GNU Compiler Collection 15 ushers Xeon Phi and Solaris 11.3 to silicon heaven

Remember Intel's 'Larrabee' many-core Pentium-based GPU? GCC doesn't

After dropping Itanium support, GCC 15 is set to kill off more ancient platforms, with the Xeon Phi facing the firing squad alongside the penultimate version of Solaris.

Version 15 of the GNU Compiler Collection – GCC to its friends – continues to cast out and expunge unloved legacy processor architectures. A recent patch to the work-in-progress compiler suite has a simple four-word summary:

Remove Xeon Phi cpus.

The source of this callous cut? Intel itself, in the form of compiler engineer Haochen Jiang. Intel has scuttled the ship, meaning that the Xeon Phi "Many Integrated Core" is on its way to join Itanic with Intel's other deep-sixed platforms, as we reported last month.

In 2006, the "Larrabee Development Group" planned to take down Nvidia and AMD. By 2008, Intel said it would be a goldmine. In 2012, it was exhibiting hardware in public … but five years later, it was killed off. Support for the Intel MIC architecture was dropped with Linux 5.10.

These two Intel platforms aren't the only ones being dropped. Version 11.3 of Sun Oracle Solaris is being removed too. Version 11.3 was released in 2015, but it's the last-but-one version: Solaris 11.4 appeared in 2018, and is still the current release. Version 12 disappeared from the roadmap in 2017, and version 11 is in maintenance mode – although when The Reg FOSS desk name-checked it among other dead forms of Unix, we received complaints. Oracle is still paying a small team of engineers to fix bugs, but we are willing to bet that there won't be a version 11.5.

Oracle cut off premier support for 11.3 at the start of 2021. The problem is that 11.4 only supports relatively recent SPARC kit, the SPARC T4 or newer. As Oracle itself put it, that means:

Oracle Solaris 11.4 is not supported on SPARC hardware released before 2011.

Solaris 11.3 was declared obsolete way back in GCC 13, but there was a problem:

There's one highly unfortunate side effect, though: the only public Solaris 11.3 build system (gcc211 in the GCC Compile Farm) cannot be upgraded to Solaris 11.4.

That's why dropping this old version of Solaris took such a long time. It's still a contentious move even now. Debian developer John Paul Adrian Glaubitz objected to the change, saying:

I'm not sure I like this change since Solaris 11.3 is the last version of Solaris supported by a large number of SPARC systems … Removing Solaris 11.3 support might make sense in the future when SPARC support in Illumos has matured enough that people can switch over their machines.

That doesn't look likely: Illumos deprecated SPARC support years ago because the hardware was too expensive.

Sic transit gloria solis?

(That being this vulture's best effort at "So passes the glory of the Sun," by analogy with the Latin for "So passes all Earthly glory." Our apologies if we mangled it.) ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like