Linus Torvalds can extract ‘486 support from the Linux kernel • The Register


Linux boss Linus Torvalds has considered ending support for the i486 processor architecture in the Linux kernel.

The old architecture was discussed last week in a thread titled “multi-gen LRU: support page table walks” which looked at how the kernel could better handle least recently used (LRU) lists – a way to track memory pages.

As Torvalds investigated the contributors’ code, he seems to have become frustrated with the need to include workarounds suitable for older processors. He has then suggested ending support for the old kit might be an easier way to fix memory issues.

“We got rid of i386 support in 2012. Maybe it’s time to get rid of i486 support in 2022?” he wrote.

Deeper in the wire, it back on topic with the following remarks:

This position seems to be fueled by a little irritation, like even deeper in the Torvalds thread commented “The kind of work needed to keep i486 alive is the kind of maintenance load we just shouldn’t have – no dev actually cares (properly), no one really tests this (also properly – c is old and irrelevant material), but it also means that just random code doesn’t actually work.”

He might be right: the i486 architecture debuted in 1989 and was replaced by Intel’s Pentium in 1993.

Intel washed its hands of the ‘486 in 2007 and today its famous detail Ark Product Database contains no mention of the processor family.

Anyone who still uses the devices has long since resigned themselves to doing so without support, without the possibility of acquiring a new kit or having the software developers think about the platform.

Still The register knows a potentially very influential person who could possibly have a hand in keeping the venerable 80486 alive: Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, who spearheaded the development of the technology and has often said within earshot of your correspondent that he’s been had said to make sure he excelled in running AI workloads.

At 100 MHz, on a single core, with a 32-bit address space and a total of 16 kilobytes of cache.

Suffice to say, the ‘486 is almost never mentioned when the AI ​​story is told.

And it looks like the processor will also soon go from Linux history to Linux legend. ®


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