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MontaVista's new ARM11 Linux goodies

Big (endian) deal

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Even if you're a seasoned ARMy brat, you're to be forgiven for having seen MontaVista Software's recent announcement that it was offering Linux support for the ARM1176JZ-S and ARM1176JZF-S, and asking "So what?"

After all, ARM announced those two cores (the JZF-S with an integrated floating-point processor) way back on October 13, 2003. Hardly hot-off-the-fab news.

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Also, there have been a number of Linux implementations for the ARM11 cores. For example, TimeSys began providing Linux support for Freescale's ARM11-based i.MX31 in May 2006, companies such as Mistral Solutions and Bug Labs have offered ARM11 dev kits running Linux since 2007, and DENX released its Embedded Linux Development Kit 4.2 for ARM11 this November.

To uncover what's the new what in MontaVista's latest offering, we talked with the company's director of product management, Patrick MacCartee. He said the recent offering from MontaVista is more than a mere distro, but a complete IDE (integrated development environment) that features "Glibc and uClibc (also known as micro libc) support," thus providing mobile-device developers with the "small library footprint" they desire for custom SoC environments.

Of equal importance, said MacCartee, is that MontaVista is the "only Linux commercialization partner that provides big-endian support" for ARM11, a capability important to such ARM partners as Texas Instruments. MacCartee also claimed that the "fully debugged commercial quality" of the MontaVisa IDE and distro can "help product-development companies shorten their development time by weeks or months."

We're not in a position to either verify or refute MacCartee's claims just yet, but we do think they go a long way to answering the question, "So what?"

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