[svlug] (forw) Linux at Work

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Jan 29 15:41:05 PST 2015

Quoting Sarah Newman (newmans at sonic.net):

> It's all redhat. Even atom servers are 64 bit these days.

Yes.  I'm actually curious about a related question:  What if any
current-production motherboards/systems are still IA32 (i386 arch) at
this late date?  Atom-class CPUs were the final ones I'm aware of.
Given that that's gone, I'm wondering if anything's left.

Scott's personal situation is a different question, of course, namely
use of legacy i386-class equipment.  My server is still running on a
14-year-old VA Linux Systems model 2230 (dual 700MHz Pentium III
awesomeness -- woo-hoo!) rackmount server cobbled together mostly from
parts we employees grabbed on Dumpster Day[1].  I'll use it as an
example of why I wouldn't expect brand-new enterprise distros to bother
with IA32 support:

o  No DVD drive by default
o  Maximum RAM was 2GB (Intel L440GX+ 'Lancewood' motherboard)

The lack of DVD optical support is a minor matter, if only because
kickstarting would be the norm in corporate computing anyway, but
limited RAM is more serious.

Anyway, corporate machines generally get phased out of production after
no more than 4-5 years.  Near as I can tell, almost all production of IA32 
ceased around 2013, leaving only weird edge cases.  I _think_ even those
weird edge cases were limited to AMD Geode (formerly National
Semiconductor, formerly Cyrix) and VIA Technologies C7 (formerly Centaur
Technology).  There _were_ also the Intel Atom N2xx
'Diamondville/Cedarview' and Z5xx 'Silverthorne' series, 

Cedarview was phased out in Sept. 2012, and I'm pretty sure Diamondville
is long gone (dates back to 2008) and ditto Silverthorne (also 2008).
So, it's possible that your cute little nettop box or ultra-low-power embedded
computer with a 2010 IA32 Intel Atom CPU won't be able to run RHEL7, but
that's not exactly a device used in enterprise computing.

tl;dr:  IA32 CPUs are dead, Jim.  Exceptions are probably all SoC
boards and a few oddball C7-based netbooks, etc.

[1] It's still unclear why, but someone in management ordered a bunch of
good machines and parts offloaded into the dumpster in the parking lot,
so at lunchtime we all did the obvious.  In 2015, these parts are not
enteprise computing, but more like Thrilling Tales from Yesteryear.

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