AMD Wowed Linux Users In 2020 With Their Fantastic Zen 3 CPUs, Timely New Open-Source GPU Support

Written by Michael Larabel in AMD on 29 December 2020 at 01:55 PM EST. 28 Comments
AMD this year not only delivered the very powerful Ryzen 5000 "Zen 3" desktop processors and initial Radeon RX 6000 "Big Navi" graphics cards but for exciting Linux users was the timely open-source support for the new GPUs well in advance (and also already preparing for some 2021 graphics products) as well as more timely support around Zen 3 thermal support and other additions. AMD's open-source timing is still improving although not yet optimal but all in it was a hell of a year for AMD Linux users.

AMD's hardware launches this year were fantastic with the Ryzen 5000 series continue to impress on Linux with their great performance and the Radeon RX 6000 series also delivering the best GPU performance for an open-source driver to date. With new enough open-source components, the new products were smooth sailing from day one -- assuming you were able to procure the hardware. But leaving room for improvement looking ahead is they could be even more punctual in their kernel enablement work to ease users especially enterprise folks wanting to stick to LTS kernel versions. There are also other matters like the Zen 3 compiler support patches only appearing after launch and to date still lacking any updated costs table, scheduler model, or other optimizations to really cater to the updated processors. Intel still leads when it comes to having their open-source support from compiler toolchains and kernel support out well ahead of product launches but AMD has been on an improving trajectory.

Looking ahead to 2021, I am damn excited for the next-generation AND Ryzen mobile processors, next-gen Threadripper, and certainly for EPYC 7003 "Milan"... Stay tuned for benchmarks on both when the time comes. Plus plenty of other interesting Zen 3 and RDNA 2 benchmarks still coming with the evolving open-source/Linux state.

The most viewed AMD open-source/Linux news articles for 2020 on Phoronix included:

Linus Torvalds Switches To AMD Ryzen Threadripper After 15 Years Of Intel Systems
An interesting anecdote shared in today's Linux 5.7-rc7 announcement is word that Linux and Git creator Linus Torvalds switched his main rig over to an AMD Ryzen Threadripper.

The AMD Radeon Graphics Driver Makes Up Roughly 10.5% Of The Linux Kernel
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AMD vs. Intel Contributions To The Linux Kernel Over The Past Decade
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Acer Is Launching In Germany What Could Be A Great AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Linux Laptop
For those that have been looking out for an AMD Linux laptop powered by a Ryzen 4000 series processor, Acer is set to launch a new laptop at least in Germany that could be quite appealing to Linux users.

I've Been Running The AMD Ryzen 7 4700U + Ubuntu 20.04 As My Main System
For about one and a half months now I have been using the AMD Ryzen 7 4700U as my main laptop paired with Ubuntu 20.04 LTS. It's been working out very well for not even being the top-of-the-line AMD Renoir SKU. Here is some additional commentary for those thinking about one of the new AMD laptops with Linux use.

Benchmarks Of Arch Linux's Zen Kernel Flavor
Following the recent Linux kernel tests of Liquorix and other scheduler discussions (and more), some requests from premium supporters rolled in for seeing the performance of Arch Linux's Zen kernel package against the generic kernel. Here are those benchmark results.

A Quick Look At The Blender 2.82 Performance On Intel + AMD CPUs
With Blender 2.82 having released on Friday, this weekend we've begun our benchmarking of this new Blender release as the leading open-source 3D modeling solution currently available. Here are some preliminary v2.81 vs. v2.82 figures on different higher-end Intel and AMD processors.

Ryzen CPUs On Linux Finally See CCD Temperatures, Current + Voltage Reporting
One of the few frustrations with the AMD Ryzen CPU support on Linux to date has been besides the often delayed support for CPU temperature reporting has been the mainline kernel not supporting voltage readings and other extra sensors. But that is finally changing with the "k10temp" driver being extended to include current and voltage reporting plus CCD temperature reporting on Zen 2 processors.

Rust-Written Redox OS Booting The 128-Thread AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X
The Rust language focused Redox OS open-source operating system is now able to boot the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3990X 64-core/128-thread processor and run with full multi-threading capabilities.

ASUS TUF Laptops With Ryzen Are Now Patched To Stop Overheating On Linux
The AMD Ryzen Linux laptop experience continues improving albeit quite tardy on some elements of the support. In addition to the AMD Sensor Fusion Hub driver finally being released and current/voltage reporting for Zen CPUs on Linux, another step forward in Ryzen mobile support is a fix for ASUS TUF laptops with these processors.

LLVM/Clang 10.0 Adds AMD Zen 2 Scheduler Model For Optimized Code Generation
It's too bad that it has taken so many months after AMD Zen 2 based Ryzen and EPYC processors began shipping to see this compiler support in place, but the good news now is that for the upcoming release of LLVM 10.0 is now the Zen 2 scheduler model being added to the "znver2" target.

AMD Begins Providing PowerPC Builds Of Their "AOMP" GPU Compiler
AOMP is the AMD GPU compiler for OpenMP and HIP support on GPUs as part of Radeon Open eCosystem 3.0 (ROCm 3.0). Now they have begun providing PowerPC 64-bit LE builds of AOMP as part of allowing Radeon GPU compute to happen on POWER9 systems.

A Slew Of ACO Optimizations For The Radeon Vulkan Driver Landed In Mesa 20.0
The Valve-backed ACO compiler back-end that is optionally used by the RADV Radeon Vulkan driver has continued growing in popularity with Linux gamers and also has continued maturing a lot for Mesa 20.0 that is due out later this quarter.

RenderDoc 1.6 Released, NVIDIA + AMD + Intel All Primed For Vulkan 1.2
This morning's release of Vulkan 1.2 is off to a great start.

Mesa 20.0 Released With Big Improvements For Intel, AMD Radeon Vulkan/OpenGL
Mesa 20.0 is now released as the first quarter 2020 update to the Mesa 3D open-source graphics driver stack.

AMD Ryzen 4000 Mobile Series "Renoir" Graphics No Longer Experimental With Linux 5.5
While the Linux 5.5 kernel is expected to be released as soon as this Sunday, a last minute change to the AMDGPU DRM driver makes the Renoir graphics no longer treated as experimental. With that, there is open-source support out-of-the-box rather than being hidden behind a kernel module flag.

System76 May Offer AMD Ryzen Laptops When They Begin Their Own Manufacturing
System76 is preparing to begin shipping their new Lemur Pro laptop in early April. This will be their most open laptop yet albeit still based on Intel. But it looks like when they move on with their ambitious plans to begin manufacturing their own devices, we may finally see a System76 AMD-powered laptop.

FFmpeg 4.3 Released With AMD AMF Encoding, Vulkan Support, AV1 Encode
FFmpeg 4.3 is out as the latest version of this key open-source multimedia library. FFmpeg 4.3 is quite a big release.

AMD Is Hiring Another Lead Linux Kernel Developer To Work On Their Graphics Driver
Should you be experienced in upstream Linux kernel development, AMD is hiring a lead Linux kernel developer.

Linux k10temp Driver For AMD CPUs Updated To Better Handle Power/Temp Analysis
As we have been eagerly talking about for the past week, the Linux kernel's k10temp driver was updated for better AMD CPU CCD temperatures and voltage/current reporting. Those improvements have been quickly evolving thanks to the work of the open-source community with AMD still sadly holding the datasheets concerning the power/temperature registers close to their vest. A new version of k10temp was sent out on Wednesday.
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Michael Larabel

Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 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 automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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