it looked like a safer bet to get the compiler to do that in advance, and to architecture a accomplished new apprenticeship set with Very Long Instruction Words to accomplish that possible.

The meta-analysis on Lobsters is additionally an absorbing read.

The Itanic isn't the alone Intel CPU architectonics that abolished beneath the waves, of course. We recently talked about iAPX432, the company's late-1970s attempted mainframe on a chip. The actual circuitous architecture of the iAPX432 was replaced with a simpler RISC one to actualize the i960 RISC chips, which were aloof crumbling away as The Register accustomed on the arena in the backward 1990s.

The i960 was additionally Intel's aboriginal OoOE processor, and its advance architect, Intel superscalar boffin Fred Pollack, additionally formed on the Pentium Pro, a architecture so acceptable that it sank the Itanic. The i960 was after succeeded by addition Intel RISC chip, the i860, the cavity on which Windows NT was developed. The i860 went boilerplate too.

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Even aural the apple of x86, it has had to ascend bottomward and backtrack. The Pentium Pro provided the architecture of the CPU amount in the Centrino ancestors of chips from Intel Haifa in Israel, which adored the aggregation from the big, hot, and uncompetitive Netburst architectonics of the P4. Netburst never delivered its promised 10GHz, and instead, Intel switched back to the Pentium-III-derived amount from the Pentium M. ®


"Itanic" is of advance the Register's actual own, academically approved appellation for Intel's bedevilled VLIW architecture. The alone added VLIW apparatus that the FOSS board knows accomplished the bazaar was Transmeta's Crusoe – one of our accessories about which, ironically, additionally mentioned Intel's Fred Pollack.