Intel and Hewlett-Packard has released a free software developer kit designed to speed the development of Linux applications for Intel's upcoming 64-bit microprocessor, Itanium.
The kit includes tools designed to help develop, test and debug applications for Itanium-based servers and workstations running on Linux, an open-source operating system with Unix-like features.
Importantly, the kit also includes an IA-64 Linux simulator developed by HP, which allows developers to mimic the functionality of an Itanium-based system using a PC running one of Intel's existing, 32-bit processors, such as the Pentium III. That should be a boon to developers who can't get their hands on a prototype Itanium system to test out their applications.
"This is going to accelerate the development of Linux applications for IA-64," said Mike Balma, director of marketing for HP's Open Source and Linux division.
IA-64 is a new processor architecture developed by Intel in conjunction with HP. Intel hopes the new design will allow it to move up the food chain and sell processors for use in more powerful servers and workstations, where they will compete with offerings from Sun Microsystems and IBM, among others. Itanium will be Intel's first processor based on IA-64, and is due to ship in volume in the third quarter of this year.
Intel hopes to see Linux developers write Web server and electronic commerce applications for Itanium, as well as high-performance technical applications that will run on clusters of servers, said Jason Waxman, Intel's IA-64 marketing manager.
The developer kit is another sign that Intel sees Linux as a serious software platform for Itanium. In an unusual step last month, the US chip giant published the microarchitecture for Itanium on its Web site, a move designed in part to help Linux and other open-source developers to write compatible programs for the chip.
The Linux simulator included with the software developer kit (SDK) won't be available as an open-source product, however. The open-source model allows developers to access the source code of a program and modify it to suit their needs, so long as they make any improvements freely available to the developer community at large.
"The original intent was not to have it as open source," HP's Balma said of the SDK. "It would have required even further work to release it under an open-source licence," and HP and Intel wanted to release the software as soon as possible, he added.
Other operating systems that Intel has identified as important for Itanium include Windows; Monterey, a version of Unix being developed by IBM and Santa Cruz Operation (SCO); and Novell's Modesto.