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Intel Says Clover Trail Atom CPU Won't Work With Linux 434

Posted by Soulskill
from the that-will-go-over-well dept.
girlmad tips this news from the Inquirer: "Intel's Clover Trail Atom processor can be seen in various non-descript laptops around IDF and the firm provided a lot of architectural details on the chip, confirming details such as dual-core and a number of power states. However Intel said Clover Trail 'is a Windows 8 chip' and that 'the chip cannot run Linux.' While Intel's claim that Clover Trail won't run Linux is not quite true — after all, it is an x86 instruction set, so there is no major reason why the Linux kernel and userland will not run — given that the firm will not support it, device makers are unlikely to produce Linux Clover Trail devices for their own support reasons."
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Intel Says Clover Trail Atom CPU Won't Work With Linux

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  • Re:antitrust issues? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WarmBoota (675361) on Friday September 14, 2012 @08:02AM (#41333603) Homepage
    IANAL, but I recall that Microsoft got in a bit of trouble because early versions of Windows were designed NOT to run on top of Digital Research DOS. Not going out of your way to support something is one thing, being exclusionary and abusing a monopoly position is another
  • by pmontra (738736) on Friday September 14, 2012 @08:09AM (#41333709) Homepage
    I hope so (for them) because "it can't run Linux" means "no Android devices with our chip". That's a huge market to leave to the competition.
  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Friday September 14, 2012 @08:15AM (#41333765) Homepage

    It is the first time ever that Intel announced direct hostility toward some piece of software -- I hope, it's just someone's fuckup and not a policy change.

  • Sounds like BS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JDG1980 (2438906) on Friday September 14, 2012 @08:38AM (#41333995)

    Is there any source for this statement besides The Inquirer? They're basically a tech tabloid and have gotten a lot of things wrong (or overly sensationalized) in the past. I checked Anandtech and Tom's Hardware, both of which covered Intel's presentations this week. No mention of this. I did a Google search for "clover trail" "Windows 8 chip" and found ONLY the Inquirer article and other articles and blog posts directly quoting and linking to it. No reliable third-party tech sites saying the same thing.

    This doesn't make sense in terms of Intel's overall philosophy. They have always been good about Linux support for nearly everything else – they don't want to get themselves tied in too closely with Microsoft, for fear that this would reduce their leverage.

    I think this story is bullshit. A generous interpretation would be that the reporter heard that the chip ran Windows 8 and that Linux *currently* did not have the necessary support for the "new P-states and C-states" in Clover Trail, and misinterpreted that as saying that only Windows 8 will ever be officially supported. A less generous interpretation is that the Inquirer knowingly made up this crap to get more page hits. In any case, I expect Intel to make their actual position clear soon enough, now that this story seems to have gone viral.

  • smart ploy! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nazsco (695026) on Friday September 14, 2012 @08:40AM (#41334013) Journal

    They tried building their own Linux distro. It sucked!

    They tried giving docs and nobody cared.

    They tried writing drivers themselves and again they sucked.

    So now they are double daring every developer saying win8 is technically better than anything they coded

  • by unixisc (2429386) on Friday September 14, 2012 @08:47AM (#41334109)

    In that case, the article summary was currect. Yeah, Clover Trail is an x86 CPU, but it has certain new power management states that have to be software driven, presumably w/ new instructions. Since Linux currently doesn't make use of them (I'm assuming that Intel worked w/ MS to ensure that Windows 8 does), if a vendor puts Linux on top of it w/o customizing it for this CPU, then it won't take advantage of the power management techniques. As a result, such a tablet will gouge more power than it would running Windows 8, and that's why Intel currently doesn't want to support it.

    Once the next version of the Linux kernel - be it 3.5 or 3.6 - adds support for the Clover Trail instructions in its power management schemes, this CPU too will support Linux. The other possibility - Intel may be waiting for Android or Tizen to support this platform before it confirms that this CPU can run Linux.

  • Re:antitrust issues? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WarmBoota (675361) on Friday September 14, 2012 @08:52AM (#41334173) Homepage
    Interesting perspective, but Microsoft obviously did something bad enough to compel them to pay Caldera at least 155 million (http://www.windowsitpro.com/article/news2/microsoft-settles-dr-dos-antitrust-lawsuit) . Something tells me if this was just a blip in a beta, they'd take it to court.
  • Re:antitrust issues? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Friday September 14, 2012 @08:56AM (#41334243) Journal

    actually, parent is correct. There are antitrust issues to be investigated here. This has nothing to do with choosing to support something or not, and is a very bad move by intel. If it were choosing they would say "this processor is not designed for linux" not "this processor will not *work* with linux". Sounds small, but it's of critical importance. The reality is that the antitrust issue is not with Intel - it is with Microsoft.

    Why should anyone use the x86 instruction set if they're explicitly saying that things are not compatible? All they're trying to say to people is "please use ARM", which is not the smartest idea. That is entirely different from what intel is implying, which is that the BIOS issues regarding windows 8 preventing other operating systems from running...that issue from before.

    So all this is, is basically antitrust fodder against MS.

  • by marcosdumay (620877) <marcosdumay@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday September 14, 2012 @10:00AM (#41334933) Homepage Journal

    Normaly, one of the first things a processor designer does after defining an architecture is porting gcc to it (AKA adds Linux support). Often that happens even before the design of the actual processor starts.

  • Re:Sounds like BS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Guy Harris (3803) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Friday September 14, 2012 @12:49PM (#41337265)

    Is there any source for this statement besides The Inquirer?

    Yes [arstechnica.com].

    Interestingly, the Ars Technical piece in question doesn't directly quote anybody from Intel saying Clover Trail “cannot run Linux”, they just say that the Inquirer reported that an Intel spokesperson at the Intel Developer Forum made that statement. What the Ars Technica piece reports from IDF is

    On September 11, Intel Architecture Group Executive Vice President David Perlmutter told IDF attendees in his keynote that the Clover Trail system-on-a-chip architecture was designed specifically for Windows 8 tablets and “convertibles.” In effect, Clover Trail is Intel’s effort to provide a full Windows 8 experience (including enterprise features missing from Windows RT) on devices competitive with ARM-based Windows 8 tablets.

    To achieve that, Intel worked closely with Microsoft to instrument the chip to allow Windows 8 to control Clover Trail's advanced power management features, which support what Perlmutter called "always-on" functionality. It's that special sauce in Clover Trail that won't be supported for other operating systems, including Linux, likely in part because of Intel’s desire to keep those features close to the vest—and because of contractual obligations to Microsoft.

    so maybe 1) you can't run on Clover Trail without using the advanced power management features and 2) the documentation of those features won't be public (Intel have had documented-but-not-publicly-documented hardware features in the past), in which case Clover Trail won't be able to run Linux unless and until the features in question are reverse-engineered (and maybe there are Intel and/or Microsoft patents on those features to get in the way of doing that).

    Or maybe not. Perhaps, for example, the features aren't required, but Linux-on-Clover-Trail will run the battery down faster if it doesn't use them.

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