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Linux already running on Merced, says Intel CEO

So does Intel see Linux as ready to roll in the enterprise?

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Linux is already up and running on Merced, according to Intel CEO Craig Barrett. And putting further flesh on what Microsoft might interpret as some kind of pincer movement strategy, Barrett adds that he expects the low-cost, low-resource StrongARM chip to become optimised for Linux and other (i.e., non-Microsoft) operating systems. Barrett let both of these slip during an Intel analysts meeting earlier this week. It's not clear how much of the Linux optimisation for StrongARM Intel itself is getting involved in, but it seems likely that Merced partner Hewlett-Packard is doing at least some of the leg-work on Linux for Merced. Barrett claims Merced already has support from eight operating systems, but his putting Linux up there indicates something of a change in Intel's previous stated policies for the OS. When Intel put money into Red Hat and started making positive noises about Linux last year it seemed to envisage Linux and Intel as an ideal combination for smaller, high volume servers. But by giving it early support and encouragement on Merced, Intel will be helping position Linux further upscale, in the direction of large enterprises. Another Intel announcement from the analysts meeting however makes it clear the company has an immediate interest in robust, highly-scalable server operating systems. It's planning a series of Internet data centres at $50-100 million a pop. These will house between 2,000 and 5,000 servers, the idea being that Intel will provide content hosting and management for ISPs. The first centre opens in June, with Excite as the customer. The chosen software has not as yet been revealed, but it should be worth looking out for. Also worth watching for will be Intel VP Sean Maloney's keynote at ISPCon in Baltimore on Tuesday. He's due to announce a "major sales programme for ISPs," which is no doubt related to the one Intel just told the analysts about. But Intel chose ISPCon last autumn to make several Linux-related announcements, so watch this space? ®

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