LinuxWorld: Grove promises Linux-compatible Merced

Intel chair demonstrates Merced running Linux, and urges development of IA-64.

Intel Chairman Andy Grove said Tuesday that Intel's first 64-bit processor, code-named Merced, will yield silicon "in a few weeks time" and that "we will know then whether it works or it doesn't".

In a surprise appearance at LinuxWorld Expo in San Jose, Calif., Grove and Intel senior vice president Sean Maloney demonstrated the Linux kernel running top of the Merced simulator generating a transaction.

Maloney announced that IBM has joined the Trillian group, which is porting Linux to IA-64, along with SGI, Hewlett-Packard Co., Cygnus Solutions and Intel. Trillian will release the source for the Linux IA-64 kernel in the first quarter of next year.

Intel, meanwhile, will allow access to "application solution centres" that is building around the world for developers to build Linux applications and run and test code. Intel will also make available Merced servers to prominent Linux development hotbeds, such as SUSE, TurboLinux, Caldera, RedHat and VA Research, Maloney said.

In an interview, Maloney clarified Grove's comments on Merced, saying that since Merced is a new architecture, Intel can't be certain until it sees silicon how well Merced will work.

However, he said, Intel "has a long track record of delivering functional first silicon". Maloney declined to elaborate on what potentially could go wrong with Merced or how long the processor could be delayed as a result.

Maloney and Grove also invited developers to submit proposals for Intel's IA-64 Fund because 90 percent of the investment money is still available. Intel announced the fund this spring in conjunction with corporate partners and has so far funded a handful of companies doing development for IA-64.

During his keynote remarks this morning, Grove called IA-64 "the future engine for e-commerce" and said that 95 percent of the servers required in 2005 have yet to be deployed. Grove said Intel has ported eight operating systems to IA-64, including Linux, and touted the platform's 64-bit addressability for handling e-commerce data, memory for handling transaction processing and floating point performance for handling data mining.

Maloney demonstrated several Linux applications and platforms during the keynote, including a search engine from Google, a multiheaded Linux system powered by software from enlightenment.org, a CD database from cddb.com, graphics rendering on 18 nodes from VA Research, and the VA Cluster Manager combined with Intel's Intelligent Platform Management Interface for remote management of Linux systems.

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