"New versions of Linux normally make the technical community
curious about what additional features and improved capabilities
are included. However, the latest release from SuSE focuses not on
adding new software features but on making Linux available on a
brand new hardware platform: the AMD Opteron. After taking the new
system for a spin, I'm pretty impressed.
"Over the years, I've used Linux on a number of non-x86
architectures. In fact, as I write this, I have an old DEC Alpha
running Linux on my right and an old Sun SPARCstation 10 running
Linux on my left, so I'm well aware that Linux can look perfectly
at home on machines other than PCs, even if it takes a few twists
and turns to get it to boot up.
"However, this situation is a bit different. Rather than being a
port of Linux to an entirely different architecture, Linux on the
Opteron is a port to enhanced x86 architecture--one that delivers
64-bit punch, while maintaining compatibility for classic x86
32-bit applications. With such an attractive upgrade path, Linux on
the Opteron could move from bleeding edge to mainstream in a
relatively short period of time--provided, of course, that the
platform can really deliver as promised. An impressive showing at
this stage of the game could allow AMD's Opteron to emerge as a
firm competitor to Intel's IA64 line, especially since the latter
is unlikely to usurp the older x86 architecture any time in the
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