Firms to Develop Linux Distro for High-End PCs

Themis Computer announced Thursday a joint project withTerra Soft Solutions to develop a complete Linux distribution to run on the TPPC64, Themis’ new line of 6U VMEbus single board computers based on the IBM PowerPC 970FX superscalar RISC processor.

The TPPC64 is a high-end computer built around a next-generation single-board computer, featuring an advanced 64-bit architecture and 90 nm silicon on insulator (SOI) technology. The TPPC64 is designed for use in harsh operating environments and can sustain up to a 30 G shock load.

Terra Soft is the developer of the Linux Yellow Dog 5.0 distribution that is used in the Sony PlayStation 3. Yellow Dog is based on the Fedora Core 5 foundation.

“Terra Soft’s Yellow Dog Linux Board Support Package provides a stable, flexible foundation for self-hosted and cross-platform code development, application and data services, and high-performance computing,” said William Kehret, president of Themis Computer.

As Themis Computer readied production of its prototype computer, it wanted the most current Linux OS available and approached Terra Soft, Kehret said.

Special Linux Flavor

Terra Soft Solutions is one of several companies that provide board support packages for the Yellow Dog Linux version, said Kai Staats, CEO of Terra Soft. Yellow Dog Linux is a popular operating system for the PowerPC architecture besides the well-known Apple OS.

“This project will take us from four to eight weeks to complete what is known within the industry as a ‘bring up’ effort,” Staats told LinuxInsider. “We have developed Yellow Dog Linux for PowerPC CPUs for eight years. We develop unique versions of YDL for PPC OEMs.”

Computer manufacturers who are looking for an operating system other than Windows or the Apple OS either have to build their own Linux version or hire a Linux company to develop it for them, said Staats.

“The version of Yellow Dog we are doing for Themis is identical to our existing OS. We will modify some parts of the kernel for them,” he added.

Themis contacted Terra Soft to develop a YDL Board Support Package (BSP) so their high-performance computing, PowerPC-based blades could be offered to their customers with a complete, industry recognized Linux OS, according to Staats.

Hardware Highlights

The 1.8 GHz TPPC64 running the PowerPC 970FX processor is designed around a single-slot configuration with up to 4 GB of DDR400 memory. It includes dual gigabit Ethernet ports and dual Ultra320 SCSI interfaces.

The TPPC64 also includes six USB ports, AC’97 audio ports and four serial ports. The TPPC64 can be configured with a second processor in a second VME slot.

In this dual-processor symmetric multiprocessing design, communication with the baseboard occurs through a coherent HyperTransport link and a 64-bit 133 MHz PMC slot.

The IBM PowerPC 970FX processor provides ten execution pipelines and a speculative superscalar inner core organization, enabling it to execute up to five instructions per clock.

The TPPC64 can attain higher I/O integration levels by adding a PMC carrier card, according to Themis engineers. This provides the capability of hosting up to three more PMC slots.

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