IBM has made the Power8 version of the latest Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) beta available through its Power Development Platform (PDP) as the firm continues to build support for its Power systems.
IBM and Red Hat announced in December that RHEL 7.1 was adding support for the Power8 processor in little endian instruction format, as the beta release was made available for testers to download.
This version is available for developers and testers to download from today through the IBM PDP and at IBM Innovation Centres and Client Centres worldwide, IBM announced on its Smarter Computing blog.
"IBM and Red Hat's collaboration to produce open source innovation demonstrates our commitment to developing solutions that efficiently solve IT challenges while empowering our clients to make their data centres as simple as possible so they can focus on core business functions and future opportunities," said Doug Balog, general manager for Power Systems at IBM's Systems & Technology Group.
The little endian support is significant because IBM's Power architecture processors are capable of supporting little endian and big endian instruction formats. These terms simply reflect the order in which data bytes are stored in memory.
The Power platform has long had Linux distributions and applications that operate in big endian mode, but the much larger Linux ecosystem for x86 systems uses little endian mode, so supporting this in Red Hat on Power Systems makes it much easier to port applications from x86 to Power.
Suse Linux Enterprise Server 12 launched last year with little endian support for the Power8 processor, as did Canonical's Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.
However, Red Hat and Suse are understood to be continuing to support their existing big endian releases on Power for their full product lifecycles.
IBM sold off its x86 server business to Lenovo last year, and has focused instead on the higher value Power Systems and z Systems mainframes.
In particular, the firm has touted the Power Systems as more suitable for mission critical workloads in scale-out environments like the cloud than x86 servers, and has been forging partnerships with firms such as Red Hat through its OpenPower Foundation.
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