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AMD: 'We Play Well with Linux'

Jan 23, 2003, 17:00 (31 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Singer)

By Michael Singer
internetnews.com

AMD Wednesday hammered Linux developers with its message of compatibility between its processors and the open source computer language.

"Like Linux, AMD is a poster child for competition," AMD CEO Hector De Ruiz said at the LinuxWorld conference in New York. "We're here to support you, the open-source community."

Ruiz said the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based semiconductor maker wants to make AMD's Opteron processor (also known as Sledgehammer) synonymous with open source languages like Linux. The new 64-bit chip is expected to debut sometime in April.

"Collaboration and shared effort are part of creative thinking, and creative applications result when Linux and AMD processors play well together,"

To prove its point, AMD said it has released a beta of the 64-bit version of IBM's DB2 Universal Database software for servers based on Opteron. AMD said the testing ground will prove how well the processors allow backward compatibility with existing 32-bit applications, while incrementally migrating to a 64-bit environments.

IBM and AMD have teamed up recently to approach Linux development by joining the UnitedLinux cause as well as producing nanometer-scale chips.

"In order to foster and take part in true innovation, we in the semiconductor industry cannot continue to operate on a `business as usual' basis," Ruiz said. "I think we have to consider a new business model, one that is more collaborative and more connected--more like that of the Linux and open source community. Linux serves as a consistent reminder for the semiconductor industry that the needs of our companies should never outweigh the needs of our customers."

Working with technology partner Newisys and contract manufacturer Sanmina-SCI, AMD said it will make as many as 500 AMD Opteron processor-based servers available to system builders and end customers for early testing and development of applications on AMD's x86-64 technology.

The systems, based on pre-production AMD Opteron processors and Newisys "Khepri" platforms, will be available in two configurations and will be available directly from Sanmina-SCI. The program will make available AMD Opteron processor-based servers suitable for high-end enterprise class systems and applications. Servers will feature evaluation Newisys Khepri motherboards for 2P, 1U chassis.

Metrowerks, a Motorola company, also jumped on the AMD bandwagon with a pre-release version of OpenPDA, a Linux technology-based software platform for the development of personal digital assistants (PDAs) and smart phones running on the AMD Alchemy Solutions Mobile Client Reference Design Kit (RDK).

The plan is to release OpenPDA in late first quarter, 2003. The platform includes an embedded Linux kernel, Trolltech's Qtopia multi-language user interface, Insignia's integrated Java Virtual Machine (JVM), and Opera's full-featured Web browser.

AMD also said it is working with The Numerical Algorithms Group (NAG) to develop the AMD Core Math Library (ACML).

The library will be composed of numeric functions for mathematical, engineering, scientific, and financial applications. The ACML is expected to be made with both FORTRAN and C interfaces, and will be comprised of a full implementation of Level 1, 2 and 3 Basic Linear Algebra Subroutines (BLAS), Linear Algebra Package (LAPACK) as well as Fast Fourier Transforms (FFTs) in single-, double-, single-complex and double-complex data types.

Ruiz said his Opteron and 64-bit Athlon chips are better than Itanium or Xeon brand processors from rival Intel mainly because there is backwards compatibility and do not require new software.

"We've designed processors that work for you, not processors that make you work," Ruiz said.

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