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Free Linux Microprocessor* (Some Restrictions Apply)

Mar 26, 2009, 14:35 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jim Turley)

"Here's the deal. Altera, the world's second-best-known FPGA company, has struck a deal with Wind River Systems, the world's second-best-known embedded-software company, to port Linux to Altera's NIOS II processor. And since NIOS is free, you've got yourself a free 32-bit microprocessor capable of running a genuine full-on multitasking Linux operating system.

"Naturally, there's a catch. In fact, there are two. First off, NIOS is free only if you're already using Altera's FPGA (define) chips (more on this later). Second, the Linux itself isn't free; Wind River charges a significant amount of money for access to the software, and even more money for annual support.

"That's right -- the microprocessor is free but the open-source software costs money. One wonders how such a paradox came to be."

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