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Innovation

Intel: New tools help chips read Linux

Intel is set to unveil tools that can translate Linux programs written in C++ or Fortran into commands a Pentium 4 or Itanium processor can understand--so Linux will run better on those chips.
Written by Stephen Shankland, Contributor on
Intel, one of the first mainstream companies to endorse the Linux operating system, will release programming tools Thursday to make Linux programs run better on its chips.

The chipmaker plans to announce compilers that translate Linux programs written in C++ or Fortran languages into commands an Intel Pentium 4 or Itanium chip can understand, the company said in a statement.

Compilers are key to making sure programs can take advantage of a chip's new features, such as those that distinguish the Pentium 4 from its predecessors, but the design of the Itanium family relies even more heavily than most chips on the performance of the compiler.

The compilers will include several features already incorporated in Intel's compilers for Windows computers, including support for the OpenMP standard for multiprocessor computers, the chipmaker said.

Santa Clara, California-based Intel has been a backer of Linux, a clone of Unix that's grown popular for use in servers--chiefly those based on Intel chips. Releasing compilers helps write programs that show off Intel's chips to their greatest advantage.

However, the standard compiler most Linux programmers use is GCC, recently upgraded to version 3.0. Scientific programmers, the chief users of the Fortran language and people who often write their own software, are often interested in squeezing every bit of performance possible out of a chip.

Each Linux compiler is expected to be released in September as a US$399 download or US$499 CD on sale at Intel's software site.

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