Linux Distribution Support for P.A. Semi

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May 062008

On the heels of Apple’s acquisition of P.A. Semi, and the uncertain future for that company’s PA6T Power Architecture processors, both Debian and MontaVista have announced support for those same processors. (OK, Debian didn’t really announce it, but a closed bug report is about as good as it gets.) The Debian integration has been in the works since January this year; one can only speculate about for how long the MontaVista support has been negotiated.

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AMCC Releases 460GT Reference Board

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Apr 292008

AMCC has released “Arches,” a dual-processor reference board for the PowerPC 460GT processor. The 460GT is software-compatible with 440. Arches uses the mid-size AMC form factor, and was designed for AMCC by Silicon Turnkey Express, who have also designed for Freescale PowerPC parts. (One might wonder how a dual 460GT compares to AMCC’s announced dual-core Titan processor, and if one has any thoughts on that feel free to send us an email.) Interestingly, AMCC also ships TTCP, DBench, HINT, STREAM and MPEG-4 benchmarks with the board, to make it easier for customers to evaluate the system.

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Apple Acquires P.A. Semi

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Apr 292008

Apple has confused the industry by acquiring P.A. Semi, makers of high-performance low-power single- and dual-core PowerPC SoCs. Since 5-13W power consumption isn’t even in the ballpark for handhelds, the broad speculation about PA6T parts in iPods and iPhones is incomprehensible. Rumor has it that P.A. Semi’s military/aerospace customers are upset about Apple declaring the nascent processors end-of-life, hinting that Apple won’t even continue with Power Architecture. So why did they do it? We guess time will tell.

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Xilinx Releases Virtex-5 440-based FPGA Chip

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Apr 292008

Xilinx has released Virtex-5, an FPGA attached to 1-2 550MHz PowerPC 440 cores. Previous Xilinx FPGA products used only 405 cores, so this apparently is a very big deal, since the 440 enables much more processor-intensive workloads. Linux support is available through MontaVista and Wind River.

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libfreevec version 1.03

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Apr 112008

CODEX, the consulting company behind libfreevec, has released version 1.03. libfreevec is a collection of Altivec-optimized routines which show impressive performance improvements over glibc (and sometimes over Freescale’s libmotovec as well). libfreevec is mostly focused on string/memory operations at the moment, but could be extended into matrix operations and higher-level algorithms in the future. The FAQ is also interesting reading.

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"Power VM Lx86" Video on YouTube

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Feb 152008

IBM has posted a YouTube video regarding its “Power VM Lx86” tool, which allows one to run Linux x86 userspace binaries on PowerPC Linux systems. (If you’re viewing this on a PowerPC Linux system yourself, you’ll want a very recent version of Gnash to view the video.)

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PowerPC Processors Win Awards

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Jan 092008

Electronic Products Magazine has given “2007 Product of the Year” awards to two PowerPC processors: P.A. Semi’s PA6T-1682M and AMCC’s 405EX. (AMCC recently announced US$750 405EX/405EXr evaluation boards, and MontaVista announced support for the processors as well.)

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IBM Chooses Simics for Simulation

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Dec 022007

IBM recently announced that it will use Virtutech’s Simics for all its embedded Power Architecture simulation needs. Simulation bypasses lengthy (and expensive) hardware development cycles, allowing hardware developers to do rapid prototyping and software developers to get started before silicon is ready. (Simics was also recently selected by Freescale to publish a free model of the 8572E dual-core processor.) A simulation platform for IBM’s 464FP core will be available by the end of 2007.

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Fedora 9 to Drop PowerPC?

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Nov 092007

On the heels of Fedora 8’s successful ship, the question of dropping official PowerPC support in Fedora has been raised again.

Update: According to Fedora’s PowerPC development team, F9 will include support for PowerPC systems, but release engineering and QA will not be done by the core Fedora “rel-eng” team. That means the PowerPC community (that means you) will need to step up and assist with Rawhide testing, bug reporting, and fixing, especially around alpha and beta releases.

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Fedora 8 Released

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Nov 082007

Fedora 8 has just been released, and still includes PowerPC support. In fact, it supports a wide range of PowerPC hardware, including PlayStation 3, Efika, IBM servers, and more.

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