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.

Oct 112010

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.

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LSI and Wind River have announced a “multi-year strategic partnership” for Wind River Linux on LSI’s Axxia Communication Processors (ACP) product line. The ACP family is based on IBM’s 476FP cores, and are aimed at networking applications. The ACP3448, available now, contains four cores, a number of networking offload engines, and is supposed to handle 20Gbps of some sort of traffic. In addition to Wind River Linux, Wind River is also offering VxWorks and an Eclipse IDE, and ENEA OSE support is also available.

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At FTF this week, Freescale announced their first 64-bit core, the e5500. It will be used in the P5010 and P5020 SoCs, both members of the “P5″ family of their QorIQ brand. The processors, which can run at 2.2 GHz, are aimed at improving single-thread performance for control plane applications, where Freescale says its customers have had difficultly developing software that can take advantage of the eight e500mc cores in P4080. According to Freescale, the need for a 64-bit address space was driven by the expanding memory footprint of network routing tables.

Also announced was the P3041, a four-core e500mc processor that uses less than half the power of the eight-core P4080, and includes a RAID5/6 hardware accelerator.

Simulators will be available next month, and all three processors will sample in 4Q 2010, with availability in the second half of 2011. EETimes has additional coverage.

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Joe Brockmeier reminds us that Fedora 13 will not ship an official PowerPC version. PowerPC has been reclassified as a “ secondary architecture” and the community at large will be responsible for producing future Fedora PowerPC builds. So far, the necessary infrastucture is not yet in place for that to occur.

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Freescale has announced a new partnership for Linux enablement of its QorIQ and PowerQUICC networking processors. Previously, Freescale used a home-grown distribution building tool called “LTIB” to produce its board support packages (BSPs); they will move away from this tool to “System Builder” provided by Mentor Graphics. Mentor’s press release claims that, among other benfits, this will enable seamless migration from the free version of the BSP to a commercially supported version.

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Sony upset a vocal group of customers when it recently removed the ability to run Linux on the PlayStation 3 with dubious justification. One of those customers has now filed a class action lawsuit in California, alleging false advertising, among other things. Apparently users are forced to accept a license after powering on the system, and since this license says Sony can remove functionality whenever it wants, the validity of “shrinkwrap licenses” is also being questioned. Ars Technica has also covered the story.

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When the PS3 Slim was released, it no longer supported Linux, but Sony reassured owners of the original PS3s that Linux would continue to work on those systems. Sony has now backtracked and released a firmware update which removes the ability to run Linux on the original PlayStation 3, the last mass-market consumer PowerPC Linux device.

Sony claims this move is a reaction to the recent PlayStation exploit, but given that the exploit requires hardware expertise and doesn’t enable piracy, it seems more likely that the company is using security as a convenient excuse to reduce expenses.

Meanwhile, the author of the exploit has announced he’s investigating development of a custom firmware to preserve Linux support.

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The Arch Linux folks have happily announced that they now support Apple G5s, with a 64-bit kernel and 32-bit userland. They also apparently have a much simpler installer now as well.

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