Embedded PowerPC Linux Podcast Episode

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May 302008

IBM’s Linux Technology Center has been posting podcasts (which are like news articles but less skimmable) on various Linux topics. The next one is about embedded PowerPC Linux development with Josh Boyer, the 4xx Linux maintainer. Questions for the episode are being solicited in advance.

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VirtualLogix Supports PowerPC

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May 182008

The news is a little old now, but VirtualLogix is apparently now supporting 750 and “PowerQUICC” processors with its embedded virtualization product. Although they have several flavors, including Digital Media and Mobile Handset, PowerPC support has only been added to the Network Infrastructure product. Further details, including pricing, availability, and how VLX uses privilege levels on PowerPC, don’t seem to be published.

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P.A. Semi Buzz at Defense Conference

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May 072008

Apparently the P.A. Semi acquisition was covered by a number of keynotes at the Critical Embedded Systems Conference, a conference about embedded systems in the military, and expectations range from optimism to pessimism about the future of P.A. Semi’s current Power Architecture processors. Ray Alderman from VITA confirmed the rumor that, due to their use in military systems, the U.S. goverment is working to “ensure continued supply” of PA6T parts.

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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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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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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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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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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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