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    Debian port to AMD's x86-64 architecture ?
    Contributed by mr_jimmybob on Monday, April 22 @ 16:34:27 BST

    I was wondering if any work was being done to port Debian to AMD's new x86-64 architecture?

    The processor itself has not yet been released but, you can download an architecture simulator for GNU/Linux. And experimental versions of GCC and binutils that can generate 64-bit x86-64 code are also available. All can be downloaded from

    Robot101: There is more information about the AMD x86-64 contained within this article at The Register. It suggests that the x86-64 is more than just a 64 bit version of an x86 processor - that it has new features and instructions that could make it more efficient than a mere x86 processor.

    Robot101: On the face of it, this seems worth it just to outport NetBSD. 😉

    But on a more serious note, I think that this is another example (alpha, sparc) of a 64 bit processor that can run 32 bit userspace, and that in general Debian doesn't bother providing a specific userspace in 64 bit because the archive space and effort used outweighs any advantages. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong though. In light of the Register article, I may well be.

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    Athlon optimised compilation scripts

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  • "Debian port to AMD's x86-64 architecture ?" | Login/Create Account | 41 comments

    The comments are owned by the poster. We aren't responsible for their content.

    HAMMER ROCKS! (Score: 1)
    by d8A90n ( on Monday, April 22 @ 16:48:50 BST
    (User Info)

    Even if Debian doesn't make a x86-64 port I'm still buying one of those babies!

    It'd surely be nice though not to have to run Debian's 386 tree on this power monster.

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    binaries optimised for CPU (Score: 0)
    by Anonymous on Tuesday, April 23 @ 03:53:08 BST

    I think a user should be able to create/install binaries optimised for any CPU (that will successfgully compile).

    We owe it to our users to let them take maximum advantage of their hardware

    On my athlon

    "dpkg --print-architecture" returns "i386"

    "dpkg --print-gnu-build-architecture" gives i486

    "dpkg --print-installation-architecture" returns "i386"

    dpkg-architecture is dumbed down to be compatible with with the stupid dpkg --*architecture logic.

    package install scripts can test for "i386" etc fixing the problem could break a lot of packages.

    Its another example of our broken build system.

    Thriving on chaos indeed

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    Re: Debian port to AMD's x86-64 architecture ? (Score: 0)
    by Anonymous on Wednesday, April 24 @ 00:05:50 BST

    You are wrong.

    So is The Register.

    About IA-64, its a big discussion.

    Most discussion goes at the lack of Out-of-Order execution. Weird, there wasn't much there.

    Its also incorrect about the VLIW issue. It is true that the compiler statically issues bundles of 3 instruction that can be executed in parallel, but how many bundles the chip can actually execute in paralled is a chip implementation issue (currently: 2 bundles).

    The register rotation isn't only for software pipeling. It also helps subroutine calls, by allowing for less register spilling. And has little to do with the way Out-of-Order logic remaps logic to physical registers.

    Anyway, they might succeed of fail. But at least the tried!

    AMD's x86-64:

    They're just extending Intel's 20 year old mistake.

    Read AMD specs:

    "new features:

    - 64-bit flat virtual addressing.

    - 8 new general-purpose registers (GPRs).

    - 8 new registers for streaming SIMD extensions (SSE).

    - 64-bit wide GPRs and instruction pointer."

    x86 is starved from registers, so the new ones are more than welcome.

    AMD has also removed some old useless instructions and cleaned out the register act (goodbye ah, bh, ch and dh).

    No revolution here.

    But its usefull. Most people can't afford to drop x86. And 4 GiB of RAM starts to look tight.

    The userpace issue. I believe you're talking about Aplication Binary Interfaces (ABIs).

    The size of C's basic types is not predefined. Its depends on the platform the code is compiled to.

    The specification of those types size and alignment are part of the ABI.

    One usually refers to an ABI that defines the type _int_ as a 32-bit type as a 32-bit ABI.

    ABIs are't dependent on the CPU "bitness". One can think of a 128-bit ABI specification for a 8-bit CPU.

    Platforms based on 32-bit CPUs usually have 32-bit ABIs.

    One would think platforms based on 64-bit CPUs to use 64-bit ABIs.

    However, though portable code shouln't assume about the size of these types, the reasoning behind the choice of variable type usually makes the software more eficient when compiled to 32-bit ABIs. Therefore, platforms based on 64-bit CPUs also support 32-bit ABIs.

    However, a 32-bit ABI doesn't mean that the software is unable to use 64-bit addresses or take advantege of the 64-bit CPU (but also doesn't mean it will).

    The so called "bitness" of the ABI only refers to the size of _int_, not to the size of the pointers.

    Each supported ABI will basically requires an entire set of libraries compiled for that ABI.

    So, it does make sense for debian not to include suport for the 64-bit ABIs for 64-bit CPU based systems.

    Reasoning explained:

    when a programmer chooses, for examples, int instead of short int or long int, he/she problably wants a variable capable of containing integer values in a about - to + range (wich is about what a 32-bit int can hold)

    If you recompile that code for a 64-bit ABI, that variable is capable of holding a much wider range of values. However, what is the advantage? Most likely none. If if the programmer wanted that variable capable of holding a wider range of values, he/she would have likely choosed a long int. And the program just gets slower.

    This, however, has little to do with to do or not a Debian port for x86-64.

    This has more to do with if we port Debian to x86-64 wich ABIs will we support. Which isn't really an issue as there seems to be only one (a 32-bit ABI).

    Should we port Debian to x86-64? Yes.

    Given the backwards compatibilty with x86, how much?

    A large amount of software won't need to deal with more that 4 GiB of memory and its performance isn't that important or can't take that much advantage from the x86-64 bit improvements, so it doesn't seem to make much sense spending resources with it.

    However, providing only x86 binaries for such

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