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Intel unveils Linux programming tools

The chipmaker, one of the first mainstream companies to endorse Linux, announces programming tools that it says will make Linux programs run better on its chips.

Intel, one of the first mainstream companies to endorse the Linux operating system, announced programming tools Thursday to make Linux programs run better on its chips.

In a statement, the chipmaker announced compilers that translate Linux programs written in C++ or Fortran languages into commands an Intel Pentium 4 or Itanium chip can understand.

Compilers are key to making sure programs can take advantage of a chip's new features, such as those that distinguish the Pentium 4 from its predecessors, but the design of the Itanium family relies even more heavily than most chips on the performance of the compiler.

The compilers will include several features already incorporated in Intel's compilers for Windows computers, including support for the OpenMP standard for multiprocessor computers, the chipmaker said.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel has been a backer of Linux, a clone of Unix that's grown popular for use in servers--chiefly those based on Intel chips. Releasing compilers helps write programs that show off Intel's chips to their greatest advantage.

However, the standard compiler most Linux programmers use is GCC, recently upgraded to version 3.0. Scientific programmers, the chief users of the Fortran language and people who often write their own software, are often interested in squeezing every bit of performance possible out of a chip.

Each Linux compiler is expected to be released in September as a $399 download or $499 CD on sale at Intel's software site.

Meanwhile, programming toolmaker Borland released in July its own compiler as part of its Delphi package. The Delphi compiler, while part of a $1,999 package in a high-end configuration, is available for free in the Open Edition for use in creating open-source software covered by the General Public License (GPL).