During the Ubuntu Developer Summit event for the upcoming Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Precise Pangolin) operating system, the developers talked about removing the non-PAE i386 supported kernel flavor.
PAE (Physical Address Extension) is an addition to x86 (32-bit) processors, which allows the CPUs to address more that 4GB of physical memory.
If the non-PAE i386 kernel will be removed from Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, non-PAE users will have to upgrade to the PAE kernel, and processors missing the PAE and i686 support will be orphaned.
The i386 non-PAE kernel provided support for antique CPUs, including Intel CPUs prior to Pentium II, 400Mhz Pentium M, Geode LX, and VIA C3.
"Before I do something that is difficult to revert, I would like to hear from the development community why we should continue to maintain a kernel flavour that is (in my opinion) getting increasingly low utilization. It is my feeling that an extremely high percentage of users of the non-PAE kernel have a CPU that is PAE capable." - said Tim Gardner in an email.
However, if people want this non-PAE i386 flavor to be kept in the kernel, Tim Gardner is willing to sponsor the first non-PAE kernel upload to the Universe repository of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.