Apparently it was never the plan to release Fedora 16 for PowerPC in line with Fedora 16 for x86, and so the former has remained at Alpha state even after the latter was released. However, the news today is that the Beta release is now available, with bug fixes for surprisingly severe problems found in the Alpha (such as not being able to run GNOME, KDE, or Firefox).
At the Freescale Technology Forum this week, Freescale announced their “Advanced Multiprocessing” QorIQ series. It will be based on a new core named the e6500, which is multithreaded, 64-bit, runs up to 2.5 GHz, and supports the Altivec SIMD instruction set. Freescale claims it will achieve up to 4x the performance of their current flagship, the e500mc-based 8-core P4080. The first e6500-based processor will be called T4240 (apparently moving away from the P-based naming of current QorIQ), and it will feature 12 cores (24 threads) plus hardware accelerators, with “initial availability in early 2012.”
Nintendo just announced the Wii U at the E3 convention yesterday, and IBM has announced it will use an unnamed 45nm PowerPC core. Coincidentally, IBM’s 476 core is available in 45nm. It’s likely that the Wii U controller (the one with the fancy touchscreen) uses some other core, but as you can imagine from Nintendo’s focus on experience rather than technology, hardware details like these are still very scarce.
In recent weeks, activity on the usually dormant fedora-ppc mailing list has indicated that we may very well see a new PowerPC version of the Fedora Linux distribution in the Fedora 16 timeframe. (The current version of Fedora is 14, with version 15 due in two weeks.) Actually, the version 15 packages are all ready to go, but there is a serious installer issue that won’t be solved in time to meet that release. However, using yum to do a live upgrade may be possible.
The developers are also changing their policy about using 32-bit userland on 64-bit processors, which is long believed to enhance performance. Apparently, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 changed to using 64-bit userland on that hardware, and this is reason enough for Fedora to make the same change.
Despite the impression you might get, things have actually happened in PowerPC Linux land in the past six months. We’ve just been slacking.
- A-EON announced they’re actually using PA Semi’s end-of-lifed PWRficient 1682 processor in their upcoming AmigaOne X1000 system. PA Semi was acquired by Apple in 2008, and the processor was killed in order to refocus that team on ARM processors for mobile devices. So that’s weird.
- AppliedMicro (formerly AMCC) announced their PacketPro line of processors. The family includes single and dual PowerPC 465 processors, and they’ve announced a partnership with ENEA for the OSE real-time operating system.
- Sysgo’s PikeOS now runs SMP on Freescale e500 and e600 multi-core processors.
- Power.org announced that the code for Android port to the PowerPC 460, done by Mentor Graphics, is now available. Actually, it seems to have been available since last year, but was announced more recently.
- Probably more. Send us email.
In other news, penguinppc.org has been converted to another content management system. The only reason you care about this is a) old links may have broken, and b) it is now possible for new people to request accounts from which to post news articles themselves. In either case, please email us.
We may consider enabling comments on the news articles too, but that might yield more noise than signal. Let us know if you have an opinion.
Sony may have removed Linux boot support from the PlayStation 3 firmware, but a USB-based exploit can now load the kernel from within a game environment. Sony’s original Linux environment prevented it from accessing the graphics hardware and one of the seven co-processors, but this exploit loading mechanism gives Linux the same hardware access as game software.
At the Linley Tech Processor Conference last month, Freescale announced they would be integrating Altivec into its QorIQ family of processors. This is remarkable because the QorIQ family exclusively consists of processors built around the e500 core, which lacks the Altivec capabilities of the older e600 core. The Linley Group and military/aerospace industry commentators note that the absent Altivec roadmap has ceded customers to x86 processors, so could be a good move for Freescale.
However, it’s not clear how Freescale will actually deliver Altivec. They recently announced the 64-bit e5500 core without mention of it, and one has to wonder when a future Altivec-enabled implementation of e500 or e5500 might be available, or if Freescale will simply build another e600 processor and brand it “QorIQ”. Freescale’s press release is conspicuously missing information on product roadmaps and availability.
Remember when we said AMCC’s Titan processor was sampling? Apparently it never got past that. Now EETimes reports they have tabled Titan and are trying again with a family of SoCs called “PacketPro”. This family is supposed to scale up to eight cores at 2GHz each, and feature a range of impressive-sounding features and IO peripherals. According to AMCC, the first PacketPro device is supposed to start sampling in November, but no details are available and of course we’ve heard that before.
The esteemed Linux Weekly News has posted an article about the state of Linux distributions on PowerPC systems. They start by recapping the distributions which have declined to continue supporting PowerPC; however, they end optimistically.