This weekend was the release of Linux 4.9-rc1 to mark the end of the 4.9 kernel merge window. As such, here's our usual feature overview recapping all of the changes to Linux 4.9 that have us excited about the next version of this open-source kernel.
Some of the highlights include AMDGPU GCN 1.0 experimental support, memory protection keys support, mainline support for the LG Nexus 5 and Raspberry Pi Zero (along with a lot of other ARM hardware), the Greybus subsystem was added, support for vmapped stacks, and many other additions.
- AMDGPU also has experimental Southern Islands support (GCN 1.0) as an alternative to the existing support in Radeon DRM. Similar to GCN 1.1, the GCN 1.0 AMDGPU support needs to be manually enabled at compile-time while blacklisting (or disabling) the Radeon DRM driver from loading.
- GPU and memory overhead reduction for the Raspberry Pi VC4 driver during 3D rendering.
- Sadly, no Nouveau (open-source NVIDIA) driver changes were included for Linux 4.9... Leaving out the recent "boost" patches and more.
- Various other DRM changes for Linux 4.9. That's Direct Rendering Manager for those new to Linux that are thinking of the other DRM...
Processors / Memory:
- A P-State change that can boost performance for some Intel Atom CPUs.
- CPUFreq continues making greater use of scheduler information.
- Memory protection keys support. This MPK / Pkeys support is finally in the mainline kernel for the new instructions to be supported by future Intel CPUs.
- Various Xen and KVM changes for the Linux virtualization stack.
- Support for vmapped kernel stacks as one of the changes that excite Linus Torvalds the most.
File-Systems / Storage:
- UBIFS support for OverlayFS while UBI gets ready for MLC NAND support.
- Support for 29 more ARM machines, including the Raspberry Pi Zero, LG Nexus 5, and other notable mobile/embedded hardware.
- Intel Integrated Sensor Hub (ISH) support.
- New Elan touchscreen driver and GPIO decoder.
- Continued Skylake audio work via the sound updates for Linux 4.9.
- The EFI test driver is now mainline thanks to Canonical.
- An assortment of scheduler changes.
That's a lot of stuff coming for Linux 4.9! Expect Linux 4.9 to be officially released in mid-to-late December. Stay tuned for more Linux 4.9 kernel coverage, particularly many hardware benchmarks and of changes in this upgraded kernel, in future Phoronix articles. If you appreciate my single-handed coverage here of all the happenings and plenty of benchmarks along with the automated efforts like daily benchmarks of the Linux kernel at LinuxBenchmarking.com, consider joining Phoronix Premium.