Small Systems and Big Iron: Linux on Non-x86 Computers
Of the platforms discussed in this article, Power and especially Itanium both have a questionable future. Although IBM and Intel are committed to developing future generations of their products, the market for high-end proprietary processors has been somewhat eroded by increasingly fast and cheap x86 processors. Many analysts felt that the Tukwila Itanium was underwhelming in comparison to both Power7 and high-end x86 server processors, such as recent Xeon and Opteron chips. IBM expects Power to be a viable platform for a long time, because it still is substantially faster than the x86 alternatives, but even for them, competition is closer than it once was. As a result, Linux support for these platforms probably is going to decline over time, although as long as there is hardware using these architectures, people will be using and developing Linux on them, as has happened with “dead” architectures, such as the DEC Alpha and the HP PA-RISC. ARM, on the other hand, has a bright future, having been dominant on low-power systems for decades and starting to become popular on consumer computer hardware, with constantly improving Linux support.
Kira Scarlett has been using Linux for eight years. She frequently ends up owning strange and unusual computer hardware, and she has used Linux on almost every major processor of the last 20 years. She also is interested in graphic design and is an avid hockey fan. Kira can be reached at email@example.com.
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Until recently, IBM’s Power Platform was looked upon as being the system that hosted IBM’s flavor of UNIX and proprietary operating system called IBM i. These servers often are found in medium-size businesses running ERP, CRM and financials for on-premise customers. By enabling the Power platform to run the Linux OS, IBM now has positioned Power to be the platform of choice for those already running Linux that are facing scalability issues, especially customers looking at analytics, big data or cloud computing.
￼Running Linux on IBM’s Power hardware offers some obvious benefits, including improved processing speed and memory bandwidth, inherent security, and simpler deployment and management. But if you look beyond the impressive architecture, you’ll also find an open ecosystem that has given rise to a strong, innovative community, as well as an inventory of system and network management applications that really help leverage the benefits offered by running Linux on Power.Get the Guide