According to EE Times, the Chinese goverment is considering standardizing industry and academia on a single instruction set. Various Chinese entities have worked with MIPS before, but they are looking for other options at a time when MIPS is rumored to be looking for a buyer. The obvious choice for China would be ARM, but they are dangling the possibility of PowerPC as a lower-cost alternative.
LSI has announced the AXE2502 SoC (System on a Chip), part of its Axxia communication processor line. It incorporates two PowerPC 476 cores (with floating point) and hardware accelerators for packet processing, regular expressions, and encryption. However, earliest availability won’t be until Q3 2012.
Rutgers University just opened a BlueGene/P supercomputer, named Excalibur. Rutgers hopes to add a faster BlueGene/Q design in the future, but BlueGene/P, a cluster based on PowerPC 450 cores, still provides teraflops of compute power for researchers. Rutgers is also considering how to make Excalibur available to businesses for reasonable compensation. Excalibur is apparently intended for life science applications (e.g. drug modeling).
The Fedora “Secondary Architecture” team for Power have announced Fedora 16 for PowerPC, the first PowerPC Fedora release since Fedora 12, just in time for Christmas. Since Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is based on Fedora, the team of mostly Red Hat and IBM employees are working to ensure the RHEL work required to support IBM’s PowerPC-based servers remains manageable.
The team also promises a regular update stream and mentions Fedora 17 plans, so that’s about as good a roadmap as a secondary architecture can get.
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.
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