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LinuxProgramming.com: Editor's Comment: Real Hardware + Internet = Free Virtual Itanium Systems?

Jan 30, 2001, 00:34 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Lou Grinzo)

One of the more trying problems for developers is dealing with the complexities of cross-platform development. Aside from the usual minutiae of API's and libraries that are "sorta kinda almost" compatible, there are the even more vexing problems of differences in word size as well as everyone's favorite monster under the bed, endian issues. But at a simpler level there's an even more urgent and immediate chasm for developers to cross: gaining access to new hardware. Many companies, and nearly all open source developers, can't afford to buy all the testing hardware they need, let alone would like to have, and in many cases, such as Intel's upcoming IA-64 architecture processors, the hardware isn't generally available yet. So what's a cross-platform geek to do?

Intel's answer to this is intriguing in its simplicity and generality--they put a small mountain of Itanium systems in one of their sites (which is probably on the side of a big mountain in the Pacific Northwest of the US), and let people sign up for free access to them over the Internet. Intel calls this program EAS (Early Access Service), and it's been available since August of 2000, since late September of 2000 with Linux. I recently spoke with Melissa Laird, Intel's Director of Developer Services and Support in their Solutions Enabling Group, and Umesh Shah, the Technical Manager for EAS, who provided a little insight into how this works and what Intel's plans are for this program.

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