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Intel Software Tunes Itanium for Linux

Motivated by the growing amount of Linux applications running in the enterprise, Intel Wednesday released new software designed to put the operating system to task on its Itanium family of processors.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip making giant said its VTune Performance Analyzer 2.0, priced at $699, is its first fully Linux-native performance analysis tool for its 64-bit chips. Previous versions only supported performance testing for 32-bit Linux applications. Developers use the tools to identify lines of code in an application to show potential performance bottlenecks so they can be modified or removed.

"In response to customers' requests, we have added native Linux support for the Itanium processor family, Intel marketing manager for software Steve Speer told internetnews.com. "The interest from developers is motivated from the market that they see there."

Speer said all of the Linux houses have the technology and should be announcing products. So far, the majority of products are based on variants of the 2.4x kernel. According to Speer, there have been no requests for testing tools based the recently introduced Linux 2.6 kernel.

And while Intel does not break out or track how many Linux apps run on Itanium, the company did say the ones that are out there can be categorized as "critical". For example, First Trust Corp. is running Red Hat Linux and Oracle 9i RAC on Itanium for their transaction processing system. Intel has said there are more than 1,000 applications ported specifically to Itanium that take advantage of the processor's native environment including parallelism, multi-tasking, and memory addressability. In that way the tested apps can run on Linux, Windows and/or UNIX.

In addition, with the Intel Architecture 32 Execution Layer that Microsoft announced last week, Intel said there are probably more than 10,000 applications that can run in emulation mode on Itanium.

The tool also offers more convenience for Linux users through a command line interface, Java support, a Getting Started guide and "flow of control" analysis previously only available for Windows-based applications.

The other added benefit, Speer said is that now, developers don't have to port software to Windows for analysis and then port back to a Linux system. The included "Pack and Go" option lets the results from the Linux server transfer back to a Windows-based system for further analysis with the Intel VTune Performance Analyzer versions 7.0 or 7.1, an analysis tool for Windows-based applications with remote support for Linux.

"In that way, the analysis is done on a Windows desktop, which is good for GUI programming, but if you are die-hard Linux developer, you don't have to switch back and forth," Speer said.

For those developers who are motivated to build their own kernels, Intel also introduced version 2.0 of the Intel VTune Performance Analyzer Driver Kit. The software adds open source drivers that let developers use the analysis tool with unsupported Linux distributions and customized kernels.

Speer said Intel's marketing strategy is to take the new VTune platform to developers working on software ranging from financial, engineering, scientific, and multimedia applications.

Intel said the tool is available from Intel and resellers worldwide for download and on CD-ROMs. The company is also providing product training through its Intel Software College.