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Why Linux pioneer Linus Torvalds prefers x86 over ARM

Agam Shah | Oct. 10, 2016
Torvalds has an affinity for x86 because of the infrastructure and ecosystem

When he was growing up, Torvalds programmed on an 8-bit 6502 microprocessor in machine code and loved the architecture because the instructions were pipelined, something no other hardware did at the time. That architecture delivered more on-chip performance.

"What I wanted to upgrade to was Acorn Archimedes ... the thing that gave ARM its name," Torvalds said. "That was my dream machine for a while."

The Archimedes was a personal computer based on the first ARM RISC chips from Acorn Computer Group. ARM was formed as an offshoot of Acorn.

Torvalds liked the Archimedes because it had the 6502-like feature of pipelining with RAM chips to get high-performance. Unfortunately, he couldn't find the computer.

He went with an "odd British computer," Sinclair QL, which was an even bigger failure than Acorn Archimedes, Torvalds said.

"Finland wasn't the center of the universe back then," Torvalds said. "After that, I learned my lesson -- never ever go buy into something that doesn't have infrastructure."


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