Amusing Opteron Ideas

By Nils Dahl

Date: August 5, 2002

While the real professionals are working on new ways of using the Opteron/Hypertransport architectural capabilities, how about a really old-fashioned idea that might be useful?

According to that 'stale' white paper on hammer (the programmer's overview), the 64-bit mode of Opteron can run multiple instances of 32-bit legacy 'stuff'. That also means 16-bit legacy 'stuff'. Okay, so there may be some need for code to handle direct hardware calls made under DOS and stuff like that.

There are many third world countries where businesses, government, hospitals, and other organizations currently run multiple older computers and use DOS as an operating system. DR-DOS is alive and well. It may even still be free to use by individuals and some organizations. And it works. A single fast Opteron system might be used as a real minicomputer that handles a number of legacy apps at once, supporting the existing older computers as plain ASCII terminals or even as intelligent terminals of various degrees of sophistication. After all, many older computers can run older Linux builds and SQL clients or similar front ends just as easily as they run DOS and some basic applications.

This idea appeals to me for several reasons. First, it provides a superb live training environment for college students in computer sciences. It makes more sophisticated uses of Linux as a legitimate minicomputer operating system. Of course this represents a very fine opportunity for Suse to market its port of Linux widely and gain worldwide support for extending Opteron 64-bit Linux and apps that run in both legacy and native 64-bit modes. Even a slower prototype Opteron processor would do nicely in such settings - as opposed to having perfectly good processors get ground up because they do not quite meet the specifications of the official release. Just an idea, folks.

And while some might argue this point, I feel safe in asserting that people everywhere have the same intelligence levels and capabilities for learning. Fostering developments of each country's people by facilitating advancement of their hands-on computer science capabilities and training environments - promoting software development by the citizens in ways that only the citizens know best - could be a powerful force for improving life. We already have world wide communities of programmers who routinely work with each other for the good of all societies. This may be a wild idea - letting people everywhere fit the software to their needs instead of jamming the same solution down everyone's throat - but it might be nice to try.

How did I get such a crazy idea? Well, I shop at a smallish supermarket every day. Most of the employees are very intelligent, hard working teenagers -from Peru, Dominican Republic, Bosnia, and other countries. They all work together and they all aspire to learn much more. They are the friendliest group of people I have ever met. Yes, they are even friendlier than the nice people I met in Honolulu while on R&R from a paid vacation in southeast Asia. Although I can't understand why Danielle has never seen a llama. I always thought that everyone in Peru had a pet llama or whatever. Joke, folks, just a joke. Danielle is going to become a nurse. And she has a great chance of doing that here. Right now, she is stocking flour, sugar, cake mixes, and other essentials for your convenience.

We can export the tools that help build freedom all over the world. The power is already there - in the hands of the Linux people all over the world. And AMD has a great hardware solution to use as the platform for Linux.

nils dahl

just an old man


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