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Linux x32 ABI Interest Faded In 2013

Free Software

Published on 24 December 2013 02:45 PM EST
Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software
21 Comments

While the Linux x32 ABI has been talked about since 2011 and there's been mainline Linux kernel support since 2012 and x32 support within other programs has trickled in, there still isn't any widespread interested in this ABI intended for use on 64-bit processors while using 32-bit pointers.

The x32 ABI goal has been about exposing the benefits of Intel/AMD x86_64 CPUs with greater registers, better floating-point performance, and other advantages while sticking to using 32-pointers and thus still limiting the maximum memory space per progress to 4GB.

Back in 2012 there was initial x32 interest from Ubuntu, but they only ended up landing basic Ubuntu x32 support in Ubuntu 13.04 without shipping any x32 archive. In 2012 we also saw some x32 support out of Gentoo and some Debian x32 packages. Besides the kernel support, we also saw last year the support for the x32 Linux ABI land in Glibc 2.16 and GDB 7.5.

The only Linux x32 ABI news we've really had to report on in 2013 was of Google wanting mainline LLVM x32 support and other LLVM project x32 patches. There was also the GCC 4.8.0 release this year that improved the situation for x32 and built upon the existing support.

In going through the x32 ABI web-site, there really doesn't seem to be any recent changes or news items that went under our radar. The only newer item to point out is a VirtualBox image of Fedora 19 built for Linux x32.

From the others I've chatted with about Linux x32, they just really don't see the ABI as being worthwhile when it still requires 64-bit processors and the performance benefits aren't very convincing for all workloads to make maintaining an extra ABI worthwhile.

If you have different views or other Linux x32 information we missed, feel free to share it in our forums, but overall there wasn't much out of the initiative in 2013. Thanks to Phoronix reader Rok Kralj for pointing out the lack of x32 activity as of late. If there's any other items or projects that have gone dark that you want to be checked out on Phoronix (or projects worthy of a shout-out) over the slow holiday news week, feel free to post via the forums or let me know via @MichaelLarabel on Twitter.

About The Author
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via and or contacted via .
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