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AMD: We're committed to Linux

NewsForge Hammers 64-bit tongs

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The manager of Advanced Micro Devices' software research and development group says the chip-maker is committed to making Linux work with AMD's not-yet-released 64-bit architecture.

Wayne Meretsky, an AMD fellow, says AMD "went out of our way" to include the Linux community when AMD announced its x86-64 project last summer.

Meretsky promised that AMD would fix the closed-source licence on the x86-64.org project site to port Linux to AMD's 64-bit architecture. The licence, which appears on the front page of the site, and several other pages, including downloads to Open Source tools such as GCC, should be pegged only to proprietary downloads on the site by mid-month, Meretsky said. GPL-licensed tools will have the GPL linked to their downloads.

"It was a clear oversight on our part," Meretsky said of the license. "It's obviously silly, and we're getting it addressed as soon as possible.

Developers working on the Linux port to AMD's architecture have defended the company for including Linux in its plans for its 64-bit chips from the very start. AMD, which is excited about the growth and potential of Linux, has its heart in the right place, Meretsky said. AMD, unlike some competitors that guard their intellectual property, made its architectural specification available at no cost "when the ink was dry" on its 64-bit announcement, he said, so that "people can actually get to work."

AMD's goal is to have its Sledgehammer and Clawhammer chips based on the x86-64 architecture in the second half of 2002, according to the company's processor roadmap. AMD eventually plans to have the 64-bit architecture work on a variety of Linux distributions, including SuSE and Red Hat, plus most other major operating systems, including Windows, Solaris, DOS, and OS/2. In some cases, the chips will work in 32-bit mode before they're tested for 64-bit mode.

Meanwhile, AMD is learning about Open Source, Meretsky said. "There a whole lot of things we've learned along the way," he said. "This was my first interaction with the Open Source community of this magnitude."

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