Linux 6.10 To Drop Support For Very Old DEC Alpha Hardware

Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 6 May 2024 at 08:50 AM EDT. 17 Comments
The Linux 6.10 kernel is poised to remove support for old DEC Alpha EV5 platforms and earlier.

The Linux 6.10 kernel is likely to remove support for the Alpha 21164 "EV5" processor and older Alpha ISA platforms from Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). As part of the Alpha ISA clean-ups for Linux 6.10, the DECpc AXP150 (Jensen), Sable, LCA and APECS, and EV5 CPU support is to be removed... Basically pre-EV56 DEC Alpha processor support will be retired.

old DEC logo

Arnd Bergmann sent out in this patch series the argument for dropping the old DEC Alpha hardware support, which basically is from 1995 and earlier:
"I had investigated dropping support for alpha EV5 and earlier a while ago after noticing that this is the only supported CPU family in the kernel without native byte access and that Debian has already dropped support for this generation last year after it turned out to be broken.

This topic came up again when Paul E. McKenney noticed that parts of the RCU code already rely on byte access and do not work on alpha EV5 reliably, so I refreshed my series now for inclusion into the next merge window.

Al Viro did another series for alpha to address all the known build issues. I rebased his patches without any further changes and included it as a baseline for my work here to avoid conflicts."

Thus with Linux 6.10 will be some spring cleaning for the Alpha CPU port. The patch series also adds clone3() support to the Alpha port along with other clean-ups.
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