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Genesi's hard float ARM optimizations can hasten Linux floating point operations by 300 percent

Dante Cesa, @dantecesa
June 23, 2011
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You may know Genesi for its ARM-based Smartbook, but a recent software initiative it's undertaken has much broader implications for the Linux ecosystem. Traditionally, the Penguin-powered OS is compiled under the assumption that all ARM designs contain floating point silicon. Unfortunately, this is only true of recent architectures, creating a problem for older chipsets who stumble when executing floating point code. It's the realization of the fault that stalls progress as the chip is forced to rely on software emulation to make the appropriate stars align. Heavy stuff, but the firm's work in recompiling 90 percent of the existing Debian repository have caused a 300 percent increase in the speed of applications that are heavily reliant on floating point. Purportedly, they managed this without changing a single line of source code, but we'll leave it to them to explain -- there's a 15 minute barrage of technobabble waiting just after the break.





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