Motorola has extended the reach of its AltiVec technology, introducing a free technology library for the Linux operating system.

AltiVec is marketed by Apple as Velocity Engine, and has been available in G4 Macs since August 1999. Upon its launch Apple described AltiVec as: "The heart of a supercomputer miniaturized onto a sliver of silicon."

Motorola's move means developers using Linux can use the technology to produce four-fold speed hikes in networking and communications applications. The company has built a downloadable library of source code for AltiVec technology-enabled applications frequently used in Linux.

Beyond Apple, the market for G4 PowerPC processors and AltiVec has so far been restricted to "high-performance applications in networking, telecom, imaging and computing applications", Motorola said.

Apple's developer pages say of AltiVec: "It expands the PowerPC architecture through the addition of a 128-bit vector execution unit that operates concurrently with existing integer and floating-point units. This provides for highly parallel operations, allowing for simultaneous execution of up to 16 operations in a single clock cycle.

Speed gains "This combination of new instructions, operation in parallel on multiple bits, and wider registers, provide up to 30-fold speed enhancements of up to on operations that are common in media processing."

Motorola hopes that introducing the code library will inspire developers in new markets: "High performance must be balanced with power consumption, system cost and peripheral integration."

The move suggests Motorola is attempting to increase demand for its G4-processor products by bringing formerly high-end technologies into the embedded-processor market - which has traditionally lagged behind the PC market on processor speed.

Motorola computing platforms division corporate vice president and general manager Bill Dunnigan said: "The library helps developers accelerate the performance of their Linux OS and Motorola G4 processor-based applications, without having to invest in higher clock speeds."

Motorola will also assist developers port their G4-based applications to market.