1 March 2002 Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) says that the next major release of the open source Linux operating system will include support for its x86-64 instruction set, the foundation for its next generation 64-bit Hammer microprocessor family.
The updates have been written by German open source software vendor SuSE and are expected to be included in version 2.6 of the Linux kernel. The move is significant as it marks a seal of approval for AMD’s technology from the open source community for AMD’s technology.
However, Linux kernel 2.6 is not expected for some time. The open source community has first to iron out a number of bugs in the current 2.4.18 version, before starting work on version 2.5. Recent Linux kernel releases have also been behind schedule, a problem many in the open source community attribute to a combination of Linus Torvalds’ workload and poor organisation.
Software giant Microsoft has been more cautious about revealing whether it will support AMD’s Hammer family of chips, although AMD claims that Microsoft is currently evaluating the architecture.
The first of the Hammer family, dubbed Clawhammer, is expected to be released later this year. The second, Sledgehammer, will be released in 2003.
Crucially, AMD says that Hammer will support Intel’s legacy 32-bit x86 instruction set better than Intel’s own 64-bit offerings. Furthermore, it says that because its design is more compact the new chip should be considerably cheaper too.