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Linux 5.15 Is Now Slightly Less Broken For The DEC Alpha "Jensen"

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  • Linux 5.15 Is Now Slightly Less Broken For The DEC Alpha "Jensen"

    Phoronix: Linux 5.15 Is Now Slightly Less Broken For The DEC Alpha "Jensen"

    One has to wonder how much longer the Linux kernel will keep around some very old and known to be borked hardware support but at least for now the DECpc AXP 150 "Jensen" platform support is sticking around and with Linux 5.15 is no longer marked as "broken" outright...

    https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?pa...-Broken-Jensen

  • #2
    It's DEC Alpha, of course it's borked :P

    Those things have a famously loose memory model that makes writing code that works reliably quite hard. Add to that the fact that some of the Alpha hardware is downright strange and buggy.

    Would be nice to see ongoing support from a preservationist perspective, but we'll see if anyone steps up to maintain it.

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    • #3
      For people's reading pleasure, the story of the port straight from 1995: https://www.linuxjournal.com/article/1044

      Edit:
      Here's parts 2 and 3.
      https://www.linuxjournal.com/article/1177
      https://www.linuxjournal.com/article/1178
      Alpha was actually the first new architecture Linux was ported to, after the original intel 386.

      Edit #2: It's possible this particular machine was the first to boot all the way to a shell prompt.
      Last edited by Developer12; 19 September 2021, 03:30 PM.

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      • #4
        I does make me wonder why any architecture stays in-tree apparently without a maintainer. Presumably, no one would undertake the effort to maintain hardware for which they had no personal or professional use.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Developer12 View Post
          Would be nice to see ongoing support from a preservationist perspective,
          I wonder if the ISA is interesting for something like high-performance soft cores.

          Even then, would it have benefits over SPARC, MIPS, or Open POWER, all of which should be in better shape?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by coder View Post
            I wonder if the ISA is interesting for something like high-performance soft cores.

            Even then, would it have benefits over SPARC, MIPS, or Open POWER, all of which should be in better shape?
            The developers of Alpha do benefit x86 after being disbanded.

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            • #7
              Does it even have any real users?
              Maybe it would be better just to drop the architecture, delete it.

              Originally posted by coder View Post
              I wonder if the ISA is interesting for something like high-performance soft cores.

              Even then, would it have benefits over SPARC, MIPS, or Open POWER, all of which should be in better shape?
              There is ARM and RISC-V.

              The world's ranked #1 supercomputer on the TOP500 list is the Fugaku which is ARM-based. The #2 place is Summit and #3 place is Sierra, both which are based on the POWER architecture.

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              • #8
                Sadly, I gave up my Jensen a little while after I got my PWS 500a (21164) from about 1996.

                That one still boots and runs a Gnome Shell session as of a year ago when I had to unplug it to rearrange desks.

                It took a Radeon 5400 PCI, gigabit PCI NIC, PCI sound card, and USB add-in cards just fine. Sadly, all of the memory upgrade sticks I tried to buy are either nonfunctional or just incompatible (yes, I bought registered memory), or I'd have also gotten it to 1.5GB system RAM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by uid313 View Post
                  The world's ranked #1 supercomputer on the TOP500 list is the Fugaku which is ARM-based. The #2 place is Summit and #3 place is Sierra, both which are based on the POWER architecture.
                  Don't the #2 and #3 only use POWER because of its NVLink support? Those supercomputers seem to derive their computational power from the V100 GPUs and not the POWER cores themselves. Summit has 191,664 POWER cores and 2,090,880 V100 SMs while Fugaku has 7,630,848 ARM cores.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by uid313 View Post
                    Does it even have any real users?
                    Maybe it would be better just to drop the architecture, delete it.
                    People loves to bloat the linux kernel with bullshit, like a 20 years old architecture nobody uses anymore.

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