Among the changes I'm most excited about with Linux 3.17 includes:
- Radeon R9 290 "Hawaii" GPUs finally play nicely with the open-source AMD Linux driver. Besides the R9 290 fixes there's also GP VM improvements and many other improvements.
- The Linux kernel is more readied for Intel Cherry Trail hardware. Cherry Trail is Intel's upcoming 14nm Atom SoCs that offer Broadwell-class graphics. Originally the Cherry Trail hardware was expected this year but now it looks like it's been pushed back into H1'2015.
- As always, more open-source NVIDIA driver improvements.
- Microsoft Xbox One controller support sans the rumble feature. On a related note, improvements to the Sony SIXAXIS support.
- DMA-BUF cross-device synchronization support to allow reduced tearing when sharing buffers between multiple GPU DRM drivers and improvements in other areas where needing to synchronize between multiple drivers using this zero-copy buffer sharing mechanism.
- ACPI 5.1 activity and other power management improvements.
- A ton of new ARM hardware support in the upstream Linux kernel. Among the newly enabled ARM hardware is the Rockchip RK3288 SoC, Allwinner A23 SoC, Allwinner A31 Hummingbird, Tegra30 Apalis board support, Gumstix Pepper AM335x, and support for the AM437x TI evaluation board. Other ARM boards with existing support also saw improvements with Linux 3.17.
- Free-fall support for Toshiba laptops.
Here's my full Linux 3.17 feature run-down of all changes I found noteworthy big and small. There's also my dozens of other Linux 3.17 kernel articles -- including many performance benchmarks already from this new kernel as our sights are already beginning to turn towards Linux 3.18.
As a useless bit of info, at the time of writing the Linux 3.17 code-name remains Shuffling Zombie Juror, which has been that way since Linux 3.14. The Linux 3.16.x stable point series ended up being renamed to Museum of Fishiegoodies but as of right now Torvalds' Git tree is still riding on the dated codename.