[ia64] End of life...

Marcel Moolenaar marcel at xcllnt.net
Thu May 15 20:37:19 UTC 2014

Executive summary:
Support for ia64 will be removed from FreeBSD-current in the near
future which means that FreeBSD-10 is the last release of FreeBSD
that supports ia64.


With the FreeBSD project committed to replace GCC with LLVM/clang on
the one hand and GDB with LLDB on the other, development tools that
are fundamental in supporting ia64 will disappear. While support for
ia64 in FreeBSD could be extended by depending on external developer
tools to build and develop ia64, it's clear that the gap between CPU
architectures natively supported by FreeBSD and ia64 is widening to
a point where it's extremely unlikely that ia64 will ever be a fully
supported architecture.

The limited amount of active development that ia64 needed to not rot
away has made it possible for ia64 to remain for as long as it did.
This is to the credit of FreeBSD's architecture and cleanliness. But
the amount of time that I personally could spent on ia64 has always
been on the low end and because of this many core bugs took a very
long time to fix and some are still not fixed to date. Me taking a
slight detour to port FreeBSD to SGI's Altix 350 & 450 did not help
on that front although I found it very educational.

Truth be told -- the learning curve and the enjoyment of working on
ia64 has sloped off for me and the amount of hard work that the CPU
architecture demands is only increasing. It's time for me to stop
trying and think of other things to spent my free time on. Not that
I have to think long or hard -- or at all for that matter ;-) Not
only do I not have any free time, I already have plenty of things
I can do.

So, my last task is to round things up, turn the lights off and
close the door behind me.

For those still running FreeBSD/ia64: thank you!

Marcel Moolenaar
marcel at xcllnt.net

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