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AMD offers Linux simulator for 64-bit chips

The company releases a Linux version of a simulator application to help programmers write software for its Sledgehammer chips.

NEW YORK--Advanced Micro Devices has released a Linux version of a simulator application to help programmers write software for its upcoming 64-bit chips.

AMD hopes Linux will increase the popularity of its upcoming Sledgehammer chip, prototypes of which are expected late this year, with final versions coming in the first half of 2002. AMD demonstrated the software Wednesday at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo trade show here.

Sledgehammer is a 64-bit chip, which means it can accommodate vastly larger amounts of memory. It will compete with established server chips from Sun Microsystems, Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard and IBM. And chipmaking heavyweight Intel is aggressively helping Linux programmers embrace its 64-bit chip, the much-delayed Itanium.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD, like numerous other companies, sees Linux as a useful way to get ahead of the competition. Linux is readily adaptable to numerous chip designs and has an army of willing programmers advancing it into just about any new frontier.

The simulation software from AMD, called VirtuHammer, will help programmers simulate the upcoming chips on existing computers. Intel, assisted by Itanium co-inventor HP, took similar measures with Itanium.

VirtuHammer was developed by Virtutech, a Swedish company that develops simulation software. AMD was working with competitor Transmeta on a Sledgehammer emulator, according to developers and sources close to the deal. Under the deal, Transmeta was to receive a license to manufacture chips containing Sledgehammer technology, while AMD would send developers Transmeta-based computers running a simulator. Subsequently, AMD switched to the Swedish emulator.

Itanium speaks what amounts to a different language than current x86 Intel chips. AMD's Hammer family speaks a close relative called x86-64.

AMD's staunch ally in the effort is SuSE, a German Linux seller. SuSE programmer Jan Hubicka released programming tools for the new AMD chip family at the last Linux trade show in August. SuSE competes chiefly with Linux companies Red Hat, Caldera Systems and Turbolinux, as well as Linux foe Microsoft.

Computing giants including IBM, Compaq, HP, Oracle and Dell Computer are showing their support for Linux at the trade show.