- Architosh Staff ([email protected])
- 3 Sep 2002
IBM building 64-bit PowerPC chip for Linux? Evidence points to AltiVec support
One of our more astute and busy Architosh readers has written in with information regarding a 64-bit PowerPC chip by IBM which supports AltiVec. While unconfirmed, the nature of the AltiVec support appears to be related to IBM's Linux initiatives.
AltiVec and Linux?
We make no pretenses to fully understanding the technical details of these public posts, but two posts from the gcc.gnu.org website concern AltiVec support for Linux on "PowerPC64".
The first of these posts, from Alan Mondra, is dated 25 August, 2002. The subject is titled: PowerPC64-Linux AltiVec Support. You can read it here.
Alan Mondra appears to work for IBM in the Linux Technology Center, as apart of IBM OS Labs. Hmm? Is that Linux center in Boston?
Is Red Hat In on AltiVec Too?
Perhaps more interesting is a follow-up post (from 28 August) by Aldy Hernandez of Red Hat (his email address tips us off...he appears to write from Red Hat.com). His post replies with notes about a fix or a confirmation of one. His post is here.
All of this suggest that IBM is indeed working on compiling Linux (from Red Hat) on a new 64-bit PowerPC chip which appears to support AltiVec. If that is indeed the case, then IBM has licensed AltiVec from Motorola or IBM has built its own vector processing instruction set and AltiVec as a name is being used loosely to refer to it. Could it be that IBM has developed an AltiVec-compatible instruction set? And is this why Apple had the smarts, long ago, to call the vector instruction engine as 'Velocity Engine'??
Apple and IBM - Is there a 64-bit Future in the Making?
While we will not delve into speculation or rumor here (lest we find ourselves being blacklisted by Apple at the next Macworld Expo) we do suggest that this information (public at that) strongly points to an option for Apple in regards to its microprocessor woes. Furthermore, the G5 processor road-map had always suggested 32-64 bit-ness, as a transition point for the PowerPC Platform. So there is little new here.
While there is little doubt that IBM will have a new super-fast 64-bit PowerPC (G5) processor ready and waiting in the wings for Apple if they so choose, the real question is: does Motorola already have an answer for Apple as well? And if so, when?
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