End of life for v5/v6, changes for v7

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End of life for v5/v6, changes for v7

Postby kmihelich » Sun Dec 12, 2021 10:32 pm

Starting in February 2022, support for ARMv5 and ARMv6 architectures will be ended in Arch Linux ARM.

Reasons for this include:
1. There is very little, if any, new hardware being made for these architectures.
2. Looking at mirror traffic, ARMv5 and ARMv6 account for 1% and 5%, respectively. These numbers have been steadily declining, with v7 and v8 splitting the rest about equally.
3. Keeping packages building for these architectures has become an outsized effort given their usage with respect to v7 and v8, and there are already large chunks of packages that aren't building for them.
4. More focus and time can be put into ARMv7 and AArch64, where over 90% of the user base is.

ARMv7 will also be changing to build with NEON floating point support as the default. Therefore, support for the Marvell PJ4 SoC devices, the only SoC that doesn't support NEON, will be ended. An increasing number of projects are adding support for NEON in their code, and not having to find ways to strip that out will save time on package maintenance. Some packages today are already building with NEON as its removal is far too difficult. This will also improve performance in some use cases. There will not be a massive rebuild for NEON, but the appropriate flags will be enabled and packages will start building with NEON going forward.

ARMv5 users can look to Debian and derivatives for continuing support for their devices. ARMv6 Raspberry Pi users have Raspbian and derivatives for their devices. Debian is also building ARMv7 as we have been, for anyone still using Marvell-based devices that don't support NEON.
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