Linux 3.12 Changes, Kernel Feature Overview
Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 3 November 2013 at 04:34 PM EST. 1 Comment
With the Linux 3.12 kernel likely being officially released this evening if there are no last-minute delays, here is a look again at some of the top features and changes for this major open-source Linux upgrade.

- First and foremost, there can be some big performance improvements which I had tracked down to being a change in the default CPUfreq governor. Open-source AMD Radeon graphics in particular should be a big benefactor. More details on Linux 3.12 performance changes can be found in my article earlier today covering Linux 3.12 kernel benchmarks.

- The Radeon open-source kernel graphics driver has improved Dynamic Power Management, but it won't be until Linux 3.13 where Radeon DPM is enabled by default along with HDMI audio.

- A brand new DRM/KMS driver in the form of the Snapdragon MSM driver written by Rob Clark to go along with his reverse-engineered Freedreno driver for Qualcomm Snapdragon/Adreno graphics.

- Run-time GPU power management so NVIDIA Optimus systems can dynamically power on/off the secondary GPU.

- Experimental DRM render nodes support done by David Herrmann over the summer.

- AMD Berlin APU support as the first APU built upon AMD's Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA).

- The EXT4 file-system now supports aggressive extent caching and better recovery capabilities.

- Random F2FS, XFS, and Btrfs file-system improvements. This kernel does deliver on disk improvements.

- zRAM has been promoted out of the staging area of the kernel. ZRAM supports a compressed block device in RAM to avoid paging to disk and is mostly of benefit for systems with limited amounts of system memory.

- Various staging driver updates and sound driver work and other glorious work.

Stay tuned for more Linux 3.12 coverage and continued benchmarks while soon our focus will be all about Linux 3.13 with its Intel Broadwell support.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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