SuSE has become the first Linux distributor to make its flavour of the operating system run on AMD's Opteron 64-bit processor.
Enterprise Server 8 for AMD64 is shipping now, and the company claims that rival versions of Linux will not run on Opteron until the third quarter of this year.
The new AMD processor has generated interest partly because of the disappointing performance of Intel's Itanium 64-bit chip, which actually runs 32-bit applications more slowly than on its own Xeon 32-bit processor.
In addition, unlike Itanium, the Opteron processor can run 32- and 64-bit applications together, allowing users to buy new equipment before porting applications gradually.
"We see a very high potential in the 64-bit market," Holger Byroff, general manager for the Americas at SuSE, told vnunet.com.
"More and more customers are touching the 32-bit limit of 4GB addressing for applications like data mining."
Byroff claimed that tests showed a performance improvement of about 150 per cent against other 32- and 64-bit environments, including Itanium 64-bit.
Performance is enhanced by an optimised 2.4.19 kernel, including Numa clustering technology which scales to 64 processors and 512GB of main memory.
It also provides enhanced asynchronous storage area network connection, and management of 600 physical hard disks.
Oracle and IBM are beta-testing Oracle 9i and IBM DB2 universal database respectively for SuSE Linux Enterprise Server on Opteron, with availability expected in four to six months.
Byroff said that 24 vendors plan to offer SuSE Linux on Opteron, including IBM, by the end of the year. So six companies are offering it, including Appro, RackSaver and the appropriately named Penguin Computing.
The recommended retail price of £313 includes four CDs, documentation and the SuSE Linux Maintenance Program for 12 months.
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