The Linux operating system has made the jump from computer servers to handheld computers, digital video recorders and wristwatches, and soon may find a home inside your cellular telephone.

NEC Corp. recently said it is working on the development of Linux-based cell phones with MontaVista Software Inc., and an executive of the Sunnyvale, Calif., software company said it is in talks with other major cellular handset makers on similar projects. Work to investigate the use of Linux in cellular telephones started in the final quarter of 2002, said Akiko Shikimori, a spokeswoman for Tokyo’s NEC. The company is looking to use the operating system in handsets for global markets, according to an NEC executive quoted in a MontaVista press release, although Shikimori said the company is still investigating the use of Linux and has not yet begun designing its first handset based on the operating system. The arrival of Linux will intensify competition in an already competitive sector.

SGI releases supercomputer

According to the company, Silicon Graphics Inc.’s (SGI’s) new Altix 3000 machines are penguins on steroids, combining the Linux operating system with Intel Corp.’s Itanium 2 processor into a server that can scale up to 64 processors.

The Altix 3300 and Altix 3700 were recently announced by SGI. Both systems use a standard version of Linux – whose widely used emblem is the penguin – compatible with Red Hat Inc.’s Linux Version 7.2. The Altix 3300 can be configured with a single node of between four and 12 Itanium 2 processors, while the Altix 3700 uses anywhere from 16 to 64 Itanium 2 processors in a node. Each node contains a single Linux operating system image and up to 512GB of memory. The Altix 3000 machines will be ideal for clustering, because SGI’s Numalink interconnect technology allows users to connect nodes and share memory across processors, said Jan Silverman, senior vice-president of marketing for SGI. Numalink technology has been used in SGI’s Origin 3000 servers, and allows data to transfer back and forth almost instantaneously among clustered systems, SGI said.