Day 3: Conferences: The IA-64 Linux Project

Eric Sindelar from VA Linux Systems made the initial presentation
The pretty big room that was used was filled, and some people were standing on the sides and in the back.


The goal of the IA-64 linux port was to have a single collaborative port, and do a release to the open source community, goal which was achieved with an initial release at Linuxworld in New York.

Eric gave a list of contributors to the project (see slides), what's been accomplished and the current tasks are.
Compile farms running on real Itanium systems are available to help with porting

Stéphane Eranian made the first demo and booted an Itanium workstation.



The system initializes, and goes into EFI, which is a simple PROM that allows you do a few things and boot the OS of your choice from the partition of your choice.
Stéphane booted Turbolinux which showed a simple linux boot and it started xdm and Helix Gnome. They actually had XFree 4.0 with DRI support and an accelerated 3D demo. It ended up crashing, but the mere fact that they got it to work in 3 days with code that had never been tried on IA-64 before is pretty amazing, and shows the quality of the code you can have out there (wrt to being 64bit clean)

Turbolinux made a demo of Oracle running on an IA-64 machine. The version of oracle they had had a mix of 64bit code and 32bit code for the applications

SGI showed an interesting demo of 3D rendering done on two CPUs and doing airflow calculation for a plane.

Don Dugger from VA, who did a lot of work on IA-32 compatibility, showed a demo of staroffice running on an IA-64 machine.

After the demo, came a Q&A session where all the members of the Trillian project were available for answering:



Why is IA-64 any different than other 64 bit architectures?
IA-64 was built to be free of legacy and it's a architecture with new technology that still keeps compatibility with IA-32

What's the difference between the SGI compiler and the CYGNUS one?
SGI says that they have more levels of optimization. They use the same GCC front end for source compatibility, but the back end was written with SGI's experience in compiler design and 64bit architectures.
It'd be nice if that work was contributed to GCC, but we didn't get a straight answer to that.

Why not supporting a 32 bit kernel for people who want to use Itanium without the 64 bit overhead?
It would have been a lot of work to have two different ports and it was felt that it wasn't worth the effort.

Can you develop IA-64 code on a 32 bit machine?
Yes, there are cross compilers and HP has a full IA-64 emulator that runs on linux.

How about current IA-32 vs IA-64 performance?
There has been little performance work so far because the first goal is getting bugs out and doing initial ports of applications. Everyone seems to be very hopeful on the performance.

How well do IA-32 binaries work on IA-64?
Don answered that at this time, all the ones he tried did work. If one doesn't, it's a bug that should be reported to him so that he can fix it.
Intel also has tested booting 32bit linux on the machine.

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2000/08/23 (20:09): Version 1.0